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!

60th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament

60th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament


Big Rock Landing got crazy on the last day of the tournament with a record 7 blue marlin brought in and weighed!

See the summary of the tournament below:

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

Until next year, Big Rockers!

The Point of Emerald Isle

erald Is

The Point in Emerald Isle

Our little hidden secret

The Point as we locals affectionately call it is the far western end of Emerald Isle. This is an expansive secluded location of sandy shoreline that is perfect for those who want to get away from it all. You are minutes away from the hub of action in Emerald Isle, like beach shops, the movie theater, beach front concerts and lots and lots of food.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

The Cape Lookout Lighthouse, also known as the “Diamond Lady” is located on the Cape Lookout National Seashore and is one of 8 towering ladies that sprinkle the coast of North Carolina, all with an important role – to guide you home. There aren’t many places where you can enjoy the beach, get a little bit of exercise and learn some coastal history all at once. With 188 steps to reach the top – you will not find a better view on the Crystal Coast than the one you will experience from the top of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse! If you are not vacationing with your boat, you can take a ferry over to the Diamond Lady. We personally love to be chauffeured to this amazing seashell haven by the local ferry, it is a wonderful ride that gets you there quickly! Don’t forget to be on the lookout for the Shackleford ponies on your boat ride over.

If you happen to fit the Cape Lookout Lighthouse in your vacation plans, here are a few things to know:

  • Bring a large bag to collect seashells and other sandy treasures you find
  • Make sure to bring a bag for trash, no trash is left on the island, so what you bring on must come off
  • Wear comfortable shoes, the climb up the tower is a short one, but you want to be well equipped
  • If you’d like to bring a pair of binoculars, you can literally see for miles from the top
  • Bring a lunch to enjoy on the eastern side of the island, the beach is spectacular

Climbing the Cape Lookout Lighthouse

spring break 2019

Destination Spring Break 2019

Are you ready for Spring Break 2019? The sun is shining, the weather is warming up and best of all, spring break is approaching! The Crystal Coast is the perfect destination for your week away from home where you can make unforgettable memories and spend your days on the beach soaking up plenty of Vitamin D. Vacation rental rates are still less expensive than summer and the beaches are still pretty empty. Shake your winter blues away while visiting and be sure to check out the cool happening on the coast this Spring.

Four events that you won’t want to miss in Spring 2019!

Four places that you will want to visit this Spring Break 2019!

St. Patrick’s Day Festival | 3.16.19 | 9AM-6PM | Emerald Plantation Shopping Center

The perfect Spring Break 2019 event! Proudly presented by Transportation Impact, this year’s festival will feature over 75 arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, amusement rides, face painters, and many other fun, family-oriented activities. No pets on festival grounds. The main tent is open to 21 years and up, no strollers allowed in the beer tent. Admission to the festival and parking is free.

Emerald Isle Marathon | 3.30.19 | 7AM

The 6th Annual Emerald Isle Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K is a great event that has attracted approximately 1,500 runners each year and has raised more than $200,000 for bicycle path improvements and health-related charities over the past 5 years. This year’s event will benefit the Emerald Isle bicycle path and SECU Family House, at UNC Hospitals, an organization that provides lodging and support services to patients receiving medical treatment far from their home communities.

Easter Eggstreme | 4.13.19 | 10AM | Emerald Isle Parks & Recreation

Join the EI Bunny for festivities including a bounce house, Easter Basket raffle, Cake Walk, Egg and spoon races, and more! Children should bring an Easter basket to collect prize. Photos with the EI Bunny! (Please note that no official egg hunt will take place but everyone will leave with Easter treats!) Everyone is invited!  No registration is required.

Beaufort Wine and Food Festival | 4.23-28.19 | Beaufort Wine and Food

Beaufort Wine and Food’s signature event will feature an exciting five days of tastings, seminars, dinners, live and silent auctions, and more. Talent from around the world descends on Beaufort to be paired up with some of the Crystal Coast’s best restaurants for an unforgettable experience – All in the name of charity! The festival combines the public’s appreciation for wine and food with its drive to support worthy local organizations and has positioned itself as one of the area’s premier tourism events. All attendees must be at least 21 years of age to attend any Beaufort Wine and Food events. Tickets are non-refundable as these events are for charity.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

Cape Lookout National Seashore preserves a 56-mile long section of the Southern Outer Banks, running from Ocracoke Inlet on the northeast to Beaufort Inlet on the southeast. Three undeveloped barrier islands make up the seashore – North and South Core Banks and Shackleford Banks. The seashore includes two historic villages on Core Banks, Shackleford’s wild horses, and the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, which has a black-and-white diamond pattern, is known as the Diamond Lady.

Ft. Macon State Park

Fort Macon State Park is a North Carolina state park in Carteret County, North Carolina, in the United States. Located on Bogue Banks near Atlantic Beach, the park opened in 1936. Fort Macon State Park is the second most visited state park in North Carolina, with an annual visitation of 1.3 million, despite being one of the smallest state parks in North Carolina with 424 acres. Fort Macon was built as part of the Third System of US fortifications.

North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

Enjoy 50 exhibits and more than 4,000 animals as the NC Aquarium takes you on an aquatic journey from the mountains to the sea. Watch river otters play, touch a stingray and talk to divers as they swim among giant sharks and other marine life. Animal feedings, animal encounters, and other activities are included with admission.

Bogue Inlet Pier

The Bogue Island Fishing Pier is a legendary landmark for long-time Emerald Isle vacationers. Built in the late 1950s, and operated by the same family for well over 40 years, the fishing pier is a paradise for anglers who want to take advantage of the fantastic fishing conditions that have lured in fishermen to this small coastal town for decades.

Atlantic Beach Skatepark

Atlantic Beach Skatepark Opens

After a year in the works, it is with great pride we share that the Atlantic Beach Skate Park is now open to the public. The construction company was hired in late December 2015 with plans to begin construction February 2016. As slated, construction began.

A Facebook page was set up early in the process to inform the public of the progress to the park. In the beginning stages, the developers even asked for public opinion on ideas for ramps in the park. Allowing the community to get involved with the project giving locals a say in what we wanted to see happen on our Beach.

Being a local, I heard so many times “I wish there was something for kids to do around here.” It’s a trade-off, we get to live on the beach year-round, while those of you in bigger cities have plenty to keep your kids occupied. Skateboarding has always been somewhat of a rebellious sport, with kids being run-off from shopping centers and pretty much anywhere with pavement for as long as I can remember.

But not anymore, the Town of Atlantic Beach and its Mayor, Trace Cooper, have fought to bring this incredible skatepark to the beach and give the beach kids somewhere public where they can be permitted to ride their skateboards without harassment. I’ve spent the last two afternoons at the park and I’m so excited to see this project completed. I just wish that it had happened 20 years ago!

But moving forward the park is free to the public so go check it out. There are certain hours set in place for BMX bikes so be sure to check those times if you are going to skate. Also, wear your gear. It’s for your safety and it’s a law.