popular crystal coast towns

Crystal Coast Towns You Should Know

popular crystal coast towns

Welcome to the Crystal Coast!

The Crystal Coast is located in Carteret County, North Carolina – covering over 100 miles of shoreline! Our coast is known for its rich history, pristine beaches, nationally recognized fishing tournaments, incredibly fresh seafood and restaurants, and local southern charm. The Crystal Coast is made up of larger mainland towns, Bogue Banks beach towns, and the “Down East” community that still holds deep roots in our fishing culture.

Crystal Coast Towns You Should Know

Bogue Banks is comprised of five townships – Emerald Isle at the western end of the island, followed by Indian Beach, Salter Path, Pine Knoll Shores, and Atlantic Beach at the eastern end of the island. Located just east of Bogue Banks are Cape Lookout National Seashore and Shackleford Banks, where you can catch a glimpse of the wild island ponies, explore and collect shells and even climb the Cape Lookout Lighthouse!

Take a glimpse into our most visited Crystal Coast towns and the small townships of Bogue Banks!


One of the Crystal Coast towns you should know is Swansboro! The home of Hammocks Beach State Park, the “Friendly City by the Sea” offers a historic downtown district overlooking the water. The quaint village atmosphere and the historic downtown area offer shopping in an area alive with restaurants, boutiques, gift shops, and waterside parks. Host to the Arts by the Sea Festival, the Mullet Festival, and multiple fishing tournaments – Swansboro offers some of the best hospitality on the North Carolina coast.

Emerald Isle

One of our very favorite Crystal Coast towns is Emerald Isle. The outdoorsy adventurous guests that visit Emerald Isle are in heaven with activities like surfing, kayaking, kiteboarding, and paddleboarding. Families can enjoy miles of walking, jogging and bike paths, and several nature trails that allow you to enjoy the naturally pristine environment with a variety of birds, waterfowl, and families of whitetail deer.  The Point in Emerald Isle is not to be missed when visiting the western shores of Bogue Banks; the sunsets are breathtaking!

Pine Knoll Shores

The wide beaches and sound side access make it easy to swim, go shelling, clamming, or kayaking along this beautiful stretch of the island.  The North Carolina Aquarium is located in Pine Knoll Shores and offers a variety of marine species including fish, crabs, seahorses, lionfish, and sharks. The sea turtle nursery features an albino turtle named Nimbus! Nature trails offer a walk above a tidal marsh where marine creatures live and shorebirds wade looking for food. All in all, it’s a tranquil way to spend the afternoon.

Indian Beach

Indian Beach is conveniently located in the middle of Bogue Banks.  Its location allows easy access to the sights and sounds of Morehead City and Emerald Isle, as well as restaurants &  shopping.  But above all, you’ll enjoy the quiet calming expanse of soft sands and lush maritime forest. Its location allows easy access to the sights and sounds of Morehead City and Emerald Isle, as well as restaurants &  shopping.  But above all, you’ll enjoy the quiet calming expanse of soft sands and lush maritime forest.

Salter Path

Salter Path is one of those Crystal Coast towns that doesn’t get enough credit. Known for its history as an old fishing village, Salter Path is different because it is home to a large dune system, excellent beaches, breathtaking soundfront views, and even a small maritime forest. Family beach cottages are easy to spot as you cruise through Salter Path. Be sure to stop and take some time to take in Bogue Sound as it sparkles a magnificent blue on a bright sunny day.

Atlantic Beach

Want to be transported back in time a bit? Then Atlantic Beach is one of those Crystal Coast towns to add to your list! Atlantic Beach has a retro “beach-town” feel of days past and has been North Carolina’s “go-to” beach since the 1930s. Located at the eastern end of Bogue Banks, Atlantic Beach features a laid back friendly feel with wide sandy beaches, a boardwalk, and a commercial district with plenty of dining and shopping options. Nature trails, public parks, and beach accesses will draw you in. Atlantic Beach is also home to Fort Macon State Park, a historic Civil War fort, which is the most visited state park in North Carolina.

Morehead City

Downtown Morehead City has an alluring waterfront appeal, lined with charter boats, legendary seafood restaurants, charming shops all overlooking Sugarloaf Island. The Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament is held annually in June with crowds, Beaufort, NC gathering daily at the weigh station to see which boat will bring in the biggest blue! Also home of the North Carolina Seafood Festival, held every year the first weekend in October. Vendors line the waterfront with all types of seafood & arts and crafts, along with kid’s rides and activities! Families can also enjoy watching the Morehead City Marlins play baseball at Big Rock Stadium. With multiple shopping centers throughout Morehead City, there’s something for everyone!


Beaufort, the 3rd oldest town in North Carolina, is known for its Bahamian and West Indian style architecture and its close ties with a notorious pirate. It offers a beautiful sandy shore as well as stunning waterfront views and many specialty shops and delicious restaurants downtown. You can watch the feral horses from the banks of Beaufort or board a ferry to see them in their unspoiled habitat. Hop atop the red, English Double-Decker bus for a tour around this historic fishing village to see Blackbeard’s home and the mysterious Old Burial Ground. You’ll see exactly what makes this coastal community so special and why it was voted Best Small Town in the USA in 2012.

Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

Are You Prepared for A Hurricane?

When the time comes for you and your family to make a decision on whether you’re evacuating or riding out the storm, it’s important to know what steps should follow. Timing is of the essence in these situations, and the longer it takes for you to figure out a plan – the less time you have to physically prepare. You and your family should have a set list of protocols for each person for both scenarios- leaving and staying. Regardless of your decision, here’s a few things to keep in mind when a potentially dangerous storm is still a few days out.

Preparing Your Home

Valuable tips for preparing your home – 

  • Secure all outside furniture and any other objects that could be a potential hazard. Your best bet here is to move it all inside, but if that’s not possible- tie it down to something permanent. This includes- Hot Tub Covers, Grills, Trash Cans, and Pool Cleaning Equipment. Outdoor showers can be a great use of space for anything you don’t want to bring inside.
  • Board up all windows and sliding glass doors. Many coastal homeowners have hurricane shutters that can be used for this purpose, which can be a great time-saving investment. For those without the luxury, 3/4″ plywood usually does the trick. When time is of the essence, it helps to have these boards pre-cut and marked for each spot. If you’d prefer not to drill holes directly into the exterior of your home- these Plylox Window Clips might help do the trick.
  • Prep the Fridge & Freezer. If the power goes out for an extended period of time- You’ll want to salvage as much food as possible prior. Pack up coolers with as much instantly edible food as possible- in the case of a power outage, you likely won’t have any appliances to cook with either. Save some room for ice, and consider stocking up on non-perishable items before the grocery stores sell out of necessities. If you’re leaving, an age-old trick to see if the power went out is to freeze a cup of water and place a quarter on top, then leave it in the freezer. If the quarter sinks to the bottom, you’ll know that the power went off for an extended period of time and any remaining food should be thrown away.
  • Have Plenty of Bottled Water on hand. In these situations, you never know how long you might have to go without clean water, so it’s important to make sure that you’re stocked up for at least a week. Some people choose to fill up bathtubs for teeth brushing and toilet refills.
  • Protect your valuables. It’s probably a good idea to purchase a secure box to keep things like Titles, Passports, Birth Certificates, Social Security Cards, and Insurance Information together- and make sure you know where it is at all times. Family photos, videos, and keepsakes are also things you may want to include but don’t fill it up so much that you can’t carry it in case of an emergency. Be sure to take it with you if you evacuate.
  • Fill up your gas tanks. Don’t wait on this step- as many of the local gas stations can’t keep up with demand just a few days before a storm is scheduled to hit, and it could take them a while to receive another shipment. This not only goes for your vehicles but for chainsaws and generators as well.
  • Get some cash. If electric and/or internet service is down-  a Credit or Debit card won’t help you out in a bind.

Preparing Your Family

Once you and your family prepare and review a Pre-Storm checklist, it will be easier for everyone to focus on their specified tasks when the time comes. Make sure you review it frequently, and update the list as necessary. Here are a few ideas for you to help get everyone involved throughout the process.

  • Have everyone pack a suitcase with essential clothes. Children may need some help with this process, but make sure that you bring some of their favorite items along as well to keep them occupied. Place them in a secure space that you can get to easily, if for some reason you have to leave in a hurry. Household cleaning supplies and a First Aid Kit should also be easily available within these bags.
  • Create a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses. We all rely on cell phones these days, but if you get stuck with a dead battery- it’s always a good idea to have a list handy of people that you can call from a neighbors phone. You should always have the local hurricane shelter information and address handy and a plan on what to do with pets and medically fragile family members, should you feel the need to evacuate last minute.
  • If you do end up leaving the area, be sure to keep family and friends updated as much as possible with your intended location and Estimated Time of Arrival.
  • If you plan on riding it out, go ahead and create a safe space in the most secure room you have. Preferably off the ground level and with little to no window coverage. Set up sleeping arrangements for your family and make sure that there’s plenty of flashlights, candles, and games or books to keep you occupied if the power goes out.

Staying Informed

Knowing what’s going on and what is expected to happen is one of the most crucial parts of staying safe during a Hurricane. Luckily for us locals, we have a few different news crews that keep an eye on the tropics throughout the year and keep us in the loop if we need to start making preparations. You’ll want to have as much of a head-start as possible when securing your home, and go ahead and take off a few days before if you plan on traveling. Whether you’ve made the decision to stay or go, there are a few things you can do to help understand how things are progressing in your area.

  • NOAA National Hurricane Center posts updates at least every 6 hours whenever a tropical cyclone has formed in the Atlantic. You can find these updates on www.hurricanes.gov or the NOAA Weather Radio. (A List of NC Stations can be found here)
  • Know the difference between Watches & Warnings!
    • Watches- Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible within your area. Because it may not be safe to prepare for a hurricane once winds reach tropical storm force, the NHC issues hurricane watches 48 hours before it anticipates tropical storm-force winds.
    • Warnings- Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are expected somewhere within the specified area. NHC issues a hurricane warning 36 hours in advance of tropical-storm-force winds to give you time to complete your preparations. All preparations should be complete. Evacuate immediately if ordered to do so.
  • Follow along with your local town government website, E-mails, and Social Media channels for updates in regards to curfews, mandatory evacuations, and re-entry.
  • If you stayed in the area, don’t leave your house until you’re 100% sure it’s safe to do so. Assess any damages to your property, and take immediate actions as needed. Have an idea of your neighbors that have stayed, and check on them once you have identified that the storm has passed.
  • Flooding and storm surge are often the most devastating factors from Hurricanes along our coastal communities. Make sure that it is safe and think twice before attempting to drive through any standing water.

Cleaning Up The Mess

If there’s a few things Eastern NC learned after the destruction due to Hurricane Florence, it’s how to bounce back. Members of each community chipped in to help those who didn’t have the resources, and countless organizations stepped in to distribute food and supplies.  There are still many that are dealing with the repercussions, but for the most part- We have come back closer and stronger than ever. Here are a few tips we learned throughout the last year that we hopefully won’t have to use again for a long time.

  • Tarps are crucial. A lot of homes were damaged from high winds and rainwater pounding on the roof. If you can effectively place tarps over the affected areas, it can buy you some time before you hire a crew for a full or partial replacement.
  • Know before you go. A few areas were cut off for a period of time due to high floodwater over streets. It’s important to have a firm understanding of how deep the water is, and whether or not there’s any fallen debris that might get you stuck on your way home.
  • Choose your contractors wisely. It’s important to make sure that any projects that aren’t possible for you to tackle are licensed and insured for the job they’re hired to do. Whenever possible, make sure you contact friends and/or past clients to gather their experiences.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If there’s something that you need assistance taking care of, be sure to ask a friend, family member, or neighbor to help you out. Don’t overwork yourself and risk getting hurt just to get the job done. There are usually plenty of people around that are willing to help you out.
  • It’s important to have approved permits for any significant projects and/or upgrades when rebuilding after a storm. Check to make sure your general contractor is aware of the process and what documents need to be obtained before starting on any major construction.

Blue Marlin Tournament, 2018 Big Rock Tournament, 2018 60th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament

60th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament

Blue Marlin Tournament, 2018 Big Rock Tournament, 2018 60th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament

60th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament


Blue Marlin Division

HONEY HUSH 518.5 Chuck Lindner Robert Gorrell I, II, III, & IV $753,875
FENDER BENDER 514.3 Carl Beale TJ Dunne ALL LEVELS $262,450
CARTERICAN 500.9 Lee Smith Cole Ammons ALL LEVELS $127,500

Daily 1st Billfish Released

Monday WALL HANGER Gray Blount Brian Allen $5,000
Tuesday FREESTYLE Kenny Sexton Tim Garrett $5,000
Wednesday DESPERADO Bryan Peele Joe Woodington $5,000
Thursday CARTERICAN Lee Smith Cole Ammons $5,000
Friday REEL CRAZY John Munroe John Munroe $5,000
Saturday FEET FIRST CL Lupton Rodney Williford $5,000

60th Billfish Released

DANCIN’ OUTLAW Thomas Wood Dean Priddy $6,000

Fabulous Fisherman’s Level

CARTERICAN Lee Smith Cole Ammons $501,500

Gamefish Dolphin Winner Take All

GOOMBAY 71.11 $146,200

Level VII Weekly Release

WALLHANGER 3 BM/1 WM 1325 $151,937.50
SHIFTING GEARS 3 BM 1200 $91,162.50
SHENANDOAH 2 BM/2 WM 1050 $60,775.00

BM: Blue Marlin

WM: White Marlin

Level VIII Daily Release WTA

Monday WALLHANGER 400 $48,520.83
Tuesday SHENANDOAH 925 $48,520.83
Wednesday COVERAGE 925 $48,520.83
Thursday DOUBLE B 400 $48,520.83
Friday RELEASE 800 $48,520.83
Saturday ISLANDER 400 $48,520.83

Gamefish Weekly Division

1st Place Dolphin GOOMBAY 71.1 $5,000
2nd Place Dolphin NO PROBLEM 57.5 $3,000
1st Place Wahoo SARCASTIC 74.4 $5,000
2nd Place Wahoo CAROLINA TIME 42.2 $3,000
1st Place Tuna REEL COUNTRY 19.9 $5,000
2nd Place Tuna N/A

Outboard Division


Junior Angler Gamefish Division

RARE BREED Bubba Simmons EJ Nettles Dolphin 35.5
HIGH TIME Ricky Rowland Kayley Rowland Dolphin 32.7
JOB SITE Bill Farrior William Farrior Dolphin 32.7
RARE BREED Bubba Simmons River Simmons Dolphin 23.6
REEL COUNTRY Mark Chambers Charlie Ellington Dolphin 18.9

Junior Angler Release Division

JOB SITE Bill Farrior William Farrior BM
JOB SITE Bill Farrior William Farrior WM
BULLFROG Bob Eakes Bobby Eakes WM

Gamefish Daily – 1st Place Gamefish

Monday Tuna N/A N/A N/A
Wahoo REEL COUNTRY 19.9 $2,000
Dolphin EYE CATCHER 41.1 $2,000
Tuesday Tuna N/A N/A
Wahoo FEET FIRST 22.4 $2,000
Dolphin DOUBLE J 24.2 $2,000
Wednesday Tuna N/A N/A
Wahoo MARGARITAVILLE 18.2 $2,000
Dolphin JOB SITE 32.7 $2,000
Thursday Tuna REEL COUNTRY 19.9 $2,000
Wahoo SARCASTIC 74.1 $2,000
Dolphin GOOMBAY 71.1 $2,000
Friday Tuna N/A N/A N/A
Wahoo SANDRA D 26.3 $2,000
Dolphin LOOKIN’ BACK 33.6 $2,000
Saturday Tuna N/A N/A N/A
Wahoo N/A N/A N/A
Dolphin BOOTLEGGER 39 $2,000

Gamefish Daily – 2nd Place Gamefish

Monday Tuna N/A N/A N/A
Wahoo N/A N/A N/A
Dolphin RARE BREED 35.5 $1,000
Tuesday Tuna N/A N/A N/A
Wahoo N/A N/A N/A
Dolphin CARNIVORE 24.0 $1,000
Wednesday Tuna N/A N/A N/A
Wahoo N/A N/A N/A
Dolphin HIT ‘N RUN 27.8 $1,000
Thursday Tuna N/A N/A N/A
Wahoo CAROLINA TIME 42.2 $1,000
Dolphin NO PROBLEM 57.5 $1,000
Friday Tuna N/A N/A N/A
Wahoo STETSON’S REVENGE 23.7 $1,000
Dolphin SECOND CHANCE 29.9 $1,000
Saturday Tuna N/A N/A N/A
Wahoo N/A N/A N/A
Dolphin HIGH TIME 32.7 $1,000