Carolina Beach is easily one of the most popular destinations for campers along the Cape Fear coastline. Home to a collection of top-rated sites that welcome all varieties of campers, this cool vacation spot is perfect for enjoying everything that the great outdoors has to offer.
Close to the town’s collection of restaurants, shops, attractions, and stellar beaches, a camping adventure is always a reason to celebrate in this enticing and accommodating beach town.
Campgrounds in and Around Carolina Beach
One of the best aspects about camping in Carolina Beach is the sheer number of options.
From rugged destinations where the beach serves as the entertainment, to natural resorts that double as a popular state park, there’s a lot to love about the Carolina Beach camping scene.
Check out these on-island and close-to-shore destinations that can cater to any type of camper and / or RV explorer, and which promise to provide a camping experience that visitors will never forget, and will want to repeat year after year.
The 761 acre Carolina Beach State Park is one of the most popular destinations for area campers, thanks to miles of hiking trails, a riverfront beach, an on-site boat launch and marina, seasonal kayak and paddle board rentals, and a host of park ranger-guided programs that are available throughout the season. The park’s on-site campground is located close to Snow’s Cut, and features roughly 100 sites that are nicely shaded under a canopy of pines and oak trees. There are both non-hook-up and RV sites available, and RV sites can feature water, electric and sewer/ (There are several wheelchair accessible sites as well.) Each site is outfitted with its own picnic table and grill / fire ring, and drinking water, restrooms, and hot showers are all found nearby. The park also features four “cabins” which can accommodate six people each, as well as an on-site visitors’ center for park information and to sign up for seasonal activities.
Visitors who want a truly rustic camping experience can head to Freeman Park – a 4WD accessible stretch of shoreline that is located just north of the Carolina Beach city limits, and which features ample undeveloped and natural shoreline. Overnight parking is allowed year-round at the park, however campers must have a reservation and a campsite permit, (which runs roughly $10 per night), for stays from April 1st through September 30th. All reservations are available on a first come, first serve basis, and can be made online at http://freeman.spplusparking.com/. (No permit is required for camping at the park from October 1st through March 31st, but 4WD visitors will need a permit to access and drive within the park year-round.) Campers should note that the park facilities are extremely limited, and campers will want to bring along their own trash bags, grills, food, water, and other supplies for the duration of their stay. The park has a strict “trash in, trash out” policy, so please do not leave anything behind during your visit. Campfires are allowed, but must be contained to a 3’ ft. wide fire pit at most, and pets are allowed year round, provided they are leashed in the summer season.
Carolina Beach Family Campground
Located just north of Snow’s Cut and Carolina Beach State Park, the Carolina Beach Family Campground features about 100 sites that can accommodate both RV and tent campers, and which can feature full hook-up accommodations including sewer, electric, and water, as well as wireless internet access and cable TV. The park also features a number of community amenities which includes a seasonally operational swimming pool with sunbathing area, a large bathhouse with eight hot showers, a coin-operated laundry area with two front loading washers and two gas dryers, and a general store with a range of snacks, beverages and supplies. Family owned and operated for more than 60 years, the Carolina Beach Family Campground has a fairly central setting that’s one mile from the Carolina Beach Boardwalk and which is close to public beach accesses.
Winner’s RV Park
Located just a shell’s throw from the Carolina Beach Yacht Basin as well as the beach, Winner’s RV Park is an accommodating option for RV travelers who want to be close to local attractions, including the Carolina Beach Boardwalk and the Carolina Beach State Park. The park features a number of amenities which includes a total of 21 spaces with full hook-ups, 30/ 50 amp electrical service, cable TV and available wireless internet access, and an RV / boat storage lot for long-term visitors. In addition, ample amenities and shopping options are located nearby which includes grocery stores, restaurants, bait and tackle shops, and more.
Located inland of Carolina Beach, the resort-style Wilmington KOA features ample tent and RV sites which can include full-hook up facilities with 50 amp power, sewer, and cable TV, as well as free wireless internet access. Additional amenities within the extensive resort-style complex that’s situated in the Ogden area includes an on-site convenience store with snacks and supplies, an expansive seasonal outdoor pool, a picnic pavilion, a “Kamping Kitchen” for meal preparation, and optional firewood and propane for sale. Seasonal community events may also be available.
Seasonal Information for Carolina Beach Camping
One of the best things about the local campgrounds in Carolina Beach is that, for the most part, they stay operational all year long. Iconic camping destinations - which includes Freeman Park and Carolina Beach State Park - are open for visitors throughout the year, even in the winter months, which makes any camping adventure, regardless of timing, obtainable.
With that being said, a number of seasonal amenities may not be available to fall, winter, and spring campers, such as outdoor swimming pools, community programs and outings, on-site kayak rentals, etc. As such, visitors will want to ask ahead to see what amenities may or may not be included if their camping vacation falls outside the Memorial Day to Labor Day timeframe.
As one would infer based on the year-round camping options, it is generally warm enough to go camping in Carolina Beach all year long. Summertime temps generally hover around 80 degrees, (though can reach 90 degrees or more), while wintertime temps are generally in the 50-60 degree range. Winter campers, especially in December, January, or February, should be prepared for cold snaps, however, when temps can get below freezing. This is especially true in coastal destinations like Freeman Park, where the wind chill can be much colder. Pack along portable heaters and ample blankets and protection to safeguard against the elements as needed.
Unlike land-locked destinations, the other thing Carolina Beach campers need to worry about is hurricanes. Though direct hits are rare in this portion of the NC coastline, a seasonal hurricane can bring coastal flooding, high winds, and big waves, which can cause trouble at waterfront camping destinations along the oceanfront or even along the Cape Fear River. Watch the weather forecast if you plan on camping during hurricane season, (July through November), and adjust your plans accordingly if a storm is looming in the area.
Tips and Tricks for Camping in Carolina Beach
- Bug spray is a must, especially in natural campgrounds like the Carolina Beach State Park or Freeman Park. Mosquito netting for tents may also come in handy for the summer months.
- Book as far in advance as possible, especially for holiday weekends and weeks that coincide with grand regional events, like the Azalea Festival in the spring. During busy weekends, campsites can book up early throughout the Cape Fear area.
- Looking for a long-term option? The Cape Fear region has a range of mobile home parks that can accommodate RV guests who want to stay for the long haul. Look for annual home sites and rates to always have a vacation home by the beach.
- Be sure and check out the in-house event calendars before you arrive! A number of local campgrounds, including Carolina Beach State Park and the Wilmington KOA, offer special programs for visitors such as guided nature hikes at the state park, or community bonfires, to make a stay extra enjoyable.
- Bring the SUP board, kayak, or boat along too. Exceptional boating is found throughout Carolina Beach, and especially at local campgrounds like Carolina Beach State Park.
With incredible options that range from rugged oceanfront camping destinations to decadent resort-style settings, the camping scene in the Carolina Beach and Cape Fear areas is as enticing as it is diverse. Spend a vacation soaking up the stunning natural setting, and enjoy the local Carolina Beach landscape at its finest by plotting a coastal camping adventure.