Featuring a four-mile stretch of beach, Wrightsville Beach offers plenty of things to see and do from the north end to the south end. Start at the top of the island and find a mystical mailbox. Or hop on a boat at the southernmost tip to explore the largest uninhabited barrier island ecosystem in southern North Carolina. Whether you’re planning a quick getaway or a longer stay, you’ll need a good understanding of the lay of the land. This should get you started:

Wrightsville Beach Mailbox

MailboxDiscover a mysterious mailbox on the north end of the beach. Visitors to the mailbox can write letters to clear their conscience or share their favorite memories, then place them in the mailbox for safe keeping. A local couple managed the mailbox for 11 years and kept over 200 journals filled with everything from love poems to prayers of peace before the capsule was moved to the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History a few years ago. The University of North Carolina Wilmington kept the tradition going by setting up and manning a new mailbox in the old location on the north end.

Johnnie Mercer’s Pier

Visit the only concrete fishing pier in the state of North Carolina. Johnnie Mercer’s Pier is a state-of-the-art 945-foot pier with a snack bar, game area and a beautiful view. Originally built in 1937 as one of the first piers in North Carolina, it now extends over 1,200 feet into the Atlantic Ocean and is a prime spot for fishing.

Intracoastal Waterway

Intracostal WaterwayThe middle of the island offers an opportunity to experience the water without the waves, courtesy of the Intracoastal Waterway. Rent a kayak or standup paddleboard from Wrightsville Beach Kayak or explore the shoreline of the Intracoastal via sailboat with Wrightsville Performance Sailing. If you’re looking to boat, The Bridge Tender Marina, Seapath Yacht Club or the Wrightsville Beach Marina & Dock will keep you stocked and prepared to spend the day on board.

Sunrise, Sunset

Wake up early and take in the spectacular sunrise on the eastern side of the island. Experience the breathtaking pink, orange and yellow colors above the glistening blue water from your balcony or the beach, and soak in the serenity. Wrightsville Beach offers the unique opportunity to see the sun rise on the Atlantic Ocean and set over the Intracoastal Waterway.

Crystal Pier

Crystal Pier Keep heading south to find the newly renovated Crystal Pier. The wooden pier was originally built in 1939 over a shipwrecked blockade runner. Its location over a wreckage site has made the pier a great spot for fishing, and anglers are drawn from all over the country to make a fresh catch. Live music fans can catch outdoor concerts on the pier from spring through summer. While there, grab a bite to eat in the only restaurant in Wrightsville Beach overlooking the ocean, Oceanic Restaurant.

Masonboro Island Reserve

Once you reach the southernmost tip of the island, hop on a boat or arrange for a scenic tour from Wrightsville Beach Tours and Water Taxi to experience Masonboro Island Reserve, the longest undisturbed barrier island ecosystem in southern North Carolina.