- The Crystal Coast in Carteret County NC is a frequently visited beach weekend getaway location for people living in Central NC and the Triad.
- Visitors to this coastal region of the southern Outer Banks can experience quiet and remote beaches and the best of seafood from late April until mid-October.
- Interstate 42 completion will make the driving time from Raleigh, NC to Carteret County only 2 hours and 15 minutes.
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The Crystal Coast of NC is a region on the southern Outer Banks in coastal Carteret County that begins near Emerald Isle and extends to Cedar Island. This beach area also includes Shackleford Banks where the famous wild banker ponies live, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Portsmouth Island NC.
The area is also a very popular destination for people living in the triad near Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Wilson, and Rocky Mount. Typically, visitors to the area choose this location because the atmosphere is much different compared to places like Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach where the beaches are very active and there is a lot of commercial interest.
The Crystal Coast is known for very clean and quiet beaches where you can walk for hours and only see a few people. Additionally, our sprawling sand dunes are still intact and have yet to yield to development.
Recommended Daytime Activities
- Visit Shackleford Banks to see the wild horses and spend the day on this island exploring the pristine and protected marine ecosystem.
- Visit Cape Lookout and climb the centuries old lighthouse that has guide explorers in the Atlantic Ocean for many decades.
- Visit the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.
- Explore the area we call “Down East” to learn more about the culture of commercial fishing going back hundreds of years.
- Explore downtown Morehead City and most certainly the waterfront in Beaufort NC. Both places offer incredible waterfront views, shopping, and the best of seafood restaurants.
- Drive the entire length of Bogue Banks from Atlantic Beach to Emerald Isle stopping at each CAMA area to grasp the entirety of our remote and nourished beaches.
- Take an air tour out of the Beaufort airport to experience the entire southern Outer Banks and Crystal Coast barrier islands.
- Visit Fort Macon State Park at the east end of Atlantic Beach.
- Learn more about wooden boat building and Maritime history at the Maritime Museum along the Beaufort waterfront.
- Plan an entire day out on the ocean charter fishing.
Recommended Nighttime Activities
- Walk the Beaufort NC waterfront and listen to live music coming from artist along the boardwalk and numerous pubs.
- Go dancing and listen to live music at Jacks Bar in downtown Morehead City NC.
- Enjoy any of our famous waterfront seafood restaurants.
- In Atlantic Beach, the Tipsy Turtle, Beach Tavern, and Tackle Box Tavern are great places to grab a drink.
- Catch a movie at the Cinema is Atlantic Beach.
- In Emerald Isle, the Emerald Club is a great place to dance and listen to live music.
- Head out to one of the local fishing piers in Atlantic Beach or Emerald Isle and fish while enjoying the peace and quiet and ocean breeze.
- Walking a moonlit beach late at night is incredibly romantic and relaxing.
If you are planning a weekend getaway to the Crystal Coast and trying to figure out a good time to come to Carteret County, then we recommend visiting during the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, NC Seafood Festival, Beaufort Pirate Invasion, or the Beaufort Music Festival.