Safe Haven movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Safe Haven filmed?


City Locations

Southport and Wilmington, North Carolina

Location Types

Beach/Oceanview, Cabins, Nature Scapes, Rustic, Diners, Bars

Location Styles

Beach House, Beachfront, Bohemian, Cabin, Exotic

About Safe Haven

Safe Haven is a 2013 romance, drama, and thriller based on the best-selling novel of the same name by your one and only Nicholas Sparks.

We’ll give you a spoiler alert and start off by saying the film boasts a gorgeous cast (and a poster to die for), starring Julianne Hough as our on-the-run Katie/Erin and Josh Duhamel as a widower and father of two adorable kids. The filming location of Safe Haven took place in two pretty towns: Southport and Wilmington, North Carolina.

The film begins with a frantic Erin covered in blood trying to flee her home. From there on we see her radically change her appearance, chopping off locks, and bleaching hair. Early on we grasp the fact that she is a victim of domestic violence and has been abused.

Erin gets on a bus and says goodbye to her hometown, and finally arrives at Southport, North Carolina where she introduces herself as Katie. She gets a job as a waitress and rents a cozy run-down hut in the woods and befriends her neighbor, Jo.

Life is going well when one day our heroine bumps into our hero, Alex Wheatly. From there on, their whirlwind of a romance starts but with minor setbacks as Katie is a little resistant to any form of attachment.

And, danger still lurks around the corner for Katie, as Kevin, a police officer, who is also her husband, is on the lookout for her. Also, Alex sees a poster of a woman wanted for first-degree murder, who looks a lot like Katie.

At the same time, a drunken Kevin tracks Katie down and sets the general store on fire. Katie tries to fight off Kevin, but the gun goes off and kills him. Alex, our knight in shining armor swoops in and saves the day. The film ends on an emotional note, as we are shown that Jo, Katie’s neighbor, was actually a ghost of Alex’s deceased wife. She left a letter titled ‘for her’ which Alex gives to Katie.

Safe Haven Locations

Safe Haven was primarily shot in two locations, Southport and Wilmington which are both located in North Carolina. These stunning port cities served as the perfect backdrop for the shooting of Safe Haven. Even in the novel, Erin flees to the quaint Southport because of its calm, and charm.

The town of Southport has made appearances in several films such as I Know What You Did Last Summer, Nights in Rodanthe, Under the dome, and A Walk to Remember.

Only a few scenes were shot in Wilmington, which served as the hometown of Katie, which she fled. The home where Katie lived with Kevin is located at Meets and Brookwood Avenues, Wilmington.

The bus station where Katie has a close encounter with her husband is known as Wilmington Convention Center. It was transformed into a bus station only for the movie!

The production team used the beauty of North Carolina well. Read on to know where your favorite, best scenes in Safe Haven (spoiler alert) took place and how to get to them!

Fun fact:

This is the first film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks that actually has an antagonist in it. Other films usually featured one of the protagonists getting in a car crash on the brink of death, leaving fans on the edge. Some followed the Romeo-Juliet syndrome, where the hero and heroine did not end up together. Bummer.

Katie flees her hometown bus scene in Safe Haven

Linn Cove Viaduct, Blue Ridge Parkway

In the first few scenes, we see the camera pan out on the bus which Katie uses to escape. The orange-lined bus goes along a spectacular circling road high up in the mountains. Katie jumped on the bus in an attempt to escape the horrible events that took place that evening.

Did you ever type in the Google search bar “the location of the bus scene in the opening credits in Safe Haven”? That sounds like a mouthful, right? To save you from the pain we have the location right down to the very coordinates!

The bus takes the Linn Cove Viaduct and ends up in Southport. The stunning engineering feat of the viaduct is a seven-mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which took many years to complete. You can easily visit and learn about the history of the viaduct by going to Linn Cove Visitor Center.

Romantic kayak tour date in Safe Haven

Cypress Swamp, Winnabow

We’re skipping ahead here but Alex and Katie have met and their friendship is blossoming into more. Nothing screams a more romantic date than a canoe trip down a swamp! We need to give credit to Alex for originality.

The whole scene is very cliché but in a good way. Plus, the spectacular surroundings get the whole mood going. The autumn season, auburn, yellow hues everywhere, the sun setting low, clear, still waters, with only nature surrounding you and someone you care about.

Both Katie and Alex reminisce about old times and think about their partners. Katie asks Alex “Does it ever get better with time?” to which Alex delivers “Yeah, yeah, at first, I tried to avoid any place we went together. I tried to forget. I tried to put it all behind me. I tried to, you know, just look forward but it just didn't work, and I realized that if I'm not thinking about her, who is?”

The lines were heart-touching, and we get a glimpse of the scarred Alex who still very much misses his beloved wife but is ready to move on to new beginnings. The whole scene was the start of something new for both of our characters.

The shooting of this scene took place in Cypress Swamp, Winnabow, North Carolina. If you want to take your loved one out on a kayaking trip, look no more. You’ll need a kayak to reach this location; it’s a saltwater marsh just outside of Southport.

The heated kiss between Katie and Alex scene in Safe Haven

Pleasant Oaks Plantation, near Town Creek, North Carolina

We can’t help but still feel those butterflies in our stomachs whenever we think of this scene! It was the culmination of extreme build-up, and we finally got the action that we wanted.

After their romantic date, canoeing in the lake is interrupted by heavy rain, Katie and Alex make it to a restaurant which is an actual grill known as Wildlife Restaurant and grill on Oak Island. They end up eating and goofing the night away in their own world.

This Safe Haven film scene was almost cheesy as we felt the newness of their relationship. We’ve got Katie, in her nervous state, and Alex, a little giddy about bagging a date with a girl he was pining for, for so long. It was so sweet. But it was what came afterward that saved the scene.

The heated kiss that Alex and Katie share when he drops her off at her cabin in the woods because both did not want the day to end had us on the edge of our seats. Who knew Duhamel and Hough would have such explosive on-screen chemistry? It totally works wonders for the film. Afterward, Alex gets in the car, and his friend gives him ‘the look’ to which he grumbles “shut up”. Hilarious way to end the fireworks!

This major scene takes place in front of Katie’s rented shack, which was one of the most stunning locations in the whole film. Although the shack was built for the movie, it was the place where it was nestled, stunning. The real land is known as Pleasant Plantation, near Town Creek.

Plantation Road can be found off River Road SE, which is not close to any form of public transportation. A nice drive through the countryside will get you there.

Alex and Katie take the Kids to the Beach Scene in Safe Haven

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, Pleasure Island

This beach scene was shot at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, which is a large state park located near Kure Beach between the famous Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. This park covers nearly six miles of unspoiled beaches and trails that are open to the public.

The scene takes place when young Lexie invites Katie to a day at the beach, Katie initially refuses but then gives in to the puppy-dog-eyed kid. After that, they have a beautiful day at the beach and Josh, Lexie’s brother, catches his first fish. Behind each moment, Alex is present with his handy dandy camera, ready to snap photos and preserve beautiful memories.

Little Lexie watches on as Katie and Alex have a private chat, playing the perfect matchmaker just like her mother. During this scene, Alex asks Katie “So why Southport?” To which Katie replies while flattening her doodles in the sand with a swipe of her hand “Um, cause it looks like this, just a clean empty canvas”. Alex catches on to the hidden meaning and asks, “So you are starting over”.

This was the first time in the whole movie that Katie verbally admits that she wants to start over.

Fort Fisher is a stunning natural beachfront and marsh for swimming, exploring, hiking, and fishing. It is easily accessible by car, bus, and even foot. You can also bring your 4x4 to the beach. However, it costs 20$ for driving passes during weekdays and 30$ on weekends.

What are you waiting for? Head over to the beach right now and visit the Safe Haven location for that ultimate seaside experience.

Alex confesses, “I love you” to Katie scene in Safe Haven

Southport/Fort Fisher Ferry Terminal

When poor Alex finds out the wanted poster of Katie in the police station, he is shocked, to say the least. He marches to where she is and confronts her about her past. He inquires if she is some fugitive on the run who could put the safety of his children in jeopardy. Katie is embarrassed and afraid and tries to clear the misunderstanding, but the damage is already done.

Katie believes that her staying in Southport is no longer a good idea so she starts packing and almost boards the local ferry when Alex comes to the rescue. He outright declares his love for her and tells her that he is sorry. When Katie tells him that she fears her husband will come looking for her, Alex tells her that “I am not going to let him hurt you anymore” to which Katie says it does not matter, and that she will not cause his family any distress, but Alex does not let go and declares, “I’m in love with you”.

Katie starts crying and they both reach for each other and share a tender kiss. This whole scene was shot at the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry Terminal. You can easily re-enact the true love’s kiss on the same terminal! And don’t forget to take a photo. Follow Fort Fisher Boulevard in Pleasure Island to reach the dock.

Kevin confronts Katie scene in Safe Haven

Ryan’s Port Market, Southport. Brunswick Street and Yacht Basin Area

This is the climax of the movie, where Katie finally faces her fears head-on while at the same time trying to keep the past from ruining her future. This scene takes place in the general store where Alex works. Though it is not one of the best scenes of the movie, it still is the most intense!

A drunk Kevin appears armed with a gun and gasoline. He threatens Erin to come back home to him and starts pouring gasoline all over the store. Erin initially refuses but looking at Kevin’s volatile nature, changes course and tries to coerce him.

When he lets his guard down, she pushes him into the water to buy some time. However, a firework spark lands on the gasoline and lights up the whole store. Alex, after noticing the fire quickly crosses the harbor and comes in time to save Lexie, his daughter. Our heroine is still battling it with Kevin when his gun goes off killing him in the process. Though it is a happy moment as it is the end of Katie’s dark past, we are still left reeling from it all.

This scene takes place in Ryan’s Port Market which was actually built just for this scene. It was dismantled and is not there anymore. What you can see is the area surrounding the store. Head to Brunswick Street and the Yacht Basin area. You’ll find the Freedom Boat Club of Southport close by.


The film follows Katie/Erin and how she overcomes her fear and starts afresh, making new friends, becoming independent, and finding her true self hidden beneath the façade. Enjoy the ride, as the film makes you laugh, smile, and even shed a few tears as you begin to appreciate life and your loved ones. To new beginnings!