Carolina Beach is a small, quiet town in the southeast corner of North Carolina.
People often think that Carolina Beach is part of Wilmington, but it is actually part of the Wilmington Metropolitan Area. When people cross Snows Cut Bridge to get to the “island,” they step into a different world.
To the east of Carolina Beach is the Atlantic Ocean, and to the west is the Cape Fear River. People from all over the United States visit Carolina Beach in the summer.
Fort Fisher, which was right next to Carolina Beach, was a very important part of the Civil War.
It made sure that blockade-runners could still get into the North Carolina port of Wilmington and bring supplies to the Confederate army.
Fun Things To Do In Carolina Beach, NC!
You’re in North Carolina’s Carolina Beach, and you want to know what you can do there. Many people who come to the beach town only want to do one thing: fish.
Anglers in the Carolina Beach area can cast their lines in many different ways. But get a fishing license ahead of time so you can fish legally.
You don’t need a license if you fish from a paid pier or a charter boat (both carry special commercial licenses that cover you). If you want to go fishing in Carolina Beach, here are some things to think about:
- Surfcasting is fishing from the beach.
- In Snow’s Cut and Carolina Beach State Parks, you can fish from the shore.
- From Wrightsville Beach or Carolina Beach, you can rent a boat and go deep sea fishing.
- At Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, or Johnny Mercer Pier, you can go fishing.
- You should use your own boat, of course.
- You can play disc golf at Carolina Beach.
Disc Golf In Carolina Beach
Carolina Beach is a great place to play disc golf. In the Wilmington area, there are four free public places to play disc golf. At some stores around town, you can buy a CD for as little as $10.
Here is a list of four courses in the Carolina Beach/Wilmington area.
- Good Hops Brewing is the easiest course because it only has three holes and the par is low. Since it’s at the brewery, you can get a craft beer and watch the game at the same time. AWESOME!
- Joe Eakes Park in Kure Beach is my favorite course. It has 18 holes, some of which are hard. It’s really appealing to me because it’s in a coastal forest and has sand fairways. We have steady weather and easy access to water, but there are always strong winds. If you want to have a great time at Kure Beach, you must come here.
- In Arrowhead Park, there is a disc golf course with 18 holes and a par of 3. It’s in a cute little park with lots of hills that make for fun changes in height.
- This is the greatest course in the region, and it’s on the PDGA — North Regional Park in Castle Hayne. With 18 holes, several of which are difficult par 4s and 5s, this course is certainly a test of golfing skill. It gets muddy easily after rain, but it’s great for a brisk walk in the winter.
Kayak Around Zeke’s Island
Kayaking around Zeke’s Island is a highlight of Cameron’s time in Carolina Beach. It is necessary to go via shallow water boats to reach Zeke’s Island, which is part of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve.
If you make it to the coastal marshes, you may relax and take in the tranquil scenery. This event is a great chance to experience the wide variety of Wilmington’s plant and animal life.
The area is a haven for avian species such the black-bellied plovers, short-billed dowitchers, dunlin, white ibis, and great blue herons.
Federal Point, which is close to the Zeke’s Island launch location, has a boat ramp that makes getting into the ocean a breeze.
Bring a chair and some food for a picnic, and you’ll be set. I would not advise going over the ancient wall built during the civil war in order to get to the island. When Cameron’s sister was trapped out there during high tide, the oyster shells punctured her knee and required 26 stitches.
Visit The Fort Fisher Aquarium
Visitors of all ages may enjoy learning about marine life at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. In fact, it’s one of our most-loved pastimes in Carolina Beach.
The Fort Fisher aquarium is a basic research institution rather than a moneymaker like some of the larger aquariums in the United States.
North Carolina’s Aquarium at Fort Fisher is one of 230 AZA-approved institutions in the country.
Every day of the year, you may enjoy a variety of exhibitions and shows, so it doesn’t matter when you attend. Luna, a rare albino alligator, and Maverick, a rescued bald eagle, both call this place home. In the warmer months, the butterfly garden is also beautiful. It’s a must-see if you’re visiting Carolina Beach.
Have A Night Out At The Beach Bars!
Going to a beach bar is a great way to spend an evening in Carolina Beach. While I’m sure you can find beach bars in Kure Beach as well, my personal preference is for the nightlife on Carolina Beach. In the summertime, the island’s many pubs attract a lively and diverse audience.
Carolina Beach has more authentically beachy beach bars, in my opinion, than Wrightsville, where the university students congregate.
Even while Carolina Beach is more lively, beautiful Kure Beach offers a peaceful alternative. Since we frequent Carolina Beach, all of our favorite watering holes can be found there.
- When we think of great bars, we immediately think of Fat Pelican, which is why it’s not just one of our favorite Wilmington bars, but one of our favorite bars, period. It’s the ideal dive bar because it’s offbeat, full of interesting people, and has a touch of crust. The crowd is great since people of all walks of life and ages (as long as they’re at least 21) congregate here.
- Crush & Grind is one of our favorite spots because of the hip, contemporary vibe and excellent selection of craft beer and wine. Try the cold brew that the owner brews, it’s delicious.
- On a sunny day, nothing beats relaxing with a drink at a Tiki Bar & Grill set up on the pier’s ruins.
- Unfortunately, we can’t afford the $5 beer cans or the $12 cocktails (this isn’t New York City, after all).
- There is a great tiki bar atmosphere with live music on the weekends at SeaWitch. The big open courtyard is a popular gathering spot throughout the warmer months.
- You can’t miss The Last Resort, a little pub on Carolina Beach Ave.
- Tacos from Nollies Taco Joint are the best bar food there is.
Hunt For A Venus Flytrap At Carolina Beach State Park
One of the finest things to do in Carolina Beach is to visit this state park in North Carolina.
One of my favorite things to do in Carolina Beach is to go to Carolina Beach State Park to watch the sunset. We were here for a total of one month between 2018 and 2021, and we spent nearly every evening there.
It’s a great place to watch the sun go down, and it also serves as a boat ramp for accessing the Cape Fear River.
In addition, we like coming here to go on hikes among the magnificent trees. Runners will love this location for its abundance of sandy pathways.
There are great vistas of the Cape Fear River and the surrounding area from Sugarloaf Dune, another must-see attraction.
At addition to being a popular tourist destination, Venus flytraps may be found in Carolina Beach. That’s true; it’s one of the few sites on Earth where you can see the world’s most well-known carnivorous plant in its natural habitat.
You might be able to detect one from the route if you’re lucky and keep your eyes peeled, but staying on the paths will help protect the delicate plant life. Visiting this park is a must if you’re looking for a fun day trip in the Tar Heel State.
Learn To Surf
Conditions for surfing are ideal along the North Carolina coast. There are a lot of surfers there since it’s a great spot for beginners to pick up the sport.
You may either go out and try surfing on your own (I wouldn’t encourage it) or take a session to learn the basics.
If you aren’t a strong swimmer or otherwise experienced in the water, the ocean here is no place for a fool.
Walk Along The Carolina Beach Boardwalk
The Carolina Beach Boardwalk is a great place to take the kids and enjoy a day in the sun. Each and every one of your needs will be addressed.
The Carolina Beach Boardwalk is the hub of summertime activity, whether you’re looking to stroll along the boardwalk, ride some rides, or do all three. It’s so good that it’s been recognized as a top American boardwalk.
After years of neglect, the region has undergone a dramatic facelift in recent years. New restaurants and bars have opened up on the boardwalk, some of which provide stunning views of the ocean.
Walk The Kure Beach Pier
If you’re in the area for Carolina Beach, you can’t miss the thrill of the journey along Fort Fisher Blvd to neighboring Kure Beach. It’s usually a bit more peaceful here than in the rest of Carolina Beach, at least where I am.
Day or night, a stroll along the Kure Pier is a good time. Many people are fishing from the pier at any one moment.
There are few better piers in the world. Before venturing out onto the pier, you may simply hire a rod and other fishing equipment from the interior amenities. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and whiting have been particularly fruitful for pier fishermen this year.
Fort Fisher State Historic Site And Museum
The region around Carolina Beach and Wilmington is rich in history and has been pivotal in numerous battles. Fort Fisher was the scene of the biggest land-and-sea engagement of the Civil War.
The Fort Fisher State Museum in close proximity to Kure Beach now displays artifacts from this pivotal fight. To bring the kids, this is a must when visiting Carolina Beach.
Catch A Baseball Game
Undoubtedly an unusual Carolina Beach sight. Even though the Carolinas don’t have a Major League Baseball franchise, they do have a collegiate summer baseball league.
In the summer, you can catch a game between the Wilmington Sharks and the Carolina Mudcats at Legion Stadium, which is just around 20 minutes away from Carolina Beach. The greatest time to watch is on Thirsty Thursdays. Liters of draft beer are only $1.
Take A Boat To Masonboro Island
To visit Masonboro Island is one of my favorite things to do in Carolina Beach. All of Masonboro Island remains undeveloped since it is state-protected.
Carolina Beach is a must-see if you’re in the area of Wilmington, and its beaches are among the greatest. It’s a beautiful spot, and it’s one of the few remaining undeveloped stretches of coastline.
One of the most biologically varied places in the United States is right here in North Carolina, near the mouth of the Cape Fear River and Wilmington.
Because you need a boat, kayak, or canoe to get to Masonboro Island, not many people make the trip. If you plan on bringing a boat, you’ll need to time the tides carefully to avoid hitting the bottom.
Eat A Britts Donut
Britt’s Donuts on Carolina Beach is highly regarded by all Wilmington locals. Although I’ve never been a huge doughnut fan, I can attest that Britt’s Donuts are excellent.
Their specialty is the perfect glazed doughnut; in fact, that’s all they sell save coffee and milk. If you visit during the summer, expect to wait in line.
Wake N’ Bake is the place to go if you’re in the mood to shake things up, but they don’t accept credit cards. Having a doughnut from here is a must if you’re visiting Carolina Beach.
Play Beach Volleyball At The Lazy Pirate
Play a game of beach volleyball with your friends as you enjoy a drink and some bar food at the Lazy Pirate Island Sports Grille. Multiple court configurations provide the ideal outdoor activity on warm days in Carolina Beach.
You can play in one of their leagues if you’re going to be in Carolina Beach for a while, but they also have open play and pick-up games.
Pedal Pub Tour
I’m sure you’ve heard of Pedal Pub Tours. A group bike ride across a city that culminates with a beer tasting. Well, in Carolina Beach they take it to the next level with a Sea Legs Pedal Tour, which takes beer enthusiasts out on the sea.
Biking down Carolina Beach at your own speed allows you to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the area while sipping a beverage and conversing with friends.
Trips are captained and last for 90 minutes. Time your trip so that you may enjoy a two-hour Fireworks Cruise every Thursday evening. The starting price for a tour is $36 per person, and BYOB is encouraged!
Rent A Beach Cruiser
Riding a beach cruiser on the sand is a quintessential beach experience. Renting bicycles and exploring the island is a wonderful day activity in Carolina Beach.
From Carolina Beach State Park to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, you may use the fantastic bike route along Old Dow Road.
Go to Pleasure Island Rentals if you’re in need of a bicycle while visiting Carolina Beach. The daily rates begin at a reasonable $15. These bikes are not designed to ride on sand. You’ll need a fat bike for that.
Day Trip To Southport
Southport, North Carolina, is a picturesque community on the coast near where the Cape Fear River empties into the Atlantic.
This coastal community, previously named “America’s Happiest Seaside Town,” is a great place to visit because to its pleasant weather, charming eateries, and unique boutiques.
Many movies (including I Know What You Did Last Summer and A Walk to Remember) have been shot there to achieve the desired “small-town southern life” atmosphere.
Provision Company has some of the greatest seafood in the region and is a great place to get lunch.
You should go there if you want to do something new on your beach holiday. You can get to Southport by car, but taking the boat from Fort Fisher is the most convenient option.
Slurp Down Fresh Oysters
Do you enjoy oysters? You’re actually in a prime location to chow down on some of Carolina Beach’s finest in this respect. This is a legitimate activity in Carolina Beach.
When in Carolina Beach, don’t miss out on the oysters at Shuckin’ Shack, one of the greatest eateries in town.
During the summer months, the long queue of customers waiting to get in will make it impossible to overlook this place, since it is located directly on the main drag.
Beach Yoga With Salty Dog Yoga
Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you have to stop doing activities like yoga.
The Salty Dog Yoga studio is conveniently located in the heart of Carolina Beach and hosts lessons on a regular basis. However, it is not the most exciting aspect!
They do beach yoga nearly every day and also do fantastic courses and retreats there. Time slots that are convenient for you will need to be found by consulting their calendar.
Have A Beer At Good Hops Brewery
You should visit Good Hops if you’re in Carolina Beach. Spending a warm day in the spring, summer, or fall at Good Hops Brewery is a great idea for the whole family.
If you’re looking for a local artisan brewery, go no farther than Good Hops, located right in the heart of Carolina Beach.
They feature a tiny disc golf course, tons of specialty beers, inside and outdoor dining. They welcome furry friends and provide for a great place to relax with friends and family while enjoying a beer.
Enjoy The Beach!
Carolina Beach has some of the nicest beaches in North Carolina, so naturally spending time on the sand is a high priority for many visitors.
The shoreline stretches on for what seems like forever. After Labor Day, when everyone else has left but the water is still warm, is my favorite time to visit the beach.
If you go to the beach, remember to clean up after yourself. The villagers do a daily pick-up of rubbish left behind by visitors. It breaks my heart to see people destroy someone else’s property and the natural world.
In addition, keep in mind that cigarette butts are one of the worst things that may happen to the shore. They don’t disintegrate. Find out more about green traveling by reading up on the topic.
Where To Stay In Carolina Beach?
Drifters Reef Motel
Courtyard Carolina Beach
Hampton Inn & Suites
Best Restaurants In Carolina Beach
- While technically located in Kure Beach, my go-to restaurant in the neighborhood is Freddies. Booking ahead is strongly advised since this cozy establishment is popular with residents and visitors alike all year round. The pork chops at this restaurant are legendary.
- Hang Ten is the place to go for quick and cheap pub eats. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is a top restaurant in the Carolina Beach area. The Shrimp Burger is not to be missed.
- The greatest seafood on the island can be found at Michael’s Seafood Restaurant, which explains why there is a line out the door every night during the summer.
- Another Carolina Beach staple, Wake N Bake is a doughnut haven. Wake N Bake features a wide variety of doughnut flavors and good coffee. Because once they run out of flavors for the day, that’s it until the next morning, it’s best to arrive as early in the day as possible.
How To Get To Carolina Beach, North Carolina
Wilmington International Airport (ILM) is a tiny airport near Wrightsboro that supports many flights a day, which is good news if you plan on travelling to North Carolina.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport serves as a connecting point for many domestic and international flights, however Atlanta and Dallas also play a role.
Due to its tiny size and relative tranquility, ILM is perhaps the simplest airport to traverse. It’s recommended that you book a flight here if possible. Flying into Charlotte or Raleigh is often the more affordable option.
Wilmington serves as the beginning (or ending) point for Interstate 40, a major thoroughfare for motorists heading to or from the Tar Heel State.
To go to Raleigh it takes around 2.5 hours, to Charleston it takes about 3.5 hours, to Charlotte it takes about 4 hours, and to Myrtle Beach it takes about 1.5 hours.
Transportation In Carolina Beach, NC
In the same vein as the rest of the United States, public transportation options are limited in the Wilmington region.
To see all that Wilmington has to offer, a rental automobile is your best bet. Easy automobile rental pick-up is available at ILM. You may save both time and money by following our advice if you are renting a car for the first time.
However, once you reach Carolina Beach, getting around is easy whether you choose to ride a bike, stroll, or ride a golf cart.
Staying in a central location, like the Courtyard, places you within walking distance to the beach, nightlife, and dining options.
Unless you plan on biking the road or have a superb golf cart rental, a car is necessary to go to Kure Beach or Fort Fisher.
Carolina Beach, NC Weather
Curious as to the state of the Carolina Beach climate? You may think that summer is the finest season to visit Carolina Beach, but in fact, that’s when I try to avoid coming.
Though the months of May through September—encompassing both Memorial Day and Labor Day—are Wilmington’s busiest, it doesn’t make them the best. Extreme heat and humidity are commonplace throughout these months.
Personally, I think the greatest time to visit Wilmington is in the spring or fall, during the shoulder season, when the weather is pleasant without being too hot and humid to enjoy the beach.
Late April, May, September, and October fall within this category. If you want to save money and experience a more authentic side of a destination, plan your trip for the shoulder seasons, which fall between the peak summer and winter seasons.
If you’re still on the fence about when to visit Wilmington based on the weather, but you can visit during one of the shoulder months, September or October is probably your best chance. The air will be nice and pleasant, and the water will be significantly warmer than in the spring.
The one thing that may go wrong with a September vacation? The Carolina coast is constantly at risk during hurricane season.
Every three to four years, North Carolina’s coast will likely be battered by a hurricane. Storm Florence of 2018 was the latest big hurricane to make landfall.