Kure Beach is part of a string of beach towns near the city of Wilmington, North Carolina. It’s located on a lovely barrier island called Pleasure Island, which lies between the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Fear River. You can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy an abundance of water sports along the wide sandy beaches. The area is also ideal for fishing from shore or out on the open ocean. Museums offer insight into local history, and recreational parks provide opportunities for hiking and other outdoor activities. Here are some of the best locations to look for your Kure Beach vacation rental.

1. The Town of Kure Beach

Source: Flickr / Horatio3K

The town of Kure Beach has numerous points where you can access a wide expanse of white sand beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean. Kure Beach Fishing Pier, the oldest fishing pier on the East Coast, is the perfect place to cast your line. Nearby Ocean Front Park has an expansive pavilion and a special play area with a kid’s pirate ship. Beachside activities include swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and kayaking. You can also hike over the dunes or cycle the quiet roads along the waterfront.

2. South Kure Beach

Adjoining Kure Beach on the south is Fort Fisher State Historic Site and Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. The fascinating historic site includes a visitor’s center, a museum, and the expansive Civil War fort complex itself. The recreation area has trails and boardwalks for bird watching and wildlife observation, a lagoon popular with wind surfers, and miles of pristine beaches where sea turtles come to lay their eggs. The whole family will love the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, which offers displays of fish, reptiles, alligators, and other marine animals.

3. Carolina Beach

Source: Flickr / Leo Suarez

The town of Carolina Beach lies just north of Kura Beach on Pleasure Island. It has beautiful white sand beaches and a renowned boardwalk you can stroll along and discover shops, restaurants, an amusement park, and an arcade. Freeman Park is the perfect place to go swimming, fishing, and beachcombing for shells. Carolina Beach State Park along the Cape Fear River offers a marina, picnic sites, and hiking trails through forests, sand dunes, marshes, and cypress swamps.

4. Bald Head Island

Source: Flickr / Tamara Dunn

Bald Head Island is just south of Pleasure Island. To access it, you take a ferry from Southport, a town just inside the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Because the island does not allow cars, you get around by electric golf carts, cycling, walking, or kayaking. Sea turtles nest on the extensive beaches, and the region is also a habitat for birds such as ibises, egrets, herons, eagles, and pelicans. You can climb to the top of the lighthouse and learn some fascinating maritime history at the Old Baldy Lighthouse and Smith Island Museum of History.

5. Southport

Source: Flickr / Toto

The town of Southport lies directly across the river from Bald Head Island. Its Historic Riverwalk allows you to take a leisurely stroll from the Waterfront Park to Southport Marina along the scenic Cape Fear River. If you enjoy bird watching, you can continue on wooden boardwalks into salt marshes to observe osprey, herons, egrets, and other shorebirds. The whole family will enjoy the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport, which features exhibits on the Civil War, local shipwrecks, pirates, and other interesting maritime history.

6. Caswell Beach

Source: Flickr / Gerry Dincher

Caswell Beach is at the mouth of the Cape Fear River at the east end of Oak Island. Vacation rentals in the town have convenient access to miles of beautiful sand beach. For an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean and the landscape around the town, you can climb the interior series of ship’s ladders to the top of the Oak Island Light House.

7. Oak Island

Source: Flickr / Doug Anderson

The town of Oak Island lies on the west side of the island. It’s a relaxed, uncrowded location with long sand beaches that are ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. You can fish off one of the piers, cast a line into the surf, or charter a boat from one of the marinas Oak Island seafood restaurants are renowned for their shrimp and blue crab.

8. Boiling Spring Lakes

Source: Flickr / bobistraveling

The town of Boiling Spring Lakes features a natural freshwater spring that pumps out millions of gallons daily. Its Big Lake and abundant surrounding lakes are excellent for recreational activities such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve, which covers half the town area, has trails where you can observe rare flora and fauna, including the red-cockaded woodpecker, carnivorous plants, and lovely orchids.

9. Myrtle Grove

Source: Flickr / NOAA Photo Library

Vacation rentals in Myrtle Grove lie about five miles north of Kure Beach. The town serves as a gateway to the uninhabited paradise of Masonboro Island, a barrier island accessible only by boat. The island’s beaches, forests, marshes, and tidal flats are habitats for numerous species of sea birds. Green sea turtles and loggerhead turtles nest on its shores. It’s a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, fishing, and hiking.

10. Wrightsville Beach

Source: Flickr / Kevin Oliver

The town of Wrightsville Beach, which includes two islands and a piece of the mainland, faces four miles of gorgeous white sand beach. You can enjoy water sports such as paddle boarding, kayaking, surfing, and scuba diving to observe shipwrecks just offshore. The town hosts Wrightsville Beach Museum, which gives you an interesting glimpse of local history.

11. Wilmington Riverfront

Source: Flickr / Virginia (Ginny) Sanderson

Vacation rentals along the Cape Fear River on the west side of the city of Wilmington have convenient access to Riverfront Park. This beautiful section of the Riverwalk has lovely landscaping, emerald lawns, inviting benches, and picnic areas. You can continue along the Riverwalk to peruse downtown shops and restaurants. On the far shore is Eagle Island, which hosts the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial. You can go on a self-guided tour to explore the main deck, gun turrets, and some of the interior.

12. Central Wilmington

Source: Flickr / Jon Curnow

Wilmington has the nickname of Hollywood East due to the presence of Screen Gems Studios. The city also hosts the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, the oldest museum in the state, which has multiple exhibits on local ecosystems, celebrities, and history. If you enjoy shopping, Wilmington’s historic streets abound in boutiques, surf shops, malls, and galleries.