This article is going to focus on all Coastal NC cities, towns, and beach communities from Brunswick County, to Wilmington and Carolina Beach, up through Topsail Island, the Crystal Coast regions near Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach, and Cape Lookout, and finally the remote regions of the Outer Banks to the north and Virginia border.
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Located in the southernmost part of the Tarheel State starting at the NC and SC border. The cities and towns in this region include Bird Island, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Caswell Beach, and Bald Head Island.
Brunswick County is known for it’s rich heritage and culture, quiet and quaint southern towns, and unspoiled sandy beaches which is a stark contrast to Myrtle Beach to the South and New Hanover County to the North.
If you are a visitor to the area who loves family type vacations in a quiet and non-commercialized atmosphere then this region is for you. The area is also known for great fishing at night from waters edge.
New Hanover County
Located in the central region of Coastal NC, and largely known as the most densely populated area in Eastern NC, New Hanover County is where you will find most of your commercialized and exciting communities and towns. This is a very fast growing and progressive region in the state due in part to Interstate 40 which runs to Raleigh.
This area starts with Kure Beach which borders Brunswick County, heads North towards Carolina Beach, Sea Breeze, Myrtle Grove, Wrightsville Beach, Figure Eight Island, and Wilmington (largest of the cities in Coastal NC).
Pender County / Onslow County
Also located in the central region of Eastern NC is the Pender and Onslow counties towns of Topsail Island, Surf City, North Topsail Island, Sneads Ferry, and ending at Hammocks Beach State Park to the North which borders Carteret County NC.
In Pender County and Onslow County, Topsail Island is a 26 mile barrier island that is a popular tourist attraction in the Spring and Summer months. The area is largely non-commercialized and quiet offering a great family vacation spot. This local area is also a popular destination for the military service members and their families from Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base.
Carteret County (The Crystal Coast)
Part of the southern Outer Banks and Central NC, The Crystal Coast is a diverse blend of remote barrier islands, waterways, and quaint southern towns with a culture and heritage centered around commercial fishing and boating.
The cities that make up this area are Emerald Isle, Salter Path, Indian Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Atlantic Beach, Beaufort, Harkers Island, and Morehead City.
Additionally, the National Parks Service maintains Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout National Seashore on the South Core Banks. Carteret County NC extends out to Cedar Island and Portsmouth Island (North Core Banks) which are very remote islands, many of which are only accessible by boat.
The Crystal Coast is mainly known for it 40 barrier island with many herds of wild horses living on them.
Dare County / Hyde County
This region of Coastal NC includes parts of the Pamlico Sound, Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras, Buxton, Avon, Rodanthe, Nags Head, Roanoke Island, Kill Devil Hills, and Kitty Hawk. These area makes up the northern Outer Banks regions and are very remote.
This area of the coastal region of the state either requires a ferry ride or extensive driving. The area is also known for world-class fishing, diving, and wildlife and nature scenery. Commercial fishing is also a big part of the culture and heritage.
Additionally, people from all over the world come to these remote islands to see the many historical lighthouses that dot the southern and northern Outer Banks.
This region of the coast borders Virginia and is largely made up of the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge and Knotts Island.
What area of Eastern NC islands and beach communities are you most familiar with when vacationing the area?
What strikes you most about the NC towns and cities of the coastal region compared to other tourism area in other states?
What national parks and wildlife refuge have you visited?
Which areas of the coast have you traveled to go inshore fishing or offshore fishing?
What were your experiences on the NC ferry system when traveling the Outer Banks or the Crystal Coast?
Use the comment form below to engage us in feedback or discussions about communities in Coastal NC.