To get there, board the state ferry at Ocracoke (www.ncdot.gov/ferry) for the half-hour ride. Reach Ocracoke via the state ferry from Swan Creek or Cedar Island. The voyage across Pamlico Sound ($15 per car, one way) will take up to 2 1 / 2 hours.
Details: 252-728-2250; http://www.nps.gov/calo. Also: http://www.friendsofportsmouthisland.org.
Never know what you'll find in the wild, but at 761-acre Carolina Beach State Park, just south of Wilmington, walk the half-mile Flytrap Trail to spot the rare, meat-eating Venus flytrap, only found naturally within a 75-mile radius of Wilmington.
Bugs are drawn to the color and aroma of its leaves; if the insect touches one little hair trigger, nothing happens. But when a second is touched, the leaf halves snap shut on it in a tenth of a second. It takes three to five days for the plant's fluids to decompose its prey, then the leaf reopens.
The park holds other botanical carnivores, by the way: pitcher plants, bladderworts, sundews and butterworts.
Unusual animal life includes reptiles: Carolina anoles, five-lined skinks and six-lined racerunners. Keep your eyes peeled for the rare gopher frog. Also rare — and there in summer — are painted buntings, a bird species that winters in the tropics.
You can occasionally spy an alligator at the park marina. And don't miss the 50-foot Sugarloaf sand dune that has served as a marker for Cape Fear mariners since 1663.
Admission: free. Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; longer hours May-August. Details: 910-458-8206; http://www.ncparks.gov (pick "Carolina Beach" from the "Find a park" menu).
—Ocracoke: Entering British territory
At Ocracoke, you can leave the United States and enter 2,290 square feet of British territory. It's the British Cemetery, a sad legacy from World War II.
In 1942, German subs prowled the East Coast for merchant ships. In the first six months of 1942, close to 400 ships were lost to German U-boats.
Our British allies sent ships over to protect New World commerce. Among them was the Bedfordshire, a fishing trawler converted into an escort ship for convoy duty. The Bedfordshire was sunk by U-boat 558 on May 11. The entire crew of the Bedfordshire was lost, and three days later, a handful of bodies of crewmen began washing up on shore.
They were buried in a corner of the Ocracoke cemetery later deeded to the Commonwealth War Grave Commission — so the sailors there can technically be buried in "home" soil. Though the British Cemetery is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard station at Ocracoke, a Union Jack flies over the graves.
At 11 a.m. May 11 — the day in '42 the Bedfordshire was sunk — American and British military units will hold a memorial service for the sailors who were lost 70 years ago.
5 cool places on the North Carolina coast you won't find anywhere else
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.