We camped here Wed through Sat for my son's fall break. We arrived on Wed afternoon around 4pm. I was wearing leggings and the mosquitos literally landed on my leggings and bit me through them. I didn't even know that could happen. I should have left the campsite then and gone to Walmart, 17 min away, and bought enough bug spray and candles for the weekend but we set up the campsite instead. We just got back so camped the first week in October, site 17. For the four days, I had two citronella candles, one on the picnic table and one near our camping chairs, a thermocell fogger in the tent (ran for about an hour before we went in to go to sleep) and then two bottles of 40% deet spray…one for our car when we came back to the campsite and one on the picnic table. We brought our kayaks and launched from both the Carolina Beach State Park marina and also Trails End public access (intercoastal waterway). Both were great with plenty of parking while we were there. There are VERY large yachts in the trails end area which are cool to see, just be careful when paddling that area. We fished at both places and also at Carolina beach from the surf. I caught a HUGE drum there. Lots of dogs off of leashes (rules change Oct 1st) so that was cool to see. We mostly cooked at the campsite but ate dinner at Sea Witch Cafe one night. The place is dog friendly, which we needed, and the food was reasonably priced and so good. The park rangers lock the gates at 9pm and they don't open until 7am so you have to plan accordingly. This wasn't an issue for us, we just watched the clock and made sure we were back. Beach is about 6 min away, Walmart is about 17 min or so, several grocery stores nearby (Food Lion, Publix). Overall, it was a great trip, I just wasn't prepared initially for the mosquitos. I got 90 bites that first day. I even had to constantly spray down my dog to keep the mosquitos off of her. It was a bit much. Definitely put all of your food in your car or at a minimum in your tent. Raccoons come nightly. :) We lost a quesadilla, some dog food, etc.
We tent camped at one of the hike-in (it's a well maintained gravel path) sites at PLSP, #33. This is the first site on your way in. I was by myself with my son and dog so I felt more comfortable being here near the bathhouse. There are raccoons who like to eat so be sure to put your food up at night. The lake is really calm. There are boats coming in and out but not "traffic" per se, no issues at all kayaking and we went out several times. Fishing was good with rooster tails and panther martin spinners (silver), 1/8 and 1/16 oz. The water was down so there were a lot of places to paddle onto the shore and wade fish. There is some access right at the campground for littles to get in the water. I really recommend water shoes as there are some hooks/lures in the water. We never left the campground during the weekend, so I can't comment on the proximity to restaurants but it was only 5-8 min or so back to town. I had terrible phone service with Sprint here. We did have one new camper come in at 3am on Saturday morning to set up their tent and being so close to the entrance of the hike-in spots, I woke up. That was tough. When we go back, I'll pick a site further back up the hiking path and bring a wagon to tote our stuff. The staff at the gate are amazing and so friendly. The restrooms are clean. Three showers. NO ONE other than the tent campers seemed to use the bath house so I never waited for a shower or anything and there were several families tent camping and the rv sites were completely full. It's a really nice and safe place. I really recommend it and look forward to going back. One thing, the actual tent pad was 11x13 and seemed a bit small but worked fine for us.