Beaufort, NC: All About Boats

The Crystal Coast is known for its dense maritime community, thanks to its location that borders the Intracoastal Waterway, Bogue Sound and Atlantic Ocean. As a result, Beaufort boats can be spotted in every direction, from the harbors that border front street to the outlaying barrier islands of the Shackleford Banks.

Beaufort in North Carolina is pronounced bow-furt, just like a Southern belle might drawl out a vintage name like Beauregard. There is also a quant old coastal town named Beaufort in South Carolina, pronounced byew-furt, and that’s how the boaters and tourists in these parts sort out which is which. Many think of the North Carolina town as boat-furt. With its constant flux of sailboats, powerboats, ferries and yachts through the downtown waterfront, anyone should be able to recall that image and remember it forever.

Just to compound the confusion, both Beauforts are picture-postcard scenes of live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, elegant Victorian homes, beautifully sculpted gardens and seaside shopping and dining venues infused with aromatic ocean breezes riffling through the magnolias. Seagulls spiral overhead and the inland waterway on which the town sits — Taylor’s Creek in the case of Beaufort, NC — buffers the ocean’s waves to the point of a gentle lapping and splashing against long stretches of downtown boat docks.

Beaufort, NC is a hub of year-round activity, attracting boaters from all over the world and vacationers from nearby Atlantic Beach, Morehead City, Salter Path and Emerald Isle. It is a magnet for adventure seekers who come to parasail, do some wreck diving, rent a kayak, go dolphin watching, do some fly-fishing or charter a private Cessna airplane for an aerial tour of Cape Lookout and Harkers Island.

Beaufort, NC is also a haven for history buffs, with countless opportunities to visit historic sites, glory in the fabled adventures of Blackbeard (“the fiercest pirate ever to live”), or take in all things nautical at the North Carolina Maritime Museum and its related Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center, both of them right on the old boardwalk that lines Front Street.

Walk these planks, as the pirates would have you do, and you are likely to find live music in the summertime, a string of bars and eateries with outdoor seating and an endless supply of couples strolling hand in hand. A more romantic setting could not be found this side of Paris.