Boating Guide Sections:

With a location on the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway, the Cape Fear River, the Elizabeth River, and even the Atlantic Ocean, Southport is a paradise for mariners.

The town and the surrounding area is stocked with unique shops, restaurants, and attractions that are a shell’s throw away from the local docks, and which can accommodate the array of mariners who are cruising through or dropping anchor for the long haul.

Regardless of whether a visitor wants to cruise the waters for days at a time, or just enjoy a ride while staying in the area on vacation, Southport delivers with ample options. Make the most out of a waterfront getaway, and discover all the ways why this region and boating seamlessly go hand in hand.

Southport, NC Boat

Fishing Charters

Local Charter Boats

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The Southport and Oak Island regions are also home to a wide range of fishing charter businesses that can take visitors out on both inshore and offshore excursions.

Inshore fishing adventures utilize smaller vessels, (like Carolina skiffs), and head to the inland waters of the Cape Fear River, Elizabeth River, Dutchman Creek, and even the Intracoastal Waterway on the hunt for a myriad of saltwater species that stick close to shore. Catches vary by the season and an angler’s luck, but can include red drum, catfish, bass, striper, flounder, Spanish or king mackerel, and much more.

Offshore fishing charters head well outside the barrier island shoreline to the shipwrecks, shoals, and structures that are found miles away in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. On these traditionally full-day fishing trips, anglers can reel in the big saltwater catches, such as large drum, tarpon, dolphin / Mahi, amberjack, and even sailfish on well offshore treks.

Both varieties of fishing charters can be booked online well in advance through individual business websites, or visitors can also contact the local marinas to find available fishing charters during their dates of stay. With so much terrain to cover, which includes a variety of secretive “fishing holes” that only the locals know, a fishing charter is often a prime opportunity for visitors to enjoy the Southport fishing scene at its best.

Boat Ramps and Launches in the Southport Area

Visitors who are bringing their own vessel along on vacation will find ample options for getting into the local waters. Start your boating expeditions by checking out these area boat ramps which are wide open to the public, and nicely close to home.

Dutchman Creek Park boat launch

Oak Island Mainland (Dutchman Creek Park)
4650 Fish Factory Road, Oak Island
This launch accesses the Intracoastal Waterway and features 80 parking spaces for vehicle with trailers.

Sunset Harbor boat launch

Sunset Harbor
356 Riverview Drive, Bolivia
This launch site connects with the Intracoastal Waterway and features 33 parking spaces for vehicles with trailers.

Rice's Creek launch

Rices Creek
797 Gordon Lewis Drive, Winnabow
This launch accesses Rices Creek in the town of Winnabow, and features 20 parking spaces for vehicles with trailers.

Holden Beach boat launch

Holden Beach
103 S. Shore Drive, Supply
This smaller launch site accesses the Intracoastal Waterway and features 15 parking spaces for vehicles with trailers.

Bricklanding Rd boat launch

Bricklanding Road
1921 Bricklanding Road, Shallotte
This boat launch connects with the Intracoastal Waterway and features 23 parking spaces for vehicles with trailers.

Ocean Isle Beach boat launch

Ocean Isle Beach
67 Causeway Drive, Ocean Isle Beach
This larger launch site borders the Intracoastal Waterway and features 58 parking spaces for vehicles with trailers.

Sunset Beach boat launch

Sunset Beach
101 Sunset Blvd., Sunset Beach
This launch site is on the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway / Fox Creek, and features 26 parking spaces for vehicles with trailers

Pireway boat launch

9700 River Gate Drive, Ash
This launch accesses the Waccamaw River and features 25 parking spaces for vehicles with trailers.

Alton Lennon Boat Launch

Alton Lennon Park
East Boiling Spring Road/Alton Lennon Road, Boiling Spring Lakes
This site connects with a large inland lake and can accommodate smaller vessels including kayaks and canoes.

Spring Lake Kayak/Electric Boat Launch

Spring Lake Park
Pine Road, Boiling Spring Lakes
This launch site borders an easy-to-traverse lake and is open for kayaks, canoes, and boats with electric motors only.

May Moore Park kayak launch

May Moore Park
Barbee Blvd. & Elizabeth Drive, Oak Island
This site is located on the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway and features a kayak and canoe dock.

Dutchman Creek boat launch

Dutchman Creek Boat Launch
NE 55th and Yacht Drive, Oak Island
This site is close to the Intracoastal Waterway and Cape Fear River, and features parking for vehicles with trailers.

Southport Marinas

The marinas in Southport are ideal for transient mariners and anyone who wants to explore the town. Stationed along the Intracoastal Waterway and other major bodies of water, these marinas often have walking-distance access to a number of the town’s favorite attractions, including areas restaurants and shops.

Other areas, such as Oak Island, have enticing marinas as well, making it easy to find a spot to drop anchor for a day or overnight exploration of the coastal region. With a host of amenities that can include available power, water, and Wi-Fi, bathhouses and laundry facilities, clubhouses, fuel and services, and even on-site eateries and accommodations, visitors will find that everything they need is accounted for, and then some.

Start planning your travels to the Southport and Brunswick Beach area by checking out these regional marinas that welcome mariners of all varieties.

Southport Marina

Southport Marina
606 W West St, Southport, NC 28461
(910) 457-9900

South Harbour Village Marina
4909 Fish Factory Rd, Southport, NC 28461
(910) 454-7486

Deep Point Marina & Yacht Club
1301 Ferry Rd SE, Southport, NC 28461
(910) 269-2380

Indigo Plantation Marina
6099 Indigo Plantation Dr, Southport, NC 28461
(910) 269-2380

BlueWater Point
5710 57th Pl W, Oak Island, NC 28465
(910) 278-1230

Cape Fear Yacht Club
4791 Fish Factory Rd SE, Oak Island, NC 28465

St James Marina
2571 St James Dr SE # 103, Southport, NC 28461
(910) 253-0463

A boat tour in Wrightsville Beach NC

Boat Tours and Rentals

Visitors who want a guided exploration of the Southport region, (or who would prefer to plot their own course), will find a myriad of boat tour and rental options in the Southport area.

For boat rentals, mariners will find a host of kayak and canoe rental companies, as well as motorized vessel providers that can provide everything a visitor needs for a great day on the water. Local businesses like Southport Boat Rentals or NC Boat Rentals provide easy-to-maneuver vessels, (like skiffs that are designed for 14 passengers or less), which are equipped with everything a mariner requires. Outfitted with GPS units and charts, depth finders, coolers, life jackets, anchors, and other safety equipment, mariners can rest assured everything they need is on hand for a safe and altogether fun excursion.

In addition, a number of local businesses offer boat tours of the region, that can cover downtown Southport and beyond. These treks explore the myriad of waterways and attractions in the coastal area, which can include a trip to see the “Old Baldy” lighthouse on Bald Head Island, an exploration of Oak Island and Fort Caswell, and a tour of the endless rivers and ocean waters in between. Most tours can be reserved in advance via individual business websites, like Barrier Island Excursions, that service the Southport area. In addition, because these tour companies are centrally located, (like Lighthouse Watersports), visitors won’t have to venture too far away from the heart of Southport to start their on-the-water adventure.


Boat Sales and Services

Visitors in need of a new ride will find several local sale and service providers, as well as a myriad of boat dealerships that are dotted throughout the coastline.

Southport and Oak Island are home to several boat dealers and storage facilities, such as Oak Island Marine and Boat House Marine, which are conveniently located next to the Intracoastal Waterway as well as the respective towns themselves. In addition, visitors who want a lot of variety can make an easy trek north to the towns of Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, where a wide variety of boat dealerships specializing in all makes and models of vessels can be found along the region’s main routes, like US 70 and US 421.

For services, mariners can often pull into the local marinas for fuel, repairs, and all the gear and supplies required to continue a journey. Check out local destinations that specialize in repairs, like J&J Boat Service which is located a stone’s throw from the downtown area, for more specific requests and maintenance needs.

Sailing the Cape Fear River

Southport Sailing

Southport is becoming a popular destination for sailors, thanks to its two local sailing schools: the Cape Fear Sailing Academy and Sail A Weigh Inc. or “Endless Summer.” Through these local establishments, visitors can embark on a variety of classes and lessons that can be tailored to sailors of all abilities and even ages. (Special youth lessons and training are available!)

Visitors who’d rather let someone else take the ropes can also book a sailing charter or cruise that explores the picturesque waters in style. Regardless of whether a sailing newcomer wants to enjoy a leisurely ride or take the wheel themselves, the acclaimed training and charters available makes plotting a sailing adventure an easy feat. 

The Bald Head Island Ferry provides an inexpensive way to boat near Southport NC

Tips and Tricks for Southport Boating

  • Southport’s central locale along the Intracoastal Waterway, as well as its concentration of waterfront restaurants and shops, makes it a great “pit stop” during a lengthy ICW expedition. Pull into the local docks, and enjoy a town-wide exploration for a taste of a true southern coastal town.
  • Many transient slips at local marinas can fill up fast during summer or holiday weekends. Call as far in advance as possible to ensure a spot if you’re planning a weekend or warm weather visit.
  • A number of local vacation rentals may offer community or private boat docks / slips for visitors bringing their own vessel along. Ask your local property management company / vacation rental company for recommendations on where to dock while in town.
  • Dry storage options are also readily available in the Southport area for visitors who want to dock and stay a while. Check out the inland regions of Southport and Oak Island for storage options.
  • For a leisurely ride, rent a kayak or canoe. The area is filled with paddling trails that are perfect for kayaks and canoes, which can be easily acquired from a number of watersports companies in the area.

Southport is truly an idyllic destination for mariners. With miles of waterways and ample waterfront services and attractions, dropping anchor for a day or two presents the perfect opportunity to discover a stunning and historic coastal vacation spot.

Plan a detour on your next Intracoastal Waterway exploration, or just rent a vessel for an hour or two to explore the terrain for yourself. In this coastal community, the deep love of the water is simply contagious, and is celebrated in style.

Victory Beach Vacations

Visitors who are on the hunt for the postcard-perfect vacation rental in the heart of the Carolina Beach or Kure Beach area will find an enticing selection and plenty of friendly customer service when they rent through Victory Beach Vacations. Based in Carolina Beach in the coastal Cape Fear region, Victory Beach Vacations has more than 100 vacation rentals in all shapes and sizes to ensure that every vacationing family can find their dream home away from home on the beach.   When you book your Cape Fear getaway with Victory Beach Vacations, the fun doesn’t end when you leave the beach, it continues with an array of privately-owned properties outfitted with all of the amenities needed for a fabulous beach vacation.   Jenna Lanier, General Manager, explains that her family first opened the rental and property management business in 2002. At the forefront of Victory Beach operations is Lanier’s mother, Caroline Meeks. Meeks is both the Broker in Charge and co-owner with husband, Buck Meeks, who manages the Field Services team with Lanier’s husband, Scott.   For nearly 20 years, the Victory Beach team has worked tirelessly to establish a network of top-of-the-line rental properties for Cape Fear visitors to enjoy. “As far as our properties go,” explains Lanier, “they are all updated, well-furnished and appointed. “We have always performed post-cleaning inspections and since the pandemic, have put freshly laundered duvets over all of the comforters between rentals.”   Lanier emphasizes how important the guests experience is “we strive to give our guests a relaxing, stress free, memorable vacation.” This emphasis on customer service has led to Victory Beach Vacations having a 4.8 Google rating with over 300 reviews by happy owners and guests.In addition to Victory Beach’s superior sanitation practices, the company offers properties for every type of visitor. Choose from luxury oceanfront houses and condos to more reasonbly priced 2nd row properties with oceanviews. Many properties include pools and hot tubs as well, perfect for outdoor entertaining, and many are dog friendly.   Lanier also notes that all properties are within walking or driving distance to Pleasure Island’s main attractions – Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. The former, as described by Lanier, is the more commercialized of the two destinations and features a boardwalk, outdoor dining options and a plethora of weekly activities including fireworks, live music, amusement park pop-ups, and movies under the stars. Kure Beach offers a more residential feel with its fishing pier, intimate restaurants and family favorite, North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.More water fun awaits, too. “There is a harbor and a canal that feed into the intercoastal. We have several properties on the harbor so guests can bring their boat, kayak, [or jet ski] and travel between islands,” says Lanier.   A stay with Victory Beach Vacations is an annual pilgrimage for most. “A large percentage of guests are previous guests. Some even reserve the same property for the next year as they’re checking out,” Lanier says. “It’s almost like it’s their personal vacation home.”   Even before guests arrive at their vacation destination, the Victory Beach Vacations’ website greets them with a live beach cam and exquisite aerial footage of both Carolina and Kure Beaches. See for yourself by scanning the QR code and call Victory Beach Vacations at 910.458.0868 to book your Cape Fear getaway. Start making your memories today! —Grace Silipigni

Zeke's Island Coastal Reserve