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Last summer, I was with my cousins heading out from Raleigh for a day at Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Upon arriving at Carolina Beach, we could not find any parking, so we kept heading south until we stumbled up the cutest beach town called Kure Beach. The beach was picture perfect (like straight out of the Caribbean), and the houses were so cute! This town is totally out of an HGTV beach show! Right then and there I said, “Next summer we are renting a house here” and last week, that’s exactly what we did!
Planning Your Kure Beach Vacation
Where is Kure Beach, North Carolina
Leading up to this trip, whenever I mentioned I was going to the beach in North Carolina, the same response was – “oh to the Outer Banks.” NO!
Kure Beach is located on Pleasure Island, a barrier island off the North Carolina coast. It’s about 20 minutes south of Wilmington, North Carolina, a 2.5-hour drive from Raleigh and two hours north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Once you cross over the bridge on 421, head south into Kure. If you keep going, you will eventually hit Fort Fisher State park.
The town of Kure Beach is on a barrier island, surround by the ocean to the east, and the Cape Fear River/Intracoastal Waterway to the west.
Why visit Kure Beach?
I thought Kure Beach was the perfect place for a beach vacation. We had 12 family members (intergenerational) traveling together, but this would be the perfect spot to visit with your friends or immediate family. Would be a nice low-key honeymoon spot as well!
Why was Kure Beach such a great vacation spot?
- Kure Beach is a quiet, small, beach town. The beaches were not overrun with people, there is not a ton of congestion, it was a very chill place. We did not see any chain restaurants or big box store out there. Although my sister was sad there was no Starbucks nearby.
- In this coastal area of North Carolina (like the Outer banks) there are many beach houses for rent with extended family. Our house slept 13 adults.
- Kure Beach vacation rentals are super affordable. We paid $2400 for four nights in house right across a small road from the beach. This worked out to be $600 per night, or $150 per family. We visited at the end of August, when most local kids were already back in school. In my research, I did not see a significant price drop for that time of year, although most places DID NOT require a 5-7 stay like you might see earlier in the summer months.
- The beach is really nice. The water is clear (although not calm when there is a hurricane off shore), the sand was soft and the beach is very clean and well-kept.
- For beach lovers, you will be all set spending your days on the sand, but for families and those looking for more “activity” there are several fun things to do in Kure Beach (see Below)
Things to do in Kure Beach
Besides the beach (and laying by the pool if your rental house has one – with kids I highly recommend springing for this amenity) there are several fun things to do in this area.
I am going to be honest, we spent four nights in Kure and we did not do any of this stuff! We enjoyed our beach and pool time, and laying around our rental house relaxing. I mean, you can’t beat spending time out on this deck!
We did attempt to go Stand Up Paddle boarding, but the current was too strong on the day we tried. But, if you are looking for some activities in Kure Beach, here are some great options:
- NC Aquarium – our extended family has visited this aquarium several times. It’s small, but a fun way to spend part of your day, and the perfect activity if you have a rainy day during your beach vacation.
- Carolina Beach State Park – Here you can rent Stand Up Paddleboards, kayaks or bikes. There is also jet ski rentals here!
- Fort Fisher – Ft. Fisher is a real fort from the Civil War! Now its a historic site located at the south end of Kure Beach. Definitely worth a visit!
- Carolina Beach Boardwalk – our cousins ventured up to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk one night. Here there are a few amusement park rides and lots of shops and restaurants.
- Kure Beach Arcade – The Hi-Tech Arcade is located right by the pier entrance in Kure Beach. On our trip, hubby did take the kids to the arcade, twice. This was definitely a hit with the Momma To Go kids.
- Fishing on the Pier at Kure Beach – Kure Beach has a famous pier that stretches out into the ocean. This is a very popular fishing spot. Try your hand at some fishing, maybe you can catch your dinner?
- Surf Lessons – Something I thought about trying! Surf lessons are offered at Carolina Beach or Fort Fisher State Park through the Tony Silvagni Surf School. Surf lessons are only offered in the summer months.
Kure Beach Vacation Rentals
On our recent trip we rented this house, which was located pretty much right on the beach. The house had 4 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. We LOVED the location – there was no way to beat it. It was very convenient to go back and forth from the beach to the house, be it for forgotten beach toys, to use the restroom (there are none on the beach) or to eat lunch at home (which was nicer than having to pack it all up and lug it to the beach).
We chose this house over another option because we thought the pool would be a nice added amenity with the kids, and it defiantly was. We spent the mornings at the beach, would come in for lunch, then swim in the pool in the afternoon before heading back to the beach in the evening.
Can’t beat that schedule, right?
This house was great, and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it if you only need 3 bedrooms. The fourth bedroom, that my sister and her boyfriend got “stuck” with was pretty much in the garage and was very musty and kind of dungeon like. Which was really unfortunate because we LOVED the rest of the house.
Some Other Kure Beach Rental Houses:
This year we very much considered this house, but opted for the other one because of the pool.
Next year, we are already planning to rent a bigger house and have our eye on these two:
Kure Beach Restaurants
Honestly, the best place to eat is in your beach house! In all seriousness, we cooked breakfast each morning at home, ate lunches at the house (sandwiches or leftovers), went out twice for dinner, and cooked at home twice.
The first night we visited a local restaurant, and let’s just say it was not up to the Momma To Go standards so I won’t feature it here.
On the third night, we ventured into Wilmington to visit a family favorite – Indochine. This is a Southeast Asian restaurant that I highly recommend. The food is amazing, the portions plentiful and you can sit outside in a real Thai-inspired garden. Indochine is especially great for large parties, there are plenty of outdoor tables that can accommodate a large group. Plus, many of their dishes are meant to be shared!
NC PRO-TIP: For parties of 8 or more, Indochine will allow you to call ahead to get your name on the wait list. Otherwise they do not take reservations.
Some other notable Kure Beach eats:
Wake and Bake Donuts – I do have to recommend a trip to Wake and Bake Donuts, located before the bridge in the Food Lion shopping center. We took out a dozen of these crazy creations (including a ghost pepper donut) and needless to say, our family ate all of them! Little man especially loved the donut topped with M&M’s!
Beach House Burgers for Ice Cream – Of course hubby, and the Momma To Go kids had to sample the local ice cream options! This shack is only open until 7PM, so for a mid-day treat, be sure to stop by.
When to visit Kure Beach
In my opinion, the shoulder seasons are going to be the best time to visit Kure Beach. We went the last week of August and it was a great time to go. The local kids were back at school (ours started back after Labor Day), but the weather was still gorgeous.
In the late summer and early fall, you do have to worry about hurricane season. Even if there is no monster storm, you could get rain, and/or rough seas.
The first time I spent a day in Kure, it was the first weekend in June. Again, before the local students were done with classes, but it was HOT!
In the prime summer weeks (June 15 – August 15) expect more crowds, higher rental prices, and longer rental minimums on the houses. But what a great way to escape the hot NC summers than at the beach?
Around November, beach house rental prices seem to drop off. I bet you can snag some nice fall and winter days at the beach. Just bring a sweatshirt or a jacket. North Carolina has a fairly mild climate, and temperatures in Kure Beach average mid-50s in December, January and February.
In my opinion, any time is a good time for the beach and I am confident your family will love a trip to Kure Beach as much as we did! Have you been to Kure Beach? What is your favorite family beach destination?