When looking for ways to experience a vacation with a purpose, consider a trip to Wilmington and our Island Beaches – Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville. From leading workshops in serene natural settings or helping the handicapped enjoy watersports, to restoring the coast or protecting endangered sea turtles, there are plenty of heartwarming and rewarding ways to spend a vacation here.

Warm Your Heart

Experience the great outdoors and give back with volunteer opportunities ranging from leading hikes to interpreting astronomy to sharing your bird expertise at Carolina Beach State Park. For another eco-friendly volunteer opportunity, leave a negative carbon footprint after attending Whomporama, an annual event held in August where volunteers walk up and down the beach collecting trash before the body surfing competitions begin.

Leave your getaway with a blissful heart after volunteering with Ocean Cure. Through land and water opportunities, this organization helps make the beach 100 percent accessible for a fun-filled day in the surf, sun and sand! Volunteers help handicapped individuals experience the beach in special beach-friendly wheelchairs and ride the waves on adaptive surfboards during several scheduled programs held throughout the year. Or, measure your success by the abundance of smiles you create and become a “volunstar” with the Little Pink Houses of Hope during Retreat Week in April. During the annual retreat, volunteers are tasked with preparing homes for families with a member who is battling breast cancer so they can enjoy a carefree beach vacation for free. Volunteers can even join the family for activities like beach games, SUP, arts and crafts, biking and more throughout the week.

Teach and Inspire

If serene wildlife views are the way to your heart, check out Fort Fisher State Recreation Area for volunteer opportunities that vary from “live-in” campsite hosts to leading education workshops on astronomy, birding, natural resources and historic sites within the park. Or, the whole family can volunteer under the sea and learn to educate visitors at touch pools, assist with special events or even help maintain fresh and saltwater exhibits at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Restore the Coast

Get involved with an international organization and volunteer to staff Surfer’s Healing, the original camp for children with autism where notions of aptitude are defied and volunteers aid in a global event with a mission to change the world by riding waves. Each August, volunteers are tasked to assist with activities such as passing out T-shirts, goodie bags and medals, guiding families through registration or walking kids to the water line and assisting them on and off the boards.

Protect endangered sea turtles with the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project where volunteers can pick up plastic and other waste that often entraps turtles. Keep It Clean provides an opportunity to clean up the beach by collecting trash along the coast and encouraging others to dispose of their waste properly. Assist the North Carolina Coastal Federation and the thousands of others who have worked to restore coastal habitats through various programs including oyster and wetland restoration, coastal cleanups, helping preserve the rain gardens and stormwater projects, among others.

If your interests involve history and meeting people, check out the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History for a wide array of needs ranging from the reception desk to staffing special events at the museum.

Create Positive Change

Visitors can reach out to Cape Fear Volunteer Center and Support the Port with their desired skill set to be matched with the perfect volunteer opportunity customized for their abilities.

In addition to volunteer opportunities, Wilmington and our island beaches host annual events that benefit the community and promote a healthy environment, like the annual Wilmington Earth Day event held each April at Long Leaf Park and the 5K Race for the Planet held each April in Kure Beach at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher.