The Quirky Side of Cape Fear, Carolina Beach & Kure Beach

Eyelash Viper – Image by Mark & Lisa Kostich

Pirates, snakes, ghosts and chomping plants? We have all of these across the greater Wilmington area, including Cape Fear, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. We also have a disappearing island and a hermit! While these things may tease you into thinking you are visiting a creepy area, think again. These popular tourist spots will not disappoint the eccentric side of you!
  1. Captain Kidd supposedly buried his treasure on the aptly named Money Island, where the pirates who pillaged these waters host a pirate cruise for kids of all ages. You can visit the Children’s Museum of Wilmington for local pirate lore, take a walk through downtown Wilmington and learn of the places that pirates frequented during their seafaring days. In Cape Fear, learn of the capture of Swede Bonnet, the “Gentleman Pirate” and Blackbeard’s death.
  2. The Cape Fear Serpentarium on Orange Street gives you an up close and personal encounter with rare breeds of dangerous reptiles. Crocodiles, anacondas and turtles are just a few of the species in the serpentarium. If you don’t like slithering and crawling creatures with a mean bite, this is not the place for you! However, if you are an animal lover, these reptiles are a sight to see.
  3. With a historic area, you naturally will have some tales that are a bit more chilling. You can join a fun nightly ghost walk in Wilmington to hear the stories of the other side. Learn about one of the most haunted cemeteries in St. James Cemetery. The ghost of Samuel Jocelyn, supposedly buried alive, can be seen leaning against his own tombstone. “Ghost Hunters” have visited the battleship North Carolina and acclaimed it one of the top 25 Halloween picks due to ghostly sightings on deck, feeling watched and voices throughout the ship.
  4. If you plan a trip in May, you have to visit Carolina Beach State Park to see the native Venus flytraps that span across a half mile loop. These plants trap insects with their spiky leaves and chomp down around the insect. The brightly colored plants are accompanied by bladdwerworts and pitcher plants, also carnivorous and native to the area. Watch your fingers!
  5. There is a mysterious island that disappears in neighboring Wrightsville Beach. The island is really a sand bar with a fake palm on it that is only visible during low tide. When the tide rises, you can see the top of the fake palm in “The Diminishing Republic.”
  6. Near the Cape Fear River is a World War II era bunker, where hermit Robert Harrill lived for 17 years. He lived in the bunker in 1955 at the age of 62. People would come to him and he would impart wisdom, spread word of his philosophies and never leave his home. The Hermit of Fort Fisher is an interesting tourist stop at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.


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