Attractions Fishing & Boating

Cape Fear River tours

The John Knox boat is available for Cape Fear River tours.

Visitors who want to experience all the beauty of Cape Fear River tours need to look no further than those offered by Cape Fear Riverboats. The company offers daily tours March through October, weather permitting and their boats board from their docks on South Water Street near Dock Street. Captain Carl Marshburn, owner of Cape Fear Riverboats, is one of the people who make Wilmington a special place to live. He remains a kind and generous supporter of the city and its less fortunate citizens.

Cape Fear Riverboats has three vessels. The Captain J.N. Maffitt has been a Wilmington staple for over 22 years and can accommodate 49 passengers. Her new, as yet unnamed, sister ship can accommodate as many as 45 guests at a time and the John Knox accommodates up to 31. All are great boats for enjoying the full Cape Fear River experience.

Two Cape Fear River tours offered

There are two types of sightseeing tours: nature tours and historical tours. All tours are narrated by the captain and are one to four hours long. Be sure to bring a camera as there are endless opportunities for memorable photos!
Historical sightseeing cruises are an hour long and are a great way to learn about the area. You’ll hear about the adventures, misfortunes, and accomplishments of the unique cast of characters that have, since Giovanni da Verrazzano first surveyed the area nearly 500 years ago, created the city we love today. You also will see the ports from a unique view and witness the massive size of modern day container ships as they load and unload.

Black River Nature tours are four hours long and feature an expert on local wildlife, natural history, and cultural heritage. This nature tour takes guests 15 miles up the Cape Fear River to the wilds of the Black River, one of the cleanest waterways in the state. Nature enthusiasts and photographers alike will enjoy the slow-moving, amber-colored waters, framed by spectacular swamp forests highlighted with seasonal wildflowers and old-growth cypress trees.

Refreshments and snacks are served on the longer tours but guests are free to take their own on any of the boats to enjoy during the tours. Bring a cooler or purchase food, beer, wine and snacks at the River Grill, Cape Fear Riverboats’ very own riverside snack shop that opens at the end of May.

All three vessels are available for private charters and make an excellent way to celebrate your gathering or event.

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