Explore the Intracoastal Waterway

On the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, you will find barrier islands, inlets and channels running along our coast just waiting to be explored. These marshy waterways are frequently traveled by boat and kayaked by locals and visitors alike. Spend a day exploring some of NC’s stretch of the waterway and you will find not only amazing views and barrier islands and channels, but also fantastic wildlife!

One expected sight on our coast are whales! In December and early January, whales that can be seen off our coast are most likely heading from Caribbean where the mothers give birth. In the spring, you have a chance to catch migrating whales as they head back to the Gulf of Maine. One of our most popular marine animals you will see are pods of dolphins cruising the coastline. They have been know to swim alongside boasts and say hello if you are especially lucky! Along the barrier islands, like Shackleford Banks and Carrot Island, you may also see wild ponies. These horses have roamed the beaches for hundreds of years and are a beautiful sight to behold.

In the marshy areas, you will find lots of marine birds like pelicans, gulls, herons, egrets, and perhaps even an oyster bed. Whether you cruise the waterway by boat or kayak, you’re sure to find the views and experience unforgettable.

  • Three Thousand Miles

    The Intracoastal Waterway is one of the largest coastal transportation routes, spanning over three thousand miles.

  • Fourteen States

    The 3,000 mile waterway spans 14 states from Massachusetts to Texas! The Atlantic Waterway runs just over 1,000 miles from Norfolk, VA to Key West, FL.

  • Seven Lighthouses

    North Carolina has 7 lighthouses along the coast visible from the Intracoastal Waterway.

  • Whale Watching

    Migrating whales cane be seen off our coastline in December, January, March and April as they travel between the Gulf of Maine and the Caribbean.

  • Flying South

    Snowbirds love to cruise the Intracoastal when traveling south for the winter to avoid the rougher waters of the open ocean.