No matter how many times you’ve visited Carolina Beach, there are often new one-of-a-kind adventures waiting to be discovered. While popular hotspots like the vintage Carolina Beach Boardwalk have earned Carolina Beach its status as an iconic vacation destination, there are other activities you’ve likely yet to explore. From rare wildlife sightings to adventurous excursions, check out these special hidden gems Carolina Beach has to offer.

Carolina Beach State Park wooden trail path among the trees

A Day in the Wild 

Adventure seekers can shift into high gear with a permit and four-wheel-drive vehicle rental from SunFun Rentals. Ride along the coast at Freeman Park, then hop out to set up a picnic to enjoy lunch or dinner with a scenic view.

Spend a day exploring Carolina Beach State Park, where you’ll find miles of hiking trails and some of North Carolina’s best fishing spots. Home to 13 different habitats amongst its 761 acres, you’ll find natural wonders throughout the park. Look closely for carnivorous plants like the Venus flytrap, which only grows natively within a 60-mile radius of Carolina Beach, or embark on a guided carnivorous plant hike available on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the fall. 

Visitors can also explore along the North Carolina Birding Trail while at Carolina Beach State Park. Pack your binoculars and keep your eyes peeled to spy redheaded woodpeckers, brown-headed nuthatches and raptors. Sign up for a guided tour that navigates visitors to birding hotspots only accessible by kayaks with Mahanaim Adventures. Or, embark on a guided field trip with Cape Fear Audubon Society.  Head to the beach in the fall to watch as the Loggerhead sea turtle nests scattered along the shoreline begin to hatch.

A Hike Through History

Sugarloaf Dune, one of the most unique features at Carolina Beach State Park, is a 50-foot sand dune located near the bank of the Cape Fear River where more than 5,000 troops camped during the Civil War. Grab your furry friend and hike to the dune – along the way, take in breathtaking views of the coastal evergreen forest and longleaf pine savanna.

Whether you opt for a thrilling adventure or relaxing exploration, you’re certain to discover hidden sanctuaries all around you at Carolina Beach.