Are you planning a visit to Wilmington, North Carolina? If so, you might be thinking about visiting one of the local beaches. As a popular NC beach town, Wilmington has something for just about everyone. Downtown Wilmington is known for its boutique shopping opportunities on the boardwalk, and there are plenty of watersports going on during the summer, such as kayaking, jet skiing, and fishing. Furthermore, this is the perfect family-friendly getaway for those looking for an oceanfront rental!
With this in mind, here are the best beaches near Wilmington, North Carolina.
1. Topsail Island
Topsail Island is one of the most popular beaches on the Atlantic seaboard. Even though it is home to some amazing beaches, it also has a small-town atmosphere that will make everyone feel like they are at home. Topsail Island is only an hour away from Wilmington, so it might not be as close as the other beaches, but it is definitely worth checking out.
It is an amazing area with some unparalleled views, soft sand, and plenty of activities for people of all ages. It’s also one of the largest beaches off the coast of North Carolina, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding some beach houses or local vacation rentals.
One of the most popular attractions on Topsail Island is the sea turtle hospital. People of all ages are invited to volunteer for a day to help sea turtles rehabilitate. It should come as no surprise that the island takes sea turtles very seriously, so you need to pay close attention to local regulations regarding light. If sea turtles are laying eggs, it is important to keep the lights low during the evening so the sea turtles have an easy time figuring out where to go.
Topsail Island also has a wide variety of delicious seafood restaurants. Much of the food is caught right there on the island, so be sure to talk to the restaurant staff and chefs about the specials for the day. It might have even been caught off the coast that very day!
Ultimately, Topsail Island is 26 miles long. With so much to explore, this is a place you can come back to over and over again. Regardless of whether you want to go kayaking, explore some of the bike trails, or simply relax on the beach, there is something for everyone. It is easy to see why Topsail Island is one of the most popular beaches in the Wilmington area.
2. Kure Beach
If you are looking for a beach with a bit of history, you may want to check out Kure Beach. This is a popular destination for families with children because it is relatively close to the aquarium. There is also an outdoor playset close to the beach that will keep children occupied. There are plenty of other families who visit with young children as well, so there is always an opportunity for kids to make a few friends and keep each other occupied as the adults relax and bask in the sun!
Kure Beach is also a great location for anyone who loves history. In particular, the Fort Fisher State Historic Site is one of the most popular locations. The historic district is rife with amazing exhibits to check out, and everyone can learn more about the Civil War by visiting the fort.
After checking out Fort Fisher, don’t forget to pay a visit to the Kure Beach Pier! It is famous for being the oldest fishing pier on the Atlantic coast, and you will also have an opportunity to check out a variety of festivals and events during the summer. There are lots of bands who come to entertain the beachgoers, and there are food festivals that take place from time to time as well! Therefore, don’t forget to bring your fishing pole as well as your appetite. Even if you don’t catch anything in the water, you can always buy some fresh seafood from one of the stands that have set up shop!
3. Carolina Beach
If you dream of delicious food stands and live music during the summer, then you will definitely want to check out Carolina Beach. As you stroll down the boardwalk, you might even feel like you have taken a step back in time. There is a lot of history in this area, and there are plenty of boutiques along the Carolina Beach boardwalk that have interesting artifacts to check out!
Even if you aren’t into history, there are plenty of fun activities in the area. This is home to some of the best fishing in the region, and some of the top fishermen in the region come here regularly to test their skills. Don’t forget to bring your fishing rod, line, and bait, as you might want to join them!
In addition, the boardwalk on Carolina Beach is home to some of the top festivals every summer. You might want to check out a few of the art and music festivals that take place during June, July, and August. Carolina Beach is home to some of the best food and entertainment options in the area. There are even BBQ competitions that take place from time to time.
This is also a great place to check out if you like amusement park rides, as well as the North Carolina Aquarium. There are rides available for people of all ages, and there are some amazing exhibits at the aquarium that rotate from time to time. For all of these reasons, you may want to visit Carolina beach in the summer! There is fun for the entire family.
4. Oak Island
Oak Island is one of the most popular beach towns in the local area. The Intracoastal Waterway separates Oak Island from the mainland, and it is known for several attractions. If you like to spend time outside, you’ll want to visit the Oak Island Nature Center. There are plenty of trails, fossil displays, and local animals to check out.
With so many things to do on Oak Island, don’t forget to visit the Oak Island Lighthouse as well. The White House is tall enough to give you some amazing views of Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island, both of which are relatively close to Oak Island.
Finally, don’t forget to check out Ocean Crest Pier. This is one of the most popular locations for people who love to fish, and there are fish in competitions that take place from time to time. Many of the local restaurants serve fish that have been caught right here, so you might be able to pick up a pointer or two from the fishermen who come every day!
5. Wrightsville Beach
If you are looking for the best Wilmington Beach, then you will definitely want to consider Wrightsville Beach. This is a favorite among residents and visitors alike, and it is situated on a barrier island very close to the Intracoastal Waterway. It is only 30 minutes from downtown Wilmington, providing easy access to amazing shops and restaurants.
One of the highlights of Wrightsville Beach is its hallmark pier, which is known for its amazing sunset views. While in town, be sure to enjoy one of their waterfront restaurants for the best view in town. Even though you can certainly take a fun walk on the beach, Wrightsville Beach is also a great place for those who are looking for a bit more adventure.
Some of the most popular activities include surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking. If you want the journey out into the Atlantic Ocean on your own, you can rent a boat, kayak, or jet ski for the day. Even if you have never done any of these activities before, you can sign up for lessons!
Because of the ubiquitous opportunities, Wrightsville Beach is one of the top NC beaches in Wilmington. There are plenty of waterfront vacation rentals available as well!
6. Masonboro Island
If you love checking out plants and animals at a local state park, then you will definitely want to pay a visit to Masonboro Island. It is a bit harder to get to, as it is only accessible by boat, but it will definitely be worth the trip and it will make it all the more fulfilling.
This is an island that is home to dozens of wildlife species, and there are multiple boats that will get you there. For example, you may want to charter a boat for the day if you want to give yourself a bit more flexibility and freedom. Or, you may want to take the ferry to the local reserve.
Once you get to the reserve, you will see some beautiful animals living in their natural habitat. The island is home to birds, sea turtles, and a few plants that you may not find anywhere else. The island sits between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. Masonboro Island is also the largest untouched barrier island in the region.
Even though there is a lot to explore, you need to pay close attention to the signs. Visitors are typically only allowed to access very specific trails. With more than eight miles of beach to check out, there is plenty to keep you busy! On the other hand, make sure you bring your own food, beverages, and even bathroom articles, as there are no facilities on Masonboro Island.
7. Bald Head Island Beach
If you are looking for a relaxing beach vacation, you should check out Bald Head Island. It is known for its relatively slow pace, so it is perfect for people who like to sleep in, enjoy a morning cup of coffee, and then stroll out after brunch! This is also a great place to go if you love nature. It has tens of thousands of acres that are protected because of its unique natural habitats as well as the plants and animals that live there.
If you decide to pay a visit to Bald Head Island, keep in mind that cars are not allowed on the island. Even though this can make the journey a bit more difficult, this is the perfect place to go if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Residents and visitors alike have the opportunity to unplug from their electronic devices, bask in the beauty of nature, and relax underneath some beautiful palm trees.
Even if sitting for hours on end is not quite your speed, there are plenty of activities in the area. You can go surfing, try stand-up paddleboarding, or rent a kayak. You may even want to check out a few of the golf courses, climb the lighthouse, or visit the local Forest Preserve.
To get to the island, you will need to take a ferry from Southport, North Carolina, which is located at the Deep Point Marina. Then, once you are on the island, you can rent a golf cart to get around.
Find the Best Beaches in Wilmington, North Carolina
The Atlantic coast is home to many beautiful beaches, and Wilmington, North Carolina is no different. There are lots of fun shops and delicious restaurants, and there are plenty of aquatic activities available as well!
Regardless of whether you want to check out the riverwalk, go paddleboarding, or simply relax with your family members and friends, there is something for everyone in Wilmington, North Carolina. Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen and sunglasses, and plan accordingly!
There are some amazing vacation rental opportunities that can make your summer trip to the beach one to remember.