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Overview

Nature still makes a command performance at this ancient Siouan site on the southern tip of Pleasure Island, especially when the endangered loggerhead turtles return to nest in late summer and early fall. Privileged are the volunteers who guard and keep vigil over the eggs until the turtles hatch and waddle out to sea, where they remain until their time comes to return as adults. Fortunate are the visitors who get to witness this rare natural phenomenon.

Home to 16 endangered and threatened species, the park is also an ideal place for watching terns, plovers, oystercatchers, warblers, hawks, peregrine falcons, and ducks. History ...

Nature still makes a command performance at this ancient Siouan site on the southern tip of Pleasure Island, especially when the endangered loggerhead turtles return to nest in late summer and early fall. Privileged are the volunteers who guard and keep vigil over the eggs until the turtles hatch and waddle out to sea, where they remain until their time comes to return as adults. Fortunate are the visitors who get to witness this rare natural phenomenon.

Home to 16 endangered and threatened species, the park is also an ideal place for watching terns, plovers, oystercatchers, warblers, hawks, peregrine falcons, and ducks. History abounds here, too. Built by the Confederates in 1861, the earthen fort aided the Blockade Runners who supplied Wilmington, NC during the Civil War. Backed by 56 warships, more than 3,000 Union troops captured the fort in 1865, a few months before the war ended. During World War II, the fort was used as a firing range. Robert E. Harrill, a local hermit, took up residence in one of the old bunkers from 1955 until 1972. You can learn more about what happened here by studying the exhibits in the Visitor Center, but walking around the site will really bring history to life.

An added park attraction is the outstanding North Carolina Aquarium, one of three on the coast. An elevated boardwalk leads to six miles of wide beaches. In addition to fun in the sun, visitors enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, and off-road touring (no ATVs allowed, however) in the 286-acre park, but should be cautious of steep drop-offs and high tides. The park's close proximity to Carolina Beach, Wilmington, and Southport is a plus.

Carol Timblin
About the Expert

Carol Timblin has contributed to numerous guidebooks and authored four editions of Houghton Mifflin's Best Places to Stay in the South.

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Carol Timblin for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring, summer and fall