Crystal Coast NC

The Crystal Coast NC is an 85-mile stretch of beaches also known as the Southern Outer Banks. The beaches and towns here offer a unique blend of history, family fun, water sports and natural areas. One of the biggest attractions for Crystal Coast visitors is the beaches, and you will soon discover that there’s a lot of shoreline to go around. Enjoy the local beaches of the Southern Outer Banks. We have everything you need here to plan and customize your vacation. For all of the best North Carolina beaches, head here.

Crystal Coast NC Weather – When to Visit

The summer is the most popular time to visit the Crystal Coast NC. The weather is hot (average temperatures in the high 80’s), the shops are all open, and there is plenty of fun, with the Crystal Coast Music Festival and Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival. You’ll be able to visit the beach and enjoy plenty of water sports during the summer, from kayaking to paddle boarding.

The fall is the off-season for the Crystal Coast, so you’ll enjoy a little more privacy and quiet during your vacation. During the early months, the weather is still warm (ranging from 60 to 80 degrees), so you’ll enjoy plenty of beach time.

Best Crystal Coast NC Beach Communities

Emerald Isle Beaches, Crystal Coast NC, best Emerald Isle beaches, best Crystal Coast beaches, best Crystal Coast restaurants, best Crystal Coast NC hotels, best Crystal Coast NC nightlife, things to do in the Crystal Coast NC
Emerald Isle Beaches

Emerald Isle is a 12-mile stretch of island on the western portion of the Bogue Banks. Emerald Isle is home to amazing beaches and an abundance of activities. Play outdoors with activities ranging from kayaking and paddle boarding to fishing and scuba diving. Go fishing at Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier or take in an unforgettable sunset.


Atlantic Beach, Crystal Coast NC, best Emerald Isle beaches, best Crystal Coast beaches, best Crystal Coast restaurants, best Crystal Coast NC hotels, best Crystal Coast NC nightlife, things to do in the Crystal Coast NC
Atlantic Beach

Atlantic Beach is known for its sparkling waters and wide sandy beaches, in addition to its Boardwalk. But it’s also an area filled with history and culture. Atlantic Beach is home to Fort Macon State Park, a historic Civil War fort, one of the most visited state parks in North Carolina.



Indian Beach, Crystal Coast NC, best Emerald Isle beaches, best Crystal Coast beaches, best Crystal Coast restaurants, best Crystal Coast NC hotels, best Crystal Coast NC nightlife, things to do in the Crystal Coast NC
Indian Beach

Indian Beach is a small, upscale town that sits in the middle of the island of Bogue Banks near the end of the Crystal Coast. Taking up a total area of 2-square miles, the town was officially established in 1973. You’ll find lush coastal forests and beautiful emerald green waters.



Beaufort, Crystal Coast NC, best Emerald Isle beaches, best Crystal Coast beaches, best Crystal Coast restaurants, best Crystal Coast NC hotels, best Crystal Coast NC nightlife, things to do in the Crystal Coast NC

Beaufort offers visitors fantastic waterfront views and plenty of fun outdoor activities such as kayaking, fishing, standup paddle boarding and boating. For nature lovers, you’ll find trails and boardwalks, wild horses, more than 200 species of birds, bottle nose dolphins and sea turtles.



Pine Knoll Shores, Crystal Coast NC, best Emerald Isle beaches, best Crystal Coast beaches, best Crystal Coast restaurants, best Crystal Coast NC hotels, best Crystal Coast NC nightlife, things to do in the Crystal Coast NC
Pine Knoll Shores

Pine Knoll Shores offers miles of pristine beaches. Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium is one of the best things to do in the Crystal Coast, NC. Located in Pine Knoll Shores, this attraction combines education and entertainment with their unique tours and fantastic exhibits.



Cape Lookout National Seashore, Crystal Coast NC, best Emerald Isle beaches, best Crystal Coast beaches, best Crystal Coast restaurants, best Crystal Coast NC hotels, best Crystal Coast NC nightlife, things to do in the Crystal Coast NC
Cape Lookout National Seashore

This beautiful preserve is a 56-mile stretch of undeveloped beach and includes some of the best tours and attractions in the area. The preserve can be a little tricky to access, as it can only be visited by ferry, kayak, or boat. The highlight of the park is the Cape Lookout Lighthouse built in 1859.


Best Crystal Coast NC Activities

Shackleford Wild Horse & Shelling Safari

A rare experience with nature you’ll never forget! Track the Wild Horses of Shackleford Banks with your experienced guide and collect North Carolina’s best shells! Telephone: 252-838-1167 Web: Shackleford Wild Horse & Shelling Safari

AB Watersport Adventures

AB Watersports is the premier water sports provider in Atlantic Beach, NC serving the visitors of the Crystal Coast; they carry late model Yamaha Jet Skis, Pontoon Boats, Kayaks, and Paddle Boards. Telephone: 252-422-0520 Web: AB Watersport Adventures

Miss Crystal Coast Cruises

Enjoy their newest cruising vessel, the Miss Crystal Coast, the largest, most comfortable, and fastest tour boat in Beaufort. The Miss Crystal Coast was specially designed to provide 360-degree views for an improved sightseeing experience as you look for local dolphins, horses, marine life, shore birds, and more. Telephone: 252-728-8687 Web: Miss Crystal Coast Cruises

North Carolina Aquarium

There is an abundance of aquatic life to see with animals ranging from rare sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, river otters and many more. The aquarium offers free daily programs, behind-the-scenes tours, kayaking and other outdoor activities. Telephone: 252-247-4003 Web: North Carolina Aquarium

Fort Macon State Park

For history buffs, a stop at Fort Macon State Park is a must. Tour the Civil War fort museum or watch the Civil War reenactment held often on the grounds. With over 1.5 miles of ocean beach, Fort Macon offers swimming, hiking, fishing and so much more! Telephone: 252-726-3775 Web: Fort Macon State Park

Best Crystal Coast NC Restaurants

City Kitchen $30 & Up

City Kitchen offers exceptional New American cuisine with indoor or outdoor seating. With unparalleled views from the waterfront verandas and outdoor decks, City Kitchen and Town Creek Marina boast one of Beaufort’s most beautiful spots for catching the sunset and watching the fishermen bring in the day’s catch. Telephone: 252-648-8141 Web: City Kitchen

Circa 81 $11 – 31

Circa 81 is a modern tapas-style restaurant and cocktail bar, and has become a local favorite for those looking for a change from typical “beach food.” Chef Luke Maguire creates modern American cuisine with Southern flair. He cooks with local and sustainable ingredients, uses only domestic seafood, and makes everything from scratch. Telephone: 252-648-8300 Web: Circa 81

Fish Hook Grill $11 – 30

Enjoy some of the freshest seafood around. The atmosphere is typical for a small, local island atmosphere. Well prices and good portion sizes. Telephone: 252-728-1792 Web: Fish Hook Grill

Aqua Restaurant $11 – 30

Fresh, local flavors take priority at Aqua, and diners are likely to find sun-ripened local tomatoes, fresh-caught grouper, regional cheeses and more among the menu choices. Aqua has a large but moderately priced wine selection, beer choices and a varied specialty martini list. Telephone: Web: Aqua Restaurant

34° North Restaurant $11 – 30

34° North Restaurant is committed to providing guests with the freshest seafood possible from the Crystal Coast. This ‘dock to dish’ dining experience guarantees their chefs will provide you with the best seafood from our local waters. Telephone: 252-838-7250 Web: 34° North Restaurant

Best Crystal Coast NC Nightlife

Arendell Room

This posh little bar that’s found just off of Arendell and South 8thStreets is a dream for cocktail fans, and features a fun collection of drinks that are expertly crafted and always go down smoothly. Telephone: 252-240-2753

Backstreet Pub

The bar is renowned among sailors who cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway, and who have filled the walls with nautical memorabilia from their journeys. As a result, the vibe is a fun mix of locals, vacationers, captains, and deep sea divers, who all swap tales of seafaring adventures over a round or two. Telephone: 252-728-7108 Web: Backstreet Pub


A cool little shop and tavern that features a wealth of local, regional, and worldly brews on tap. With an assortment of brews that are always changing, and a fun interior that makes it easy to relax and toast the day. Telephone: 252-631-5142 Web: BrÜtopia

Emerald Club Tropical Beach Bar

A cool Happy Hour hang-out or a night of fun can be had at the Emerald Club Tropical Beach Bar. An always entertaining world of ice cold drinks, good music, and plenty of good times. Telephone: 252-354-2929 Web: Emerald Club Tropical Beach Bar

Jack’s Waterfront Bar

Take a break from strolling through the cool waterfront streets of Downtown Morehead City, and settle in for an ice cold drink and a remarkable view with a visit to Jack’s Waterfront Bar. This bar is the only waterfront bar in town, and has live music, entertainment, and plenty of great views. Telephone: 252-515-8131 Telephone: Jack’s Waterfront Bar

Best Crystal Coast NC Hotels


  1. Sergej

    Hi @ Leahrae

    Great work as always, man. You cover very in-depth and informative articles to guide our next vacations. Great work!

    The Crystal Coast in North Carolina sounds like a fun place to be. My love for water sports including Kayaking and paddle boarding already skews my judgement for this destination. Since I love doing my things lowkey, the summer off-season treat sounds like a plan for me. The warm weather in the early months will definitely leave some quality beach time with a sense of privacy. My next trip is already planned!

    Thanks for sharing this.



    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are most welcome Sergej.  I agree.  I love to paddle board and kayak.  I live on the beach and water sports is my go to activity.  I don’t just like laying on a beach towel.  I am glad you enjoyed my Crystal Coast NC guide.

  2. Cynthia

    I love your articles about the Carolinas and you definitely make me want to go there!  It’s a destination that is fairly close to me:  less than 2 hours in flight or a 12-hour road trip.  I prefer the off-season when things are less crowded but everything is still open!  In my area, this would usually be when school starts.  Is this true of the Carolinas as well?

    And wild horses?  For real?  The price of $33.95 is very reasonable but it looks like I’ll have to get down there in early September while they’re still running tours!!!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, this is true of the Carolinas as well.  And yes that is a pretty reasonable price.   It is still beautiful in September, you would love the Crystal Coast!

  3. Nelson

    With the pandemic easing down, travel restrictions are being lifted and things are gradually going back to normal. I am very positive that before the end of the year, travelling would be back to normal. Going on vacay and trips would get back on the schedules and/or to-do lists. In this light, I am adding crystal coast to the list of places I would love to visit. Crystal coast, from all I have read and seen on this post, is a beautiful place to visit and your. Thanks for this post.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are welcome Nelson, thanks for visiting my Crystal Coast NC post.

  4. Lea

    A fascinating article. I liked that you just made a list of where to go what to do. I have never seen the ocean, and I would very much like to have had this experience since I was a child. I especially liked that you mentioned that you could do all kinds of activities besides lying on the beach. Because I’m not a big fan of it because I’m just getting bored lying on the beach, this place is definitely on my list that I want to visit.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, I too get bored just lying on the beach.  I like to do a lot of activities, especially water sports on vacation.  The Crystal Coast NC is the perfect place for that!

  5. LineCowley

    I was not familiar with the Crystal Coast beaches, so found this a very informative post. Beaufort sounds like the perfect destination for me to do nature trails and boardwalks, and also see bottle nose dolphins and sea turtles.

    Thank you for giving me so many ideas and inspiration to plan my next beach holiday. 

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Glad you enjoyed.  Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.

  6. Nedia

    Hi, Thanks for this great article, I am from Africa and I love traveling. from the way you explained Crystal Coast NC and how it looks I think it will be a destination that I will want to visit in the future. This will help me learn more about Americans and their culture. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome Nedia!  Thanks for stopping by!

  7. AL. S.

    This looks really nice. Once all the covid stuff worked out we are planning on taking a beach vacation somewhere. North Carolina looks really nice, and it is not somewhere that I usually associate with really nice beaches. I also appreciate that you mention some of the restaurants and other attractions in the area.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      It is really nice.  I live in Florida, and we have great beaches.  But then North and South Carolina also has great beaches!  Thanks for visiting my Crystal Coast NC guide.

  8. Bogadi

    Thank you for the enlightening article. It made everything within me to scream, I need a holiday . It has been a long and hectic year of lockdowns and heightened anxiety, That makes going out for a vacation a need not a luxury. You have provided a  lot of appealing attractions at crystal coat NC.I would not mind exploring them.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      There are a lot of great options in the entire area.  I know we are all needing this after all this COVID stuff.  Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.

  9. MIchel

    What a beautiful name for a beached area – Crystal Coast. It looks as beautiful as the name sounds unless the photographer just took this photo at the perfect moment.

    I am planning a trip to the US within the next few years, and after going to Disney Land in Florida, I plan on doing a road trip up and visiting all the sites that pique my interest. I think I should add Crystal Coast to the list. North Carolina is one state I would love to see, as I find the history of this area fascinating.

    However I never realized there were so many beautiful beaches in that area until I read this post.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You will need to take a few weeks to travel up the coast from Florida.  Florida itself has so so many beautiful beaches.  I’m a little biased since I live in the beautiful state 🙂  Thanks for visiting my Crystal Coast NC guide.

  10. Anastazja

    Your article is really time for me.  As things open up from COVID, it happens that in a fairly short while my wife will join me in retirement.  We are planning to take awhile to travel in our RV “back east.”  Quite a few of our friends have moved to North Carolina over the past few years.  We have been planning a visit so your article is going to be very useful.  Thanks for the info about area activities.  We are checking out RV parks along the coast, but you have given us a great head start on places to go with this article.  Thanks.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Oh you will have fun!  There are tons of RV sites, and to be in an RV on the beach with a campfire….that is so much fun 🙂  Thanks for visiting my Crystal Coast NC guide.

  11. Joseph Stasaitis

    Actually, I visited North Carolina not too long ago but I am not familiar with this area so thank you very much for bringing this to my attention for my next trip down there to relax and visit friends and relatives. An eighty-five (85) mile stretch of beach is quite impressive. Also, I love music festivals. It’s nice that there are so many beaches from which to choose and a variety of activities in which to engage. Thanks for outlining the bars and restaurants as well. This area will definitely be on my radar on my next trip to North Carolina.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Joseph.  The Crystal Coast NC is a great coastal area of North Carolina.  Thanks for visiting Beach Travel Destinations.


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