The Crystal Coast: Explore North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks

crystal coast

That sunny weather, those cool ocean breezes. It’s hard to ignore the call of the beach during summer, especially for those living in the Carolinas. With so many beaches to choose from, it can be hard to decide which call to answer. Somewhere secluded, with just a few beach houses and ocean access? Or somewhere livelier, where one can always find a party or event just a block away? Fortunately, the Southern Outer Banks—known as the Crystal Coast—makes the decision easy. This 85-mile stretch of beaches has the best of it all, from quiet, relaxing coves to energetic beach town hangouts. The Crystal Coast calls to those who want to spend their summer experiencing everything the Outer Banks has to offer.

Let your worries drift away at the Crystal Coast

Beaches and beach towns have always been excellent destinations for destressing and reconnecting with the outdoors. Those along the Crystal Coast are no exception. Areas like Hatteras Island offer beachside yoga sessions to help visitors breathe easy and let the ocean melt away their stress.

Trying to be a little more hands-on with nature this summer? Check out the Crystal Coast’s many nature reserves instead. Visitors can go on scheduled excursions or self-guided tours in places like Fort Macon State Park, the Rachel Carson Reserve, and the Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge Trail. For a truly rare treat, visitors can even go to Shackleford Banks and see the area’s famous wild horses. This herd has been here for hundreds of years and is over 100 members strong. 

Discover new and exciting beachside activities

After exploring the natural beauty of the Crystal Coast, it’s only right that visitors take time to experience all the fun that can be found throughout each beach town. Those into water sports can find a destination for just about everything—from kayaking and boating to surfing and paddle boarding. The Cape Lookout National Seashore is known for creating excellent surfing waves. On the other hand, Bogue Sound is the perfect spot for beginner kiteboarders. 

crystal coast

When the sun goes down and the nightlife starts up, the Crystal Coast is ready. Breweries, beach bars, and taverns can be found nearly everywhere that the people can—including areas like Atlantic Beach, Beaufort, Morehead City and Emerald Isle. These towns are also great for walking around. Do a little shopping and maybe even pause for some live music. 

Visit the top dining destinations at the Crystal Coast

Nothing works up an appetite quite like a day at the beach. When the group is hungry and looking for a quick, satisfying bite in Emerald Isle, then The Shark’s Den Sports Bar & Grill is the place to go. Other fun, casual dining options include the Idle Hour Biergarten in Atlantic Beach and Ioanni’s Grill in Morehead City. Looking for someplace a little more upscale? Try one of the Crystal Coast’s renowned waterfront seafood restaurants, such as 34° North Restaurant or City Kitchen, both in Beaufort.

From beautiful wildlife and stunning beaches to enticing restaurants and lively bars, the Crystal Coast truly has everything needed to make a summer vacation special.