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
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 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 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 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
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
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
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
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