2018 Year in Review

2018 Year in Review from the Crystal Coast

2018 was a year to remember for Bluewater Vacation Rentals. We started off the year with some wind powder on the snow. Followed by a wonderful summer filled with lots of fun and memories! September rolled around and Hurricane Florence hit our beautiful coast, leaving lots of destruction. As a community we have come together to rebuild the Crystal Coast and prepare for what 2019 has in store for all of us. We hope you will take a few minutes to take a look back at some of 2018 memories in our year in review AND we hope to see you all on the Crystal Coast in 2019!

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.

A dolphin sighting in Morehead City.

Dolphin Sighting

Dolphin Sighting in Morehead City

While inhaling our coconut and shrimp curry soup from Sanitary we moseyed our way out to their deck that overlooks the waterfront like we do every year. But this time we got a treat. TWO DOLPHINS playing in the sunset. That was my first dolphin sighting so close. What a special night!

My husband and I were lucky enough to rent out the little one to some friends and have a date night in Morehead City. Now this wasn’t just any night, it was the annual Bites and Blues and we scored tickets. Now let me explain this to you. Bites and Blues is an amazing foodie paradise that happens every year. Local eateries come together and station themselves about downtown Morehead City NC and prepare small bites for hundreds of ticket holder.

You ticket is literally a map of all the restaurants that will be in attendance equipped with check boxes to mark where you have been. You also have a best bite of the night vote ticket stub at the bottom.

Restaurants in participation this year include places like:

Fat Fellas (reigning champs)

Tight Lines — mahi bite with lump crab

Happy Cakes (mmmmmmm……Oreo explosion- an Oreo inside a cookies and cream cupcake with cookies and cream frosting)

Promise Land — Brisket

Sanitary — coconut and shrimp curry

Rudy Ducks — seviche

Red Fish Grill — glazed mahi

Beaufort Olive Oil — the most creative salad I’ve ever tasted

Dank Burrito — jalapeno hush puppies

The Boathouse — smoked brisket with collard greens and homemade barbecue sauce

La Perla –(a new authentic spanish cuisine joint tucked away on 20th st. they had mufungo, which my husband and I hadn’t had since our honeymoon. It is Yuca, plantains and meaty goodness. A must try.)

Southern Bread Bakery (also a new establishment- very tasty macaroons)

And so many more places.

Guys we were waddling back to our car by the end of the night. And this is no big feat. Derrick is a NC State football alum that can put you to shame in a food eating competition. Needless to say we got our money’s worth.

To the right:

We are devouring our Fat Fellas Plates

a rib, hush puppy, amazing mash potatoes and southern sweet tea to complete the bite 🙂

= 2 happy campers

FAQ about hurricane florence recovery

Hurricane Florence Recovery FAQ

FAQ about hurricane florence recovery

Hurricane Florence Recovery FAQ: Guests and Homeowners

We know you have questions, so we’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked hurricane recovery questions from guests and homeowners. Our staff members and the Towns are working hard on our island’s recovery and ensuring we answer any questions you may have regarding Hurricane Florence recovery.

Guest FAQ on Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence Recovery FAQ from our Guests

1. When will your offices be open? – Our offices are now open at this time, 8:30 am to 5 pm daily

2. When will the curfew be lifted?There is no curfew at this time

3. How can I file a claim with Red Sky Travel lnsurance?If you purchased travel insurance for your stay – you may contact RedSky about your travel insurance claim or call them (866) 889-7409

4. Why will no one answer the phone? – Our phone lines are extremely busy during this time. Our staff is working very hard to answer all calls and return messages. Thanks for your patience!

5. When will we be updated about our vacation? – Bluewater will continue communicating with you via email and the website to keep you updated.

6. Why does the link to my rental property say “not rentable?” – If the status of your rental property says “not rentable,” – it could be due to damages, flooding, or power outages preventing access to the property.

7. Are there restaurants and groceries stores open? – The main grocery stores, Publix and Food Lion are open and fully stocked. There are limited restaurants open at this time and only serving limited menus. Please be aware some businesses are only accepting cash at this time due to power and internet outages.

8. Are gas stations open and gas readily available? – The majority of gas stations are open with gas readily available. Please be aware that some gas stations suffered damage on the island and are closed until further notice.

9. How are the beach accesses? – You can reach the beach; however, there has been erosion from the ocean during Hurricane Florence. Please note that some public and private walkways to the beach have suffered damage. Be cautious while using beach accesses.

10. If the property rented does not have beach access, does this make it non-rentable, and can I be moved or refunded? – If the dwelling is safe and uninhabitable, but the beach access is unavailable, this does not warrant the property as uninhabitable. No refund or move is provided. Guests will be asked to sign a waiver agreeing not to use that access and will use the nearby public access.

11. If I don’t have travel insurance and the property cannot be rented, do I get a refund? – If the property is deemed uninhabitable, Bluewater will need to process a full refund and block the property from rentals until repairs are completed, and the property is cleared as safe and habitable. We will be working with the individual property owners to coordinate these refunds.

12. What documentation will be needed to file with RedSky Insurance? – An email was sent out to guests with travel insurance with information on material needed for filing a claim based on your period of stay.

13. Are roads in North Carolina closed? – For road closures and updates, please visit the North Carolina Department of Transportation.


FAQ from Homeowners on Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence Recovery FAQ from our Homeowners

1. I have renters that are scheduled for a vacation this week. Has our unit been checked yet? – Please use the link provided in your email to check the status of your property.

2. What is the status of our property? – Please use the link provided in your email to check the status of our assessment. If you have any questions about your status, please call our maintenance department at (252) 354-6128.

3. What do I need to do if my home has damage? – 

  • Call your insurance company to make a claim.
  • Begin working with your insurance company to schedule an assessment and line up contractors to work on your property.
  • Call and schedule third-party vendors or contractors to complete repairs needed to your property.

4. Can you coordinate vendors for repairs to my property? – Currently, we do not have the manpower or resources to organize any work at the rental properties. The only work we are currently capable of coordinating on your behalf is lining up water extraction and temporary roof-tarping for homes that are deemed hazardous. If your property is on that list – you will be contacted by email from our Maintenance Department with the details of those arrangements. All bills from vendors will be sent directly to you.

Banner for dogs dig the crystal coast

Dogs Dig the Crystal Coast

Banner for dogs dig the crystal coast

Dogs Dig the Crystal Coast

Our beautiful Crystal Coast is a pet-friendly beach paradise. We’re sharing a few reasons dogs dig the Crystal Coast, and we have no doubt your dog will too! 

Dogs Dig the Crystal Coast and Emerald  Isle

Nearly every dog that crosses the bridge ends up loving the beach just as much as their humans do. They can run, play, and roll to their heart’s content in the sand. They can watch gulls and pelicans, and sandpipers skirt the shoreline for hours. They will probably con you into more table scraps than usual since it’s their vacation, too much like children asking for ice cream for breakfast and open-ended bedtimes. They can run, jump and splash into the water or laze in the umbrella’s shade while you soak up the rays.

We love your dogs so much that we even have a whole category in our annual photo contest dedicated to dogs. We get so many photos every year, and without fail, some of our most favorite shots are those that feature furry family members. They seem to embody fun, adventure, and the idea of the “entire family” coming on vacation together.

The Crystal Coast is Welcoming to Dogs

The Crystal Coast itself is more than happy to host your pups. Just make sure they stay on a leash (just in case those gulls look a little too tasty, or that terrier a few towels down gets extra friendly) and always clean up after any …ahem, evidence… they might leave on the sand.

dog on the beach chasing a seagull

Of course, always remember that what is HOT to you is even hotter to them, so take them back inside for breaks in the air conditioning as often as you can. (Hey, you get a cool break, too!)

keep your pets cool on the beach

Bring a bowl and stick some water bottles in the cooler to be sure you always have fresh cold water available. From experience, I only pour out what my little baby behemoth is going to drink because it inevitably gets sand in the bowl about 3 seconds after it’s poured out, and the diva can only drink clean water. She’s a little spoiled. Shocking, I know.

A Vast Array of Pet-Friendly Places to Dine on the Crystal Coast

Another reason dogs dig the Crystal Coast is the wide variety of places that are pet-friendly. For example, take your pup out on the town to the dog-friendly Backstreet Pub for a cold drink.

The Backstreet Pub has been called the friendliest, funkiest little bar from Maine to Venezuela. Housed in a century-old former bakery, it is famous among sailors who course the intercoastal waterways and who have covered the walls with nautical memorabilia. But the Backstreet is also a local hangout. For fishermen and writers, waitresses and tugboat captains, retired spies, deep sea divers, and just about anyone looking for a cold beer, fine wine and some decent conversation. And, perhaps, a game of cribbage.

You can also bring your dog to The Dockhouse in Beaufort for dinner on the patio.

The Dock House Restaurant was established in 1978. The Dock House, as the locals call it, has been serving the folks in Beaufort, North Carolina on the beautiful waterfront overlooking Taylor’s Creek for over 30 years. The Dock House is a well-known spot for listening to live music in Carteret County. Check out our music calendar for events on our boardwalk or in our newly renovated upstairs lounge. If you are looking for a cool place to eat you’ve found the spot. Dine inside or out on our patio overlooking the wild ponies on Carrot Island and the Rachel Carlson Reserve across Taylor’s Creek.

There are plenty more places to enjoy with your dog.  See all our Pet-Friendly related posts to plan your adventures.

Pet-friendly Homemade Beach Treats 

I like to give my dog a cool treat when we plan a day at the beach – either freezing a water/broth mixture or some homemade pup cream. Sometimes even though I know she’s hot, she’s too excited to drink. This way, I know she’s getting something cool to beat the heat. The heat here is real, and when its hot outside and the humidity is high, you can never have enough cool drinks and treats for everyone in your party, two or four-legged.

homemade dog treats for the beach

You’ll need: Dixie cups, bone-shaped treats, 32 oz. plain yogurt, 1 cup of peanut butter, and 2 ripe bananas (plus any special add-ins you’d like, such as blueberries, bacon, or shredded cheese)

Directions: Blend yogurt, peanut butter, and bananas in a food processor or mixer. Place dixie cups on a cookie sheet and fill half full with yogurt mixture. Stick a bone in the middle, leave enough hanging out to be a “handle,” and freeze until solid. Just pop the paper off, and you’ve got a pup-sicle!

You can also spoon this into a KONG toy and freeze it to take to the beach as a toy to keep your dog busy and cool. – Authored by Clarissa, Bluewater Marketing Coordinator

Dogs on the Crystal Coast

Bring your dog to the beach for a barking good time. Beach vacations are meant to be enjoyed by everyone in the family when you vacation Crystal Coast-style! Explore our dog-friendly, dog-stay-free vacation rentals and book your next Crystal Coast beach vacation today! 

While you’re here, snap a picture and share it on social media by tagging us with #BluewaterNC. We love seeing happy pups on the beach! 


Emerald Isle Best NC Beach Town

Emerald Isle Voted Best Beach in North Carolina!

Emerald Isle Best NC Beach Town

Celebrating Emerald Isle – Voted Best Beach in North Carolina

In a recent poll from USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards – Emerald Isle was voted the best beach in North Carolina. This is a great achievement and recognizes our coastal town’s beauty and serenity. It’s clear to see that locals take pride in keeping their beach clean, with organizations like the Surfrider Foundation organizing monthly ‘Beach Sweeps’ to pick up litter and spread the word to visitors about ‘Leaving Only Footprints.’

Points of Interest While Visiting Emerald Isle

The beach is obviously a hot spot for travelers and residents alike, but there are plenty of other amenities to take advantage of – whether you’re here for a week or a lifetime.

The 12-mile Multi-Use Path is a great way for families to get around town without loading up the car. For those dedicated individuals who can’t miss a run- it’s also a great way to burn some calories.  Even if you’re just cruising on a bike to a local restaurant or walking to your favorite bar- there’s always a reason to take advantage of the bike path!

The multiple access points to the marshlands and Intracoastal Waterway also make Emerald Isle a great destination for water sports enthusiasts. With the state’s largest public boat ramp, boaters can spend a relaxing day on the water without the hassle of wondering if a parking spot will be available for their trailer. If you prefer a more laid-back experience on the water- kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding are very popular and easy to rent. You can even schedule a guided tour if you’d prefer to be joined by someone with some local knowledge and experience.

For those searching for kid-friendly options, the Jean Preston Memorial Playground is adjacent to the NC Wildlife Boat Ramp at 6800 Emerald Drive. As an all-inclusive playground, specialized equipment is designed for all types of children, including those with disabilities.

Atlantic Beach Ranked Fourth Best Beach in North Carolina

EI isn’t the only Crystal Coast community recognized for its beauty; Atlantic Beach was ranked fourth best beach in the same poll. With a town-sanctioned skate park, mini-golf course, and children’s splash pad, Atlantic Beach has an abundance of fun offerings for the whole family! You can also check out the new hot spots at The Circle or explore the history and walking trials at Fort Macon.

We’re proud to have an office presence in both of these beautiful North Carolina beach communities – Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle. If you’re interested in relocating to or investing in a property at one of the top beaches in North Carolina or a surrounding area- come see us, and we’ll be happy to work with you!

To see who else made the list, you can view the Top 10 rankings at – Best North Carolina Beach 2018  

What’s your favorite Crystal Coast Beach? Let us know in the comments.

Fort Macon Summer Concerts

Summer Concerts in the Fort

Fort Macon summer concerts are a great way to enjoy some local music while exploring a piece of history. Every Friday during the summer you can find local bands performing in the fort. Locals and vacationers both enjoy these relaxing events. Many bring food and drinks to enjoy during the performances. Be sure to check out the below schedule and find the perfect evening to explore the fort and enjoy some music.

All concerts are free although donations are welcomed to help maintain the fort. Currently donations are being used for repairs due to Hurricane Florence in 2018.

Doors open early for picnickers. Just in case it rains the concerts will be held inside the Visitor Center at the Fort. Don’t forget to bring folding chairs or a blanket to relax on and enjoy the music!

FRIDAYS — 6:30 to 8 PM

Jun 28     Telluride, Beach, Bluegrass, Country
Jul 12       Saltwater Gold, Favorite dance music
Jul 26       Fab – The Band, Beach, Classic Motown
Aug  2       Wild Honey, Country Rock & Blues

2303 East Fort Macon Road Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Seashell Guide on the North Carolina coast

Shelling on the Crystal Coast

The beach at sunrise takes on a different personality, with quiet, peaceful sounds, beachcombers searching for the perfect shells, the warming sun shining on small traces of sea glass and shells rolling in the surf just waiting to be found. If you time the tide right – you can find beautiful shells and sea treasures. Spending the morning walking through the cool, wet sand and listening to the faint bird chirps through the roar of the ocean to some, seems like a fantasy. For the lucky vacationers to the Crystal Coast or our permanent residents that call our beaches home – this is part of their morning routine. The towns along Bogue Banks, knows for their shells, all offer pristine beaches and lush coastline for those early birds looking to hit the beach before the island wakens. Beach-goers that will be joining you in the early morning hours are usually those hunting for shells!

What are the best spots to hunt for shells? Collectors say that Hammocks Beach State Park and Cape Lookout National Seashore are two of the top shelling beaches in our area! If hitting the beach at low tide is not your style, you can visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC, where they have over 1,000 seashells on display.

Scotch Bonnet
This is an important find – it’s our state shell! Look for the trademark pattern and a curled outer edge.

Mole Crabs (or Sand Fleas)
Dig into the sand just at the water line and you’re sure to find some of these guys. You can scoop up a handful of sand with one in it and watch them move quickly to hide. They move and burrow backwards into the sand! They make great bait for pompano and sheepshead.

Coquina Clams
These tiny shells can sometimes be found still paired! Try stirring up the sand in a tidepool and watching quietly. Many times you’ll find a live one and see it burrow itself back down into the sand. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, and can be very tiny. They are also known as “Angel’s Wings.”

Sand Dollars
Venturing out to barrier islands and the Cape Lookout Seashore will reward more sand dollar finds! You may find some still “alive” with a velvety brownish-green exterior. Put those ones back, only collect ones that are sun-bleached white.

These fan-shaped beauties come in a variety of patterns in bright oranges, pinks and browns. You can sometimes find a pair, but it’s more rare!

Whelk Shells and Egg Cases
You’ll find three varieties here: the Lightening Whelk, the Knobbed Whelk and the Channel Whelk. Their egg cases are long, spriral chains of pods, and are a neat find!

Sea Glass
These rare pieces of glass are naturally weathered by the churning ocean and sand, giving the glass a “frosted” look with smooth edges. Blue and purple pieces are some of the rarest finds!

These shells are easy to find since they dwell in the shallow waters. They are easily recognizable since they have a polished look, they also come in various patterns and sizes.

Seashell Finds from the Crystal Coast

    Swansboro touch a truck event

    Swansboro 2018 Touch a Truck

    Touch a Truck in Swansboro, NC happens every year and is a FREE event you won’t want to miss. Trucks, Bubbles, Games, Giveaways, and all kinds of child-friendly activities.

    My 10-month-old was more than visually stimulated and EXHAUSTED by the time we walked to the Mexican restaurant next to the park for lunch. And my two-year-old did EVERYTHING. He was so excited to be out on such a beautiful day and see excavators up close and play on the playground in Swansboro. The Touch a Truck event is a must-do and hands down the best family fun during the Spring in Swansboro, NC.

    Side note: Did you see those little ones in the bubble machine. I was so happy Jett was happy with just running through up to his knees. HA!

    From the town –

    The Swansboro Parks and Recreation Department will host its 7th Annual Touch a Truck event on April 18, 2020, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Swansboro Municipal Park (830 Main St Ext.) Touch a Truck. This event provides a unique opportunity for those young and young at heart to explore, climb, touch, learn what the trucks do, how they work, and how they benefit our community. This is your chance to climb in, take a seat behind the steering wheel and imagine being the driver of a fire engine, ambulance, bobcat, and many, many more! Bring out the entire family for a day of fun and hands-on vehicle exploration. We will have TapSnap on-site for photos!

    Bring your vehicle to the event:

    Do you or your company have a unique vehicle that you would like to share with the community at the Touch a Truck event? If so, contact the Swansboro Parks and Recreation Department for more information. (910) 326-2600.