Pleasure Island is a hidden gem in North Carolina. There are three small towns that make up the island: Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and historic Fort Fisher. The natural beauty of this place makes it a perfect beach vacation destination and an idyllic place to live.
There are miles of wide sandy beaches and a large variety of places to stay whether it be a Hotel, Motel, Cottage, or Condo. If you are looking for more than soaking up the sun and swimming, we’ve got plenty to do. Kayaking, fishing, boating, four-wheeling and so much more.
Too much, in fact, to include it all here. This page represents the VERY BEST of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher.
Carolina Beach is a place where people gather on their porches after dinner or take a walk around the Lake and say, “good evening” to passers-by. It is a neighborhood in the sense that you know those people who live beside you. In fact, they collect your newspaper or mail and pull your trash can to the curb when you go out of town.
While the shore is full of vacationers down on the beach, the peace of my neighborhood remains constant just a few blocks back from the mayhem of traffic and limited parking. I casually walk or ride my bike to work to avoid fighting these daily summertime battles.
Walkable? Most definitely! If you want in on the action, just a few blocks away is our historic boardwalk. Carolina Beach is home to one of the few remaining boardwalks on the East Coast. No bikes or cars allowed, pedestrians only. In “season” it is similar to the atmosphere of a carnival midway. Just the smell of the salty air mixed with the donuts frying brings back childhood memories of many summers past.
A cacophony of hungry seagulls competes for french-fries from a friendly tourist. The noise they make barely heard above the bells and whistles from the arcade games. What “fairground food” is your guilty pleasure? It is sure to be found here. Choose from corn dogs, hot dogs, pizza or oyster po’boy sandwiches. There is fried seafood, chowder, and burgers. If a sweet treat is your desire donuts, ice-cream, sno-cones and homemade fudge are sure to please.
Family-friendly activities are plentiful with miniature golf, bike rentals, bumper cars, and shopping.
Nightlife on the boardwalk abounds. There are karaoke bars, outdoor music at the Gazebo, weekly fireworks, and beach bars. It is a fun spot for people watching on a hot Saturday night. You can walk the boardwalk to the ocean for a moonlit stroll or to the central business district where you can dine, shop and find more nightlife.
After being ravaged by hurricanes and years of neglect, the boardwalk is undergoing a revitalization once again. Perhaps not as vibrant as in its’ heyday of the ’40s and ’50s, but still a grand reminder of a simpler time and the easy pleasures at the beach.
Where should I stay on Pleasure Island?
There are many choices, but here are some of the best. Each of these accommodations offers something a little different. While some people may prefer a “Mom & Pop” type place, others enjoy a high rise or the privacy of a condo or beach cottage. I’ve tried to include a little of everything below.
SeaWitch Motel and Cafe
The SeaWitch Motel is oceanfront with a Cafe and Tiki Bar directly across the street. This is a mom and pops with about 16 rooms.
The Savannah Inn
The Savannah is oceanfront and very quaint. A mom and pop with about 25 rooms, clean and affordable. They are just a few doors down from the SeaWitch
Courtyard By Marriott Carolina Beach
The Marriot is one of two chain hotels on the beach. All rooms are oceanfront with a private balcony, some with jacuzzies.
Carolina Beach NC – Vacation Rentals – Kure Beach NC
Carolina Beach NC Rentals – Kure Beach NC Rentals – United Beach Vacations offers complete vacation rentals for the Pleasure Island area
Palm Air Vacation Rentals
Locally owned and operated adorable cottages in the heart of Kure Beach.
Seven Seas Inn
Oceanfront in Kure Beach with a swimming pool. Locally owned, a Kure Beach tradition
Carolina Beach Fun Things to Do
Tired of sunbathing and beachcombing? All kinds of water sports, hiking, shopping, and dining await you in Carolina Beach…
Carolina Beach State Park
Home of the Venus Fly Trap! Carolina Beach State Park has a marina, 6 miles of hiking trails, a picnic area in a shaded grove of trees, and a campground.
I have featured photos throughout this page of the park, it is really something to see.
Wheel Fun Rentals
Bike Rentals, Paddle Boat Rentals and so much more! Really, have you ridden a surrey? Six people peddling along in the shade. Too much fun. When you go into Wheel Fun Rentals, you can’t miss the Fudge Boat…you’ll see what I mean. Wheel Fun is right on the Boardwalk, you can’t miss it.
Kayaking tours to Zeke’s Island, bird watching, nature in action.
Pleasure Island Rentals
Surfboards, wakeboards, kayaks, golf carts you can rent many fun things at Pleasure Island Rentals. Jetskis, surf lessons-right on the main drag in Carolina Beach.
Also known as “The North End”, one of the few beaches where you can four-wheel right up to the ocean! I’ve seen the most beautiful sunsets from the North End and watched the moon rise out of the ocean, huge and red. An unforgettable evening in Carolina Beach.
The Winner Boats are a fleet of boats docked in the Carolina Beach Municipal Marina. They feature fishing charters, dinner cruises, and party/dancing cruises. The ticket booth is located directly in front of the boats. Party boats go out each evening at 9:00 and 11:00 each night. The boats can accommodate private parties and weddings as well.
Shopping on Pleasure Island
Carolina and Kure Beaches have some wonderful shops where I often find unique gifts for friends and family. I can enjoy my shopping experience in a smaller store, away from the “mall madness” of crowds with people pushing and shoving or fighting for a parking space a mile from the store. I would certainly rather leisurely peruse the goods available in the friendly atmosphere of a shop around the corner.
Some of the most treasured items I have received as gifts are those handcrafted by local artists, one of a kind items that have been created with love and care. There is certainly someone on your Christmas list who will feel the same!
Whether you are a local or just visiting Pleasure Island, take some time to check out our great merchants in Carolina and Kure Beach this holiday season!
Pleasure Island Festivals
Carolina Beach hosts numerous events each year. Spring really kicks off here with the Pleasure Island Chowder Cook-off in April. Various local restaurants compete for the Judge’s Choice and People’s Choice awards for the best chowder in the area.
Just over the bridge in Wilmington, the Azalea Festival is also in April. This weekend-long event includes garden tours, southern belles in traditional attire, and great music.
Each June the Pleasure Island Beach Music Festival draws hundreds of people to the area for an afternoon of food and music oceanfront. (Bring your bikini and get ready to shag!)
The Pleasure Island Seafood Blues and Jazz festival is held each October. Two days of blues and jazz on three stages. Loads of great food in a beautiful setting on the Cape Fear River.
The Blue Grass Festival is held each year in November and sponsored by Thalian Hall. The bluegrass gospel is something to hear early in the morning.
In between these major events, there is a Free Summer Concert Series once per month put on by the Chamber. At the weekly fireworks display, a local or regional band plays at the Boardwalk Gazebo beforehand.