8 great reasons to visit the Crystal Coast

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Whether you’re looking for the perfect destination to take a weeklong family vacation or a romantic getaway for two, the friendly, laid back atmosphere of North Carolina's Crystal Coast will have you feeling like you’re a local.

From strolling through its historical towns with oak-lined streets to relaxing on its sandy beaches, here are eight great reasons to visit the Crystal Coast.

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Location, location, location

The Crystal Coast, also known as the Southern Outer Banks, is located in the central coastal region of North Carolina and is one of the few remaining natural barrier island systems in the world. With its beaches facing south, you can view a sunrise, a sunset, or possibly both depending on the time of the year.

The best beaches

Getting its name from its clear waters, the Crystal Coast islands offer 85 miles of silken coastline. Not to mention the water here is typically warmer than other beach destinations in North Carolina due to the proximity of the Gulf Stream.

The “gems” of the Crystal Coast include Beaufort, Pine Knoll Shores, Emerald Isle, Morehead City, Cape Lookout and Atlantic Beach, which was named the No. 1 beach in North Carolina by Coastal Living magazine and USA Today,

Foodie destination

With over 110 non-chain eateries, including everything from elegant seafood dining, to quaint pubs and grills, delightful bakeries and unique drive-ins, the Crystal Coast is a culinary destination. The destination’s long history of fishing combined with North Carolina’s rich culinary culture has created a landscape of restaurants with roots as deep as the waters. The Carteret Catch program connects local commercial fisherman with area restaurants and fish markets to promote sustainable, traceable seafood.


Regardless of your budget or lifestyle, the Crystal Coast offers a variety accommodations, including cottages, condos, private homes, bed and breakfasts, quaint motels and full-service hotels.

Things to do

Whether you’re taking a scenic harbor cruise or watching a beautiful sunset or sunrise, there are a lot of things to do at the Crystal Coast. There’s great shelling, water sports of all kinds, fishing and unique museums to visit. In fact, one of the best aquariums in the state is located at Pine Knoll Shores.

Visitors can also enjoy a variety of events throughout the year, including the North Carolina Seafood Festival held each fall and the Beaufort Wine & Food Festival held each spring.

<p>Crystal Coast photo provided by Carteret County Tourism Development Authority</p>

Crystal Coast photo provided by Carteret County Tourism Development Authority

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Named the No. 1 National Park Beach by USA Today and reminiscent of times past where wild horses roam freely on deserted beaches, Cape Lookout National Seashore consists of three undeveloped barrier islands covering 55 miles of shimmering beaches that are only accessible by boat. While there, you can climb the lighthouse, or Diamond Lady as it’s called, and see the beautiful views of the surrounding waters.


Whether you’re fishing for fun or for sport, at the Crystal Coast you can enjoy a full range of experiences, including offshore, onshore, inshore, back bay and creek fishing. Fish caught along the coast include bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and big red drum. Fishing tournaments are held throughout the year, including the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, a Top 10 national blue marlin tournament.


The Crystal Coast is steeped in rich history. In Beaufort, the third oldest town in North Carolina, visitors can tour homes that date back to the 1700s or check out the Maritime Museum to see artifacts from Queen Anne’s Revenge, the ship captained by the infamous pirate, Blackbeard, and rests in a watery grave just three miles off shore. Fort Macon, one of the most visited state parks in North Carolina, offers glimpses of Civil War history and spirited ghost tours.

For more information on visiting the Crystal Coast, go to crystalcoastnc.org.

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