The Town of Kure Beach with a REAL wooden pier perfect for strollers as well as fishermen/women, restaurants, and the cutest boardwalk this side of, well, you decide. A curb market, a seasonal ice cream shop, post office, and, for more strolling, a neighborhood of beach cottages from another era. A photographer’s goldmine. With in-season live entertainment and vendor exhibits often, our “town square” is anything but square. We love our town!
Carolina Beach State Park is a 761 acre natural area, located on the shores of the Cape Fear River, including a Visitors Center and marina/fuel dock from which to launch for some of North Carolina’s best fishing spots. There is an accessible fishing deck and 8.5 miles of hiking along 9 trails (2 of which wheelchair accessible) and 1 mile of biking. The Visitor Center is wheelchair accessible with exhibits and videos. Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational hikes and programs. A highlight of a visit is the Flytrap Trail, recognized worldwide as one of the most prolific homes for Venus flytraps, which are indigenous to North Carolina and a protected species. This wheelchair-accessible trail loops through pocosin wetlands and longleaf pine and wiregrass savanna communities. Venus flytraps can be seen along the edges of the pocosins. Flora and fauna rich, parts of the trail travel along wooden boardwalks. An easy, fun walk for most everyone.
Right up the road from Kure is Carolina Beach. With its long, lovely boardwalk and its more-than-fair-share of local restaurants and bars, there’s a touch of nostalgia associated with this old beach town. Bragging rights, according to locals, for being the real Home of the Shag, the unique dance of the North Carolina/South Carolina coast, give it a try. (No one is looking.) There are fireworks displays regularly in-season and a visit to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk would not be complete without at least a couple of hot Britts doughnuts. World’s finest!
The Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is comprised of nearly six miles of pristine beach and trails through a salt marsh. Within the recreation area is a park touching both the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River. Development on this protected shoreline is limited to a visitor center and boardwalks that attract birders and photographers. Loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers, and other rare species nest along the sandy shore. The park is popular for surf fishing, and four-wheel-drive vehicles are allowed seasonally with required permits. A boating ramp and paddling launch are located nearby.
Dive enthusiasts can pick up a dive map to explore the wreck of the blockade runner, Condor, the first stop on NC’s Heritage Dive Site trail.
Adjacent to the recreation area is one of North Carolina’s three state-of-the-art aquariums. Fascinating and educational, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a draw for all, no matter the age. Families can spend hours roaming the exhibits and hands-on displays. Outreach programs and interactive exhibits include lessons in surf casting, biodiversity, and highlights of the region’s aquatic life making a visit to the Aquarium a must when at the Ocean Dunes Resort.
No description of the Fort Fisher area is complete without touting the Fort Fisher/Southport Ferry, right down the road from the aquarium and 2 easy miles from Ocean Dunes. Resort folks take the few-minute ride to the state ferry dock to cruise the 30-minute voyage to the dock at Southport. Ocean Duners can easily be over for a meal in one of Southport’s many amazing restaurants, shopping in the antique/kitsch/souvenir stores, or just swinging in one of the “port swings” located at the waterfront with time to spare. A drive through the historic district with a stop at its historic cemetery tops off a day in Southport with the assurance of a quick return to “base camp,” the Ocean Dunes Resort.