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Pleasure Island (North Carolina) facts for kids

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New Hanover County North Carolina incorporated and unincorporated areas Carolina Beach highlighted

Pleasure Island is a coastal barrier island in Southeastern North Carolina, USA just south of the City of Wilmington. Pleasure Island is located within Federal Point Township, in New Hanover County. The coastal resort towns of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, as well as the annexed communities of Wilmington Beach and Hanby Beach are located on the island. The southern end of Pleasure Island was separated from Bald Head Island (Smith Island) by Corncake Inlet (New Inlet) until the inlet was shoaled and closed in 1998 by Hurricane Bonnie; thus Pleasure Island and Bald Head Island are no longer separate islands.

Kure Beach
A view of the long strand at Kure Beach (on Pleasure Island) looking north towards Carolina Beach.

The combined island now stretches from Carolina Beach Inlet in the north, the Cape Fear River to the west, Onslow Bay (Atlantic Ocean) to the east and Long Bay (Atlantic Ocean) to the south. It is 17 miles long, 2 miles wide in the far north, 3 miles wide at the far south and about ½ mile wide in the middle. On the southeastern tip of the combined island lies "the point", or headland, known as Cape Fear. The shallow and treacherous Frying Pan Shoals jut 30 miles into the Atlantic Ocean southeasterly from the point. The shoal (or sandbar) is formed by the intersection of the longshore currents of Onslow Bay and Long Bay as well as the discharge from the Cape Fear River.

Pleasure Island refers to the northern half of the combined island (the portion in New Hanover County) and Bald Head Island refers to the southern half of the combined island (the portion in Brunswick County).

Snows Cut (facing east) makes up the northern boundary of Pleasure Island. The rock pile in the foreground is only noticeable at low tide.

Prior to the 1931 completion of a man-made canal called Snows Cut, the land that now forms Pleasure Island was part of a peninsula known as Federal Point; a long narrow strip of sandy ground that stretched from Myrtle Grove to Fort Fisher. The Federal Point Light once stood at southern end of the peninsula at the edge of New Inlet.

U.S. Highway 421 provides the only bridge access to Pleasure Island. A ferry at the southern terminus of Route 421 at Fort Fisher connects Pleasure Island to Southport, NC at (North Carolina Highway 211). A separate ferry from Southport brings travelers and supplies to Bald Head Island to the south. There are no roads between the two halves of the combined island, but park ranger vehicles, fat-tire bike riders and pedestrians can traverse the beach strand to make the connection as needed.

Pleasure Island is home to an unusual 11-acre fresh water lake that was once the headwater of Myrtle Grove Sound. It is spring fed and less than 200 yards from the salty waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The lake was formerly known as "The Freshwater Lake" but is now called "Carolina Beach Lake".

The Fort Fisher Ferry crosses the Cape Fear River returning from Southport.The cranes in the background are part of the US Army's Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU) in Brunswick County.

The name "Pleasure Island" was the product of a marketing effort by the local Chambers of Commerce back in 1972. They thought Pleasure Island was a positive way to refer to the coastal resources of the area.

Pleasure Island is now part of a 20-mile, unbroken strand of sandy beach stretching from Carolina Beach Inlet, 7 miles south to New Hanover/Brunswick County line, then 10 more miles south to the Cape and then 3 miles west to the mouth of the Cape Fear River. NOAA published a PDF chart of the area.


Carolina Beach-27527-1
Pleasure Island at Sunrise


Found on the island is the eastern side of the Sunny Point Army Terminal, Carolina Beach State Park, and Fort Fisher. U.S. Highway 421 is the only route on the island, and provides the only bridge access. A ferry at US 421's southern terminus connects Pleasure Island to Southport at North Carolina Highway 211. The Island Gazette is a local newspaper that serves the island communities.

Points of Interest

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