Once a remote region with waters home to both pioneers and pirates, Coastal North Carolina is now a place famous for sunny stretches of sandy beaches, world-class fishing, charming coastal towns and remarkable scenic beauty.
The N.C. Ferry Division runs nearly two dozen boats on seven routes, connecting tourists from the mainland to these coastal destinations.
Fort Fisher - Fort Fisher is home to a historic Civil War site and a first-class aquarium. Explore Kure, Carolina and Wrightsville beaches, and try to spot some stars in Wilmington (a.k.a. “Hollywood East”), which has hosted hundreds of film and television productions such as “Revolution,” “Under the Dome” and “One Tree Hill.”
Cherry Branch - Home to the Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Branch and Havelock are military communities set in the beauty of the Croatan National Forest, a 160,000-acre park of pine forests and saltwater estuaries ideal for hiking, fishing, canoeing and camping. Cherry Branch is a short drive away from the historic towns of Beaufort and New Bern, North Carolina’s first colonial capital.
Minnesott Beach - Surrounded by the coastal beauty of the Neuse River and the sound, Minnesott Beach is quaint small town known as a golfing, sailing and retirement community with the ultimate laid-back lifestyle. Minnesott Beach is just a short drive away from Oriental, a fisherman’s paradise and self-proclaimed sailing capital of North Carolina.
Aurora - Located on the south side of the Pamlico River, Aurora is famous for the free Aurora Fossil Museum and its large collection of ancient fossils unearthed by the nearby phosphate mine. For a small fee, visitors can also dig for their own fossils in two spoils piles from the mine. Aurora also serves as a gateway to several coastal communities in Beaufort and Pamlico counties.
Bayview - Bayview is a residential community on the north shore of the Pamlico River that is just a few miles away from historic Bath, North Carolina’s first town and port. Here, a state historic site details colonial life and struggles with political rivalries, Indian wars and piracy. Visitors are also allowed to walk through some of the oldest buildings in the state.
Cedar Island - The gateway to North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, Cedar Island is the ideal place to access the undeveloped beaches of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, complete with wild horses and a stately lighthouse. Visitors can also, enjoy time on the visitor-friendly oceanfront communities of Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Salter Path, Indian Beach and Emerald Isle.
Swan Quarter - A birder and sportsman’s paradise. Swan Quarter is just a few minutes from Lake Mattamuskeet, a spectacular wildlife refuge where thousands of swans, herons, geese, ducks, and other winged creatures spend the winter months. It’s also an ideal place for stunning nature photography.
Ocracoke - This little island packs a lot to do in a small space. An idyllic seaside village, 16 miles of pristine ocean beaches, fascinating historic sites, charming shops and restaurants, night life, fishing charters, watersports, a stately white lighthouse, and even an offshore ghost town make Ocracoke a “must-see” destination on any trip to the Outer Banks.
Hatteras - Hatteras Village is the gateway to everything the Outer Banks has to offer, whether it’s beautiful pristine beaches, watersports on the sound, fantastic fishing, wild horses or visiting sites where the English first tried to settle America or where man first took to the skies. Visitors can enjoy the family-friendly, laid-back atmosphere of life on this one-of-a-kind coastal jewel.
Currituck - Visitors can enjoy a wide variety of golfing opportunities and some farm-to-table goodness in this rural community in North Carolina’s northeastern corner. Currituck is home to the popular monster truck Gravedigger, the Weeping Radish farm, restaurant and brewery, and the Cotton Gin. It’s also a short drive from Elizabeth City and the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
Knotts Island - Tucked away into the middle of Currituck Sound, this remote island is a perfect day trip during a stay on the northern coast. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful serenity of the Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge, go wine-tasting in a local vineyard or pick their own produce at a local farm. The island is also home to a handful of horse stables and a small but thriving artistic community.
Need more information about the beautiful North Carolina coast? Visit visitnc.com/coast.