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.

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.

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

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

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

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
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
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

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

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 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
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
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
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

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.

Fishing Charters

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 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.

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. 

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.

Southport, NC Camping Guide

Southport, NC Camping Guide

From picturesque beaches that straddle the state border, to sunny destinations found just inland of the Cape Fear River, the Southport region is dotted with an array of campgrounds that will entice visitors of all outdoorsy tastes. The options are nicely varied, and can range from RV resorts where all amenities are accounted for, to rustic and primitive destinations that straddle the water’s edge. With a variety of unique features, picturesque settings, and locations that are close to all the attractions the Brunswick and Cape Fear regions have to offer, campers will find ample ways to relax in the sunny Southport area.

Bald Head Island Ferry

Bald Head Island Ferry

Southport is known as the launching point for a number of barrier island adventures and vacations, including the ferry trip to neighboring Bald Head Island. A completely unique experience, the Bald Head Island ferry is one of the only privately run ferries that transport visitors to a North Carolina barrier island is such high volume, and with such an assortment of amenities. From baggage services to incredible passenger lounges, the Bald Head Island ferry allows travelers to arrive to their island destination in style.

Southport, NC Fishing Guide

Southport, NC Fishing Guide

With a backbone in both commercial and recreational fishing, it should come as no surprise that fishing is big in Southport. This small community’s love of fishing is visible around every corner – from the specials boards of local restaurants, to the antiquated fishing gear that’s found in area museums like the NC Maritime Museum. And with this pedigree of fishing, visitors will also find that angling opportunities are everywhere in Southport – from the local creeks, to the Cape Fear River waters, to the Atlantic Ocean beaches found just a few miles away. So pack along the rods and reels, and get ready for a vacation where dropping a line and relaxing with a waterfront view is all part of the local culture.

Southport Waterfront Park

Southport Waterfront Park

While Downtown Southport has an ample supply of wide front porches to take a load off and enjoy a breeze, many longtime visitors attest there's no better place to relax than the Southport waterfront Park.

Bald Head Ferry

Bald Head Ferry

The Bald Head Island Ferry Terminal is the gateway to exploring the small, but popular paradise of Bald Head Island. Located on the northern edge of the roughly 5 square mile island, and bordering the Cape Fear River, the terminal deposits visitors in the heart of the action. With two major property management companies located within walking distance, in addition to the Bald Head Island Marina, the Marsh Harbor Inn, and a number of transportation options, first-time visitors will have so problem stepping off the docks and finding their way towards a great weekly vacation, or a fun day trip on the beach.