Imagine a stroll through small coastal villages as you breathe in the fresh sea air before dining on fresh seafood at a quaint bistro…. Turn your visions into reality and escape to the Crystal Coast, which is also known for its crystal-clear waters! The Crystal Coast, a true North Carolina gem, possesses a legendary history of piracy, ghostly encounters and exotic wild horses roaming in pursuit of immortal freedom, all of which merge into the unique concept of the Southern tradition. The wonders of the Crystal Coast include Atlantic Beach, Beaufort, Emerald Isle, Harkers Island, Cape Lookout and Morehead City—each one as unique and exquisite as the next. Raise a toast to the coast!
Bathe in an 85-mile stretch of blue water and a sunny shoreline where the Gulf Stream caresses the coast. The Cape Lookout National Seashore, a 56-mile strand of beaches that make up the coastal islands of eastern North Carolina, are sure to capture your imagination! In fact, this is one of the only natural barrier island chains left in the world, and it is only accessible by boat. You can even look out onto the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters, which was built in the mid-1800s to warn passing ships of the dangerous coastal waters.
You’ll be mesmerized by Mother Nature as you witness the wild horses of Shackleford Banks; they have enjoyed their untouched landscape for over 400 years. Take in your tranquil surroundings with some Crystal Coast kayaking, bird-watching explorations, paddling and other outdoor adventures. With one of the longest fishing seasons on the Atlantic, you are sure to reel in a big catch any time of the year along the Crystal Coast! With pristine waters and over a hundred feet of visibility, this area is a diver’s dream! Enjoy wreck diving, underwater photography clinics, and even shark and spear-fishing dives.
Home to both the Cape Lookout National Seashore Visitor Center and the Core Sound Waterfowl and History Museum, Harkers Island invites you to explore all of the endless activities they have to offer!
A haven of sunbathers, the Atlantic Beach is home to wide grand beaches and sunshine. Choose from an extensive range of accommodations from a seven-bedroom Victorian mansion to a more environmental beach bungalow. Visit Fort Macon State Park, the historical site for active vacationers who may experience all types of activities, including shore fishing, hiking, swimming and picnicking. For a great dining experience, enjoy mouth-watering plates at Amos Mosquito’s Swampside Café, which offers an eclectic selection of delicious seafood dishes along with karaoke nights, or Idle Hour Biergarten, a modern, beachside German beer garden featuring cozy European dishes. The Island Grille also has plenty of chic coastal ambiance and a modern take on traditional dishes.
Step onto the historic streets of beauteous Beaufort, one of the country’s most charming towns. Here you can smell the salty-sweet ocean air and watch wild horses roaming freely on Carrot Island as you dine at a waterfront café. Stay in one of their enchanting and elegant Victorian suites and intimate bed and breakfasts, which serve up delectable home-cooked meals. Make sure to check out artifacts from Queen Anne’s Revenge, the infamous ship of the legendary pirate, Blackbeard, which can be viewed at the North Carolina Maritime Museum . Dine in one or all of the area’s exquisite restaurants, including Clawson’s 1905 Restaurant and Pub, a culinary landmark serving scrumptious Southern favorites; City Kitchen, a perfect place for delicious food and stunning sunsets; Front Street Grill at Stillwater Cafe, a contemporary waterfront bistro with rural roots; or wine-centric Aqua.
Known as the most prominent of the banks on the Crystal Coast, Emerald Isle is named for its lush greenery. The always enticing Emerald Isle is situated at the western end of Bogue Banks, where accommodations range from quaint beach cottages and condominiums to massive beach mansions known locally as “sandcastles.” Explore a fantastic coastline, shop at fancy boutiques filled with precious coastal treasures or set sail on private chartered fishing excursions. Dine at chic restaurants like Caribsea, which offers premium meats and exceptional seafood plates, or head to the Village Market, a fabulous gourmet deli and sandwich shop with a unique and locally inspired menu. You’ll definitely want to raise a glass at Kathryn’s Bistro and Martini Bar, where you can pair any dish with various varieties of cocktails.
The island’s infrastructure is primarily composed of residential homes and private communities, but the landscape offers some of the most unique views of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. After a long day of exploration, dine at Captain’s Choice Restaurant, also known as the best seafood spot on the island! The restaurant is home to Chef Faye Moore, who has been cooking up the same secret recipes for more than three generations. Don’t miss out on his coconut cake!
Home to the annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament, Morehead City is known for superior fishing on the coast. Aside from fishing, check out its unique shopping district comprised of art galleries and antique stores. For exceptional dining, visit Bistro by the Sea, an elegant New York style bistro with an extensive list of enjoyable dishes. Circa 81 offers some of the best tapas in town and more than 30 specialty drinks, while Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant serves up scrumptious seafood burgers.
For fine food, fishing and endless fun, create the perfect getaway on the Crystal Coast!