Visitors are often surprised at the number and variety of weekly vacation rentals throughout the area.. Vacation rentals are, in fact, an increasingly popular accommodation available to vacationers, and visitors will find that the sheer number of rentals available allows them to find an ideal retreat to fit their crew, from quiet condo complexes to brightly colored oceanfront sand castles.
One of the most sought-after attractions of the Shackleford Banks are the famed wild horses that call this deserted barrier island terrain home – the Shackleford Banks Wild Horses. Local residents for hundreds of years, these feral horses may be shy and only make occasional appearances when humans are around, but they are nonetheless one of the most unique and popular aspects of the 56-mile long Cape Lookout National Seashore. Every beach visitor hopes for an opportunity to spot one of these feral horses in their natural environment, and often, a chance to see one of these famed island residents is just a short water taxi or ferry ride away.
The Cape Lookout National Seashore is a 56-mile long stretch of the Southern Outer Banks barrier island terrain that runs from Ocracoke Inlet to the northeast side of Beaufort Inlet. Comprised of three separate islands – the North Core Banks, the South Core Banks, and the Shackleford Banks – this wonderfully remote destination can only be accessed by a personal vessel, or a privately operated ferry or water taxi. As a result, it’s world-renowned for its miles of undeveloped and scenic beaches, its remarkable fishing, its exceptional shelling, and its abundant wildlife that thrives in the undisturbed and inherently wild environment.
The Rachel Carson Reserve is a stunning stretch of barely-barrier island shoreline that’s found just off the coast of historic Downtown Beaufort. Covering 2,205 acres, this collection of three islands that are found along Taylor’s Creek at the mouth of the Newport River can be easily and scenically admired from veritably any waterfront vantage point from the heart of town, and are a stunning and undeveloped addition to the vast wildlife scene of the Crystal Coast.
The waterfront world of Beaufort, Morehead City, the Shackleford Banks, and everything in between is at a mariner’s fingertips when they launch from the Newport River Pier and Ramp. Located directly on the water in between Morehead City and Beaufort, this sprawling launch site is a popular destination for visiting and local mariners alike.
There’s a lot for kids to see and explore in Morehead City, which is known as the center of - or gateway to - the Crystal Coast region. From hands-on museums to an eclectic collection of shops and eateries, the area’s youngest visitors can expect to enjoy miles of fun in every direction when Morehead City serves as a central launching point for a kid-friendly adventure.
Visitors to the central Crystal Coast region who want to embark on a wild island adventure without venturing too far away from the mainland can enjoy a relatively easy trek with a visit to Sugarloaf Island. Veritably hidden in plain sight, this unique little island is located just a shell’s throw away from Morehead City, and yet feels like it’s worlds away from the busy downtown area.
The Neuse River Recreation Area is an inviting rustic vacation destination for seasoned campers and newcomers alike, with an equally alluring location that's just steps away from the miles-wide Neuse River, and just a few miles away from New Bern, Morehead City, and the beaches of the Crystal Coast. Ideal for visitors who want to get back to nature while enjoying a day on the shore, this recreation area can please beach-goers, swimmers, nature fans, birders, anglers, and virtually every outdoor lover in between.
Visitors cruising along US Highway 70 in between the towns of Morehead City and Beaufort will briefly travel over a small parcel of land that makes a momentary appearance in between the two on-the-water bridges. This small slip of terrain is known as Radio Island, and it’s certainly more than meets the eye. Home to a yacht club, several marinas, a scenic beach, a fishing pier, and multiple boat or kayak launching areas, Radio Island offers visitors a surprisingly large number of things to do while being relatively “close to home” for Morehead City or Beaufort vacationers and locals. Definitely worth a second look, Radio Island is a unique component of the Crystal Coast landscape, and is worthy of exploration in more ways than one.
Latham Whitehurst Nature Park is one of the newest parks in Craven County, and was first opened to visitors and locals alike in 2011. Located in a quiet eastern section of the town of New Bern, the park is a popular destination for wildlife fans of all varieties, including hikers, kayakers, birdwatchers, fishermen, and everyone in between.
Crystal Coast visitors who want an easy-going day on the seashore can head to one of the most convenient public beach accesses in the region, the Circle at Atlantic Beach. Known as the main “Town Beach” and located in the heart of the busy Atlantic Beach community, The Circle offers a myriad of ways to stay entertained, both on and off the sand.
While the Morehead City kayaking scene may be overshadowed by neighboring communities like Beaufort or Atlantic Beach, the town is nevertheless a great place to get out and explore, thanks to miles of water in every direction, and “hidden gem” destinations like Harlowe Creek or Sugarloaf Island. With lots of makeshift routes to explore, and conditions that can be conducive to newcomers and advanced paddlers alike, a Morehead City kayaking expedition can serve as a fine way to enjoy the local landscape from an entirely new perspective.
The Crystal Coast has more than 85 miles of coastline, which includes 56 miles of protected and unspoiled beaches that make up the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Because of this, folks will find plenty of stretches of sand where they can use their 4WD vehicle to cruise, explore, and find a remote beach spot to call their own.
Dive into a wealth of coastal artifacts, folklore, and legendary figures with a visit to the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort. Operating as one of three maritime museums along coastal NC, this distinctive site is known for its unique ship-worthy exterior, its vast collection of exhibits that span centuries, and its close ties with the Southern Outer Banks’ most famous resident, Blackbeard the Pirate.
Take a quick and scenic ferry ride with your experienced guide over to the pristine Outer Banks Island of Shackleford Banks, which is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. There, you are introduced to the wild horses of Shackleford Banks. After the tour, you are directed to one of the best shelling beaches in all of North Carolina, where you can spend some time shelling your way down the beach with Cape Lookout Lighthouse off in the distance. Shackleford is well known as one of the best shelling destinations on the East Coast.
The Crystal Coast is best explored from the water, and Morehead City Ferry Service will take explorers to some of the most remote and beautiful corners of this long stretch of Southern Outer Banks shoreline. Launching from the heart of Downtown Morehead City along Evans Street, patrons who utilize Morehead City Ferry Service for a cruise or a taxi ride to the outlying barrier islands will be treated to full afternoons of sun and fun along the pristine sand.
Discover a treasure or two to serve as a timeless reminder of your getaway to the Crystal Coast with a visit to one of the most unique jewelry stores in the Carteret County region, J Chalk Designs. Specializing in fine pieces that are truly one of a kind, this unique jewelry destination features a glittering assortment of pieces that will thrill and delight shoppers of all tastes.
Featuring two locations along the Crystal Coast, and serving the region for nearly 50 years, J R Dunn Jewelers is a time-tested resource for a wealth of special occasions, gifts, and “just because” treasures for vacationers and Carteret County locals alike. With a fine selection of everything from men’s timepieces to wedding and engagement rings, shoppers can find just the delicate piece of jewelry they are looking for with a visit to this exquisite and elegant shop.
Dive into an exploration of some of the Southern Outer Banks’ most remote shorelines with an excursion that’s led by Island Ferry Adventures. Featuring both transport to the outlying islands as well as guided tours of some of the region’s most wild spots, this tour company has a lot to offer for shell seekers, nature buffs, and everyday adventurers alike.
Visitors of all ages will have a blast at this destination that is designed for great times along the Crystal Coast shoreline. Professor Hacker's Lost Treasure Golf and Raceway is situated in the centrally located beach community of Salter Path, and is a favorite spot for families who want to have a little fun off the sand.
The Morehead City waterfront and downtown area go together hand in hand, in fact, with a number of marinas and docking spaces available for travelers who are arriving by boat. Several marinas, including the Morehead City Yacht Basin, the Portside Marina, and the Spooners Creek Marina, call this section of the Inner Banks home, and the town of Morehead City even has its own public docking facilities, newly completed, with deep water slips that are close to Arendell Street, one of the major streets that runs along Morehead City in the heart of the downtown region.
The mainland and waterfront boat slips are separated by a long boardwalk edging the water, which is ideal for a sunset or morning stroll. Visitors can work up an appetite as they admire the miles-wide views of the Bogue Sound and Money Island Bay, and can relax on strategically placed benches and wooden "deck swings" overlooking the scene. Other amenities include shaded gazebos and information kiosks that outline the history of the waterfront, and indicate local points of interest. New visitors should also be on the lookout for the giant and colorful statue of King Neptune, who stands guard over the local marinas and docks, and is located close to the hub of the downtown region.
Visitors to the waterfront will also be rewarded with a wide selection of galleries, boutiques, and acclaimed local restaurants, including the legendary Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant, (located on the very edges of downtown), Jack's Waterfront Bar, Capt. Bill's Waterfront Restaurant and Mythos Waterfront Grill, an upscale Greek restaurant with local seafood specialties. As all of the names would suggest, these establishments, plus the half dozen or so additional eateries scattered throughout downtown, have phenomenal views of the open water, and are perfect destinations for a romantic dinner with a sunset-over-the-water backdrop.
In addition to the restaurants, shopping and boardwalks, vacationers will find ample avenues for having fun on the open water along Morehead City's waterfront. A dive center is located adjacent to the docks, as well as several charter fishing boats and tour services. Essentially, from the waterfront, visitors can embark on any number of adventures, including half day charter fishing trips for inshore sound species, full day charter fishing adventures in the Gulf Stream, island-hopping excursions to neighboring Sugarloaf Island or one of the many other nearby beaches, or a scenic tour along the busy and beautiful Bogue Sound.
Summer visitors can rent kayaks and canoes off the downtown docks as well for their own, self-guided adventures, and anglers are advised to look into the local charter fishing services available. Home to the annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, Morehead City is renowned for its charter fishing fleet, and fishermen who book a half-day or full-day trip will enjoy some of the best fishing on the East Coast, guided by some of eastern North Carolina's most experienced local captains and mates.
There are several hotels and inns located within walking distance of the downtown area, and most all of the local marinas offer exceptional, first-class services and amenities for travelers visiting by water. Electric hook-ups, wireless internet access, showers, restrooms, laundry facilities and small supply stores are all common attributes, with countless restaurants, shops and local attractions located just steps off the docks.
The waterfront is also home to the popular Jaycee Park, which is the venue of choice for a number of popular annual events, including Morehead City's Summer Concert Series, Double Decker bus tours, and community-wide parades and holiday celebrations.
Visitors to the Crystal Coast or the Inner Banks should reserve an afternoon or evening to explore everything that the scenic Morehead City waterfront has to offer. From ample docking space and marinas for travelers passing through along the Intracoastal Waterway, to an exceptional collection of restaurants that specialize in the best of North Carolina's seafood industry, everyone who visits this region will surely be charmed and fully entertained. Schedule a diving adventure, a full day of hard Gulf Stream fishing, or a lazy tour along the waterfront, and see first-hand why Morehead City is a rising star of the Coastal Carolina vacation scene.