a boat sitting off the coast of cape lookout with the cape lookout lighthouse in the background

Southern Outer Banks North Carolina Things to Do

a boat sitting off the coast of cape lookout with the cape lookout lighthouse in the background

Southern Outer Banks North Carolina Things to Do

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

men on a crystal coast fishing charter boat with fishing poles cast into the water

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

an assortment of pastel colored bikes with baskets along the beaufort nc waterfront

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 

the interior of a beautiful bluewater vacation rental home with a relaxing color scheme and wood floors and stainless steel appliances in the kitchen

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. Browse our complete collection of vacation rentals here and call us at 866-231-5892 if you have any questions!

What’s Your Favorite Thing to Do?

What was your favorite thing to do on the Crystal Coast? Have you heard the Crystal Coast referred to as the Southern Outer Banks before? We’d love to know. Kick off the conversation in the comments below! 

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!

Bluewater Real Estate Sales Agents Swearing into Oath to serve on the CCAR Board of Directors

Bluewater Agents Join Local Boards

Embracing the Call to Serve

Every year, a ‘Changing of the Guard’ occurs during the 4 Quarter Membership Meeting for the Carteret County Association of REALTORS®. The CCAR Board of Directors and the Crystal Coast MLS Board of Directors help steer the Real Estate Industry for our area over the course of the year. We’re always extremely proud when our Bluewater agents volunteer their time to serve in this capacity, and this year we are excited to have three members of our organization at the helm to help set the standard for excellence in our area. Check out the newest members below and be sure to wish them the best of luck with their new commitment!

Jim Bailey

Jim Bailey, of our Atlantic Beach Office, has proven his passion to our community through multiple avenues and will continue to use his unique perspective for the betterment of all as a Director for the Carteret County Association of REALTORS® in 2020.

Pat Copeland

Pat Copeland, Broker-In-Charge of our Atlantic Beach office, will also serve as a Director for the CCAR Board. Pat plans to use his experience as a leader to help the board in the decision making and goal setting process.

Alison Jaeger- Crystal Coast Realtor with Bluewater Real Estate in Emerald Isle, NC

Alison Jaeger

Alison Jaeger, of our Emerald Isle office, will serve as a Director for the Carteret County Multiple List Service. Through this endeavor, Alison will assist the board in ensuring that the information secured in the MLS is accurate, up-to-date, and always accessible to participating members.

A Special Thanks to

Stephanie Ross

Stephanie Ross- Bluewater Real Estate Broker/REALTOR- Atlantic Beach, NC

We also want to give a quick shout out to Stephanie Ross, who has served as a Director at Large for the CCAR Board over the last year. Stephanie has done an amazing job to make sure that all area REALTORS® are benefiting from their membership through the local organization.

Thank you for serving, Stephanie!

All Other Agents

There are plenty of other Bluewater agents and staff members who have served on the local boards in previous terms, and countless others who have and volunteered and continue to contribute their time and efforts for subcommittees including:

  • Awards Committee
  • Education Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Grievance Committee
  • Legislative Committee
  • Professional Standards Committee
  • Property Management Committee
  • Public Relations Committee
  • RPAC Committee
  • Scholarship Committee

Thank You!

Sea Turtle Tracker 2019

It’s sea turtle season again on the Crystal Coast! We’ve got you covered with this Sea Turtle Tracker for 2019 to keep up to date on how many nests and eggs are laid on our local beaches. Check out the counts in Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach, Indian Beach, Cape Lookout, and Fort Macon below!

Nest and Egg Count on Our Local Beaches Emerald Isle Nests: 43 Eggs: 3916 Atlantic Beach Nests: 7 Eggs: 472 Indian Beach Nests: 6 Eggs: 579 Cape Lookout Nests: 526 Eggs: 20189 Fort Macon Nests: 3 Eggs: 3

Sea Turtles Native to North Carolina Beaches

Did you know there are only seven species of sea turtles worldwide, and six are listed as threatened or endangered in the United States?

Although the most common species in North Carolina is the Loggerhead sea turtle, five sea turtle species regularly visit North Carolina waters: the Loggerhead, Kemp’s Ridley, Leatherback, Green, and Hawksbill. However, only Loggerhead, Green, and Leatherback sea turtles lay their eggs on North Carolina beaches. These species of sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered in the United States.


Many sea turtle populations worldwide are declining. The existing seven species face different dangers, both on nesting beaches and in the ocean. Some of the threats that turtles face in North Carolina include

  • development and heavy traffic on beaches that can disrupt adults or destroy incubating eggs
  • indirect capture by fishing nets, which can lead to injury or death
  • accidental collisions with boats
  • beach renourishment activities that can uncover or compact sea turtle nests
  • general ocean pollution – especially plastic bags. Sea turtles can confuse these plastic bags with one of their main food sources – jellyfish.

What You Can Do to Help

Because our native sea turtles are endangered, it is important to do our best to preserve their natural habitat. For the health and well-being of our sea turtles, please make sure to take these tips seriously when vacationing on the Crystal Coast with us.

  • Use red filters on flashlights when walking on the beach at night
  • Do not disturb turtle nests or nesting sea turtles
  • Turn off all outside lights facing the beachfront during the nesting season
  • Keep dogs on a leash
  • Fill in all the holes you dig
  • Remove all tents, toys, and beach gear overnight
  • Reduce beach traffic around sea turtle nests to prevent nest compaction
  • Dispose of trash in an appropriate manner
  • Be careful when navigating watercraft to prevent turtle collisions and injuries
  • Join a conservation organization to remain updated on current sea turtle conservation efforts.
  • Donate to the Emerald Isle Sea Turtle Patrol

Call the Emerald Isle Police non-emergency number at (252) 354-2021 or the Atlantic Beach Police non-emergency number at (252) 726-2523 if you see an injured, nesting, or hatching turtle  – OR if you see anyone disturbing a marked turtle nest area

2019 Atlantic Beach – Beach Music Festival

6th Annual Atlantic Beach Music Festival

Saturday, May 18th | 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Get Ready for some Fun In The Sun

Mark your calendars for May 18th- You sure won’t want to miss some good tunes and good food at the boardwalk at The Circle in Atlantic Beach!

This year’s music lineup features some of the best bands in the business to make you shag the day away. Featured acts this year include:

  • The Embers
  • Jim Quick & The Coastline Band
  • Might Saints of Soul
  • Blackwater Rhythm & Blues Band
  • Steve Owens & The Summertime Band

It’s tough to find a better spot to kick back and listen to some good music!

Bring some friends, and a volleyball for a little friendly competition in the sand!

More Than Just Tunes

Music isn’t the only great thing coming to Atlantic Beach that day! There will be several local food trucks, and Anheuser-Busch products will be sold to patrons over the age of 21, with alcohol sales benefiting the Atlantic Beach Volunteer Fire Department. Food Vendors include:

  • Sub Tropics: Hand Crafted Subs & Pizza
  • Roland’s Barbecue: Pulled Pork BBQ & Sides
  • Captain’s Kitchen: Fresh Seafood
  • Pop-Elato: Artisan Ice & Gelato Pops

Hitch a Ride

To reduce the congestion of traffic, this year’s festival will feature a Shuttle Service!

Locations for the Shuttle are the Doubletree in Atlantic Beach, The Crow’s Nest Shopping Center in Atlantic Beach, and the Carteret Community College in Morehead City. Shuttles will be running from 9:30 AM- 6:30 PM.

If you plan to ride in one of the shuttles please be mindful of the bus rules. Cooler limited to 32 quarts or smaller and may be inspected by the driver, please no glass. Large carry-on knapsacks or bags will be inspected by drivers. Limit of one folding chair per person. No open containers of any type of beverage will be allowed on the shuttle. Lastly, the drivers reserve the right to refuse to transport anyone who refuses or fails to follow the rules.

Don’t drink & drive- You can always catch an Uber, Lyft, or call a cab to get you home safely.

If you’re lucky enough to live or be staying somewhere close by, pack light & walk or ride a bike!

There’s no need to limit your fun to just one day! The town of Atlantic Beach and various local businesses will have entertainment all week long, just be sure to pace yourself so you can still enjoy all of the bands on Saturday.

Make A Week Out Of It

Check out the complete list of Beach Music-filled events leading up to the day of the festival! This event keeps getting bigger and bigger, thanks to the support of the many dedicated people inspired to carry on the good vibes this genre of music brings with it.

Atlantic Beach Causeway Corrider Master Plan

Atlantic Beach, NC Causeway Potential Changes Coming

Atlantic Beach, NC Causeway – The Town of Atlantic Beach is working  to improve the Causeway. The Town of Atlantic Beach is working with Alta Planning & Design to create the Causeway Corridor Master Plan. The plan is to provide guidance for improvements to the Atlantic Beach Causeway. The Town of Atlantic Beach seeks to make better use of the wide 200ft right-of-way along the Atlantic Beach Causeway. Other goals the town of Atlantic Beach has are to:

  • Maintain or increase the number of parking spaces for Atlantic Beach Causeway businesses
  • Eliminate unnecessary curb cuts
  • Improve bike/pedestrian/golf cart flow along the Atlantic Beach Causeway
  • Update the appearance and improve the landscaping
  • Increase visibility for Causeway businesses through way finding or other means

Atlantic Beach, NC Causeway Public Input meeting on

Friday, April 5, 2019 from 4:00- 6:00 PM

in the Boardroom behind Town Hall at 125 W Fort Macon Road

The public is invited to attend and participate.

For those with questions and comments that will not be able to attend or need greater depth of information, please email Michelle Eitner at, call at (252)726-4456, or visit Town Hall during business hours.

Improvements Coming to Public Accesses

Atlantic Beach

When sweet summertime rolls around, some beach-goers in Atlantic Beach will have a easy access to get their happy place. Thanks to a grant from the N.C Division of Coastal Management- the heavily used Public Beach Access, located just East of the Doubletree by Hilton. This is great news for owners of the Townhomes and Duplex Units at Seaside Villas, as the new community is located directly across the street.

The $47,852 from the Grant will be used to cover half of the cost of the project, while the remainder will be split between the Town of AB and the Doubletree to cover the additional costs. The bidding process will begin in February, with work beginning shortly thereafter. The project is estimated to see completion prior to the ‘Unofficial’ kickoff to summer- also known as Memorial Day Weekend, which is May 25-26.

The initial plans for the project are to make the walkway compliant with the American Disabilities Act. The materials used will be Trex Board, rather than traditional wood- which is less likely to splinter, requires less maintenance and lasts longer- ultimately reducing the long-term cost of upkeep.

Cape Carteret

A Soundside Access in the Western end of Carteret County is also going to benefit from the State’s Coastal Grant program. The Town of Cape Carteret will receive over $114,000 in Grant Funding in order to purchase a nearly 1.5 Acre piece of property that will ultimately provide access to the popular fishing spots of Pettiford Creek. Plans to provide a kayak launch and wildlife viewing area to the public are in the works for the same area- assuming that the Town Council is awarded another State Grant at the tune of over $67,000.

Agents Giving Back to the Community

This Holiday season, Bluewater agents, employees, and owners were able to come together and help families in need along Carteret County. We all understand how fortunate we are to be able to live, work and play in this beautiful community- but also how important it is to help those that are less fortunate. We agreed that families suffering from the effects of Hurricane Florence were a high-priority to assist, and that a monetary contribution could make things a little easier for a lot of families as Thanksgiving and Christmas come and go.

Food Pantries at area high schools were brought up as a great resource for young adults to discreetly take home food and help contribute to family meals. There’s no charge, or sign-up fee for the usage of these pantries, and the school’s Exceptional Children programs go to purchase and stock these food banks when the funds arise. As a team, we came together in about one week and raised over $1200. The contribution was matched by the gracious owners of Bluewater and we were able to donate $1,000 to both East & West Carteret High Schools, with an additional $211 going to the Marine Science & Technology Early College in Morehead City.

Pat Copeland, Broker in Charge of Bluewater Real Estate Atlantic Beach presented a check for $1000 to West Carteret High School’s Food Pantry this Holiday Season.

Bluewater Real Estate agent, Allison Bernauer present a $1000 check to the East Carteret High School Food Pantry program.

Thanksgiving on the Coast

Looking for something to do on Thanksgiving? Check out our Calendar Events Page to find the many happenings on the Crystal Coast!

Looking for some Fall or Thanksgiving inspiration? Be sure to check out our Pinterest Boards filled with great ideas! Click the images below to view the full Pinterest board.

4th of July: 2018

All on July 4th

Bogue Inlet Pier @ 9:00 PM (Emerald Isle)

Morehead City Waterfront @ 9:00 PM (Morehead City)

Captain Stacy Fireworks Cruise @ 7:00 PM (Atlantic Beach)

Beaufort Gallants Channel @ 9:00 PM (Beaufort)

Jaycee Park

@ 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

July 6

Morehead City Waterfront

Performance by Night Years

Beaufort Waterfront

June 29 @ 11:00 AM

at Gordon & Front Street

Wagons | Kids | Pets | Music | Flags

Free Ice Cream at the County Courthouse

Western Regional Access Emerald Isle

@ 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

June 28 Wild Honey (Blues Country)

July 5 Justin Castellano (Eclectic)

Bring a chair or blanket!

Atlantic Beach

@ 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM, 2:30 PM, & 3:30 PM

July 4

Civil War Cannon Firing

Big Rock Stadium

@ 7:05 PM

July 3 vs. Wilmington Sharks

July 5 vs. Holly Springs Salamanders

Olde Town Square Pavilion

@ 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Summer Sundays

in Downtown Swansboro