The Great Outdoors

Hiking, Paddling, Boating and Sunsets!

Photo by Brandon Broome

Photo by Brandon Broome

Local lore: "Our beaches actually face south, which means we get to enjoy the sunset and sunrise on the Atlantic Ocean!" – Dana W.

Kayaking and Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
Sugarloaf Island 
Sugarloaf is one of the most popular destinations for Morehead City kayakers. This small island, that’s just 43 acres in size and is roughly 1/10th of a mile away from the downtown docks, features a floating dock and soundside beaches for paddlers, an on-site nature trail, and a boardwalk. 

Shark Tooth Island
Fossilized shark teeth and whale bone are continuously exposed on this small island beach. Located just off Swansboro, this is a shorter paddle and is perfect for all ages and skill levels. Find enough sharks teeth? Paddle over and explore other nearby islands, and see what adventures await you.

Sand Dollar Island
There's a disappearing island off the Morehead City waterfront, where you can find buried treasure. Sand Dollar Island, which is really just a large sand bar most accessible at low tide, is home to a seemingly more concentrated population of sand dollars than almost anywhere else on the Carolina coast! Remember, only collect the white ones – leave the rest!


Fort Macon Trails
Whether it's the Elliot Coues Trail, the Fort Macon Beach Trail, or the Fort Macon Nature Trail, you're guaranteed a fun adventure with great views! Not to mention, this historic Civil War site is located right on ocean, which means you've got the whole Atlantic to cool off in after! 

Neusiok Trail
The Neusiok is one of many trails located inside the Croatan National Forest.
This is considered the "crown jewel” of the trails along the Crystal Coast. This trail is definitely for the ambitious hiker who wants to get a little taste of all the different ecosystems that the Crystal Coast has to offer. Spanning over 20 miles through beaches, forests, cypress swamps, long leaf pine savannas, and bogs, this trail is certainly an adventure! 

Alice Hoffman and Theodore Roosevelt Trails
Both of these great trails can be found at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.
These are both excellent trails that are fun for the whole family while allowing you to see some great and varied wildlife including egrets, crabs, raccoons, squirrels, herons, fish, otters, and more!

Emerald Isle Woods
This mile-long trail is located at Emerald Isle Woods Park, a 41-acre park that includes a floating dock, picnic pavilion, pier, and of course the trail! This is another ideal spot for bird watching and for a beautiful view of Bogue Sound. 


Cape Lookout
The islands of Cape Lookout National Seashore are reachable only by boat. The island offers excellent fishing opportunities in the fall and spring and is a popular fishing destination for many! For history buffs, the park is home to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, the Cape Lookout Village Historic District, and the Portsmouth Village Historic District.

Shackleford Banks
Arguably the most popular go-by-boat destination amongst Crystal Coasters, Shackleford (a.k.a. "Shack") is home to more than 100 wild horses. Enjoy the rare privilege of watching horses that live without the help of man. Appreciate the horses' tenacity, and watch their social behaviors. Respectfully stay far enough away to avoid disturbing the horses or endangering yourself, your children, or your pets. If you don't have your own boat, you can still take part in the fun by catching a ferry from downtown Beaufort! 

Bear Island
A North Carolina State Park since 1961, Bear Island is bordered on the southeast by the Atlantic and on the northwest by a vast salt marsh, tidal estuarine creeks, and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The notorious Blackbeard was among the many pirates who frequented the Bear Island area! This island can also be reached by passenger ferry from Hammocks Beach State Park. 

Where The Locals Watch The Sunset:
Atlantic Beach Pier
Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle
The Pointe (the western-most tip of Emerald Isle)
Downtown Morehead City waterfront
From a boat on the ICW
Moonraker's Rooftop Bar in Beaufort
Cape Lookout 
Torpedo Lounge Rooftop Bar in Emerald Isle
Any of our beautiful beaches!