Revel in the relaxed seaside atmosphere in Wrightsville Beach, one of North Carolina’s most popular vacation towns. Life in this welcoming community revolves around the white-sand beach, which lies just minutes from every home on the narrow island. Spend an afternoon surfing on the brilliant blue waves, or soak up the sun at a private spot on the sand. On the opposite side of the island, the calm waters of the Banks Channel are ideal for stand-up paddleboarding and fishing. Book a stay at one of many incredible Wrightsville Beach vacation rentals and experience the best of this beach town. Here are the most exciting attractions in and around Wrightsville Beach.

1. Central Wrightsville Beach

Stay in the heart of the action in central Wrightsville Beach. From its position in the middle of the island, this buzzing neighborhood provides immediate access to the city’s best restaurants and beaches. After a day of sunbathing, head to Tower 7 Baja Mexican Grill for seafood tacos, and leave room for a freshly made pastry from Loops Homemade Donuts. Vacation rentals on the eastern side of the island provide the best views of the ocean. If you want to bring a boat, check out the homes along the Banks Channel; many include private docks, so you can get on the water in seconds.

2. South End

The South End is an ideal spot for travelers seeking a peaceful escape. This neighborhood provides quiet and calm, all just a convenient two-mile drive from the restaurants and amenities of central Wrightsville Beach. Vacation rentals here range from spacious beachfront mansions to cozy apartments in nautical-style homes, so it’s easy to find an option for a romantic getaway or a family reunion. A few minutes’ walk from your rental, look for nesting birds in the windswept sand dunes on the tip of the island, or enjoy the privacy of the large, open beach. If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, rent a boat and visit nearby Masonboro Island to view the loggerhead sea turtles and the American oystercatcher.

3. Parmele Isle

Enjoy some of the best sunset views in Wrightsville Beach from the Parmele Island neighborhood. With its large lawns and spacious vacation homes, this neighborhood is an excellent choice for families and large groups. If you’re looking to get active, join the locals in a variety of watersports. Rent a stand-up paddleboard to explore Little Lollipop Bay, or use a kayak to check out Big Lollipop Bay. When you’re ready for a swim, make the five-minute walk from your rental to the many local beach access paths. If you bring your bike, the River to the Sea Bikeway runs just south of Parmele Island, so you can ride safely all the way to downtown Wilmington.

4. Shell Island

Relax completely in Shell Island, a small area that boasts unimpeded sea and marsh views. This quiet neighborhood comprises a row of homes on either side of North Lumina Avenue, guaranteeing privacy. Enjoy your own dock with a rental on the western side of the neighborhood, or choose a modern condo on the eastern side for stunning ocean vistas. The northern tip of the island is undeveloped, so you can spend an afternoon exploring the remote beach and tidal waters in total peace.

5. Harbor Island

If you’re looking for easy water access and a wide variety of things to do, Harbor Island is a great choice. Experience local lifestyles through the decades at the Wrightsville Beach History Museum; if you’re traveling with the kids, don’t miss the summer children’s programs. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to Wrightsville Beach Park for the free Sounds of Summer concert series, or enjoy a game of tennis at the onsite courts. Multiple restaurants sit within any vacation rental in the area, and a quick walk or drive across the South Banks Channel Bridge takes you into the heart of Wrightsville Beach.

6. Summer Haven

Immerse yourself in traditional southern charm in Summer Haven, where adorable cottages sit beneath towering trees. Large, shady yards create ample space for outdoor meals, and the low-traffic streets are ideal for evening walks or bike rides. If you’re a cyclist, the River to the Sea Bikeway connects you to Wrightsville Beach, which sits less than two miles away. Bringing a boat? Some rentals along Summer Rest Road include private docks for trailer-free channel and ocean access.

7. Airlie

Airlie is an upscale residential neighborhood replete with meandering streets and large, manicured lawns. Vacation rentals in this area offer luxury and quiet, so you can enjoy the comforts of home after a day of adventuring. Don’t miss Airlie Gardens, where a system of walking paths takes you through 67 acres of formal gardens. From May to September, check out the Summer Concert Series, take a yoga class, or participate in a bird-watching hike with an experienced guide.

8. Rogers

For travelers who want to feel like a local, Rogers is the place to be. Modest and comfortable, this lovely neighborhood makes you feel at home from the moment you drive up. Select from a variety of townhomes and single-family houses, many with shady, tree-lined yards. Just three miles away, the sparkling waters of the Atlantic Ocean create endless opportunities for lazy afternoons of sunbathing and swimming.

9. Windemere

Pair your beach vacation with a bit of shopping in Windemere. Most vacation rentals in this neighborhood sit a short stroll from the sprawling Mayfaire Town Center Mall, which boasts a range of stores and restaurants, as well as a movie theater. After a day in the sun, retreat to your shady yard for a barbecue on the back deck, or take a peaceful stroll down the neighborhoods safe streets. Nearby Eastwood Road makes it easy to reach the beach or downtown Wrightsville Beach in under 10 minutes.