A Guide to the Best Things to Do in Swansboro, NC

Photo of boats on water with text overlay: Things to Do in Swansboro NC

A Guide to the Best Things to Do in Swansboro, NC

The North Carolina coast is a unique place full of charming port towns, fascinating history, and gorgeous beaches. Located five miles from Emerald Isle, you’ll find the coastal town of Swansboro, also known as “The Friendly City by the Sea.” This picturesque seaside town lives up to the nickname with its friendly, laidback atmosphere and water activities like kayaking, boating, and fishing. Whether you want to paddle the waterways or explore the historic downtown, there are endless things to do in Swansboro, NC!

Water Activities in Swansboro

Since Swansboro is bordered by the Intracoastal Waterway and the White Oak River, it’s no surprise that water activities are one of the most popular things to do here. Explore the water with kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, tours, and fishing adventures. 

Hammocks Beach State Park

Hammocks Beach State Park is easily accessible from Swansboro via ferry or paddling the canoe trails. Bear Island features some of the most unspoiled beaches and maritime forests on the Atlantic coast. Rent a kayak from PaddleNC and explore the water on your own or join one of their Hammocks Beach tours instead.

Fishing and Cruises

Anglers will love fishing on the North Carolina coast. Swansboro charters offer inshore, nearshore, and deep water fishing opportunities. Nancy Lee Fishing Charter and Pogies are the most popular options. For a different way to get on the water, join Lady Swan Boat Tours for a scenic sunset cruise or a historical tour of the Intracoastal waterway.

Photo of historic downtown Swansboro

Historic Downtown Swansboro

The port town of Swansboro has a significant maritime history that once thrived on shipbuilding. Over 200 years later, the downtown area is full of sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Explore the charming architecture, boutiques, and restaurants in downtown Swansboro. 

Self-Guided History Tour

The Swansboro Historic District features 30 sites you can see on a self-guided walking tour. Most of the district was developed between the late 1800s and early 1900s with architectural styles like Greek Revival, Bungalow, and American Craftsman. Use the guide from the Swansboro Historical Association to plan your walking route.


Historic downtown Swansboro is home to dozens of boutiques you can explore during your getaway. Bring home a piece of Swansboro with home decor, gifts, or antiques from Salt Marsh Cottage or Poor Man’s Hole. After a day downtown, stop at Candy Edventure and bring back a sweet treat to your vacation rental.

Swansboro Festivals

The quiet charm of Swansboro comes alive with annual festivals you can plan your vacation around. Celebrate talented local artists’ crafts and products during the Arts by the Sea event in June. October brings the oldest festival on the Crystal Coast to Swansboro with the Mullet Festival featuring seafood and live music.

Visit the Friendly City by the Sea

If Swansboro sounds like your kind of vacation destination, choose one of our vacation rentals at Bluewater. We have hundreds of rentals to choose from, including the 1906 Alex Moore House in the heart of Swansboro’s Historic District. Discover all of the things to do in Swansboro, NC, and experience “The Friendly City by the Sea” for yourself!

What are some of your favorite things to do in Swansboro? Let us know in the comments below!

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