WITH OUR AREA’S rich history, scenic beauty and authentic coastal Southern charm; it is a sought-after coastal destination for vacationers. And for those outdoor enthusiasts, there’s no better place to get out and explore! With 85 miles of pristine coastline from Emerald Isle to Cape Lookout National Seashore, there are endless opportunities for fishing, scuba diving, boating and a variety of other water sports. And the tranquil waters of Bogue Sound are popular with kayakers. For those who wish to simply relax and unwind, our beaches are the perfect spot for soaking in the sunshine, shell hunting or taking a leisurely walk. These south-facing beaches offer spectacular sunrises and sunsets over the ocean.
In Atlantic Beach on the east end, Fort Macon State Park offers a fully restored Civil War fort, sound side and surf fishing, nature trails, ranger guided tours and a protected swim area, not to mention some of the highest sand dunes on the East Coast. Headed west on Hwy 58 is the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores that boasts the Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area, a 265-acre maritime forest owned, maintained and protected by the state. It is one of the few remaining maritime forests on North Carolina’s barrier islands. Guided tours are available through the aquarium.
In addition to bird watching and hiking through maritime forests and estuaries, there are many miles of walking and bike paths along the Crystal Coast. The Beaufort Bicycle route points the way with green and white bike route signs which mark a six-mile loop around town. The Emerald Isle multi-use path is 11 miles long, 10 feet wide and winds through grassy areas from Coast Guard Road to Loon Drive. The bike/pedestrian trail in Morehead City is the Bridges Street Extension Trail (2.0 miles from the post office (3500 Bridges St.) to Glad Tidings Church). Sidewalks provide pedestrians and bike riders a safe route on the south side of Hwy. 70. The off road bike path in Atlantic Beach begins at the Atlantic Beach Surf Shop 515 W. Fort Macon Road (Hwy 58) and ends at the Doubletree by Hilton Atlantic Beach Oceanfront Hotel, 2717 W. Fort Macon Road. However, there are well marked designated bike friendly areas all along Hwy 58.
One of the most unique and fun activities on the Crystal Coast is a food and wine based walking or bike tour. Drop by 400 Front St. on the Beaufort waterfront to sign up and learn about Beaufort’s history while getting an insider’s view of where the local’s go to eat and play. While in Beaufort be sure to visit the NC Maritime Museum, home of Blackbeard the Pirate’s Queen Anne’s Revenge exhibit with over 250 restored artifacts from the ship.
It’s easy to explore the Crystal Coast, a family-friendly vacation destination steeped in history, unparalleled beauty and tradition. Visit www.crystalcoastnc.org to discover everything to see and do in this coastal paradise like no other!
Elizabeth Barrow, Crystal Coast Tourism Authority