Courtesy of Wilmington Cape Fear Coast CVB

Cape Fear is clearly a misnomer. Check out these welcoming seaside retreats.

By Suzanna G. Logan

With a name like Cape Fear, you might wonder about stepping intothe water. But North Carolina's southern coast has long soothed(not scared) visitors. Take your pick from pristine, undevelopedstretches or busy seaside scenes. And don't be afraid. The area gotits name long ago from captains who ran their ships aground due toshifting shoals where the Cape Fear River meets the ocean. Here area few recommendations for ocean visits.

Carolina Beach
Situated on 11-mile-long, aptly named Pleasure Island, thisbeach boasts an array of attractions. A boardwalk with miniaturegolf, paddleboats, and arcades parallels the beach, while nearby761-acre Carolina Beach State Park provides a rare glimpse of theinsectivorous Venus flytrap along the Flytrap Trail. After theday's activities, visitors can sample more-mild-than-wild nightlifeon one of several popular party cruises.

Kure Beach
If it's a bustling beach you crave, you might want to skipthis spot on Pleasure Island. Just south of town, Fort Fisher StateRecreation Area offers 4 miles of undeveloped waterfront, and thereis little to do but let your stress evaporate in the calm seabreezes. Only 2,000 residents call this coastal town home, but manymore come for the 712-foot pier, ideal for fishing orstrolling.

Wrightsville Beach
Beachgoers swarm here during the summer, when the usualpopulation of 2,400 can swell to 50,000. Fortunately, the crystalwaters stay warm well into fall, making it an ideal off-seasondestination, as well as a haven for local surfers. Connected to themainland by two bridges, the island has everything you would expectfrom a popular beach getaway. Contact information for all threebeaches: 877/406-2356 or cape-fear.nc.us.

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