About Kure Beach
Seaside Town Full Of History and Relaxation
The charming coastal town of Kure Beach, NC, is rich with history and an abundance of seaside activities.
Visitors to Kure Beach often search for relaxing activities that make life move at a relaxed, steady pace. They are in luck as North Carolina’s small wonder delights vacationers and families looking for a coastal getaway with its uncrowded beach, unpretentious small-town atmosphere, charm and serenity.
Kure Beach is a great destination for those who love history. Its Fort Fisher State Historic Site & Museum is home to the largest earthen fort in the South. Outdoor exhibits featuring artifacts and military vehicles encompassing all branches of service can be viewed at the NC Military History Museum.
North Carolina Aquarium
Fort Fisher is also home to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, which showcases marine life in the Cape Fear River basin and the nearby beaches, estuaries and ocean. The Aquarium features a 230,000-gallon saltwater shark tank; the half-acre Cape Fear Conservatory with alligators, sturgeon and other freshwater species; the Open Oceans Gallery that focuses on marine creatures and the nearby ocean reefs; and “Exotic Aquatics,” showcasing lionfish, cuttlefish, a living Pacific coral reef and Pacific sea nettles. The Aquarium also features Luna, a rare albino alligator, and a state-of-the-art interactive Megalodon Shark exhibit.
Eco-tourism opportunities are plentiful in Kure Beach and there are numerous botanical and marine-focused attractions within a few minutes’ drive of the town. Local outfitters offer nature excursions and guided tours to areas that are only accessible by boat, such as the NC National Estuarine Research Reserve, which includes Zeke’s Island, a popular spot to view the endangered loggerhead sea turtles. The NC Ferry at Fort Fisher will take you on a 30-minute scenic trip across the Cape Fear River offering beautiful views of the mainland on its journey to historic Southport. Nature enthusiasts will also enjoy sites on the North Carolina Birding Trail.
SCUBA divers come to Kure Beach to experience waters filled with the remains of more than 200 shipwrecks, including The Condor, a Civil War-era Blockade Runner and North Carolina's first Heritage Dive Site. Instruction, offshore charters, certification and equipment rentals are available from area dive shops.
The Fort Fisher State Recreation Area provides families with the opportunity to enjoy a six-mile stretch of undeveloped beach that is home to nesting loggerhead sea turtles. Its public beach access and protected swimming area, picnic area with grills and a visitor’s center provide the perfect setting to enjoy the lazy days of summer or the cool fall ocean breezes.
While the beach is the main attraction for visitors to Kure Beach, the town is also a prime destination for those who enjoy boating or fishing. The convergence of the Cape Fear River, the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean make fishing near Kure Beach the best around. There are opportunities for surf fishing, bottom fishing, shell fishing and deep-sea fishing. In addition, the centerpiece of Kure Beach is the 700-foot-long Kure Beach Fishing Pier where visitors can enjoy a day of fishing, stop by the tackle shop, or play some games in the arcade.
The island plays host to a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. The Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival in April, Carolina Beach Music Festival in June, Cape Fear Kite Festival in November and the Island of Lights Holiday Flotilla and Parade in December are some of the most popular. The New Year is ushered in with a street dance and the lowering of a giant lighted beach ball.
Plan Your Stay
In addition to all its family-friendly attractions, Kure Beach offers charming restaurants, shops and accommodations. For those planning a family vacation, group tour or destination wedding, it’s the perfect place to unwind, reconnect with family and friends, and make memories that will last a lifetime.
- The Kure Beach Fishing Pier is one of the oldest on the Atlantic Coast. The original pier was built in 1923 and has been rebuilt and restored several times since then as a result of wear and tear over the years. Today, visitors can not only fish and buy tackle, bait, and rod and reel combos, but can also stroll the 711 feet of wooden planks, visit the concession stand, play at the arcade and shop the large souvenir area.
- Fort Fisher, located at the south end of Kure Beach, was a Confederate fort during the Civil War and the site of the largest land-sea battle of the Civil War. By 1865, the supply line through Wilmington was the last remaining supply route open to Robert E. Lee’s army. Fort Fisher finally fell after a massive assault in 1865, and the Confederacy was defeated. Approximately 10% of the fort still stands today.
- Kure Beach’s coquina rock formation is home to a very rare and distinctive mossy hard rock outcropping. Only visible during low tide, the rock is cemented together by seashells and coral with an estimated origin ranging from 12,000 to 80,000 years ago. Located near the coast of Fort Fisher, it is a true natural wonder and remains the only rock formation on the coast of North Carolina that is home to a variety of wildlife.
- Zeke’s Island Reserve is one of the most important shorebird feeding habitats on the East Coast thanks to species including great blue herons, dunlin, white ibis and more.
- The Moran Motel originated in 1959. With its vintage jade-green and pink-brick color scheme, it has been used in a number of feature films and TV movies.
- Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is home to 16 threatened and endangered species, including Loggerhead sea turtles in the warmer months and hawks, warblers and peregrine falcons in the fall. It is also home to 212 species of birds.
- Loggerhead turtles are one of the most popular animals found along Kure Beach. The average Loggerhead measures around 35 inches when fully grown and typically nests on the ocean beaches during the warmer months. They are now considered an endangered species as a result of untended fishing gear and the loss of suitable nesting beaches.
- Palm Air Cottages were built in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The private, poolside cottages still attract generations of families each year.
- A Civil War Blockade Runner The Condor was dedicated as North Carolina’s first heritage dive site. The steamer ran aground in 1864 with famous Confederate spy Rose Greenhow on board. The Condor rests in 25 feet of water, 700 yards off the shore in front of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, where buoys mark the site along with mooring lines for boats and kayaks. Dive enthusiasts are encouraged to explore The Condor June through November each year.
- The Underwater Archaeology Branch of the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology (UAB) is located in Kure Beach. UAB projects and exhibits range from the prehistoric to the present. The office maintains extensive records on everything from wooden dugout canoes to iron-hulled blockade runners and classic steamboats. In all, the UAB keeps track of more than 5,000 documented shipwrecks.
- The North Carolina Aquarium at Fisher Fisher — which has been named as one of the top aquariums in the U.S. multiple times by Trip Advisor — is home to Luna, a rare albino alligator.
- The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is home to a new Asian small-clawed otter habitat. Asian small-clawed otters are considered a "vulnerable" species due to habitat loss and exploitation. Their arrival is part of the aquarium’s ongoing conservation efforts.