"Southern Outer Banks Natural Beauty"
The Crystal Coast, with brilliant
beaches and beautiful clear waters, is certainly the perfect name for
this string of North Carolina barrier islands.
The Name Alone is Very Inviting!
It is 85 miles
of unspoiled beautiful coastline in the center of the North
Caroina coast and is also known as the Southern
The funny thing about this area is, just ask ten people what
makes up the Crystal Coast and you will probably get ten different
These boundaries are disputed quite often, but the fact of the matter
is, geographically the area comprises the Cape Lookout National
Seashore, Beaufort, Morehead City, Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, and
other coastal towns in
Onslow and Cateret counties.
you can see in the Crystal Coast map above, the Bogue Sound separates
from the mainland. The island
runs east to west, which gives a
display of absolutely amazing sunrises and sunsets on the
The unspoiled shoreline of the beautiful Atlantic Ocean
is on one side, with the Bogue Sound and Intracoastal Waterway on the
Bogue Banks, the central
point of the
Crystal Coast, is a 25 mile long
barrier island with Emerald Island on the west end, Atlantic Beach on
the east end, and Indian Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, and Salter Path in
the middle of the island. Not only does the Crystal Coast have
beautiful clear beaches, it also includes the great historic cities of
Beaufort and Morehead City!
island is located in Cateret Country
and is only accessible by one
of two bridges that cross the Bogue Sound at the eastern and western
Atlantic Beach is connected to the
mainland by a high-rise bridge from
Morehead City. Emerald Isle is connected to the mainland by the
Cameron Langston Bridge at Cape Cateret/Cedar Point on NC Highway
58. You won't find traffic congestion, so getting on and off of
the island is easy, even in the summer vacation months.
Even though the Crystal Coast is isolated, it is fairly easy to get
to. If you plan on traveling by air, the nearest airports are in
New Bern and Jacksonvile, North Carolina.
If you plan on driving,
you will take NC Highway 58, which stretches the length of the
island. The closest major city is Raleigh, North Carolina and is
about a three hour drive.
Driving Time from Area
- Raleigh, North
Carolina - 3 hour drive US-264 East and US-70 East
- Wilmington, North
Carolina - 2 hour drive US-17 South
- New Bern, North
Carolina - 1 hour drive US-70 North
- Charlotte, North
Carolina - 6 hour drive US-74 East
- Myrtle Beach, South
Carolina - 4 hour drive US-17 North
- Roanoke, Virginia
- 6 hour drive US-70 East
Crystal Coast Accommodations
The island offers a large selection of
hotels, motels, historic bed and
breakfast inns, private homes, and beach cottages. Many are
oceanfront and convienent to beaches, restaurants, and
You can even pitch a tent if you want to enjoy the
great outdoors! You will find affordable rates and great views at
the best vacation spots along the Crystal Coast! Check out great
vacation rentals here!
Wild Horses of Shackleford
Across the Bogue Inlet from Atlantic Beach is a 2,500 acre barrier
island, Shackleford Banks,
where you will see wild horses roaming
freely in their natural habitat.
The island is only accessible by
ferry or boat,
and the ferry services take passengers to view
How the horses got here is a
mystery, but most
believe they are decendants from horses that swam ashore from wrecked
ships of early explorers about 400 years ago.
There are around
110 horses that call Shackleford Banks home, and it is their very own
island with no human habitation.
The horses are closely observed on the
uninhabited island by the Park Service and the Foundation for
It is about a 15 minute ferry ride to
the island from Morehead City, Harkers Island, or Beaufort. If
you are looking for a rare opportunity and a memorable vacation moment,
don't miss your chance to see the famous Shackleford Wild Horses!
And, don't forget to take your camera!
Fort Macon State Park
Have you ever been inside
an old Civil War fort? Here's your
chance! Fort Macon State Park is the most visited state park in
North Carolina. The construction of Fort Macon
began in 1826 and was
built to guard the Beaufort inlet and Beaufort Harbor.
Carolina took control of the fort from the Union forces at the
beginning of the Civil War. The Union forces took control of the
fort once again after an attack in 1862. In the summer you can
see reenactments of the Civil War and
free guided tours several times a
You will find a wonderful museum with exhibits and a
bookstore. The park opens a 8 am and the fort opens at 9
am. It is located on the Crystal Coast near Atlantic Beach.
Enjoy swimming, surf fishing, nature trails, and concerts on Friday
evenings during the summer. There is no charge for admission or
Cape Lookout Lighthouse
Lookout can light your way to a great vacation adventure!
Because of the many shipwrecks off the coast of North Carolina
lighthouses were constructed to warn ships of the shifting sands in the
Located on Cape Lookout National
Seashore, Cape Lookout
Lighthouse, built in 1812, had numerous problems.
of a new lighthouse was approved by Congress to replace the original
one. The present Cape Lookout
Lighthouse was built in 1859,
stands 163 feet, and is painted in a black and white checkerboard
pattern. The beacon flashes 24 hours a day, every 15 seconds, day
You can tour the keeper's house and visit the
museum. Tickets are required to climb the 207 step lighthouse
from mid-May to mid-September on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Cape Lookout can only be reached by boat or ferry.
Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier
Want to get in a little fishing on
your vacation? Crystal Coast
fishermen can enjoy great fishing at the 1,000 foot lighted Bogue Inlet
It is located at the western end of
Emerald Isle. They offer a snack bar, bait and tackle,
cleaning station, and a great arcade next door! You can catch
tuna, red drum, sea trout, striped bass, sailfish, and wahoo. Outer Banks Fishing means there's
always something biting!
Crystal Coast also host one of the largest fishing tournaments every
year, the Big Rock Blue Marlin
Want to learn more about fishing? The North Carolina Aquarium at
Pine Knoll Shores offers workshops. A surf fishing workshop is
taught in October and "Hooked on
Fishing" workshop is taught in March
by experienced fishing guides.
Go ahead, come join us at the pier. The weather's wonderful, the view
is awesome, and the fishing is some of the best around!
North Carolina Aquarium
have the opportunity to explore the beautiful Crystal Coast
underwater and not even get wet!
Carolina Aquarium at
Pine Knoll Shores, five miles west of Atlantic Beach, offers
Shipwreck exhibit of a World War
II German submarine shipwrecked off
the coast of North Carolina in 1942.
You will see sand tiger
sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, gray moral eel, and other sea
animals. They also have a jellyfish gallery, a stingray touching
pool, and a river otter exhibit!
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