From the locals and “honorary local” frequent visitors, this is a list of things you MUST do while you’re here on The Crystal Coast!
There is a such thing as “beach time”, and you’ll know it when you get here. Things go a little slower when you’re on the beach and your priorities change a bit. Take advantage of the opportunity and turn off your phone, turn off the TV and computer, and really just relax and enjoy yourself. With the fast-paced hectic lifestyle we all lead, this can be hard to do. But you’ll be glad that you did when you look back at the memories and feel totally rejuvenated and reconnected.
North Carolina’s coastal culinary experience is unlike any other. With a deep sense of tradition, local fare and coastal atmosphere your palate is taken to new heights. Dine on some of the freshest seafood you will ever taste from the famous shrimp burger and barbecue at Big Oak Drive-In to the fresh caught seafood prepared in imaginative ways at some of the top restaurants along the coast. The crystal Coast offers the finest in Southern Coastal dining. Join us in October as we celebrate our seafood at the Annual North Carolina Seafood Festival in Morehead City.
The Crystal Coast has been named one of the 10 top diving locations in North America. The ocean floor is alive at the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” with over 2,000 shipwreck sites along the coastline including many World War I and II ships, the historice U-352 submarine and a breathtaking variety of sharks, exotic Gulf Stream fish and colorful shellfish. Not your style? You can still get up close and personal with thousands of sea creatures at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Touch a stingray, watch the otters glide through the water and stare a shark in the eye during their twice daily feedings in the 306,000 gallon Living Shipwreck.
Whether it’s trying your hand at surfing, getting up the courage to strap yourself into a parasailing harness or taking your first breath from a scuba tank, our coast is FULL of new things to try. From jet skis to banana boats, Fly Boarding to kite surfing; there are endless options for new adventures on the coast.
REEL IT IN
With the Gulf Stream pushing warm waters to our shores, the Crystal Coast offers the longest fishing season on the Atlantic coast. Spend the day with a local crew on a charter boat and see what fish you can reel in. Some of the most popular catches along our coast are mahi, blue and yellowfin tuna, red drum, cobia, sailfish, striped bass, false albacore and wahoo. Get a glimpse of the giants of the sea during the Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament as the pros weigh their daily catch on the Morehead City Waterfront.
Launch a kayak or stand-up paddle board and take in the sights and sounds of the coast as you cruise through Bogue Sound. There are many small islands just waiting to be explored and miles of smooth intracoastal and river waterways to choose from. Whether you spend a half day or pack a lunch and take your family out for the whole day, there is no better way to experience the beauty and charm of our coast than from water level.
Hop on a boat and observe the natural beauty of the wild horses along Shackleford Banks and Carrot Island. Ferries are located in Morehead City, Atlantic Beach, Beaufort, Harkers Island and Davis. This is a favorite for both frequent visitors and first time guests. PLUS: This is a great spot to find fabulous seashells and other treasures swept in by the tide. Take a trip and explore the Cape Lookout National Seashore and climb the 163-foot tall Cape Lookout Lighthouse — once you reach the top, the view will surely take your breath away!
The coast is just as lively after an unforgettable sunset! Brush off the sand and order a classic cocktail from our award winning bartenders or hit the water for a moonlit dinner cruise out of Beaufort or Morehead City. If you want to stay closer to home, try a walk on the beach under the stars! Take a flashlight with you and see if you find any ghost crabs roaming the beach. The tangy salt air and roar of the ocean after dark are a whole new experience.
There’s no better way to make memories together than by starting a new tradition. Whether it’s a family photo, a favorite restaurant or an adventure you take together every year, traditions are the best part of family vacations. One of our Facebook fans, Wendy Eastman, shared her family tradition: “Aunt Wendy’s policy is as soon as we arrive — all children PLUS Aunty Wendy must find their way to the beach and jump in to over the head water fully dressed. This has become a tradition for our family.” So come together and find a new tradition while you’re here, one that’s fun and meaningful to your family!