With a location that straddles both the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean, visitors shouldn’t be too surprised to discover that boating rules the scene Carolina Beach. The town is teaming with charter and tour boats, marinas, and ramps for visiting mariners, and as a result, it’s a great place to explore by sea (as well as by land.)
On your next vacation, see how incredible Carolina Beach can be from the water’s perspective by checking out all the ways to enjoy boating in the community. With a myriad of options to get out and explore, the maritime life is easy at this perfectly coastal Cape Fear destination.
Boat Ramps and Launches
While many of the local marinas offer launches and boat ramps for both visitors and the public at large, the Carolina Beach area, (which includes the surrounding towns of Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington), has a number of public boat launching sites where it’s easy to drop in and start exploring.
Visitors who are heading to the coast with their vessel in tow will want to check out these boat launches that are dotted throughout the Cape Fear region and are nicely easy to access.
Snows Cut Boat Ramp
220 Annie Drive, Carolina Beach, NC 28428
34° 03'25.09" N 77° 53'30.06" W
Located on the edge of the Snow’s Cut channel, which access the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and the Cape Fear River in the heart of Carolina Beach, this boat ramp features five launching lanes, a separate hand launching site for kayaks and canoes, and a total of about 100 parking spaces with includes 80 spaces for vehicles with trailers.
Carolina Beach State Park Boat Ramp
B Road, Carolina Beach, NC 28428
34° 02'59.05" N 77° 55'08.71" W
This launching site on the edge of the Cape Fear River features a separate hand launch area for kayaks, two launching lanes for larger vessels, and roughly 40 parking spaces for vehicles with trailers. Seasonal kayak and pontoon rentals may also be available in the immediate area.
Federal Point / Buzzard Bay
2515 South Fort Fisher Blvd., Kure Beach, NC
33° 57' 34'' N 77° 56' 30'' W
Located on the southern tip of “Pleasure Island,” this launching site features 36 parking areas for vehicles with trailers, multiple launching areas for vessels of all sizes, and easy access to the Cape Fear River, Atlantic Ocean, and the adjacent Zeke’s Island Estuarine Reserve.
Wrightsville Beach Boat Ramp
Channel Walk Drive, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
34° 13'06.41" N 77° 48'40.80" W
This boat ramp on the edge of the Wrightsville Beach Causeway is a popular destination for coastal mariners, and features five launching lanes, as well as 68 parking spaces for vehicles with trailers. From here, mariners will be just a 3 mile cruise away from Masonboro Island reserve.
Castle Street Boat Ramp
Dram Tree Park (Castle Street and Surrey Street), Wilmington, NC 28401
34° 13'38.95" N 77° 57'01.12" W
Located in the slightly inland town of Wilmington, this boat ramp in the downtown region features two launching lanes, a separate hand launching site for kayaks and canoes, and parking for 36 vehicles with trailers.
Trails End Boat Ramp
621 Trails End Road, Wilmington, NC 28409
34° 09'21.50" N 77° 51'24.97" W
This site that connects with the ICW is just north of Carolina Beach in the town of Wilmington. The smaller launching area features a single launch lane, a courtesy dock for visitors, and parking for approximately 40 vehicles with trailers.
River Road Park Boat Ramp
River Road Park, Wilmington, NC 28412
34° 06'49.57" N 77° 55'32.22" W
Located just north of Carolina Beach and situated along the Cape Fear River, this launch site features an on-site fishing pier and restrooms, a single launch lane, and additional park facilities, such as public picnic areas.
Carolina Beach Marinas
Because Carolina Beach is such a popular destination for travelers along the Cape Fear, the ICW, and even the Atlantic Ocean, the marinas in the region are well-stocked and plentiful.
Many of the area marinas are more similar to a resort than just a place to drop anchor, with extra amenities such as on-site villas and motel accommodations, ships’ stores, gas and fuel, maintenance services, clubhouses, restaurants, and walking-distance access to area restaurants or the beach.
The majority of local marinas are also open to transient mariners, which makes it easy to stay for a day, a week, or even indefinitely. While advanced reservations are recommended, depending on the season, travelers who are passing through may be able to dock for a few hours (or even a full day) to get out and explore the town.
When planning your next cruise to Carolina Beach, consider a visit to the following area marinas which are found right in the heart of the action.
Federal Point Yacht Club
Address: 910 Basin Rd, Carolina Beach, NC 28428
Phone: (910) 458-4201
Carolina Beach Boatyard and Marina
Address: 923 Basin Rd, Carolina Beach, NC 28428
Phone: (910) 707-1007
Address: 401 Marina St, Carolina Beach, NC 28428
Phone: (910) 458-5053
Waterfronte Villas and Yacht Club
Address: 100 Spencer-Farlow Dr, Carolina Beach, NC 28428
Phone: (910) 458-1620
Harbour Point Marina
Address: Carolina Beach, NC 28428
Phone: (910) 458-8415
Inlet Watch Yacht Club
Address: 801 Paoli Ct, Wilmington, NC 28409
Phone: (910) 392-7106
Carolina Marina & Yacht Club
Address: 1512 Burnett Rd, Wilmington, NC 28409
Phone: (910) 790-0172
Carolina Yacht Club
Address: 401 S Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Phone: (910) 256-3396
Carolina Beach Boat Tours and Rentals
Whether you’re in the mood for a leisurely cruise to neighboring deserted islands, or want to have a fishing adventure in the great blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Carolina Beach can accommodate a wealth of tailored on-the-water expeditions.
Boat Tours and Charters
There are a number of tour companies that utilize skiffs, grand pontoon boats, and everything in between to take passengers out on the trip of a lifetime exploring the network of waters, marshes, and unique island destinations like Zeke’s Coastal Reserve and Masonboro Island Reserve.
Check out local tour providers like Island Hopper Tours for easy transport to incredible on-the-water environments. For something grander, contact a local party boat – like the Winner Party Boat Fleet - which can provide the event of the lifetime, regardless of whether it’s a full day of fishing, an incredible wedding reception, or an amazing corporate retreat. With several huge vessels to choose from – complete with dining areas, indoor and outdoor decks, and more – no party is too decadent for the local party boats.
Anglers will also find more than 20 local charter businesses, which are docked at the area marinas, and which can take anglers out on incredible fishing trips to the Cape Fear River, the ICW, and the nearshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Offshore fishing trips, which venture roughly 15 or more miles into the open ocean waters to target big catches, are also available for anglers who want to make the most out of a full-day fishing adventure.
Visitors who want to plot their own course will also find a number of local boat rentals available for all varieties of on-the-water expeditions.
Beginning mariners of all ages can enjoy a leisurely adventure at their own pace at the local Carolina Beach Lake – a small, 11 acre lake that was a Guinness Book of World Record holder for being the closest freshwater lake to salt water. This lake features on-site pedal boat and kayak rentals, courtesy of Wheel Fun Rentals, for seasonal visitors who want to take a cruise and explore the scene.
Additional boat rentals, which includes kayaks as well as pontoon boats, are also available on the edge of the Carolina Beach State Park along the Cape Fear River, adjacent to the local boat ramp. Local providers, such as Carolina Beach Pontoon Rentals, will let visitors take the wheel (or the paddle) for an hour or two, a half day, or even a full day adventure in the water.
Jet skis are also popular in the region, and there are several jet ski rental providers in Carolina Beach, like North End Jet Ski Rentals, which are close to the local marinas near the ICW, Cape Fear River, and Snow’s Cut. Simply put, with so many options, plotting a self-guided trip along the water is an easy feat in the summertime at Carolina Beach.
Carolina Beach Boat Sales and Services
While there are a couple local marinas or businesses that specialize in boat sales and service within the Carolina Beach city limits, (like Saltwater Marine and Unlimited Boat Service), locals and visitors who are in the market for a new or used vessel will likely want to head north.
The neighboring towns of Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington are home to dozens of boat sale companies, which are close to the waterfront and / or located along main highways, making them easy to find.
Start your search on the borders of the Wrightsville Beach Causeway, or along US Highway 70 in Wilmington for the best selection. With so many options representing a wide variety of brands and vessel types, the Cape Fear region is a great destination for visitors who are in the market for a new ride. As a result, many inland residents from all across the state come to this region to enjoy the most variety, (and the best value), when it comes to purchasing a boat.
Tips and Tricks for Carolina Beach Boating
- Visitors who want to embark on a sailing adventure will find ample options through local companies like Wrightsville Performance Sailing or Sail Ava Grace Charters. Best of all, the local Cape Fear River and ICW waters are ideal for learning the ropes.
- Don’t forget that you can take your kayak or canoe to the ocean waters too! The ocean waves in Carolina Beach are generally calm enough for a number of on-the-water sports, which includes ocean kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding.
- Watch out for event weekends – like Wilmington’s annual Azalea Festival in the spring, or Riverfest in the all – when the transient boat slips throughout the Cape Feat region can fill up fast. Book well in advance to reserve a spot during busy event weekends or on summertime holidays.
- Need a break during a long ICW cruise? Carolina Beach is a great spot to drop anchor, as the region is close to dozens of restaurants, eateries, attractions, and the beach itself – which are all often within walking distance of a local marina.
- Need accommodations during your stay? Carolina Beach is home to a number of waterfront vacation rentals, waterfront hotels and / or villas, and famed campgrounds (like the Carolina Beach State Park), which are a shell’s throw away from the area’s local marinas.
Whether you want to cruise the local calm lake waters with a pedal boat, or embark on a deep sea fishing adventure targeting the massive marlins and sailfish, Carolina Beach can cater to any on-the-water adventure. Plan an outing or two (or three) to explore the miles of waterfront, and discover why mariners flock to this island to enjoy boating at its best.