Beginner’s Guide to the Crystal Coast

Below is a quick guide to the wonder of the Crystal Coast, covering all aspects of this exciting vacation destination.

emerald isle fishing pier

Historic Downtown Beaufort

Beaufort is a historic village like few others located right off Bogue Banks just a 10-minute drive away. It is famous for its laid-back atmosphere and whimsical charm. Visitors come and enjoy the area for the natural views, the rustic aesthetics of the shops and boutiques, and some inspired old-school activities, such as camping, shelling, and more.

Established in 1709, the town is still vibrant with the energy lifestyle of this bygone era of living. It’s a world that you can step into anytime on the cobbled streets and old-town eateries of Beaufort.

As enticing as these attractions may seem, they are only a few of the many exciting opportunities available to you on the Crystal Coast.

Watersport and Outdoor Activities

For many visitors, it’s all about the watersport activities – and the Crystal Coast delivers. You can experience it all on the ocean or on land, from coastal biking, hiking, kayaking, boating, parasailing, fishing, wildlife viewing, and more.

There are many kayak and paddleboard rental providers throughout Bogue Banks who offer equipment and lessons for self-guided or guided tours for those looking to take an ambitious journey to new and undiscovered areas on the water. Check out AB WaterSport Adventures (252)-422-0520 for more on kayak or paddleboard rates.

Jet ski and boat tours of the nearby waters and Cape Lookout are exciting and the ideal way to see the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean. AB WaterSpot Adventures is the only provider in the area offering these exciting tours.

Atlantic Beach is home to some of the most rewarding charter fishing experiences which can be enjoyed in any season. You can contact Pelagic Sport Fishing Charters at (252)-904-3361 for guided fishing excursions, which is highly recommended if you haven’t fished on the Crystal Coast previously. Another excellent option is Capt. Stacy Fishing Center at 1-800-533-9417 which features a variety of options from half day to full day adventures, shark fishing, and even overnight fishing adventures.

You certainly don’t need a boat if you prefer, as pier and surf fishing are equally popular throughout the Crystal Coast, with plenty of opportunities to choose from, including vacation rentals with private stretches of beach, public piers on Bogue Banks, and marshes.

where to eat in the nc crystal coast

Dining and Shopping

If you choose to book a vacation rental on Bogue Banks, you’ll have access to dozens of conveniently located shopping and dining destinations, often right outside your rental.

Every type of dining experience that you could want can be experienced here, including both casual and fine dining seafood eateries, bars and grills, BBQ spots, Mexican, Asian, and Italian restaurants and more.

Atlantic Beach in particular is home to several of the Crystal Coast’s most acclaimed restaurants including the Island Grille (401 Money Island Dr) and its upscale seafood options and trendy décor, Shark Shack, Atlantic Beach (100 S Durham Ave) with its delicious seafood sandwiches and burgers, and the 4 Corners Diner (100 E Fort Macon Rd) with breakfast, fried seafood dishes and traditional comfort foods.

Amos Mosquito’s Restaurant (703 E Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC) offers patio views overlooking the water and a freshly prepared mostly seafood menu. Or head over to Roma Pizza & Subs (100 S Charlotte Ave, Atlantic Beach, NC) for your favorite Italian fare.

This is just a small selection of the diverse range of restaurants available to you on the Crystal Coast; you’re sure to find an ideal eatery within a close proximity to your vacation rental.

Freeman's Bait and Tackle in Atlantic Beach, NC

In terms of shopping, there’s no end to the boutiques, stores, and outdoor equipment shops that you’ll find throughout Bogue Banks and on the rest of the Crystal Coast.

Stop by Wings (200 W. Fort Macon Rd. and 101W. Fort Macon Rd., Atlantic Beach, NC) for a variety of items including souvenirs, swimwear, beach equipment and accessories – everything you need for a day of fun in the sun.

The Atlantic Beach Seafood Market (415 Atlantic Beach Causeway, Atlantic Beach NC) offers some of the freshest fish and seafood on the Crystal Coast, to enjoy back at your vacation rental.

Freeman’s Bait and Tackle Shop (108 Atlantic Beach Causeway Atlantic Beach, NC) has everything you need for your self-guided fishing adventures including inshore and offshore tackle, fresh, frozen and live bait, rod and reel repair, and expert advice.

J. Chalk Designs (1010 W Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC) offers a variety of handcrafted unique jewelry, all made in house.

Head over to Grandma’s Toy Box (8700 Emerald Drive Emerald Isle, NC) in Emerald Isle, the only specialty toy store in the area with a family friendly atmosphere, dozens of different types of candy, games, toys, educational items and fun things for the kids.

Many more quaint shops and boutiques await, each offering something unique to take back home and always remind you of the time you spent on the Crystal Coast.

crystal coast vacation rentals beachfront