A Visitor's Guide To The Kure Beach Aquarium

Visiting The Kure Beach Aquarium

A Visitor's Guide To The Kure Beach Aquarium

The Fort Fisher State Recreation Area at the southeastern tip of North Carolina attracts visitors with almost six miles of beautiful beaches, trails, and salt marsh. You’ll encounter a visitor center, Civil War-era historic site, and boardwalks. On the ground around the shoreline, you may spy loggerhead sea turtles and piping plovers.

If you want to know what lies underneath the waves of the open ocean, you can pay a visit to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher located at 900 Loggerhead Rd, Kure Beach, NC 28449. It is one of four NC aquariums. 
On your next visit to Kure Island, consider visiting the Kure Beach Aquarium. Here’s what you need to know and what you can expect on your visit.

Visiting The Kure Beach Aquarium

This repository of aquatic life is more commonly known as the Kure Beach Aquarium. It’s easy to reach on US 421, just 20 miles south of Wilmington. If you’re in Southport, you can take the convenient ferry by yourself or take your car. When you reach the Fort Fisher Ferry Terminal, the NC aquarium is just a 15-minute walk or 5-minute car-ride east on US 421.

The Aquarium’s 92,000 square feet spreads out over two floors. Over 2,500 animals live here in specially created habitats. You enter the upper level through the Visitor’s Center before entering the natural world in the Cape Fear Conservatory, where you’ll see freshwater life common to the Cape Fear River. You’ll then move on to the upper level of the Marine Building, which exhibits saltwater life and contains classrooms.

Dive to the lower level via the stairs or elevator to continue with the Marine Building and more unusual species from the sea, such as jellies and sea horses. Also on the lower level are the Adventure Reef Playground where the little ones can release their pent-up energy, auditorium for shows, SharkBite's snack bar for when you get hungry, gift shop for souvenirs, and the Garden with more animal exhibits. You’ll find restrooms on both levels.

Here's What You Will See!

Otters on the Edge

One of the newest exhibits, Otters on the Edge, features a family of four Asian otters that include mom Asta, dad Oscar, daughter Triton, and son Ray. They frolic in a 3,000-square-foot area decorated by an enclosed pool, a log slide, streams, and waterfalls. Your youngest kids can explore a crawl space that is also a perfect photo spot.

Exotic Aquatics

The more unusual species of the Indo-Pacific area make their home in this gallery, including seahorses, shrimp, spiny lobsters, lionfish, and sea snakes. They dart about the colorful coral and anemones in the Pacific Reef display.

Cape Fear Shoals

The largest tank in the Aquarium surrounds the 235,000 gallons of Cape Fear Shoals and extends over two stories. It houses larger sea life such as sharks, sea turtles, rays, groupers, and eels. You may spot a human diver or two, and you can ask them questions during Dialog with a Diver.

Touch Tank

Do you or the kids want to feel the skin of a Southern stingray? Then head to the Coquina Outcrop Touch Pool. You won’t have to worry about their barbs because they’ve been removed, which does not hurt the animals. You’ll also get a chance to feel sea urchins, horseshoe crabs, whelks, and other creatures.

Animal Celebrities

Watch out for Luna, an extremely rare albino alligator. Only about 100 are known to exist throughout the world. They normally don’t survive in the wild because their sensitive white skin easily burns under the sun where they like to bask. They also find it difficult to spot food and predators because the sun burns their pale eyes.

Maverick, the bald eagle, was found in Wisconsin as a juvenile with a broken wing. He cannot be released into the wild because he cannot fly. You’ll find him outside in the Garden.


If you want to volunteer, you must be 18 years old and above and commit to at least eight hours per month. Adult volunteers can participate in education, horticulture, aquariology, operations, special events or activities, and assist with routine cleaning and maintenance.

Those aged 14 to 17 can join the teen volunteers, which demands eight hours a month for six consecutive months for the year-round program or eight hours a week for the summer program. They can staff the bald eagle exhibit, loggerhead sea turtle exhibit, or the two touch pools.

Experience this marvelous aquarium for yourself. Book your North Carolina retreat today!