Tours & Cruises in Carolina Beach, NC
Navigate Your Way Around the Island
Discover a different side of Carolina Beach with the help of self-guided or guided tours and cruises. Explore filming locations from hit television series and movies or go on a history and food tour conducted by island experts. From tours of a state park led by experienced rangers to wildlife-spotting water excursions and more, you’re bound to learn something new and have fun doing it.
Carolina Beach State Park
Home to 13 different habitats amongst its 761 acres, Carolina Beach State Park is one of Carolina Beach’s most popular attractions. From miles of hiking trails to one of the world’s most unique carnivorous plants – the Venus flytrap – to a marina and more, there’s a lot to explore. Lucky for visitors, the park offers a variety of learning opportunities for all ages. Typically led by park rangers, these programs give the public a different perspective and closer look at what makes the park so naturally wonderful. Turtle Talks, hosted by volunteers from the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project, take place every Wednesday night during the summer. Carnivorous plant hikes are held on Saturdays, spring through fall. The Visitor’s Center is also a good resource for a map of the park’s hiking trails and a plant and animal checklist, along with educational exhibits.
Coast along the calm waters of the Intracoastal Waterway during a casual cruise courtesy of Carolina Beach Pontoon Rental. Whether you opt to steer the boat yourself or let one of their captains lead the way, you’ll have everything you need for a fun day in the sun. Choose your adventure on a charter cruise with Island Time Water Tours. Select your destination from a variety of tours and be entertained with the captain's knowledge of area history, spot wildlife and cruise from two hours to a full-day.
Enjoy a family-friendly narrated sunset cruise in the evening aboard Island Cruises' Caribbean-style two level catamaran. Private charters are also available for up to 106 guests. Plan a party aboard the Vonda Kay, with room for up to 53 passengers. Perfect for evening cruises, private charters and special events, the 72' boat also offers fishing excursions.
Take a history bicycle tour of the island using a tour map. The self-guided tour directs participants to important Civil War sites and other historical locations in Carolina Beach and nearby Kure Beach, along with highlighting noteworthy restaurants along the way. Download or print a tour map. Bike rentals are available from Pleasure Island Rentals.
Tasting History Tours
Explore the island on foot with Tasting History Tours. This walking and tasting tour invites you to explore with all of your senses. Guides share the rich history of the island while participants enjoy tastings from some of its favorite restaurants. Tour options include the Signature Tour, which stops at a minimum of five restaurants and lasts approximately 2.5 hours or register for the “History in a Glass,” a drinks-only tour for adults! A schedule of upcoming tours is available online. If you are interested in a date not listed there, contact Tasting History Tours directly. Private and group tours are also available.
Located on the island and just down the road in Kure Beach, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher offers dive shows, summer day camps, weekly children's activities, new seasonal animal exhibits and behind the scenes tours. The aquarium, named one of the best aquariums in the country by USA Today’s 10Best, is home to more than 2,500 animal residents of all shapes and sizes.
Fort Fisher, located at the southern tip of Kure Beach, was the site of the largest land-sea battle of the Civil War. Today, visitors to Fort Fisher State Historic Site can explore the site of this historic battle on a self-guided tour. Approximately 10% of the fort still stands along with a restored palisade fence. All tours of the grounds begin in the Visitors Center which features an audiovisual program about the history of the fort. Then meander along a scenic outdoor trails shaded by live oaks, featuring interpretive exhibit panels. The site hosts historical reenactments throughout the year, including an event commemorating the Battle of Fort Fisher each January.
Find more than 16 (and counting) vibrant public murals around the island. Thanks to the Carolina Beach Mural Project, each mural is painted, designed and inspired by local artists and the community. The murals celebrate all things Carolina Beach from our unique history and culture to what visitors and locals love about Carolina Beach. Snap a selfie in front of "Cape Fear's Captain," "Beach Breeze," or any of the others and tag us on Instagram @carolinabeachnc or #OnlyinCB. Find a full list of locations, artist and mural information and a map here.
Lights. Camera. Action!
For film fans, a visit to Carolina Beach's top filming locations is a must! Take a self-guided tour to see locations where "Tammy," "We're the Millers," "Dawson's Creek," "The Summer I Turned Pretty" and more filmed on the island. Visit Carolina Beach State Park, where Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon filmed scenes for "Tammy" and Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis filmed for "We're the Millers." Stroll the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, which appeared in a few early episodes of the iconic "Dawson's Creek." The Boardwalk was also featured in "The Summer I Turned Pretty," as well as other Carolina Beach staples like Fat Pelican, SeaWitch Inn and more. Check out our top movie and television series filming locations map for more details.