Visitors are often surprised at the number and variety of weekly vacation rentals throughout the area.. Vacation rentals are, in fact, an increasingly popular accommodation available to vacationers, and visitors will find that the sheer number of rentals available allows them to find an ideal retreat to fit their crew, from quiet condo complexes to brightly colored oceanfront sand castles.
Sandwiched in between the towns of Shallotte, Ocean Isle Beach, and Holden Beach, the Shallotte River and the Shallotte Inlet are popular attractions for water lovers who want to explore the local watery terrain outside the Atlantic Ocean. Renowned for great fishing, boating, and incredible scenery throughout, enjoying this relatively large area of saltwater is an easy feat. And after a kayaking or beachcombing adventure, visitors will surely agree that the local Shallotte River and Shallotte Inlet adds a new perspective of North Carolina’s inherent love of life by the waterfront.
Sandwiched in between the hopping beach town of Carolina Beach and the quiet shorelines of Fort Fisher and the Zeke’s Island Reserve, Kure Beach is a picturesque beach vacation destination that offers a little bit of everything to visitors. Famed for sunny beaches, a quiet atmosphere, and easy proximity to a wealth of attractions and things to do, Kure Beach represents the best of all worlds when it comes to coastal Cape Fear vacations.
Rain or shine, the Cape Fear area is always brimming with ways to learn something new, have some fun, and create incredible memories that will last long after a vacation is over. From unique museums and historic sites to incredible shopping and dining opportunities, there’s a lot to discover in this coastal North Carolina region, even when the weather doesn’t cooperate. So if a rain cloud or two tries to put a damper on your upcoming Cape Fear vacation, discover these incredible attractions, activities and sites that are always engaging, regardless of the weather.
Holden Beach is a gem of a vacation destination. Accommodating a world of outdoor sports and interests, with crystal clear beaches that are uncrowded even during the busiest summer days, the island was recently ranked as one of the top family friendly beaches in the country. An ideal launching point for boating, kayaking, fishing, surfing, and any number of sandy and salty past times, Holden Beach is a nationally acclaimed barrier island that is a perfect escape for families who want to throw on the flip flops, spread out the beach towel, and enjoy the laid-back, coastal scene.
Situated on the edge of the Cape Fear Coastline in between the bustling towns of Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach, the Masonboro Island Estuarine Reserve is a unique slice of undeveloped and natural barrier island shoreline that’s an important habitat for countless coastal species. Hard to reach but wonderfully isolated, visitors who make a trip to this literal deserted island will be rewarded with great shelling, beautiful landscapes, and miles of beaches to go around.
Zeke's Island Estuarine Reserve is found just south of the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, and is one of the three original 1985 National Estuarine Research Reserve components dedicated by NOAA and the Division of Coastal Management. Encompassing a wide range of habitats, the lagoon-like reserve is one of the most important feeding regions of the North Carolina shoreline for a wide range of birds, and is a popular destination for nature lovers, mariners, kayakers, and birdwatchers alike.
Visitors to historic Southport who want to make a beach escape, or Carolina Beach travelers who need an easy yet scenic route to head south will find the Southport / Fort Fisher ferry a convenient yet completely unique way to explore the southern North Carolina coastline. Though just a short 35 minute ride from the mainland to Pleasure Island, (the home of Fort Fisher State Park, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach), this ferry trip nonetheless gives its passengers exceptional views of the Cape Fear River, and an incredible story to take back home.
One of Kure Beach’s newest pubic parks is already becoming one of its most popular, thanks to a prime location along the oceanfront, and a host of concerts, shows, and special events that have all been held within its borders. The Kure Beach Ocean Front Park & Pavilion is home to the town’s largest public green space, and is perched along the oceanfront, inviting visitors to stop by and admire the scene. Fun for big community-wide events and everyday visitors alike, this park is charming both the visitors and locals of Kure Beach.
Creating a list of the “must see” attractions during a vacation to the Cape Fear area can be a difficult task. With 300 years of history, a brilliant natural landscape, and an array of activities, it can seem impossible to do and see it all during a getaway to this enriching coastal destination. And while visitors may have their own specific interests and pursuits when they come to the Cape Fear area – whether it’s history, beaches, or incredible dining and shopping – any vacationer who wants to fully discover the region will want to ensure these iconic attractions are on their itinerary.
Visitors who take a trip to the very southern tip of the North Carolina coastline will be treated to a wild landscape where the local wildlife thrives – the Bird Island Reserve. Situated on the border of North and South Carolina, this collection of marshy islands and shoreline is a paradise for beachcombers, kayakers, birdwatchers, and any visitor who enjoys a pristine piece of the coastline. Fairly easy to reach and yet wonderfully isolated, the Bird Island Reserve is a breath of fresh air for anyone who appreciates a purely natural exploration.
Located just east of the quiet Ogden area of Wilmington, Figure Eight Island is a destination that has inspired curiosity for decades. Privately owned by its homeowners, and only accessible by a single bridge that crosses the Intracoastal Waterway, the island is a rumored haven for celebrities, wealthy CEOs and company owners, and any visitor who just wants a private escape. Though difficult to access, visitors who make the cut by renting or buying a vacation home on the island will be treated to one of the quietest beach landscapes in the area. As a result, Figure Eight Island retains its reputation as one of the most pristine – and privileged – vacation destinations in the coastal Cape Fear area.
Sunset Beach is a unique little North Carolina coastal destination that encompasses both mainland and barrier island terrain, and is located just a seashell's throw from the South Carolina border. Despite its proximity to larger destinations like Wilmington, NC to the north and Myrtle Beach, SC to the south, the community has never lost its small town charm, and its decidedly beachy atmosphere, making it an ideal destination for laid back vacationers who want to soak up the salt, the sun, and the endless ocean views.
Surfing is big in the Cape Fear area, and it’s a sport that has been enjoyed by decades of locals and vacationers alike. With gentle summertime waves that are perfect for beginners, and larger and more challenging swells that can make an appearance with a passing storm or hurricane, the surfing scene in the Cape Fear area can be as wild or as laid-back as a surfer wants. Visitors who want to get their toes wet in this popular beach activity will find ample destinations – and ample learning opportunities – to hit the waves. From cool camps that are perfect for young surfers just learning the ropes, to popular tournaments where East Coast’s best surfers shine, there’s something for everyone when it comes to the Cape Fear surfing scene.
For families travelling to the beach, or fishermen carrying tackle/coolers, a beach cart can be the best purchase of your vacation. These carts feature extra-wide wheels to move across soft sand, even when loaded. Carts are often built for specific scenarios, so think about the gear you’d be putting on your cart before making a decision.
Mariners of all varieties will find that the Intracoastal Waterway in this corner of coastal North Carolina has a lot to offer visitors and locals alike. Following the Cape Fear coastline, and bypassing a myriad of cool towns and attractions along the way, mariners taking a cruise along this famed stretch of water may want to settle in for a day to discover what the Cape Fear region is all about.
The Oak Island Lighthouse and Coast Guard station have a long history together, and the tall lighthouse tower stands as a welcoming beacon to visitors who head to these picturesque shores. As the newest lighthouse in North Carolina, the distinctive white, gray and black structure is unlike any other on the coastline, prompting both curiosity and amazement from visitors, and making it a "must-see" on any lighthouse lover's road trip list.
Situated on the coastal edge of the causeway bridge to Ocean Island Beach, McClure Realty Vacations is a welcoming sight for visitors who want to enjoy a great vacation in an exceptional vacation rental along the coastline. Offering well over 100 vacation properties in all shapes and sizes, McClure Realty Vacations can help visitors of all tastes and party sizes find just the right home for their upcoming stay in the heart of the Brunswick Island beaches.
Cape Fear Jewelers is located in scenic downtown Southport, NC. Southport is located at the mouth of the Cape Fear River and has a rich maritime history. Cape Fear Jewelers offers original nautical designs and a variety of respected jewelry designers in gold, platinum, and sterling silver. The lore of the sea is well represented at Cape Fear Jewelers.
Seafood lovers who don’t mind getting their hands dirty will want to take a stroll to the Shuckin’ Shack. Located in the heart of Downtown Wilmington along a busy section of Market Street, this casual and cool seafood joint is the perfect spot to dive into a world of fresh and messy seaworthy cuisine.
For nearly 40 years, the same corner has been home to a staple in the Calabash community, Callahan’s. Locals and tourists alike are loyal to Callahan’s because of our vast selection of home décor, holiday décor, gifts, and apparel sprawling over 35,000 square feet. Because we are family owned and operated, Callahan’s is not only home to nearly every collectible imaginable but also to our employees, many of whom have been a part of the Callahan’s magic for over a decade and hold our business near and dear to their hearts. We strive to become a part of your family traditions and look forward to bringing you and your loved ones into our enchanting shop for many years to come.
As the name would suggest, Hang Ten Grill is a casual beach joint with a definitive surfer vibe that serves as the perfect hang-out after a long morning or afternoon of riding the waves in Carolina Beach. Located along Carolina Beach’s “main drag,” Lake Park Blvd, and just a couple pf blocks away from the beach, this cool eatery is a great spot to refuel after an active day on the seashore.
Michael’s Seafood Restaurant is an all-encompassing stop for both easy-going seafood meals and catering for casual parties or big events. Located in a central shopping and business section of inland Carolina Beach, this fresh eatery has been wowing patrons of all varieties – from event planners to vacationing families – with a big selection of coastal eats.