Scenic photo of the Southern Outer Banks North Carolina Things to Do

The Best Rentals and Tours to Explore the Crystal Coast

Along the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina is a stretch of 85 miles of breathtaking sandy shores. The crystalline blue water of this region is why it is often referred to as the Crystal Coast. There are several beach towns here that have distinct histories, natural areas, and activities to enjoy. No matter what beach town you’re looking to visit, we here at Bluewater Vacation Rentals offer a wide variety of vacation homes all along the Crystal Coast. 

Nature enthusiasts will fall in love with the area’s numerous state parks, kayaking, boating, biking, hiking, and beachcombing opportunities. Additionally, history-buffs can spend their time on the Coast exploring museums and historic sites. There are so many things to do on the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina, so read on for the best ways to explore this beautiful slice of paradise. 

Boat Rentals and Tours on the Crystal Coast

One of our favorite ways to experience the Crystal Coast is on the water. Rent a boat for the day from Crystal Coast Boat Charters and Rentals and traverse the Intracoastal Waterway and Bogue Sound near Emerald Isle, NC. Take the boat out island hopping to the uninhabited barrier islands along the Crystal Coast or spend the day fishing. 

If you want to experience the best fishing spots with a local expert, take a fishing charter with  Capt. Stacy Fishing Center in Atlantic Beach, NC. From shark fishing to full-day fishing trips, Capt. Stacy has a trip for anyone to enjoy. For a customized and private excursion, book a tour with Crystal Coast Ecotours. Take a boat tour and see salt marshes, birds, ponies, and maritime forests along the way. The other tours include dolphin watching, fishing, wild horse watching, surf fishing, and more. Check out all of the exciting trips with Crystal Coast Ecotours here.

Bike Rentals and Tours on the Crystal Coast

The best way to explore the Crystal Coast on land is on a bike or beach cruiser. Beachside Bikes have locations in Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle. Rent a bicycle for the day and cycle to the best sites and things to do on the Crystal Coast. Hwy 58 Bikes offers rentals for electric and cruiser bikes on the Crystal Coast. A bike rental is an exceptional way to experience and explore the breathtaking beauty of Emerald Isle. 

You can find a unique selection of biking tours at Hungry Town Tours in Beaufort. The Beaufort culinary bike tour includes three stops for appetizers, entrees, and dessert. The tour works with restaurants that offer fresh and local products. Peddle through history on the hidden Beaufort tour. See hundreds of historic homes while learning the significant history of this port town.

Spacious Vacation Rentals with Bluewater 

After a day exploring the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina and the things to do, you’ll be more than ready to unwind. Our vacation rental properties are the perfect setting to relax during your getaway. Take in a spectacular sunset from the porch of one of our Emerald Cottages, ideal for families. You can also stay at the Alex Moore House, built-in 1906 and located in the Swansboro Historic District. Browse our complete collection of vacation rentals here and call us at 866-231-5892 if you have any questions!

local concert series, emerald isle outdoor music fest

Live Local Entertainment: EmeraldFest Concert Series

local concert series, emerald isle outdoor music fest

Live Local Entertainment: EmeraldFest Concert Series

We’re finally getting back to our “new” normal and enjoying outdoor activities in our communities. Tonight kicks off Emerald Isle’s 2021 EmeraldFest Concert Series which takes place at 6:30 pm at the Western Ocean Regional Beach Access.

This fun Summer concert series is always enjoyable so pick your favorite dates, bring your favorite date, your lawn chairs, or blanket, and get ready to enjoy some great music outdoors!

These free outdoor concerts will be held each Thursday evening throughout the Summer on Emerald Isle. Come on out and enjoy some great music with locals and visitors alike! No alcohol, please.

EmeraldFest Concert Series

EmeraldFest Concert Series – 2021 Lineup

Thursdays 6:30-8 pm at the Western Ocean Regional Access

  • June 24 – Pamlico Joe and Clean Water Flow (The Sound of Coastal Carolina)
  • July 1 – 4EverAll (Americana/Rock/Folk/Pop)
  • July 8 – The Mad Fiddler (Heartbeat of Music)
  • July 15 – Pure T Mommicked (Rock Alternative)
  • July 22 – Wicked Shimmies (Variety)
  • July 29 – Big Drink (Pop/Rock/Variety)
  • August 5 – Justin Castellano (Eclectic)
  • August 12 – Scearce and Ketner (Seagrass)
  • August 19 – Naked Knees (What a Party Sounds Like)

About Emerald Isle

Named the best beach in North Carolina by USA Today, Emerald Isle is a little slice of heaven for guests with an adventurous spirit. With choices like surfing, kayaking, kiteboarding, or paddleboarding there’s plenty to do. Families can take delight in miles of walking, jogging, and bike paths plus nature trails which are yours to enjoy in this pristine natural environment. You can spot white-tailed deer, a variety of birds, and waterfowl throughout the island.  Visit “The Point” to watch the absolutely breathtaking sunsets!

Live Local Entertainment Updates

For all the latest updates on live local entertainment on Emerald Isle and the EmeraldFest 2021 Concert Series, visit 2021 EmeraldFest Concert Series. Most importantly, have fun! 

National Parks Week, Celebrating National Parks Week, North Carolina's National Parks, Cryatal Coasr National Parks

National Parks Week on the Crystal Coast

National Parks Week: 4 Parks to Explore on the Crystal Coast

Join us celebrating National Park Week 2021 from April 17 to 25!

Crystal Coast Map

“National Park Week is America’s largest celebration of national heritage. It’s about making great connections, exploring amazing places, discovering open spaces, enjoying affordable vacations, and enhancing America’s best idea—the national parks!”

-National Park Service

harkers island national park

 It is almost a pleasure to get lost here with its bridges spanning sparkling waters, marshes of waving grasses, flocks of birds swirling like autumn leaves, and cool wooded sanctuaries harboring vintage residences. It is also good to know there’s a helpful soul at virtually every turn of the road, at gift shops, convenience stores, gas stations, real estate offices, boat building concerns, marinas, seafood concessions, pizza, and burger joints.


Situated in Atlantic Beach, Fort Macon is packed to the brim with southern history. When you tour, take the time to have a tour guide show you the ropes.

There are cannons galore as well as great informative videos to begin your visit. There is history on the stairs, on the walls, and even on the doors. Be sure not to miss an inch on your trip back in time.


Fort Macon Atlantic Beach NC, Fort Macon National State Park


cape lookout national park

The Cape Lookout National Seashore consists of 66 miles of beautifully undeveloped coastline stretching in barrier islands from Ocracoke to Beaufort Inlet. A short 3-mile boat ride off-shore takes you to the barrier islands of Cape Lookout National Seashore where you can enjoy activities like shelling, fishing, birding, camping, lighthouse climbing, and touring historic villages. Enjoy your time on the island searching for the famous wild horses of Shackleford Banks, across the way. The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is the perfect backdrop for a fun-filled day at the beach. You can even bring your dog!

There aren’t any restaurants, so be sure to pack a lunch, sunscreen, water, and other necessary supplies!


Find Paradise on the unspoiled sands of this barrier island and National Park Hammocks Beach State Park is one of the few locations along the coast that remain nearly completely untouched. Ride a passenger ferry over to the island and spend the day exploring or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous. Load up your gear and reserve a campsite on the sound or ocean.

The ferry operates every half hour throughout the day during the summer season, giving you the chance to spend the entire day exploring the 4-mile long island. Once the ferry docks, there is a 1/2 mile trail that leads to the beach where you can swim, shell, kayak, or camp overnight.

Bring everything you need, there isn’t anywhere on the island to purchase food and drinks.

Ferry Services:

Hammocks Beach State Park | Swansboro

(910) 326-4881



Hammocks Beach National Park

Check out our publications to learn more about the National Parks on the Crystal Coast. If you take pictures while exploring these National Parks, please share them with us. Have a blast exploring!

Front street village in beaufort, Front street village 1003A rental

Front Street Village 1003A

Front Street Village 1003A is a stunning 2 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom duplex located in the beautiful town of Beaufort, NC.

You’ll enjoy everything this spectacular home has to offer such as its close proximity to downtown Beaufort and the beautiful sound side views.

There are also wonderful local amenities such as the hotel, restaurant, and conference center nearby. Come, relax and enjoy this upscale luxurious cottage with your family and friends!

Additional Details About Front Street Village 1003A 

Bedroom 1 – 

Bedroom one has one King Bed and a private bath.

Bedroom 2 –

Bedroom two has a Queen Bed and a Twin Bunk, along with a shared bath with hallway access as well.

Living Space –

The spacious living area has a Flat Screen TV with basic cable and direct porch access. Beautiful outdoor views! 

Additional Amenities –

Full Kitchen with coffee maker and stainless steel appliances. Hairdryer, Iron & Ironing Board.

About the Town of Beaufort, NC

Named by Travel + Leisure as “America’s Favorite Town” among many other accolades, Beaufort brings even more to the table than meets the eye. Dock your boat at a downtown marina and stay in Beaufort for a night or two. Walk from one charming boutique to the next. Take in some history at the Beaufort Historic Site and North Carolina Maritime Museum or drop your kayak in Taylor’s Creek and enjoy seeing playful dolphins or our famous wild horses. Then, relish in it all with cocktails and award-winning seafood overlooking the water at sunset. It’s no wonder so many people call Beaufort their home away from home. Now, you can, too! 

Spring on the crystal coast

Why Spring is a Great Time to Visit the Crystal Coast

Spring on the crystal coast

Spring on the Crystal Coast

Spring on the Crystal Coast is the perfect way to have fun in the sun on an early getaway! 

Are you planning a trip to the Crystal Coast during Spring? Here are a few reasons why the Spring on the Crystal Coast is a great time to visit!

  • Warmer Temps Mean An Abundance of Wildlife – As the water and the salty air warms up, the local birds and dolphins return to our coast. Pods of dolphins arrive and even a whale or two are known to skirt the coast in the spring. You may also see fawns on Coast Guard Road.
  • Warmer Temps Also Mean More Fun Outside – Warmer weather and waters mean comfortable weather for fishing. If you enjoy laying out in the sun with a nice cool breeze running across you, this is the time of year for you! Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are finally reasonable activities for those of us who like a little sun on an outing. Walking along the waterfronts of Beaufort, Swansboro, and Morehead City becomes a relaxing way to spend a day of sunshine in the Spring.
  • Everything Is Open – All the shops, stores, and restaurants that closed for the Winter are back open in the Spring. The piers open, flowers bloom, and you can beat the Summer rush of crowds during a spring trip! 

Which town is your favorite to visit in the Spring? 

Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you! 

nc coast fishing
whale sighting crystal coast
coastal kayaking in nc

WATER TEMPERATURE

Average High 71F | Average Low 65F

AIR TEMPERATURE

Average High 70F | Average Low 55F

Be sure to check out the many budget friendly activities to do this Spring while visiting the Crystal Coast.


Newport Pig Cookin’ Contest


Beaufort Food & Wine Festival


100 Free Things To Do

the best of beaufort vacation rental

The Best of Beaufort, Beaufort NC

Have you taken a look at the Best of Beaufort yet? This new colorful waterfront community, Beau Coast offers the use of a modern Community Swimming Pool, Clubhouse, and private Kayak Launch. The Community Clubhouse includes a full kitchen, shuffleboard, ping pong, and corn hole with all the modern amenities, with plenty of space inside and direct access to the pool area, makes the Community Clubhouse a hub for all those in Beau Coast. Beau Coast is located in historic Beaufort and offers a relaxed atmosphere in this luxury community for all vacationers.

Please Note: The Beau Coast Community does not allow boat parking.

Amenities Include:
-Community Clubhouse
-Community Pool
-Private Kayak Launch

Best of Beaufort – part of the Beau Coast Community – this beautifully decorated home is a 4-Bedroom, 3.5-Bath Soundside Townhome in the coolest small town on the Crystal Coast! This cute community offers access to the Outdoor Pool, Dock, and Game Room guaranteeing fun for everyone in the family. This townhome is perfect for your family’s getaway to the beach!

Take a closer look at Best of Beaufort, Beaufort NC, and find your perfect dates to stay! 

About Beaufort

If you want to fit in with the Beaufort locals, be sure to pronounce the name of this picturesque and historic town ”Bo-furt” so as not to stick out like a sore thumb. You’ll also pass the local trivia test if you know that Beaufort was established in 1722 as a seaport with the right to collect customs and that during the American Revolution it was the third-largest port in the state.

The Historic District of Beaufort, on the National Register of Historic Places, features more than 100 historic homes. The district is also the location of the Beaufort Historic Site, a two-acre complex that interprets the town’s colonial maritime heritage in nine houses and buildings dating from 1732 to 1859. The site offers classes, workshops, and events throughout the year, as well as guided tours of the Historic Site that depart the Safrit Historical Center (at the south end of the historic site).

Other district tours include rides on Old English double-decker buses complete with stories of town residents; architectural walking tours of Beaufort’s historic district; and guided tours of the Old Burying Ground.

One of the most popular annual tours, which began in 1960 as a fundraising event by the Beaufort Woman’s Club for the newly established Beaufort Historical Association, is the Beaufort Old Homes Tour held during the last weekend in June. Annual activities include tours of private and association-owned homes, musical performances, an antique show and sale, and military re-enactments.

The Beaufort Old Homes Tour is a two-day event, in which more than 2,000 visitors are greeted by volunteers in period dress and welcomed into private homes, churches, and meeting halls. The event also features a tour of the only Menhaden fish factory still in operation in North Carolina.

Another popular event is the Beaufort Ghost Walk, which won the Crystal Coast’s “Number One Attraction” and “Best Tour Guide”. The tour is an after-dark walk through town, accompanied by chilling stories of murderous pirates, unexplained happenings, ghost ships, and haunted houses. The Ghost Walk covers less than 10 blocks and takes about 45 minutes, and one of the stops includes The Hammock House, one of Beaufort’s many haunted houses, and once the home of Blackbeard the Pirate.

Whatever you choose to do, you’re sure to have a good time! 

We now have an Atlantic Beach Rental Office to make checking in that much more convenient. Enjoy your stay! 

add thrse to your crystal coast bucket list

Top To-Dos for Your Crystal Coast Bucket List

Ready to create your Crystal Coast Bucket List? You’re in for a treat! From the locals, and our frequent visitors who we’ll dub “honorary locals”, here is a list of things you MUST do while you’re here on The Crystal Coast! 

add thrse to your crystal coast bucket list

Add These to Your Crystal Coast Bucket List

1. RELAX

There is such thing as “beach time”, and you’ll know it when you get here. Things go a little slower when you’re at 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.

add relazing to your crystal coast bucket list

2. SAVOR

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.

3. DIVE IN

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 historic 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.

diving on the crystal coast

4. NEW ADVENTURES

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.

5. 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.

6. PADDLE

Launch a kayak or stand-up paddleboard 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.

paddleboarding

7. EXPLORE

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!

8. NIGHTLIFE

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.

9. CREATE NEW TRADITIONS

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 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!

Enjoy!

What would you add to this Crystal Coast bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!