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12 Best North Carolina beaches with boardwalks and piers to visit

Who does not love taking a long stroll on a beach boardwalk or pier while enjoying fantastic ocean views? There are some North Carolina beaches with boardwalks and piers you can visit. The seaside locales I will introduce to you in this post offer a beach boardwalk or a pier to walk on and fish and often feature additional amenities such as restaurants and shops nearby!

Anett Victoria - Author of SeaSpiration

Written by Anett Victoria

When it comes to a beach vacation, Anett is the person who certainly has tips on where to go and what to do no matter it is a luxury tropical holiday, a romantic seaside getaway, or a fun family trip to the ocean. As a world traveler with years of experience in exploring tropical countries and a water sports fan, she creates this inspiring site where she writes travel guides, reviews and recommends beach gear, and gives travel tips to make planning your trip quicker and easier! Are you curious about where She wanders now? Follow her adventures on IG too!

12 Best Beach Boardwalks and Piers In North Carolina

  • Carolina Beach Boardwalk
  • Atlantic Beach Boardwalk
  • Kure Beach Pier
  • Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier
  • Sunset Beach Fishing Pie
  • Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier
  • Crystal Pier Wrightsville Beach
  • Jennette’s Pier
  • Outer Banks Fishing Pier
  • Avalon Pier

What Beaches In North Carolina Have Boardwalks?

If you are looking for a classic boardwalk experience, you will find it at Carolina Beach Boardwalk, which features restaurants, shops, and entertainment options for family fun. Alternatively, Atlantic Beach Boardwalk is also a great place to take a stroll. Although it does not have a typical beach boardwalk scene, it offers easy beach access, a few restaurants, and shops.

Carolina Beach Boardwalk

The best beach boardwalk in North Carolina is the Carolina Beach Boardwalk on Pleasure Island just south of Wilmington. It offers a quintessential American beach experience with music festivals and fireworks in the summer, ice cream shops, amusement park rides, and bars and restaurants.

About one-quarter of a mile long, the boardwalk sits just off the beach, with ramps leading down to the sand. The boardwalk stays open 24/7/365, although many attractions are only open during the typical summer season of Memorial Day through Labor Day.

You can rent a bike and take a leisurely tour of the island or take surfing lessons with the Tony Silvagni Surf School. Take the kids to the amusement park, ride the Ferris wheel or carousel, and check out the Carolina Beach Arcade for some fun gaming action!

Accommodation tip: Courtyard Carolina Beach sits right on the beach, steps from the boardwalk and the area’s top attractions.

Atlantic Beach Boardwalk

In the town of the same name, the Atlantic Beach Boardwalk sits on Bogue Banks, one of the southernmost of the Outer Banks barrier islands. Despite its name, this is not a classic beach with a boardwalk. It is small and relaxing but has a few great restaurants within walking distance.

You can pick up some good beach reads at the Beach Book Mart where the latest bestsellers are sold. Thinking about the whole family, the store also offers comics and games. Those visiting the area with their significant other can pick up a bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine at MF Chappell Wine Merchant –the best wine store in the area – before heading to the sand.

The town of Atlantic Beach offers various walking tours known as Green, Red, Yellow, and Blue Loops. You can walk or bike all of the Loops. The Blue Loop, 3 miles long, provides the best ocean views.

Considering a family vacation here? Check out Mizpah Atlantic Beach, a holiday home with 6 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and a fully equipped kitchen.

What are the Piers on North Carolina Coast?

Kure Beach Pier

Kure Beach Pier

Kure Beach Pier, south of Carolina Beach, is one of the best fishing piers in North Carolina and one of the quieter ones along the state’s coast. While the structure here today is not original, there’s been a pier in this location since 1923, making Kure the oldest fishing pier on North Carolina’s coast.

The pier stays open 24/7 from April 1 through November 30. To fish on the pier with one rod and reel, you must pay a $5.00 fee. Fish species in this region include bluefish, pompano, and flounder.

Of course, the pier isn’t all about fishing. Play some pool in the arcade, or shop for a beach-themed souvenir at the gift shop. If you get hungry, fill up on seafood at Jack Mackerels Island Grill. If you’re craving Italian, check out Freddie’s Restaurant; both are located conveniently right by the pier!

If you just want to walk the pier, you can do so for free. This is a good reason to add this location to your vacation itinerary; most North Carolina piers are not free.

History lovers should check out the nearby Fort Fisher State Historic Site, a short drive down Route 421, and delve into Civil War history. Here, you can check out the remains of a Confederate fort. Walk the grounds to view the outdoor exhibits or stop inside the visitors center to learn more about the location through interactive displays and a map of the site.

For accommodation in the area, check out the Sand Dunes Motel, a stylish boutique inn located just steps away from the beach.

Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier

Bogue Inlet Pier

Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier is another famous North Carolina fishing pier where you can try your angling skills. Visiting the pier – no matter whether you want to fish or just take a walk on it – ranks on TripAdvisor as the top attraction in town.

This pier is located in Emerald Isle, which has some of the clearest water in North Carolina and is an excellent family-friendly destination. There is ample parking (plus it is free in the off-season!), easy access to bathrooms, and many stores and restaurants around,

You do not need a state fishing license if you fish from the pier and can park for free.
Rates vary depending on how many days you want to fish. Daily rates go down as low as $15 for bottom fishing. If you’re sticking around for a while, season passes are also available: $300 for bottom fishing or $350 for king fishing. There are places where you can rent fishing equipment too.

Just off the pier, Surf’s Up Grill & Bar has lunch and dinner menus offering seafood platters, sandwiches, beach bowls, and dessert specials. After a long day fishing, hang out here and have a cocktail or beer while watching sports on the big-screen TVs!

Looking for a budget-friendly place to stay nearby? Oceanview Inn is less than 5 minutes’ walk from the pier and beach!

Sunset Beach Fishing Pier

Located at Sunset Beach – one of those North Carolina beaches where you find white sand – is another notable wooden fishing pier in the state. The area is popular due to its laid-back vibes; perfect for a weekend getaway to reset and recharge! Earning its name, the sunsets are gorgeous from here!

This 900-foot pier offers plenty of spots where you can set up and cast your line. Hours vary depending on the season, but the pier stays open from 6 a.m. to midnight during the summer.

There are daily, three-day, and five-day passes, but you can also get a season pass, either $225 for regular fishing or $275 for king fishing. Fishermen get special perks, such as free parking. Stock up on gear at the tackle shop; they have everything you need, no matter your skill level. Moreover, the pier also features an annual fishing contest; try your luck and you might win an annual pier pass!

Those who are not into fishing find plenty of on-site entertainment including good eats and lovely souvenir shops or can just enjoy the boardwalk. You can even sign up for a walking tour to learn more about this pier originally built in 1960 and then rebuilt in 1976 over the remains of the Vesta, a blockade runner that dates back to the Civil War.

Sunset Inn is a lovely small hotel near the beach!

Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier

aerial photo of Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier - Wrightsville Beach

Located on Wrightsville Beach, which is one of the less-crowded beaches in North Carolina, Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier offers all the amenities you need for a relaxing beach vacation.

This pier is one of the longest, stretching out to 1,200 feet. That means lots of space for fishing, walking, or just soaking in the beach atmosphere. Johnnie Mercers is also notable as the first concrete pier in the state! The grill inside the pier house has the typical menu catering to vacationers, including burgers, hot dogs, and pizza.

The pier sponsors children’s sports teams and hosts events throughout the year. Come by in the fall for the spooky Halloween at Fort Fisher Aquarium. Break out your racket and head to Wrightsville Beach Park for some tennis, or get a pickup game going at the basketball courts.

The pier does charge for fishing passes and walkout passes. A daily walk-out pass costs 2 $ for adults and 1 $ for kids. A day fishing pass is 8 $ per rod. You can also pick up fishing passes for the entire season for 150 $.

I think parking at the pier or on side streets near the beach is expensive; it costs $5/hour or $25 for the day. You may wish to park at your hotel for free and just walk to the pier.

One great thing about Johnnie Mercers is the live cam on the pier’s YouTube channel. After your trip, if you want to relive the great time you had, just check out the live cam!

Crystal Pier

Crystal Pier offers a more relaxed atmosphere than the area’s other pier, the Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier. At 475 feet, this is one of the shortest piers on North Carolina’s coast. However, unlike other piers on this list, Crystal Pier offers free access for walking and fishing.

Take a walk out to the end of the pier to enjoy expansive ocean views. Head down the stairs to access this beautiful, clean beach, where you can spend hours reading a good book, working on your tan, or just taking it all in. Bring your mat and get stretching with Pier Yoga, held each weekend from May through September.

The Oceanic Restaurant is a nice, laid-out restaurant providing the freshest, locally sourced seafood for beachfront dining. Great for a family gathering, romantic date night or to sit solo and enjoy good food!

Just a few blocks from the pier, Holiday Inn Resort Lumina offers a variety of amenities at a fair price.

Jennette’s Pier

Jennette’s Pier is in Nags Head, a family-friendly beach destination. It is a great pier to walk and fish when visiting OBX. The surrounding shoreline has outdoor showers, bathrooms, and benches to sit on.

You can access the pier for an all-day walk-on fee of 2 $. If you want to fish, adults need to pay $14; for kids 12 and under, it costs $7. After fishing, you can visit the aquarium to check out the exhibits on the region’s marine life. There’s also free parking here.

The area offers various things to do if you get bored at the beach. Nags Head is famous for its natural sand dunes, the largest on the East Coast. Jockey’s Ridge State Park is where you can check out the dunes up close. Access to this day-use park is free, which offers hiking, windsurfing, hang gliding, and sandboarding opportunities.

This is also a great home base for history lovers as Roanoke Island is just a short drive to the west. The Fort Raleigh National Historical Site preserves the site of the Roanoke Colony, the original English settlement in the now-U.S

In Manteo, visit the Roanoke Island Festival Park, where you’ll see living history demonstrations, a replica of a 16th-century sailing ship, and a re-created Native American settlement. Grab a ticket to “The Lost Colony,” a musical that tells the story of the settlers and their mysterious disappearance.

Jennette's Pier - North Carolina

Outer Banks Fishing Pier

Also in Nags Head, south of Jennette’s, the Outer Banks Fishing Pier is a 600-foot-long pier. This historic pier is such a gem among NC fishing piers! It is lighted and open 24/7, does not require a fishing license, and has a pier house where you will find live music and great food!

The Fishheads Bar & Grill menu features seafood and house salads, fried or grilled chicken sandwiches, barbecued pork, and various hot dogs. The restaurant offers live music and seating with awesome beach views. Beer lovers will appreciate that they have over 32 different beers on tap!

If you want to rent a boat for fishing or go on a dolphin-watching cruise, go to the Outer Banks Boating Center. You can rent boats for a half-day excursion or for the entire day (eight hours). Boat sizes include 17-foot outboards, 23-foot pontoons, and 26-foot pontoons. The Boating Center is also where you can pick up bait and tackle.

Just a short drive south from the pier is the Bodie Island Lighthouse. This historic lighthouse is one of the area’s top attractions, so check it out before or after visiting Outer Banks Fishing Pier!

If you are looking for places to stay near the pier, there are lovely holiday homes here such as Sea Shellter.

Avalon Pier

Avalon Pier in Kill Devil Hills is fun for the whole family. It is a great place to enjoy fishing and some nice ocean views.

Fortunately, you do not need a license to fish here, and you get free parking with your fishing pass. For adults 18 and up, the daily fishing pass costs $17.50, but it’s only $6 for children under 18 as the pier encourages families to fish together.

The on-site BeachBar features live music as well as karaoke every Wednesday during the busy tourist season. If you get hungry, grab a bite at the Snack Shack directly at the pier; I recommend trying the fish-and-chips or the fried chicken wrap!

Kill Devil Hills’ shores are among the most well-known North Carolina beaches because of its association with the Wright Brothers. Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial and stand on the very spot where Orville and Wilbur Wright made history on December 17, 1903, when they made the first-ever heavier-than-air flight, in the Kitty Hawk Flyer.

Recommended Kill Devil Hills’ beachfront accommodations include the Pierhouse Bed & Breakfast and the Sea Ranch Resort.

Surf City Ocean Pier

Situated between Wilmington to the southwest and Jacksonville to the northeast, Surf City Ocean Pier extends nearly 1,000 feet into the ocean. This pier is all about fishing. As such, you’ll have everything you need: a tackle shop, two fish cleaning stations, and lighting for night fishing as you try catching cobia, gray trout, sea mullet, or tarpon.

A daily fishing ticket costs $10 per rod; a child’s ticket (10 and younger) costs half that. There are other passes, including for bottom fishing and king fishing. The pier also offers combo packages. One benefit of fishing at Surf City is that parking is free for anglers. You also do not need a state license to fish here.

After a long day working on your tan, grab dinner at Santino’s Italian Trattoria or Buddy’s Crab House & Oyster Bar. If you are looking for a family activity, visit the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center, just up the 210 from Surf City. Make your reservation for a tour to learn all about the plight of rescued sea turtles and the people who care for them at the facility.

Places to stay include beach house rentals (I really like Beach Mountain holiday home) and various motels. For a change of pace, stay in an area campground like Blackbeard’s Treasure Family Campground.

Ocean Crest Fishing Pier

If you are looking for the best piers in North Carolina with great eats, cold drinks, and live music, visit Ocean Crest Fishing Pier! Situated in the lovely beach town of Oak Island, northwest of Bald Head Island, the pier hosts concerts, and events during the peak travel season. At the Seahorse Eats & Drinks, you can order fish-and-chips the British way, served on a newspaper, or try a fully loaded hot dog or burger, and pair it with a cold beer or a bottle of rosé.

Pick up your supplies in the bait shop, including rods and live bait, and go fishing from the pier! Annual fees range from $235 for a senior bottom fishing pass to $530 for a couple’s king pass.

Those who feel adventurous can try something different and sign up for skydiving with the nearby Skydive Coastal Carolinas. Get amazing views of the beach, the Atlantic Ocean, and Bald Head Island while in the air!

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