With close proximity to Wilmington, Island Nature Preserve and UNCW, plus four miles of coastline, where it’s possible to enjoy a day of fishing, boating, surfing or just relaxing, Wrightsville Beach is a perfect destination for the ideal beach vacation and a place so many are thrilled to call Home. For most people, Wrightsville Beach conjures images of wide sandy beaches and pristine local waterways, sea breezes, sunsets and seafood.
Outdoor activities top the list for people who visit Wrightsville Beach or seek to purchase Wrightsville Beach real estate. With a relatively warm year-round climate and beautiful natural areas, it is easy to see why people like to visit Wrightsville Beach to be with family and friends, go swimming or kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, walking, running or biking.
The opportunities for boating are endless in Wrightsville Beach, which actually consists of an interior island called Harbor Island as well as the four-mile-long beach island. This allows for miles of waterway to navigate, making it the perfect home for marinas such as Wrightsville Beach Marina, Atlantic Marine and Seapath Yacht Club, as well as the Carolina Yacht Club, which was founded in 1883, making it the very first structure on the beach. Some other fun things to do in Wrightsville Beach include visiting one of the great local restaurants that call the area home, such as The Oceanic, King Neptune’s, Bluewater Grill or Poe’s Tavern. With numerous options for shopping and nightlife, a fun beach-town vibe and easy access to everything Wilmington has to offer, there will always be a substantial demand for Wrightsville Beach real estate.
Wrightsville Beach History
Prior to 1889 when the Wilmington Sea Coast Railroad began taking people across Banks Channel to the oceanfront, Wrightsville Beach was only accessible by boat. In 1902, the railroad was converted into an electric streetcar and seven stations were built along what would become South Lumina Avenue. The streetcar took people from points in Wilmington to the two hotels that existed on Wrightsville Beach, as well as a brand-new event center that was built in 1905, which included 25,000 square feet and more than 6,000 exterior lights, earning it the moniker Lumina. In addition to attracting top acts from the 1930s and 40s, Lumina had a movie screen in the surf at one time, where silent movies were shown.
A lesser known fact about the history of Wrightsville Beach is that Shell Island was initially purchased by the Home Realty Company, which in 1923 created a resort for African Americans there. The company built a variety of structures to make it a vacation spot and made it accessible by ferry service from Harbor Island, but a large fire ravaged the area in 1926 and it was never rebuilt. Another interesting aspect of the history of Wrightsville Beach is that Crystal Pier was once 1,000 feet long and included a bowling alley and restaurant. Originally named the Mira Mar Fishing Pier, it stands on top of the wreck of a Civil War-era blockade runner that met its end in 1864.
Wrightsville Beach Activities
In addition to all manner of fun, beach-going activities, Wrightsville Beach is a great place to go SCUBA diving, as the Cape Fear Civil War Shipwreck District is located nearby. A historic district that includes more than 295 acres, the area is home to about 21 shipwrecks that date back to the Civil War era. It is one of many reasons why North Carolina and Wrightsville Beach have become a top SCUBA diving destination, especially for history buffs.
Other popular activities in Wrightsville Beach include the annual holiday flotilla and weekly farmer’s market. Many popular bike races, stand up paddle board events and marathons also take place there, and the area is home to several popular surf contests, including the Classic and the O’Neill Sweetwater Pro-Am, which has become one of the largest surf contests on the East Coast.
Top Wrightsville Beach Neighborhoods
Some of the most popular neighborhoods and top real estate offerings in Wrightsville Beach include Harbor Island, Shell Island, Towers, Parmele Island, South Harbor Island, and the South End.