Carolina Beach is a fantastic place to visit year-round. There are so many things to do in Carolina Beach it’s quite easy to fill up every day of your vacation, plus the city of Wilmington is nearby!
Going to college in Wilmington and having family in Carolina Beach we try to make our way back to the North Carolinian coast every year. When we do, here are some fantastic Carolina Beach things to do.
Fun Things to do in Carolina Beach, NC!
So you’re wondering what to do in Carolina Beach, NC? For many who come to the coastal town, they have one thing on their mind – fishing. There are many ways you can go fishing in the Carolina Beach area. However, before you start, make sure you have a fishing license to do so legally.
There are two exceptions to a fishing license that is if you’re fishing from a pier that charges a fee to fish or if you’re on a charter fishing boat (both carry special commercial licenses that cover you). Here are some of the best ways to go fishing at Carolina Beach:
- Surf Fishing from the beach.
- Fish in Snow’s Cut and from Carolina Beach State Park.
- Deep Sea fish with a charter boat from Carolina Beach or Wrightsville Beach.
- Cast a line off of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, or Johnny Mercer Pier.
- Hop on the Winner Gulf Stream Fishing cruise
- Take your own boat of course!
Disc Golf in Carolina Beach
Disc Golf is one of the great Carolina Beach activities to enjoy! The Wilmington area has four disc golf courses, and they’re all free to use. All you need is a disc which you can pick up for $10 at several shops around the area.
You can find them at Outdoor Provisions, surf shops (CB surf), Dicks Sporting Goods, and a bunch of other places.
Here are four disc golf courses around Carolina Beach and Wilmington:
- North Regional Park, Castle Hayne: This course is on the PDGA, and it’s the best course in the area. It has 18 holes and many challenging par 4 and 5 holes. It’s prone to mud when there is fresh rain, but it’s terrific on a chilly day.
- Joe Eakes Park, Kure Beach: This is my favorite course because it’s a full 18 holes and has a few challenging holes. What makes it the best for me is it’s all in a coastal forest with sand fairways. The weather is reliable with plenty of water close by, but it also gets windy! Heading here is easily one of the best things to do in Kure Beach.
- Arrowhead Park: 18 hole par three disc golf course. There are plenty of hills that make for fun elevation changes and it’s in a beautiful little park.
- Good Hops Brewing, Carolina Beach: This is the most straightforward course with all of the holes at par 3. It’s also on the breweries property so you can legally pick up a craft beer inside and play while drinking. AWESOME!
Kayak Around Zeke’s Island
One of Cameron’s favorite things to do in Carolina Beach is to kayak around Zeke’s Island. Zeke’s Island is an NC Coastal Reserve only accessible by shallow water boats.
Once there you will be able to enjoy the peace and quiet of the coastal marshlands. It’s a great opportunity to see all the biodiversity of Wilmington. There is a boat ramp at Federal Point – adjacent to the Zeke’s Island site to launch from.
I would recommend taking a cooler and some chairs for relaxation once there. I wouldn’t recommend crossing the old civil war wall that leads out to the island. Cameron once got caught out there during high tide and it wasn’t a good day – his sister hopped away with 26 stitches in her knee from oyster shells.
Visit the Fort Fisher Aquarium
The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a place where kids and adults alike can visit and learn about marine life. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Carolina Beach.
Unlike some of the mega aquariums around the United States, the Fort Fisher aquarium is a real research center and not a cash cow. The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a member of the 230 accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
They have a number of exhibits and shows open every day of the year, so no matter what day you visit you’ll be sure to have a good time. It’s here that you can also meet the rare albino alligator named Luna and a rescued bald eagle named Maverick. They also have an awesome butterfly garden in the Spring and Summer. This is one of the best Carolina Beach attractions.
Have a Night Out at the Beach Bars!
One of the best things to do in Carolina Beach is head to the beach bars. While there are beach bars at both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, but my absolute favorite place to enjoy the beach nightlife is at Carolina Beach. During the summer a vivacious crowd can be found at the numerous bars around the island.
The beach bars at Carolina Beach feel much more “beachy” to me than at Wrightsville where the college crowd hangs out. Kure Beach is also lovely, but it is much quieter than Carolina. We’re Carolina Beach regulars so here are our favorite bars in Carolina Beach.
- Fat Pelican: This doesn’t only make our list of favorite bars in Wilmington, but the world. It’s eclectic, packed with character, and just crusty enough to make it the perfect dive bar. We love the crowd as there is no age limit here (21+ mind you) and you’ll find every walk of life.
- Crush & Grind: We love the atmosphere here as its all about craft beer and wine in a modern atmosphere. The owner also makes some fantastic coffee – try out the cold brew!
- Tiki Bar & Grill: On a beautiful day it’s impossible to beat sitting on the remains of a pier and enjoying a cold drink. The only negative for us is the price with $5 beer cans and $12 cocktails (We’re not in NYC!).
- Sea Witch: Live music on the weekends and awesome tiki bar feel. They have a large open courtyard and often draw a crowd in the summer.
- The Last Resort: This little bar sits right on Carolina Beach Ave, and you can’t miss it!
- Nollies Taco Joint: There probably isn’t a better bar food than tacos.
Hunt for a Venus Flytrap at Carolina Beach State Park
Heading here is one of the best things to do in Carolina Beach. Carolina Beach State Park is one of my favorite places in Carolina Beach to watch the sunset every day. We spent a month here in 2018 and spent almost every evening in the park. Besides sunsets, it also provides a good platform to fish from and launch your boat into the Cape Fear River.
Besides that, we like to come here and enjoy a hike through the woods beneath the fantastic trees. Sugarloaf Dune is also a point of interest here that is worth checking out. They also have beautiful shaded campsites here for campers and RVs.
Oh yea and Carolina Beach is also home to the Venus flytrap! That’s right it is home to one of the most famous carnivorous plants in the world and one of the only places you can find it in the wild. Heading to this park is easily one of the best things to do in North Carolina!
Learn to Surf
The North Carolina coast has prime surfing conditions. It draws a huge surf crowd and is a fantastic place to actually learn to surf. You can either rent your own surfboard and head out on your own or get a lesson which I highly recommend. The ocean here is no joke and can get quite dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing or aren’t comfortable in the water. Tony Silvagni has rentals, lessons, and even surf camps.
Walk Along the Carolina Beach Boardwalk
If you are looking for a fun thing to do in Carolina Beach for the whole family head to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. There’s something for everyone here. Whether you just want to cruise the boardwalk and take a stroll or enjoy the rides in the summer one thing is for certain – the Carolina Beach walk is where the activities are. It’s even been named one of the best boardwalks in America.
Grab a Burger and Beer at Hang Ten
One of the best places to grab a laid-back bite to eat is definitely at Hang Ten. We meet with family every summer and enjoy the atmosphere and of course, the shrimp burger!
Fort Fisher State Historic Site and Museum
Carolina Beach and the Wilmington area have lots of history and played important parts throughout many wars. The largest land-sea battle of the Civil War was held at Fort Fisher. Now you can see the site of this historic battle at the Fort Fisher State Museum near Kure Beach. This is one of the best things to do in Carolina Beach for families.
Catch a Baseball Game
An unlikely Carolina Beach attraction for sure. While the Carolinas have no Major League Baseball team, there is still a collegiate summer baseball league here. The Wilmington Sharks play at Legion Stadium during the summer, it’s only a 20 minute or so drive from Carolina Beach and makes for a great evening because. Thirsty Thursdays are the best time to watch. $1 draft beers – no joke.
Take a Boat to Masonboro Island
One of my favorite things to do in Carolina Beach is go to Masonboro Island. Masonboro Island state-protected land and the entire island is undeveloped, it’s on of those Carolina Beach attractions you can’t miss. It’s an amazingly beautiful area and one of the last places you can truly experience an untouched coast.
Believe it or not, but the mouth of the Cape Fear River and Wilmington is one of the most biodiverse spots in the continental United States – and highest on the East Coast!
Eat a Britts Donut
Everyone and I mean everyone who lives in Wilmington raves about Britt’s Donuts in Carolina Beach. Now I’ve never really been much of a donut fanatic, but I can confirm that Britt’s Donuts are delicious.
They’ve perfected the glazed donut, and besides coffee and milk, it is the only thing they sell. Come in the summertime and you’ll likely be waiting in line to try one. Don’t expect to pay with a credit card here. If you feel like mixing it up, head to Wake N’ Bake donuts for some amazing original creations. Eating a donut here is one of the best things to do in Carolina Beach.
Slurp Down Fresh Oysters
Are you an oyster fan? Well, you’re in one of the best places to slurp down on them in Carolina Beach. Seriously this is one of those Carolina Beach things to do. Shuckin’ Shack is an oyster institution that must be visited while in Carolina Beach. It’s right on the main strip, and you can’t miss it as there is usually a line of people out the door in the summer!
Beach Yoga with Salty Dog Yoga
Don’t think that just because you’re on vacation you have to give up things like yoga. Salty Dog Yoga is right in Carolina Beach and offers daily classes at their studio. That’s not the best part though!
Almost everyday they head to the beach for beach yoga, and even host some amazing workshops and retreats at the beach. You’ll have to check their schedule for times that work for you.
Have a Beer at Good Hops Brewery
One of the best things to do in Carolina Beach is head to Good Hops. One of the best ways to spend a nice Spring, Summer, or Autumn day with family is at Good Hops Brewery. Good Hops is a neighborhood craft brewery right in Carolina Beach. They have indoor and outdoor seating, plenty of craft brews AND a small disc golf course. They are dog-friendly and provide the perfect setting for a cold one with people you love.
Enjoy the Beach!
Obviously, one of the best things to do in Carolina Beach is to enjoy the beach! There are miles and miles of coastline just waiting to be explored. My favorite time to head to the beach is April, May, and September when the crowds die down.
Please always pick up after yourself while at the beach. Every morning the locals go out and pick up all the trash left from tourists. It’s very heartbreaking to see people disregard someones home and the environment. Also – remember that cigarette butts are one of the most harmful things to the coast. They don’t disintegrate. Read more about how to be a sustainable traveler.
(If you’re in Kure Beach, the best thing to do in Kure Beach is also head to the beach!)
The Best Things to do in Carolina Beach Map
Where To Stay in Carolina Beach?
Hampton Inn & Suites Carolina Beach Oceanfront
This is the newest hotel on Carolina Beach and has a modern interior. We haven’t stayed here, but have popped in to grab a coffee and have a drink on their back deck. Looks nice and they have great reviews. The hotel is located right on the boardwalk so your steps away from the beach.
Airbnb at Carolina Beach
The vast majority of people head to the coast here and use a vacation rental service – if resorts are your thing this isn’t the place for your vacation.
Cameron’s family runs a few Airbnb’s in Carolina Beach. They are amazing, a good value, and his mom even has the Superhost status. Check them out here, they will ensure you are close to all the best things to do in Carolina Beach!