Seafood lovers who don’t mind getting their hands dirty will want to take a stroll to the Shuckin’ Shack. Located in the heart of Downtown Wilmington along a busy section of Market Street, this casual and cool seafood joint is the perfect spot to dive into a world of fresh and messy seaworthy cuisine.
Situated just south of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach is a haven for vacationers who appreciate a more relaxed beach atmosphere that’s still close to all the big attractions that the Cape Fear region is famous for. Well known as a quiet town with a lot of charm, it’s not unusual for most visitors to spend the bulk of their time lounging along Kure Beach’s miles of shoreline.
But before you grab the beach gear and the sunscreen, it’s important to brush up on your knowledge on the general rules and guidelines for this quieter corner of the North Carolina coastline. From lifeguards to litter, here’s what you should know about enjoying the shorelines of Kure Beach.
Kure Beach General Guidelines
Start your Kure Beach vacation by familiarizing yourself with the following rules, guidelines, and considerations that will ensure your upcoming beach trips are as safe and stress-free as possible
- Beach wheelchairs are available for use via the town of Kure Beach from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend. To borrow a beach wheelchair, contact the Kure Beach Fire Department at 910-458-2014 to reserve a chair, or find a Kure Beach lifeguard.
- There are three handicapped accessible beach ramps in Kure Beach, which are located at E Avenue, L Avenue, and at the Ocean Front Park.
- Littering, including cigarette butts, is prohibited and could result in a $150 fine. Trash receptacles are available at each public beach access in Kure Beach.
- Tents, chairs, umbrellas, and other beach equipment is not allowed within 15’ feet of the dune line.
- Visitors should stay off of the dunes, (expect on marked paths and walkways), and should not pick or remove vegetation from the oceanside dunes, such as sea oats.
- Swimmers and surfers should stay at least 250’ feet away from either side of the Kure Beach Fishing Pier.
- Boats and jet skis are not allowed within 300 feet of the on-shore high tide mark.
- Grills and portable cooking stoves are not permitted on the shorelines of Kure Beach, however Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, as well as several area parks, have picnic areas with on-site grills, tables, and / or restroom facilities and other amenities.
- Beach equipment, such as tents, canopies, umbrellas, and volleyball nets, is not allowed to be left on the beach overnight – (between the hours of 7 p.m. and 8 a.m.)
- Sleeping or camping on the beach is prohibited.
- Digging any size hole on the beach can be dangerous to beach-goers and emergency 4WD vehicles if the hole is not filled in properly. Leave no holes unattended, and fill up any holes after your beach trip.
- Nudity, thongs, and other similar attire is not allowed on the beach.
- Surf fishing is allowed throughout the town of Kure Beach, as well as the adjacent Fort Fisher State Recreation area, however, all anglers over 16 must have a saltwater fishing license. Fishing licenses can be obtained online through the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, or at local bait and tackle stores.
- Sea turtle nesting season is from May 1 until October 31. Please do not disturb any sea turtle nests, and respect seasonal closures as needed. If you are staying in an oceanfront vacation rental, please turn your ocean-facing outside lights off, in order to avoid confusing newly hatched baby sea turtles who follow the natural light to the ocean.
- Kure Beach operates 10 lifeguard stations seasonally, generally from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend. Lifeguards are on duty daily during this timeframe from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., seven days a week. In addition, the town has a roving ocean rescue team which patrols the beaches in the summer months.
- Swimmers should pay close attention to the flags! Town-wide flags along the oceanfront signal when swimming conditions are safe, questionable, or hazardous. Use caution entering the water when yellow flags are displayed, and avoid swimming when red flags are flying, which indicates a high risk of rip currents, or other hazardous conditions.
- Always be on alert for rip currents, which can occur in any kind of weather. If caught in a rip current, do not fight the current, and instead swim out of the current’s pull before swimming or floating back to shore.
Weddings on Kure Beach
Kure Beach is known as one of the most popular destinations in the Cape Fear area for beach weddings! If you want to get married with your toes in the sand, be sure that you keep the following considerations in mind.
- Kure Beach allows weddings all along the town’s shoreline, and chairs and tents are permitted with some possible limitations. For more information, couples can call the Town Hall Event Coordinator at 910-458-8216.
- Couples can also rent the Ocean Front Park Pavilion any day of the week between 8 a.m. until 11 p.m., excluding the summer months of July and August, and major holidays. If additional room is needed for extra guests, the adjacent lawn area is also available to rent in addition to the pavilion. Rates vary based on the hour, and by the town residency status of renter, and tables and chairs are included in the rental price.
- Weddings and special events are also allowed at adjacent Fort Fisher State Recreation Site. A special activity permit may be required, which can be obtained online at https://files.nc.gov/ncparks/481/Special_Activity_%20Permit_rev.%202017.pdf.
- Couples do not have to be residents of North Carolina to get married in Kure Beach, but they will need a marriage license from the state of North Carolina. A marriage license can be picked up at the Register of Deeds office in any county in the state. The fee for a marriage license in North Carolina is currently $60.
- In North Carolina, there is no waiting period, physical exam, or blood test to get married. Once a marriage license has been issued, it is valid for 60 days.
- The closest Register of Deeds office for Kure Beach is in downtown Wilmington, and is located at 320 Chestnut Street. There is also a satellite Register of Deeds office, which is closed at 230 Government Center, Suite 185. Hours of operation for both offices are weekdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Beach Driving on Kure Beach
Driving on the beach is not allowed within the town limits of Kure Beach, however, off-road enthusiasts are able to drive on the beach just south of the town at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. Keep the following guidelines in mind if you plan to cruise the strand.
- A valid beach driving permit that is issued by the park is required to drive on the Fort Fisher beaches. Daily permits are $15 for weekdays and $25 for weekends. An annual pass is also available for $60, and a Family Pass is available for $100.
- Beach vehicle access permits are available for sale at the park’s main visitors center every day, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
- 4WD access within the Fort Fisher State Recreation area is available 24 hour per day from September 15 until March 31. During the rest of the year, beach driving access closes 30 minutes before the park - (roughly 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., depending on the season.)
- All 4WD vehicles must be licensed with a valid safety inspection and registration.
- All drivers must have a valid driver’s license to obtain a beach driving pass.
- Trailers are not allowed to be towed on the beach.
- Visitors are advised to air down their tires to 20 psi or lower in order to avoid getting stuck in potentially soft sand.
- 4WD vehicles should follow established tracks in the sand, and should steer clear of the beach close to the ocean to avoid pedestrians and beach-goers, and to avoid saltwater, which can permanently damage a vehicle.
- Bring along tow straps, boards, and a shovel in case you get stuck. Towing services are also available through several companies in the Kure Beach and Carolina Beach areas.
Pets on the Beach
Want to bring along your furry best friend on your upcoming Kure Beach vacation? Here’s what you need to know about enjoying this coastal community with your four-legged travelling companions.
- Dogs are not allowed in the beach from April 1 through September 30.
- There is a dog park in Kure Beach – the Gurney Hood Barking Lot – which is located on K Avenue, (across from the Town of Kure Beach Police Department), and which is open all year.
- Dogs on the beach are required to be on a leash at all times that does not exceed 15’ feet.
- Owners should bring along a bag for waste, and should always pick up after their pet.
- Be sure and bring along fresh water and a dog bowl when visiting the beach, as well as a tent, umbrella, canopy, or other method of shade on hot days.
- Be careful of deceptively warm spring and fall days, when the sand may be too hot for sensitive paws.
- Many area vacation rental companies, hotels, and other accommodation options do allow pets for a small extra fee. Ask your lodgings provider ahead of time to see what options are available, and what restrictions may apply.
Bonfires on Kure Beach
Bonfires and campfires are not allowed within the town of Kure Beach, or within the neighboring Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.
Fireworks of all varieties are not allowed in the town of Kure Beach, or in the neighboring Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.
Alcohol on the Beach
Alcohol consumption and open containers are not permitted on the shorelines of Kure Beach, or at any public property, like the Kure Beach Oceanfront Pavilion. Alcohol is also prohibited within the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area to the south of Kure Beach.