North Carolina Beaches

Historic Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher, NC, at the southern expanse of Pleasure Island just beyond Kure Beach, allows you to step back in time with a trip to the Fort Fisher Civil War Museum and then discover the amazing world of the sea at the North Carolina Aquarium, all in one day. You’ll also find the Fort Fisher State Recreation Site here, with four miles of undeveloped beach at your disposal. The Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce is proud to showcase the attractions of Fort Fisher, including the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, the Fort Fisher State Historic Site and Museum, and the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.

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The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher

More than tripling in size after a 2-year expansion, the new North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher has become the Lower Cape Fear’s top visitor attraction. The largest of the state’s three public aquariums, the 93,000-sq-ft facility celebrates the spectrum of life of the Cape Fear River basin, nearby beaches and estuaries, and open ocean beyond. This year, new exhibits promise an even more eye-opening "journey from the river to the sea."

Fort Fisher State Historic Site

Fort Fisher, the third most visited historical site in North Carolina, was the largest sand and earth fortification of the Confederacy. Its job was to protect blockade runners en route to Wilmington, NC with supplies for the Confederacy and it was the fall of this Fort in 1865 that opened the way for the Union victory. The Fort Fisher State Historic Site includes a fascinating Civil War Museum, the remains of the fortifications and a smaller museum called, “Hidden Beneath the Waves”, an underwater archaeology exhibit on local shipwreck dive sites and Cape Fear maritime history (910-458-9042). Come visit the museums at Fort Fisher State Park, take a guided tour of the Fort, witness Civil War reenactments and picnic at the Cove, a lovely spot right on the ocean. Call (910-458-5538) more information.

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

The Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, at the southern end of the Island, includes over 4 miles of beautiful undeveloped beach and marshes between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic. Shell-seekers, bird watchers, and anglers find seclusion here and can view some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. The Fort Fisher State Recreation Site is a haven for endangered loggerhead sea turtles who build their nesting sites here each year. Bluefish, puppy drum, mullet, spot and flounder are plentiful here. You can four wheel on the beach and launch your boat at the public ramp or kayak and sail board in the expanse of shallows at the Island’s southern point. The Fort Fisher beach also includes a protected swimming area, showers and a visitor center. (910-458-5798).  Also see: Pleasure Island Beach Information.

North Carolina Ferry at Fort Fisher/Southport

Take “the best $5 scenic cruise you’ve ever seen”, a 35 minute cruise on the Fort Fisher Ferry across the Cape Fear River to Southport, NC, a quaint town of antique shops, restaurants, restored homes and historic sites. Be sure to visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum’s Southport branch and the Captain Thompson Home for a glimpse of a Civil War blockade runner’s life. Then re-board the Ferry for a relaxing return to Pleasure Island. The Ferry is located south of the Fort Fisher Historic Site on Route 421. Ferry reservations are suggested. (1-800-BY-FERRY)

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