Best Beach Activities in North Carolina in 2023

Best Beach Activities in North Carolina in 2023


North Carolina has some of the finest beaches in the United States. In fact, we would go so far as to state that it is the most comparable to what we would find in Australia!

We undoubtedly have a special connection to the Carolina Coast and fond recollections of all our beach excursions in North Carolina!

The greatest aspect of North Carolina’s beaches is that they are not overdeveloped, have pristine conditions, ample space, spectacular sunrises and sunsets, the breathtaking Intracoastal Waterway, which offers aquatic activities, and a vibrant surf culture!

We have spent years investigating the Atlantic Coast, and while there is still so much to see, we wanted to share with you what we consider to be the must-see experiences along North Carolina’s coast.

We took a road journey along the North Carolina coast from Carolina Beach to the Brunswick Islands to see the state’s finest beaches. Here’s what we’ve found!

This guide describes more than just beaches and swimming spots. We discuss the experiences that illustrate the distinctive history of the beaches, as well as why our current state will provide you with the most memorable moments.

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1- Learn to Surf Wrightsville Beach

Learn to Surf Wrightsville Beach

Wrightsville Beach is one of the finest beaches in North Carolina, and Wilmington is only 10 minutes away.

It is the birthplace of surfing in North Carolina. National Geographic, Coastal Living, and Surfer all concur that it is one of the finest surfing communities in the world. In addition, we have experience in global surfing cities, proving the legitimacy of this title.

It is currently number one on our list of the best beaches in North Carolina due to its comprehensive beach experience.

Don a wetsuit and take a surfboard, then hit the waters. And do not be concerned if the waves appear too minor to navigate.

Craig and Savannah had a wonderful time riding seemingly unsurfable swells due to Steve’s excellent instruction from the South End Surf Shop.

2- Climb the Oak Island Lighthouse, Caswell Beach

Climb the Oak Island Lighthouse, Caswell Beach

Climbing the 131 steps to the viewing platform of the Oak Island Lighthouse is a surprising and exhilarating experience. It is exhilarating because it is the only known lighthouse with a ladder configuration for the entire structure, as opposed to the more common spiral staircases.

Although it is not as aesthetically pleasing as other lighthouses on the North Carolina coast, it is the most thrilling and adventurous lighthouse to visit.

These majestic vistas are an absolute highlight of the Brunswick Islands. For the finest views of the Oak Island Lighthouse, cross the street to the seashore boardwalk.

Two additional popular lighthouses in North Carolina are the Bodie Island Lighthouse and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

3- Leave a written note in the Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Leave a written note in the Kindred Spirit Mailbox

People have visited this hidden mailbox in the sand dunes on Bird Island, the most southern seashore in North Carolina before entering South Carolina, for over four decades.

Frank Nesmith first planted the Kindred Spirit Mailbox on barrier island in the late 1970s.

People walk 1.4 miles along the shoreline from the Sunset Shoreline Pier to a mailbox to document their desires, thoughts, prayers, and aspirations in letters.

Before departing our hotel, Savannah and I composed our own. She penned her aspirations for the future, and I shared our travel manifesto, which pertains to living a complete life.

The mailbox contains journals and pens so that when you arrive, you can compose your stories. Alternatively, you can devote time to reading them. There is an available seat for you.

4- Enjoy Sunset Beach and Bird Island

Enjoy Sunset Beach and Bird Island

Sunset Beach, which extends into Bird Island, is, in my opinion, one of the finest beaches in North Carolina for families, making this North Carolina experience even more memorable.

National Geographic deemed this beach to be one of the world’s best in 2017 due to its lack of development, white sand, and untainted water that is guarded by sand dunes. You’ll see why it was deemed one of the world’s best beaches due to its lack of development and sand dunes.

With a name like Bird Island, you can only envision the abundance of birds that surround you!

More than 1,200 acres of saline marsh and tidal creeks are located within the protected Bird Island Reserve, which is located at the southern extremity of Sunset Beach. From the shore, a nature trail arcs around the Bird Island Reserve.

5- Soak up the Small-Town Charm of Southport

Soak up the Small-Town Charm of Southport

Southport is a charming small community located at the confluence of the Cape Fear River, the Intracoastal Waterway, and the Atlantic Ocean.

The picturesque harbor community has served as the setting for numerous Hollywood films and television programs, including Safe Haven, A Walk to Remember, Weekend at Bernie’s, and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

You can take a golf cart tour through the city to learn more about it.

Explore the live oak-lined streets, Victorian residences, historic structures, and riverfront restaurants serving delectable seafood as you stroll beneath the canopy of live oak trees.

You can also take a ferry from Southport to Fort Fisher Recreation Area at the end of Kure Beach and Carolina Beach, allowing you to reach Pleasure Island’s beaches more quickly.

Ferry rides to the small Bald Head Island are a popular activity in Southport, and we plan to do so on our next visit.

6- Kitty Hawk hung glided over the Sand Dunes

Kitty Hawk hang glided over the Sand Dunes

Hang-gliding over the sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park is among the most distinctive things to do in North Carolina. This was one of our fondest American excursions.

Since 1974, Kitty Hawk Kites has provided novice, intermediate, and advanced hang gliding lessons from qualified instructors – who are amazing, by the way.

We had a great time learning how to launch, fly, and land on the gentle dunes of Jockey’s Ridge while our instructor held a safety rope the entire time.

Remember the origins of aviation at the adjacent Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, one of North Carolina’s most significant historical sites.

In Kitty Hawk, Orville, and Wilbur Wright piloted their powered, heavier-than-air flying vehicle on four successful flights. You can see the historic sand dune where they did the majority of their gliding and where they lived while conducting experiments.

7- Daily Sunrise on Any North Carolina Beach

Daily Sunrise on Any North Carolina Beach

A beach sunrise in North Carolina is one of my favorite sunrises that we have witnessed around the globe.

Observing the gigantic orb illuminates the sky in pastel pinks and oranges in the Outer Banks while dolphins swam past its illuminated staircase was ethereal, enchanting, and tranquil.

During our beach vacation in North Carolina, our daily routine is to observe the sunrise. Obviously, beachfront lodging facilitates this.

8- See Sunset Over the Water, NC Beaches

See Sunset Over the Water, NC Beaches

Thanks to the Intracoastal Waterway, there are numerous locations along the coast of North Carolina where you can watch the sunset over the water.

In the fall, when the planets are precisely aligned, the east-to-west orientation of the Brunswick Islands makes it the ideal site to watch the sun rise and set over the ocean!

These are the locations where we have witnessed a lovely sunset:

  • Wrightsville Beach at the south end
  • Millers Waterfront Grille in the Outer Banks
  • Jinks Creek in Ocean Isle Beach
  • A sunset cruise around the Intracoastal Waterway in Wrightsville

9- Happy Hour at Fish Heads Grill & Bar

Happy Hour at Fish Heads Grill & Bar

Now for a great time at a North Carolina Pier.

Instead of tacky rides, fishing piers should have colored tarps, wooden tables, and a Tiki hut with 40 craft beers, live music, and shrimp for 15 cents.

Yes. You did read that right.

The Fish Heads Grill & Bar in Nags Head on the Outer Banks has happy hour every day from 4 to 6 p.m. Join the line of people coming to the pier. It’s one of our favorite things to do at a North Carolina beach.

10- Go to the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

The Fort Fisher State Recreation Area goes all the way around the southern end of Pleasure Island, from Kure Beach to the Cape Fear River. It is right next to the ocean.

Here, there are six miles of clean beaches where people can enjoy the sun and surf. Loggerhead turtles love to lay eggs, too. Here, you can drive your 4WD on the beach. Needs a permit.

In addition to the beaches, the North Carolina Aquarium and the Fort Fisher State Historic Site, two of North Carolina’s most popular tourist destinations, are in this area near pine hill shores.

Best Beaches to Visit in the USA 2023