North Carolina – Havelock to Wilmington
The short, but charming trip between Havelock and Wilmington gives you the opportunity to truly get to know a small piece of North Carolina. Between these two cities, you’ll find natural wonders like the Croatan National Forest, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and the Holly Shelter Game Lands. Along the way you can explore the fascinating beaches and islands that dot the coast.
Havelock, North Carolina is the home of the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and is bordered by Croatan National Forest. Croatan has all sorts of interesting areas where you will be able to recreate and discover the flora and fauna of the forest. Croatan has all sorts of swamp habitats, and estuaries, unique habitats that are filled with native water birds and colorful migrants. Within the forest you can hike the many trails, or go enjoy canoeing on the lakes. While hiking, canoeing, or fishing, watch for lizards, birds, mammals, and the rare and unusual carnivorous plants that grow here. Anytime you go near the water, even in a canoe, keep an eye out for alligators.
After you have taken your fill of Havelock and the Croatan National Forest, follow US-70 and turn onto Harkers Island Road. From Harkers Island you will need to take a passenger ferry to the Cape Lookout National Seashore. After you decide when you’ll visit the national seashore, call the ferry service you plan to ride beforehand to confirm the schedule. You should also plan for the weather, as the boats and docks are all exposed.
The seashore offers all sorts of recreational opportunities. You can hike, bird watch, swim, boat, and fish (during the appropriate seasons). Certain areas of the Cape Lookout National Seashore are open to primitive camping. Some of the more unique activities you can try while visiting the seashore are collecting shells and watching the wild horses. The seashore has all sorts of seashells, and you are even allowed to take some shells home with you. You will also find that the seashore is home to over one hundred wild horses, which you can observe from a safe distance.
After your visit to Cape Lookout National Seashore, follow US-70 along the coast until you reach Highway 24, then stay on 24 until the junction with US-17. Continue on US-17 until you reach the Holly Shelter Game Lands. Between Cape Lookout National Seashore and Holly Shelter you can visit Emerald Isle and many of the great beaches and islands on the North Carolina coast.
The Holly Shelter Game Lands were set aside for protection by the state of North Carolina. These lands have preserved certain habitats, including wiregrass uplands and different types of swamps. This land was protected in part to preserve the wildlife and water within the region. This is a perfect place to take a hike or a stroll, watching for rare birds and native wildlife.
Once you’re ready to progress to Wilmington, continue along US-17. Wilmington, North Carolina, is an excellent city from which to experience the Cape Fear Coast, and it has many interesting sights and activities to offer as well. Pay a visit to the Bellamy Mansion Museum and Gardens, a historic mansion built just before the Civil War. Wilmington is also home to the Battleship, North Carolina, a World War II era restored ship. The battleship is open for visitors, and you can learn about the history of the ship in the visitor center or tour parts of the ship’s nine decks.
Wrightsville has a charming village and beautiful beaches for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoy sand-castle building. A little south of Wrightsville, lies Carolina Beach on Pleasure Island, a haven for fishing and boating. Carolina Beach has amazing access to charter excursions for arrange offshore fishing trips or party cruises in the evenings.
North Carolina has a lot of fabulous adventures to offer. If you want a beautiful coastal road trip route, try taking some time to drive from Havelock to Wilmington. Along the way, you can walk along the beaches of the Cape Lookout National Seashore and watch the wild horses. You could canoe within the Croatan National Forest or stop for a little outdoor adventure in the Holly Shelter Game Lands. Once you reach Wilmington, you can revel in its history and swim or boat on some of North Carolina's amazing beaches. While on your trip, try to spot a Venus Flytrap or another one of North Carolina's native carnivorous plants. Whatever you choose to explore along the way, you are sure to find lots of fantastic adventures throughout your road trip.