Surfers, college students, families, retirees, outdoor enthusiasts, residents, and vacationers come together to enjoy beautiful Wrightsville Beach, NC, a picturesque beach town off Wilmington’s coast. Stroll along quiet beaches in the off season or be where the action is during the summer months. Whether you’re here for an afternoon, a week long getaway, or a lifetime you’re sure to love Wrightsville.
Wrightsville Beach is beachfront town with approximately 2,600 full-time residents. The community is located in New Hanover County bordering the City of Wilmington, NC. When you drive over the Wrightsville Beach drawbridge, you enter Harbor Island which is surrounded by the Intracoastal Waterway, Bank Channel, and a number of canals. You often find boaters, kayakers, paddleboarders, and even swimmers making the loop around Harbor Island. And speaking of loops, the be sure to take a walk or run around the John Nesbitt Loop. This 2.45 mile paved path leads from Wrightsville Beach Park and takes you around the interior of Harbor Island, over a couple of bridges across Bank Channel, and through the quaint downtown business district. There are parking lots on either side of the loop (via Causeway Drive and Salisbury Street).
Attractions and Things to Do in Wrightsville Beach
Going to the Beach
While Wrightsville Beach may be smaller than Carolina Beach and some of the other beach communities in Southeastern North Carolina, there is still plenty to do. Obviously the biggest draw to Wrightsville is the beaches themselves. Wrightsville has some of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast and the water is often crystal blue. There are numerous beach parking lotsa along the 4-mile drive up and down North Lumina Avenue and there is metered on-street parking as well. If there is one downside to Wrightsville Beach, it’s the lack of parking. If you you’re visiting on the weekend during the high season, be sure to get to the beach early or you may have to wait for a parking space to open up. It’s not the beaches are crowded, it’s just that there is not enough parking to meet the demand. According to the town’s website there are 44 designated beach access points.
Some of our Favorite Beach Spots
Jonnie Mercer Pier Beach Access – If you like people watching, it’s hard to beat the beach area around Jonnie Mercer Pier. The parking area is the largest at the beach and it’s a popular spot for local students from UNCW and Cape Fear Community College to congregate. Plus, it’s very easy to grab a bite to eat or something to drink as area restaurants and bars are within easy walking distance.
Access #36 on the North End – As parents, we’re big fans of this spot. First off, it’s a fairly large lot. Second, there are restrooms and changing areas. Finally, if you’re willing to do a little walking, you can head north along the beach and before you know it, you’ll be able to have some space.
The far tip of the South End – If you have really little kids and don’t want to battle the waves all day, you can park at the park south end of the island (down by the Coast Guard Station), veer around the beach to your right, and you’ll find yourself on Banks Channel. Often times, the water in this area is very flat (minus the boat wake). Please be safe though as the inlet is close by and they may be dangerous currents at times.
*The following accesses have public restrooms: #2, #4, #16, #36
*The following accesses are ADA accessible ocean access points: #2, #3, #4, #8, #16, #36, #43
*Lifeguard stand locations: #2, #4, #8, #10, #15, #16, #22, #29, #33, #38, #40
*Please note that this information is from the Town’s website and may be subject to change.
Getting Out On the Water
There are plenty of ways to get out and explore the area on the water. If you’re trailering a boat or jet ski, there is a public boat launch right beside the Wrightsville Beach drawbridge. To get there, stay in the right lane as you’re coming over the bridge and take your first right and then an immediate right. You’ll loop around under the bridge to the launch area.
There are numerous places to rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards (SUPs), and jetskis. And if you’re ready to try your hand at surfing, you can easy find surf lessons from outfits such as WB Surf and Indo Jax. Another really cool thing to consider is taking the water taxi over to Masonboro Island for a couple of hours. Masonboro Island is a barrier island which is only accessible by boat.There is no development on the island so bring your towel and suncreen and be prepared to hang out. The taxi leaves from the Blockade Runner Hotel’s dock three times a day.