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

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!

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

Downtown Swansboro

Downtown Swansboro

We have lived in the Swansboro area for almost 3 years now and have yet to cruise the streets of downtown. I know, shame on us. So this weekend, we decided to cruise on through downtown Swansboro to see what was there. It did not disappoint.

We started off our epic journey climbing to the top of Bake Bottle Brew to check out the scenery, which you can see is AMAZING. Sadly, we did not partake in the brew because we were backpacking our new little nugget. Strictly a family adventure.

We have yet to eat at Yana’s, a very homey Elvis Presley-themed family eatery. Their crowds were out the door this weekend. But, we have been meaning to pop into the BORO cafe and try their tasty items. A friend of ours mentioned they had some of the best food in Swansboro. And they did not disappoint. My husband and I scooted Jett into the quaint establishment and somehow found the self-control to bypass the pastry counter.

Our waitress, Alice, was so excited to share with us that we came on a great day. On Saturdays and Sundays, the BORO serves brunch. These words to me are HEAVEN. Who doesn’t like breakfast in the afternoon? Apparently, my husband was not as excited as I, being that he ordered the flat-bread.

Seafood Crepes





Flat Bread






A Few Facts About Swansboro

Founded in 1783, the “Friendly City by the Sea” offers a quaint, historic downtown district overlooking the water, numerous opportunities for coastal recreation, and a progressive town government that works to balance high-quality community growth with conservation of the community’s natural and historic resources.

Swansboro boasts a beautiful small harbor adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway and is only three miles from coastal recreational facilities in the Croatan National Forest. Swansboro is also the home of Hammocks Beach State Park and its unspoiled beaches.

Swansboro’s unique village atmosphere offers the opportunity to enjoy the community’s heritage while shopping in an area alive with restaurants, boutiques, gift shops, nightlife, and family-friendly, waterside parks.

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.