Wild Logo v4

7 Unique Lakes near Wilmington, NC for Fishing, Kayaking, and Swimming

Wilmington has just a few lakes around, but they are diverse and unique. Fishing, kayaking, swimming, and even wakeboarding are all possible here.

When it comes to lakes, the selection around Wilmington isn’t great. There are just seven options within an hour’s drive from the city.

If you’re prepared to travel further, try Fayetteville and Greenville pages.

But, the options that you get here are unique and diverse. For example, Lake Waccamaw – the largest Carolina Bay – is 50 minutes away. And if you’re into fishing, Sutton Lake is just 15 minutes from downtown.

Lakes near Wilmington:

  1. Greenfield Lake
  2. Smith Creek Park
  3. Sutton Lake
  4. Lake Waccamaw
  5. Singletary Lake
  6. White Lake
  7. Boney Mill Pond
Lakes near Wilmington North Carolina Comparison Table

1. Greenfield Lake

  • Official Page: Greenfield Lake
  • Distance from Wilmington: 4 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Cycling, Playgrounds

Greenfield Lake is a small reservoir just 10 minutes from downtown. It’s a family-friendly destination teeming with wildlife and the perfect place to relax and unwind.

The lake is part of Greenfield Park, which offers playgrounds, sports courts, picnic shelters, and a popular 5-mile hiking trail. The reservoir is full of alligators, but brave folks still kayak and canoe here. 

Also, it’s a well-known fishing spot that boats high reviews. The selection of species is fantastic here. Apart from the typical largemouth and bluegill, you can expect bowfin, perch, and gar. And despite the lake’s modest size, it can deliver 4lbs+ bass.

It’s not a typical recreational lake with swimming and skiing, but it’s close to home, and it’s an integral part of Wilmington.

Related: 9 Fantastic Lakes near Fayetteville, NC

2. Smith Creek Park

Smith Creek Park
  • Official Page: Smith Creek Park
  • Distance from Wilmington: 7 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Cycling, Playgrounds

Smith Creek Park is a highly-rated location with a 35-acre pond at its heart. It’s another fantastic option within Wilmington where you can fish and kayak.

The water in the pond is famously clear and inviting. However, swimming isn’t allowed in Smith Creek Park. Also, there is a risk of stumbling upon an alligator, although they are not frequent here.

The pond has a floating pontoon for fishing and launching non-motorized craft.

Kayaking, canoes, and paddleboarding are popular here. And it’s perfect for beginners due to the lake’s petite size.

Also, the park offers a 1.3-mile paved trail, playgrounds, and a couple of picnic shelters. It’s a charming and well-kept area, perfect for short breaks.

Related: 9 Best Lakes near Greenville, NC

3. Sutton Lake

Sutton Lake
  • Official Page: none
  • Distance from Wilmington: 11 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing

Sutton Lake is a 1,100-acre reservoir on the outskirts of Wilmington. It’s a well-known fishing and kayaking spot.

The only way to access the lake is the boat launching area on the eastern shore. It has a paved ramp, fishing pier, and parking. Note that the road leading to the ramp is unpaved and potholed.

Bass fishing is excellent here. The lake’s water is used to cool down the powerplant nearby, which keeps it warmer than normal. This promotes the growth rate and helps fish recover faster from the winter’s slumber.

Try this fishing report to learn more about the lake.

Kayaking and canoeing are average here. There aren’t many coves to explore, and the reservoir is vast and open, with choppy water on windy days. It’s better to pick a calm day.

Overall, Sutton Lake is a remote, quiet spot away from the city’s noise. It’s best suited for boaters and anglers.

Related: 9 Fantastic Lakes near Fayetteville, NC

4. Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw
  • Official Page: Lake Waccamaw
  • Distance from Wilmington: 40 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Hiking, Camping, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing

At 9,000 acres, Lake Waccamaw is the largest of the Carolina Bays. It’s a full-on recreational lake with dozens of access points and plenty of things to do.

The best place to visit is Lake Waccamaw State Park, located on the southern shore. It’s a simple yet stunning park with hiking trails, fishing piers, and primitive camping.

Also, the lake has two launching ramps and a yacht club. There are plenty of ways to get on the water. However, kayakers and paddlers may find it too choppy on windy days.

The biologist, Ed Corey, estimates that around 200 alligators live in Lake Waccamaw. But this doesn’t prevent people from swimming here. In fact, the lake is home to an annual event – The Big Swim.

Other water activities include wakeboarding, water and jet skiing, and tubing. It’s the nearest lake to Wilmington without any limits.

And when it comes to fishing, the lake doesn’t disappoint. According to the state park, there are 52 species of fish here. And although the bite is average, the size is pretty good.

Overall, Lake Waccamaw is the most versatile option on the list; there is something here for everyone.

Related: 9 Best Lakes near Greenville, NC

5. Singletary Lake

  • Official Page: Singletary Lake
  • Distance from Wilmington: 48 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Hiking, Camping

Singletary Lake is a 572-acre Carolina Bay northwest of Wilmington. It’s best suited for group visits and events.

The lake is part of the state park that operates as a venue for organized gatherings. It offers two different areas with cabins and mess halls. And when there are no groups, it’s open to the public as a typical park.

Fishing isn’t great here because of the water acidity that limits fish numbers. However, paddling is fantastic; the lake isn’t too big and has a swampy atmosphere.

Also, swimming is allowed for group campers, and there is a 1-mile trail for exploring the stunning surroundings.

Calling ahead before visiting is an excellent idea. Still, Singletary Lake can be a nice stop on the way to White Lake.

Related: 9 Fantastic Lakes near Fayetteville, NC

6. White Lake

  • Official Page: White Lake
  • Distance from Wilmington: 53 miles (1h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Camping, RVs, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Jet Skiing, Tubing

White Lake is a 1,200-acre Carolina Bay located one hour drive from Wilmington. It’s the most developed lake on the list with few restrictions.

Although it’s surrounded by private land, the lake offers plenty of access areas to the public. There are beaches, piers, and campgrounds to enjoy, but the entrance fees can be pricey.

Unfortunately, fishing isn’t amazing here because of the water acidity. Instead, it’s the perfect spot for swimming and beachside fun. The White Lake’s water is clear and gets very warm at the end of the summer.

Another excellent thing about the lake is water sports. It’s a mecca for skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing. However, paddling here isn’t as good because of the lack of coves and the private shoreline.

Overall, it’s the perfect place for summer holidays and family weekends. But don’t count on having some quiet time; this lake is always buzzing.

Related: 9 Best Lakes near Greenville, NC

7. Boney Mill Pond

Boney Mill Pond
  • Official Page: Boney Mill Pond
  • Distance from Wilmington: 43 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics

Boney Mill Pond is a small 26-acre fishing reservoir near Wallace. It’s a little-known spot best suited for anglers and paddlers.

The pond is part of a charming park with a fishing pier, hiking trail, picnic tables, and a grill. It’s a well-kept and tranquil place.

The water activities are limited to electric-motor boating, paddling, and fishing. Beginner kayakers will find the pond’s modest size welcoming; it’s a nice place to paddle, even on windy days.

Fishing is quite good here, too. The bite is decent, and there are plenty of people reporting 4lbs+ largemouth bass, but you will have to get lucky.

Boney Mill Pond isn’t the largest or the most versatile, but it has its charm. If you’re looking for a quiet place, this is it.

 More Lakes in North Carolina:

Beaches in North Carolina:

You Might Also Like: