Welcome to Pleasure Island
Pleasure Island is a coastal island in Southeastern North Carolina, USA south of Wilmington.
Most of the island is located within Federal Point Township, in New Hanover County, but its very southernmost tip extends into Smithville Township, in Brunswick County. The coastal towns of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, as well as the annexed community of Wilmington Beach, are located on the island. The Atlantic Ocean lies on the island's east side, the Cape Fear River lies on the west, the north side is bordered by Snows Cut (part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway) and Carolina Beach Inlet. The southern end of the island was separated from Bald Head Island by Corncake Inlet until the inlet was shoaled and closed in 1998 by Hurricane Bonnie; thus, technically Pleasure Island and Bald Head Island are not separate islands. Prior to the 1930 completion of Snow's Cut, the land that now forms Pleasure Island was in fact a peninsula known as Federal Point.
Carolina Beach offers an original kind of beach experience from the past with old-time beach charm combined with a fun, family-friendly spin for today. Visitors can experience a vintage, nationally-recognized seaside boardwalk, live music, miles of beautiful beach, world-class fishing, one-of-a kind festivals and events, and all kinds of people united by good times that are unmistakably Carolina Beach.
Discover a different kind of beach experience at Carolina Beach this winter and enjoy scenic landscapes, less crowds and great off-season rates. Get outdoors at the beach’s one-of-a-kind coastal parks including Carolina Beach State Park featuring miles of hiking trails and views of the Cape Fear River or Carolina Beach Lake Park. Visit for nearby signature events including the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Fort Fisher featuring a Civil War reenactment or the Polar Plunge, a 5k race that ends with a dip in the ocean.
Carolina Beach State Park
With a marina providing access to some of North Carolina's best fishing spots, a secluded camping area beneath towering trees, and miles of hiking trails that traverse a variety of distinct habitats - not to mention the presence of the Venus flytrap, one of the world's most unique carnivorous plants - it's no wonder Carolina Beach State Park is a popular coastal attraction. Located in an area steeped in both history and natural diversity, the park includes a visitor's center with exhibits depicting the wonders of its environment. Visit Carolina Beach State Park to relax, enjoy nature or embark on an eye-opening adventure.
Plant life: Several coastal ecosystems are present in the park. Forests dominated by longleaf pine, turkey oak and live oak occupy the dry, coarse soil of a series of relict sand dunes. Between the dunes are dense shrub swamps, called pocosins, populated by pond pines, loblolly and sweet bay, yaupon and evergreen shrubs. Brackish marshes consisting primarily of cordgrasses and sedges can be found beyond the relict dunes adjacent to the river.
Three limesink ponds, each vegetated by a unique plant community, are found in the park. Cypress Pond, the most unusual limesink pond in the park, is dominated by a dwarf cypress swamp forest. Lily Pond is occupied by the broad, oval leaves and beautiful, white flowers of water lilies, which cover its waters in early summer. Grass Pond, which dries out almost every year, is filled with a variety of aquatic sedges. Carnivorous plants thrive in the boggy soil around its edge and in the park's acidic, mineral-poor soil.
Several interesting carnivorous plants thrive at Carolina Beach State Park by trapping and digesting insects. Among these carnivorous plants are pitcher plants, bladderworts, sundews and butterworts, but the most familiar—and the most spectacular—is the Venus flytrap.
With the appearance of a clam shell, the trap is actually a modified leaf. Its interior may be colored pale yellow to bright red. When its trigger hairs are touched by an insect, the halves close and the guard hairs mesh, entrapping its prey. The plant then secretes digestive fluids and, within three to five days, nutrients from the prey are absorbed and the trap reopens. Each trap dies after closing and opening three times. Throughout the growing season, new traps emerge from underground stems to replace those that have died.
Venus flytraps are native only within 60 to 75 miles of Wilmington. New propagation methods have saved the flytrap from becoming an endangered species. However, their numbers are declining due to the destruction of their habitats. Controlled burning is beneficial to flytraps, as well as other kinds of carnivorous plants, as it discourages competing species.
Venus flytraps may be purchased at many retail nurseries. Help preserve this unique plant; do not remove the flytrap from the park.
Animal life: Carolina Beach State Park is a great place for bird watching. Brown pelicans thrive in the coastal environment, and warblers, finches and woodpeckers fill the woods. In summer, painted buntings, yellowthroats and prairie warblers can be seen in the forest while ospreys populate Snow's Cut. Besides providing habitat for resident land birds during the winter and summer, Carolina Beach State Park also is located along an important migration corridor and attracts many birds during their migrations.
The small ponds in the park are home to several frog species. Carolina anoles, five-lined skinks, six-lined racerunners and various snake species are also found. Occasionally, an alligator will wander into the marina. White-tailed deer, raccoons and gray squirrels are abundant, and opossums, cottontails and other animals common to the southern coastal plain may be seen along with an occasional fox squirrel, gray fox or river otter.
The Cape Fear Indians lived in and around the area that is now Carolina Beach State Park, prior to European settlement. Mainly occupying the land along the Cape Fear River and its tributaries, the small tribe grew hostile to early settlers and, in 1715, participated in an uprising against Europeans in the area. The Cape Fear Indians were defeated and left the area by 1725. Artifacts of the native culture, including pottery fragments, arrowheads and mounds of oyster shells, have been found in the area.
Early attempts at colonization in the area were unsuccessful, mainly due to conflicts with the Cape Fear Indians. Pirating, common in the area during colonial times, also contributed to the struggles of early settlers. In 1726, a permanent settlement was established along the lower Cape Fear. The newly settled land became an important arena for commerce when the English crown designated the Cape Fear River as one of five official ports of entry. Agricultural and timber products, naval stores, shipping and trade formed the basis of the economy.
Sugarloaf, a 50-foot sand dune near the bank of the Cape Fear River, has been an important navigational marker for river pilots since 1663. The dune was also of strategic significance during the Civil War when, as part of the Confederacy's defense of the Port of Wilmington, about 5,000 troops camped on or near Sugarloaf during the siege of Fort Fisher.
Carolina Beach State Park was established in 1969 to preserve the unique environment along the intracoastal waterway.
The 761-acre park is located on a triangle of land known as Pleasure Island, which lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River. The land became an island when Snow's Cut was dredged in 1929 and 1930, connecting Masonboro Sound to the Cape Fear River. Snow's Cut, a part of the Intracoastal Waterway, provides inland passage for boat traffic along the Atlantic coast.
Let the peaceful small town atmosphere of Kure Beach transform you. Home to the oldest fishing pier on the Atlantic coast, an ocean-front park, a nearby state aquarium and beautiful natural surroundings, Kure Beach provides the perfect setting and relaxed pace for you and your family to get away and reconnect in this pure and natural playground.
Enjoy both a calm and refreshing getaway to Kure Beach this winter. Visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher for indoor underwater adventures and experience special seasonal programs including sea turtle rehab tours and more. Relax and immerse yourself in nature at one of the beach’s parks including Ocean Front Park and the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.