Whoever coined the term “antidote to civilization” must have visited the peaceful and tranquil shores of North Carolina. A warm sunny day, little traffic, a gourmet picnic lunch and a bottle of wine it just doesnt get any better. To help you plan your visit, we present you with information on where to stay, fine dining establishments and some ideas on what to do while you enjoy the coast of North Carolina.
There’s something about North Carolina’s legendary coast that attracts visitors from all over the globe. The commanding splendor of the ocean, sunny and temperate climate of the pristine beaches and the abundant marshes and wetlands are just some of the reasons that North Carolina beaches are one of the hottest attractions in the nation. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or a family vacation, NCBeaches.com helps you find the ideal spot for your next trip. With more than 300 miles of unspoiled coast, it’s easy to find the perfect beach for your getaway … whatever the occasion. Take a complete tour, beach-by-beach, of North Carolina’s peaceful shore.
The east coast boasts of the largest sand dunes in the United States, as well as more than 3,375 miles of shoreline (including the offshore barrier islands.) North Carolinians are also quite proud of the beaches as they provide not just a wealth peaceful beauty, but an abundance of history. The United States named Cape Hatteras, NC as the first national seashore in 1953; yet its discovery was well documented nearly four centuries earlier as Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano set out to find a westward passage to Asia and discovered the unspoiled land. North Carolina was also home to the first English settlement in North America. Roanoke Island, an island situated between the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, first welcomed explorers in 1585. The second group came to the area in 1587 and from their mysterious disappearance the tale of the Lost Colony was born.
The shores of North Carolina became a huge commerce area for fishing, yet the maritime heritage stands apart from other coasts because of the many shipwrecks rather than the monetary gains. Graveyard of the Atlantic, as it is called, has been responsible for over 600 shipwrecks since the 16th century. The wrecks were due largely to the unique shape of the beaches, especially around the Outer Banks. The area is home to Diamond Shoals, where two great ocean currents meet: the cold Labrador and the warm Northbound Gulf Stream. As the currents meet, the difference in temperatures creates constantly-shifting sandbars that have aided in the numerous wrecks. Historian and author David Stick poetically describes the angular coast. In his book Graveyard of the Atlantic: Shipwrecks of the North Carolina Coast , Stick writes, “You can stand on Cape Point at Hatteras on a stormy day and watch two oceans come together in an awesome display of savage fury; for there at the Point the northbound Gulf Stream and the cold currents coming down from the Arctic run head-on into each other, tossing their spumy spray a hundred feet or better into the air and dropping sand and shells and sea life at the point of impact. Thus is formed the dreaded Diamond Shoals, its fang-like shifting sand bars pushing seaward to snare the unwary mariner. Seafaring men call it the Graveyard of the Atlantic.”
It is because of these wrecks that North Carolina constructed 10 lighthouses along the coast, seven of which stand today as reminders of the rich coastal culture. Perhaps the most famous of the lighthouses is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, completed in 1870. Two additions to add height were made 50 years later making it America’s tallest lighthouse at 208 feet high. Construction took roughly 1.25 million bricks and cost $155,000.00 in the eighteen hundreds. Today more than 175,000 visitors flock to climb the 257 steps to the top. Recently the lighthouse made quite a stir in the media as the enormous structure was moved nearly 3,000 feet in the summer of 1999 to ensure its preservation from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean.
From the Southern shores of Holden Beach and Wilmington to the narrow stretch of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks, visitors can choose the destination based on the different activities offered or atmosphere of the beach itself. Historians relish in the many museums, national seashores and legends surrounding the coast. Environmentalists enjoy the wildlife refuges, bird watching and nature trails scattered down the beaches. Adventurers enjoy the windsurfing, scuba diving, hang gliding and many more activities. The Southern beaches, such as Wilmington, Oak Island and Holden Beach, are well known for their plethora of nationally acclaimed golf courses. Known as “North Carolina’s Golf Coast,” the area between Wilmington and Calabash boasts of more than 35 champion golf courses. Famous golf pros such as Palmer, Couples and Dye designed some of the best courses in the area. Whether you’re looking to rent or own a fully equipped villa or beach front cottage, the southern beaches accommodate all styles.
The northern beaches of North Carolina, from Emerald Isle to the Outer Banks, offer many different sporting activities. Because of the great winds, kites are a favorite way to enjoy the beach and are found decorating many of the shops in the area. Families flock to the beach with brightly decorated kites to enjoy hours of fun. Kiteboarding, a sport unique to the Outer Banks and growing in popularity, has become one of the biggest activities of the area. Kitty Hawk Kites, a store that offers everything from toys to tours, has every kind of kite possible. Whether it’s single line kites for kids on the beach or Stunt kites that for those who want to perform tricks and advanced maneuvers, you will find everything you need to enjoy the Outer Banks wind.
One of the more popular activities with a long history, fishing brings in many travelers from around the nation. North Carolina beaches provide the perfect spot for fishing as the nearby The Gulf Stream warms the Atlantic. The collision of the warm The Gulf Stream and the cold Labrador currents create a hotspot for all types of fish, and fishermen catch anything from Wahoo to Sailfish, depending on the season. From deep sea fishing to pier and surf fishing, North Carolina beaches have everything you need.
Yet the beaches of North Carolina are more than just a vacation spot; they are a year-round beach community where people work and play. Come visit our spectacular sites and sandy beaches all along North Carolina’s shores. The NCBeaches.com comprehensive database of anything from restaurant coupons and menus to vacation rentals will help you plan your ideal trip to anywhere on the North Carolina coast.
North Carolina Beaches: Come as Guests. Leave as Family!