Hatchling Rules

By Karen Sota

Although our turtle mamas are still technically “on the clock” with the official nesting season continuing through this month it’s their babies that have taken over the spotlight. We’re hoping that our nest count keeps climbing to that hundred mark, but for now hatchlings rule. With the patter of thousands of tiny flippers on Topsail it’s time for a quick review of some of the FAQ’s from our island visitors.

When will a nest hatch?
 By far it’s the question we’re asked the most, and no matter how many times we get it our answer is still the same: we don’t know. We’re not being maliciously obtuse, it’s the truth. We don’t know when these turtle babies will be “born” any better than you know exactly the date and time of your granddaughter’s birth. They come out whenever they’re ready.

How long do the eggs stay in the sand
? The average incubation period is sixty days, but that’s only an average. Air and sand temperature can affect the actual incubation period with hotter sand sometimes speeding up the process. And we’ve had a ridiculously hot summer, so a lot of our nests look like they might go a bit earlier. As we move into the cooler fall temperatures (we hope they’re cooler, anyway) their time in the sand will probably be closer to the average.

Is there any way to guess when a nest is ready?
 Sort of. Obviously the first thing to look at is when the nest was laid and when those sixty days might be getting close. But it’s not like mom leaves a calendar with the date circled with her clutch. Like people, you have early risers. And once they break out of their shell, using a special adaptation referred to as their “egg tooth” (technical name caruncle) they start jostling their neighbors out of their slumber. Pretty soon everybody is up and kicking. All of that activity underneath causes the sand on the surface to begin to sink.

If it looks like a nest may hatch what else can I look for? 
Turtle Project volunteers will create a ramp, a smoothed area with sand “guardrails” that will hopefully guide the little critters safely in the direction of the surf. Hatchlings are so tiny that even a small footprint in the sand can trap them or delay their trip. And since they’ve been living in the dark for months any bright light can disorient them, sending them quickly off-course. They head toward the brightest object around which ideally is the moon and its reflection on the water and waves. A sure sign that a nest is close, at least according to our decades of experience, is the sight of our “nest sitters” huddled around a nest from dusk until the wee hours of the morning – hoping.

What happens during a hatch?
 It’s a group effort, a real family affair, at least for the turtles. They work together to battle through the broken shells and the constant flipper-in-the-face to make their way towards the surface. It’s dig and rest, dig and rest. As they near the top the group comes to a stop and waits just below the surface. Millions of years of existence as a species have told them that predatory attack is less likely at night, so they’re waiting for the sun to set and the sand temperature at the surface to cool down. At that point they emerge in mass in what we call a “boil.” If all goes well they locate the horizon and make a mad dash for the surf.

Why are the Turtle Project volunteers there? 
From the 1970’s Karen Beasley and her mother (our hospital Director, Jean) recognized the increasing stressors of coastal development and the natural affinity we all have for the sea and the impact on sea turtles. Our volunteers are there to minimize any adverse effects we humans may have on this critical step in the continuation of the species. These are federally protected and critically endangered animals, and when our “nest sitters” are on-the-job they are the final word on protocol. They are there for crowd control and for education and there are specific rules to follow if you are fortunate enough to see a nest hatch.

  • Sit quietly, away from the nest and ramp area. It may or may not boil, and if it does it may be hours before you see the first flipper. If you become impatient please step away.
  • Do not use flash photography or use your phone as a “flashlight.” Do not use any flashlight unless you have a special red filter. Ideally you should turn your phone off and pay attention to the miracle you’re about to see.
  • Keep children and yourself away from the nesting area. Do not wander near or in front of the ramp. Do not bring your pets with you.
  • Do not chase after or touch the hatchlings. Our volunteers are on-hand to redirect any hatchlings who stray off course.
  • You may ask any questions of our volunteers but please do so respectfully. They operate under federal regulations and what they say goes. This is not a venue for a political or philosophical debate.

I missed the hatch – am I out of luck? Not necessarily. If you’re going to be around for a while you can come to the nest analysis which is done during daylight hours, three days after the hatch. Volunteers will carefully excavate the nest and document their findings. And the “findings” will often include a few late risers who didn’t hear the alarm go off. Data collected will include the total number of eggs (including unhatched,) the number of live hatches and any other things of note. If you missed the boil this is the next best thing and worth your time. Our volunteers are a bit more relaxed you can still ask them any questions you may have.

What do I do if I find a hatchling on the beach? Carefully pick it up and put it in a small container with only a small amount of water – barely cover the flippers. With this extreme heat it’s important that the little critter not bake in the sun for hours. Then call our Director of Beach Operations, Terry Meyer at: 910-470-2880. If she is not available you may call the hospital during operating hours: 910-329-0222. We will take the information and one of our area coordinators will meet you to retrieve the hatchling and refer it to us for follow-up.

Anything else?
 Some obvious things: turn off any bright outdoor lights that would send hatchlings in the wrong direction; pick up all beach paraphernalia (chairs, toys, towels) and take it with you when you leave and fill in any holes you dig. Please do not call the hospital to ask about any specific nest – we don’t have the data in front of us and are unable to answer that question. Even with all the coverage by our Topsail Turtle Project volunteers it’s possible to miss nesting or hatching signs for a variety of reasons. That’s why we ask you to be our extra eyes and to report any turtle activity to our Director of Beach Operations, Terry Meyer at: 910-470-2880. And we continue to admit many turtles with various injuries or illnesses. Please be on the lookout for any turtle in distress, injured (or dead) and call Terry, Hospital Director, Jean Beasley at: 910-470-2800 or the State of NC hotline for stranded, sick and injured turtles at: 252-241-7367. The state number picks up 24/7. Remember that interfering or harassing federally protected sea turtles in any way makes you subject to steep fines and possible imprisonment

Hospital still on Covid shutdown

When will be open to the public? With the continuing uptick in Covid activity and the extension of phased reopening for the state it’s looking even more questionable. We’re not any happier than you are but we will not open if we feel that it cannot be done legally, or that it jeopardizes the health and safety of our staff or visitors. If our volunteers start dropping there is nobody to take care of the over fifty patients we still have in house. It’s been stressful for Jean and our Board who are diligent in managing our resources to ensure that we can continue our high level of turtle care without our main source of income from tours and gift shop sales. We have limited gift shop options available for locals and visitors. You can window shop at the hospital where we have our most popular items on display and then order by phone  910-329-0222 Monday through Thursday from 9 AM to Noon. Ask for Peggy, your “personal shopper,” and arrange a pick-up time. Our on-line ordering is now up and running. Please visit our Facebook page or website for details.

Take a break from the sun on your Topsail Island Vacation

Need a break from the sun on your Topsail Island Vacation?


Things to do when you need a break from the sun while on your Topsail Island

Vacation, here are our suggestions on what to do.


Shop! We have many wonderful shops and boutiques to explore. Visit many of our local shops to find those perfect souvenirs and that one of a kind gift.

Dine at our locally owned restaurants. Visit with the locals. We love it!

Go directly to Topsail Island Trading Company to purchase Topsail-Opoly, a new take on an old favorite. This game board features all things Topsail! While there be sure to pick up some of their wonderful fudge!

Discover Your Favorite Ice Cream & Frozen Treats located on the island! Pender County and the Topsail Island area has many great places to satisfy your sweet tooth and those hot days with many ice cream & frozen treats to choose from with all kinds, flavors, and toppings! Check out some of our favorite ice cream shops.

Ice cream & putt-putt at Patio Playground!  It’s Topsail’s Best Ice Cream Shop!

Visit Poplar Grove Plantation, the farmers’ market kicks off their season on the front lawn of the beautiful, Historic Poplar Grove on Wednesdays each week, open from 8 am -1pm. The Farmers’ Market at Poplar Grove provides an opportunity for local growers and producers to sell their goods directly to consumers. The plantation has history of peanut farming, Civil War, and Gullah Geechee Heritage.

Drive to Burgaw and see where shows like Revolution, Under the Dome, and countless movies were filmed. Shop & dine while letting the locals tell you about filming!

Experience Moores Creek National Battlefield, both the History Trail and Tar Heel Trails offer great views of park resources, and a glimpse into the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge. Park visitors can pick up their Passport stamp and park brochure, as well as brochures for other historic sites around the area.

To learn more about the Topsail Island Vacation, or to book your visit, click here. To plan your vacation to Pender County, North Carolina, or one of our other coastal destinations, click here.

Tryon Palace’s Outlander Weekend

outlander weekend Tryon palace

Are you a fan of the Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon? If so, you won’t want to miss Tryon Palace’s upcoming Outlander Weekend, happening November 9th-12th in historic downtown New Bern.


In the words of Celtic Force, “Imagine having special access to the Palace where Claire was held by Governor Martin in Colonial America. Visit the kitchen and stables, tour the interior of the Palace, wander the herb and flower gardens on the grounds, have dinner and wine on the South Lawn of this Historic Palace as the sound of bagpipes fill the night air. You will think you have traveled back in time. And that’s just a small portion of what we have planned.”


But wait, there’s more! After arriving at the host hotel, Doubletree by Hilton (don’t forget to grab one of their famous cookies) along the historic New Bern waterfront, you’ll enjoy a riverfront reception with your fellow Outlander fans.


Your first full day in New Bern will include a trip to the famed Tryon Palace where you’ll enjoy a special Outlander tour, an exciting live video chat with different Outlander personalities, and finally, a pig pickin’ dinner on the veranda.


Saturday is all about food and music, just the way it was in Outlander and just the way it still is in historic New Bern, North Carolina. For this Outlander-themed weekend, topics such as cooking, herbs, kilts, clothing and more will be highlighted. Then, it’s back to Tryon Palace for an evening complete with a dinner, taken straight from the Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Cookbook, and wine pairing. But it doesn’t stop there. This unique experience will culminate with live music, costumed characters and a finale you won’t soon forget.


While the weekend is Outlander-centric, you’ll have plenty of time to tour the picturesque town of New Bern, the second-oldest European-American colonial town in North Carolina (briefly the state capital), along with the birthplace of Pepsi Cola. Take time to dine at one of their quaint eateries, cool off with a cold soda at the Pepsi Cola store, or wander the waterfront. Don’t forget to take off on a Bear Tracks Hunt and take your photo with one of the many decorated, fiberglass bears erected in 2010 in honor of New Bern’s 300th anniversary.


To learn more about the Outlander Weekend, or to book your visit, click here. To plan your vacation to New Bern, North Carolina, or one of our other coastal destinations, click here.

Why You Shouldn’t Miss these NC Seafood Festivals!


It’s festival season and while many associate that with Oktoberfest celebrations and an abundance of bratwurst, in coastal North Carolina we kickoff fall with a different kind of delectable treat: seafood. While seafood is always in abundance here, it’s celebrated extensively throughout the month of October. Up and down the coast, people come together to feast on fresh seafood and show the rest of the country who has the finest fishing around.


Kicking off seafood festival season on October 6-8, 2017 is the always-anticipated and award-winning North Carolina Seafood Festival in Morehead City. This free family-friendly event is in its 31st year and, unlike seafood, it gets better with age! Festival-goers can expect cooking demonstrations (and tasty samples) from NC’s best chefs as they compete for the coveted Chefs Hat, carnival rides, live entertainment, the Flounder Fling, and so much more! This year is also the inaugural Port of Pours beer tasting event featuring unlimited samples of over 15 craft breweries. To learn more about his event, click here.

Next up is the 63rd Annual Mullet Festival in Swansboro, NC on October 14th and 15th. Oh, you thought it was the hairstyle! Mullet is actually a fish that can be enjoyed fried, broiled, grilled, smoked, stewed and more! Never had it? The Mullet Festival is the perfect place to try it! Head to quaint downtown Swansboro for this free family-friendly event that includes a parade, street carnival, arts & crafts, games, music and more. Click here to learn more!

The Outer Banks, known worldwide for their offshore fishing, is home to the Outer Banks Seafood Festival, taking place in Nags Head on October 21st. Learn about the area’s rich fishing history and its community while enjoying fresh seafood and live music. Think you know good seafood? Cast your vote for the People’s Choice, “Best Local Dish” and see if your favorite restaurant wins! General Admission tickets are $5 and can be purchased here. 

This next seafood festival shines a spotlight on a food people tend to either love (we’re in this category) or hate: oysters! The NC Oyster Festival, taking place since 1980, happens in Ocean Isle Beach on October 21st and 22nd and is sure to be a shucking good time! From shag to country to R&B, festival-goers can dance the days away when they aren’t slurping down oysters or competing in one of the many oyster-themed competitions. Whether you like them raw, steams, broiled, on a cracker, in a soup or straight out of the shell, you won’t want to miss this event! To learn more, click here.


To learn more about North Carolina’s seafood traditions and fishing industry, and how it’s celebrated each year at festivals throughout the state, explore our website. Want to attend one of these events, plan your stay here.  

Fishing in the Fall on the North Carolina Coast

fall fishing

There’s no denying that the NC Coast is chockfull of outdoor activities, beautiful beaches and ideal spots to escape the city and take advantage of nature and all the benefits it has on the soul. As the summer chaos subsides, it’s time to step away from lounging at the beach and take advantage of one of the most popular fall activities in North Carolina – fishing! Here’s a look at the many ways everyone, from novice to experienced, can reel one in this fall:


Charter Fishing

Charter Fishing in North Carolina is an opportunity to experience some of the finest saltwater fishing the world has to offer. This heart-pumping, adrenaline-racing experience can be enjoyed by everyone in the family. Or, if you’re looking for a guy’s getaway, this is the ideal excursion. Inshore, NC is home to redfish, speckled trout, and flounder. Other frequent catches of the Carolina coast are trophy-sized marlin, sailfish, mahi mahi, mackerel, yellowfin tuna and giant bluefish tuna. Morehead City, aptly-named “A fisherman’s paradise,” is home to a number of charter boats ready to give you a memorable outing along with the world-renowned boats located in the Outer Banks. Book your trip today and you’ll have plenty of fish for the holidays.

Pier Fishing                                                                                                          

One of the most appealing aspects of pier fishing is that it can be enjoyed on a whim, almost anywhere. If you have a rod, some bait, and general knowledge of how to cast a line, you’re good to go. The NC Coast is home to a number of piers located along the Northern, Central and Southern Coasts, which means you can enjoy this family-friendly activity anywhere from the Outer Banks to Atlantic Beach on down to Kure Beach. Tackle or bait shops are found at the base of most piers, or are located close by for convenience. Fishing from piers also offers the ideal view of our famous North Carolina sunsets.  

Surf Fishing

Especially popular in the Outer Banks, but a pastime that can be enjoyed all along the NC coast, is surf fishing. Fall is the optimal time as the ocean and air are cooler, making the days more enjoyable. Some of the best spots on the Outer Banks to cast your line in the surf are Cape Point, Oregon Inlet, and Hatteras Inlet. This type of fishing allows fishermen to enjoy the ocean, relax on the sand and reap the benefits of that saltwater air.

Kayak Fishing

Home to barrier islands, the Intracoastal Waterway, and literally hundreds of creeks, rivers, and inlets, the coastal waters of North Carolina are an ideal kayak fishing destination. Kayaks allow fishermen to maneuver in shallow waters, where larger boats cannot go, often catching reds, flounder, and trout up and down the coast. Not to mention, kayakers will witness some of nature’s most secluded and picturesque land.


Whether you prefer a day offshore or the comfort of your own kayak, there is a fishing adventure to be had for you on the NC Coast this fall. Explore more of what the NC Coast has to offer and start planning your excursion today! Start planning your coastal North Carolina fishing vacation today. But first, be sure to secure that fishing license! Tight lights! 

Ride Into Benson for the 2017 Mule Days Festival

benson mule days

Benson, North Carolina celebrates Benson Mule Days beginning on September 21st through September 24th, an annual event that takes place on the fourth Saturday of September. The festival, which kicks off on a Thursday night in the Benson singing grove, averages crowds of 40-50,000 with attendees traveling from as far as Alaska, California, and Germany. Come enjoy fun for the entire family!

The weekend festival is considered one of the largest festivals in North Carolina, featuring multiple events, including: rodeos, arts and crafts, vendors, street dances, carnival rides, camping parades, and blue grass shows. The festival also features a parade that includes hundreds of horses, mules, and buggies. The parade on average draws nearly 20,000 people alone! One week before the festivities kick-off Reedy Creek, a nearby golf course, holds a local golf tournament. The amateur-only tournament features a four-man superball with prizes before concluding with a cookout. How could this annual event get any better? Well, this year the festival will feature some exciting new events! There will be a Mule Day Dance after the rodeo at the Chamber Park on Friday and Saturday nights. The rodeo will feature a Family Day on Sunday by discounting prices for all the families who wish to attend. Sunday will also be Mule Day Art on Main, featuring sidewalk chalk art and music from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The area also has nearby camping sites for a full weekend experience with the family. Pets are allowed in the area so long as they are kept on a leash by their owner!

This memorable festival is also rich with history. In fact, Benson Mule Days was inducted into the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. in May 2000 after a submission by Congressman Bob Etheridge who served as a parade judge at the 50th celebration. The festival information, which was prepared by the chamber, will be on display on their website and at the Library of Congress.

Learn more about Benson Mule Days and start planning your visit to this highly-anticipated event.  But don’t let the fun stop there. Click here to read about the many other fall festivals and events happening on the NC Coast.


Must See North Carolina Lighthouses

lighthouses in North Carolina

National Lighthouse Day was on August 7th! In the spirit of the “holiday,” we want to enlighten you on the must-see lighthouses on our North Carolina coast. If you’re looking for an exciting and educational adventure to round out the summer, you won’t want to miss any of these picturesque North Carolina lighthouses.

On the Northern Coast, we have multiple lighthouses such as the Ocracoke lighthouse, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, and the Currituck Beach lighthouse. The Ocracoke lighthouse, originally located on Shell Castle Island, was constructed in 1794 and completed in 1798. The lighthouse was placed there to assist mariners through the Ocracoke Inlet, it was a great help for twenty years, until multiple lightning strikes destroyed the lighthouse in 1818. A new Ocracoke lighthouse was built and finished in 1823 at the south end of Ocracoke Island, it still stands today along with a keeper’s house. The Ocracoke lighthouse is the second oldest operating lighthouse in the nation and, while it’s no longer open for climbing, the site can be visited daily.

On the Central Coast you’ll find Cape Lookout lighthouse. Located on Harker’s Island, the original Cape Lookout lighthouse was completed in 1812 at the cost of $20,678.54. The model was a wood-framed octagonal tower with a brick stairwell. After multiple complaints from seafarers that a taller and more stable lighthouse was needed, a new lighthouse was constructed in 1859. In July 2010, the lighthouse was opened to the public for regular climbs. The island can be reached by boat, or local ferry service, from Morehead City or Beaufort. Come take part in the horse watching, shelling, fishing, and camping!

The Southern Coast features the Oak Island lighthouse! This lighthouse, the last to be built in North Carolina, was completed in 1958. The light is located a whopping 169 feet above the water! Unlike most other lighthouses, the Oak Island lighthouse doesn’t have a spiral staircase, instead it features a series of ship ladders totaling 131 steps. Tours to the top of the lighthouse are available year around by appointment for anyone age nine and older. These tours must be booked two weeks in advance, so make sure you plan ahead!

From a historical perspective, these lighthouses have played integral roles in leading ships and their crew members home night after night. Whether you want to climb to the top or simply look up and soak in the beauty, you won’t want to miss out on a visit to one of the magnificent lighthouses that sprinkle the North Carolina coast. Start mapping your voyage to the coast today. 

Sylvan Heights Bird Park: A Wild Adventure

Have you ever wanted to experience South America, North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia without leaving the beautiful North Carolina coast? Look no further than Sylvan Heights Bird Park. Located on the Northern Coast in Scotland Neck, NC, Sylvan Heights is unlike any zoo, aquarium, or animal-centric park you have ever experienced. With over 2,000 waterfowl, parrots, toucans, flamingos, and other exotic birds from around the world, it is anything but “for the birds.” Open to the public, Sylvan Heights is an experience you and your family won’t soon forget.


About the Park

Originally from England, Mike and Ali Lubbock moved to the United States in 1981, with an extensive knowledge of waterfowl in tow. After continuing to cultivate their expertise with the species, establishing a breeding center and working closely with the North Carolina Zoological Society, Sylvan Heights Bird Park opened in 2006. Their mission is now to advance conservation of both waterfowl and wetlands as they also serve as an international center for agricultural training and research.


Educational Visits

One goal of Sylvan Heights is to “act as a local education resource for avian biology and wetlands ecology.” From field trips to summer camps, children are regularly visiting the park and expanding their knowledge about birds, endangered species, conservation efforts and much more! After receiving a grant, Sylvan Heights has worked to develop and host a STEM program for rising 9th graders called Soaring Into Science. Field Trips to Sylvan Heights will provide students an opportunity to observe the largest collection of waterfowl from all around the world. Other programs designed to enrich education include K-12 programs, overnight programs, summer camps, and more.


Plan Your Visit

If you are ready to observe and learn about wildlife from all over the world, Sylvan Heights Bird Park is open Tuesday through Sunday year round. Open to the public, the park offers guided walking and golf cart tours, in addition to planned educational visits, events, and more. For specific daily hours and more information regarding your visit or to purchase admission tickets, click here.


The Top 5 Must-Do Activities at Hammocks Beach State Park

hammocks beach state park

Considering an island getaway filled with wildlife and privacy? Hammocks Beach State Park, or Bear Island, is a three-mile-long sanctuary for relaxation and serenity that can fulfill your summer desire right here in North Carolina. Hop on a ferry, equipped with your favorite picnic basket, and indulge in some needed leisure time with miles of unpopulated beach.


Five “Must-Do’s” of the state park you can’t miss out on:

  1. Camping
  2. Kayaking and Paddle Boarding
  3. Fishing
  4. Bird Watching
  5. Historic Swansboro Shops and Dining

Pitching a tent in one of Hammocks Beach’s backpack camping campsites allows for adventure and the ignition of primitive instinct. Once you’ve set up camp, kayaking and paddle boarding in the deserted waters are merely steps away with the beachfront view of your site.

Don’t forget your fishing pole. Hammocks Beach is ideal for fishing whether it’s off your kayak or paddleboard, surf fishing along the water’s edge, fishing is just steps from your tent. As the sun sets on your relaxing day, pull out those binoculars and watch the variety of birds, ranging from herons to egrets, as you wait for a dinner reservation in one of Swansboro’s best restaurants. The historic atmosphere, and waterfront dining experience will provide lasting memories but don’t stop there – be sure to bring home a momento from one of the area’s local boutiques. Hammocks Beach State Park offers countless outdoor activities so you can plan your trip from sun up to sun down.

For more information on Hammocks Beach State Park, click here or call (910) 326-4881 for NC Parks.



Fall Vacations on the North Carolina Coast

fall vacations

Does the idea of an uncrowded beach sound divine?  What about cooler nights and stars that light up the sky? If you’re more of a quiet avoid-crowds-at-any-expense kind of traveler, a trip to the North Carolina coast is just a few clicks away! Don’t worry, while the crowds may fade away the action is just picking up. With numerous events going on, specifically on the Central Coast, you and your family are sure to have an incredible time! After all, fall is the ideal time to relax at the beach, take advantage of the warmer water temperature and the cooler nights that allow you to miss the extreme heat of the summer. Looking to explore inland? We’ve got some great suggestions for things to do during your next NC coast getaway:

No matter where you choose to lay or head, be it the Northern Coast down to the Southern Coast, it’s bound to be a memorable vacation. However, the fall kicks off a slew of exciting events on the Central Coast that you won’t want to miss. First, plan a visit to the historic waterfront town of New Bern and enjoy a tour of Tryon Palace, North Carolina’s first state capital. Next, make the short twenty-minute trip to Morehead City where you’ll enjoy fresh local seafood brought in by one of the many charter fishing boats that line the waterfront.

Now, don’t even think about leaving the Crystal Coast, North Carolina’s gem, without a visit to historic Beaufort, named America’s Coolest Small Town by Travel + Leisure and listed among “The South’s Best Small Towns 2017” by Southern Living. Better yet? Reseve a room, or a rental home, and stay awhile! If you’re craving peaceful walks along the waterfront, mixed in with some excitement, plan your stay during one of the area’s local events including the second annual Beaufort Brewin’ Craft Beer Festival, taking place On September 29th and 30th  and the 2nd Annual Beaufort Wine and Food Runnin’ on Empty – Road Race on September 30th.

Did we mention the NC Coast is home to seafood that’s better than anywhere else? Well, if you love seafood as much as the locals, you won’t want to miss the always-anticipated North Carolina Seafood Festival, in its 31st  year, on October 6th through the 8th. This annual event offers locals and visitors alike an opportunity to wander the waterfront, dine on fresh Got to be NC seafood right out of our local waters, scream for joy on carnival rides, shop for unique items from local vendors and end the night with a powdered sugar-coated funnel cake!

Whether you’re looking for a serene escape after the crowds depart, a weekend filled with excitement, or maybe a bit of both, you won’t want to miss fall on the North Carolina coast. Clear your calendar and start planning your getaway today!.

Experience Something New in North Carolina

The North Carolina coast is a hidden gem filled with adventure and unforgettable experiences! Come feel the excitement, feast on the region’s culinary delights, and relax in accommodations that range from large hotels to quaint rentals by the beach. Whatever type of getaway you’re looking for, we have it here on the North Carolina coast. Not sure what area to stay in? Here’s a look at our beloved coastline broken down into three regions: The Northern Coast, Central Coast, and Southern Coast.

 The Northern Coast offers adventure and some of the state’s most popular historical monuments, including the Wright Brothers National Memorial, home of the first successful airplane flight. In fact, this region is home to the world’s oldest and largest hang gliding school and the largest kite store on the east coast, Kitty Hawk Kites, located in Nags Head. Interested in more Outer Banks history, nature and recreation? Head over to Roanoke Island Festival Park, a 25-acre interactive historic site representing the first English settlement attempt in 1585. Don’t miss out on the area’s delectable seafood selection. Whether you want to fish offshore or just relax at an outdoor patio and dine on fresh seafood from local waters, you won’t want to miss the NC seafood experience. Want more adventure? If you are looking for the best surfing North Carolina has to offer look no further than Kitty Hawk, or travel a bit further south and head to Cape Hatteras, an outdoor adventure enthusiast’s playground. Click here to start planning your trip to the Northern Coast.

If you are looking for a romantic and historical escape, look no further than the Central Coast. Tour Tryon Palace, North Carolina’s first permanent state capitol. This unique and picturesque place offers visitors the chance to experience the adventure of North Carolina’s earliest beginnings. Guided tours, live re-enactments and conversations with costumed interpreters from centuries past bring history to life in vivid detail at the Governor’s Palace, Gardens and Historic Homes. If you’re a military history buff, you won’t want to miss the Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Onslow County, home to thousands of America’s fiercest fighters: United States Marines. From quaint waterfront restaurants and hotels in Swansboro and New Bern to small town experiences in an area rich with tradition and pride, the Central Coast offers something for everyone.

Last but certainly not least is the Southern Coast. Take a family trip to Wilmington to tour the Battleship North Carolina and build your own personal experience by steering the ship, starting the engines, or firing the guns. Enjoy a relaxing beach weekend with the family at Topsail beach! If you’re a wine lover, this region is home to the muscadine grape and wine, a varietal we’re known for in North Carolina. Once again, the NC Coast is known for seafood and good ol’ Southern cooking – especially barbecue. From fried shrimp to a pulled pork sandwich, a North Carolina staple, this region has it all! Whether you’re looking for relaxation that includes kayaking or paddle boarding the waterways or a more bustling beach experience, the Southern Coast offers something for everyone.

Click here to begin planning your stay on the NC Coast. Better yet, plan a long weekend spent traveling the coastline soaking up the unique attributes and offerings of each of our beloved coastal regions.

Celebrate July Fourth NC Style – North Carolina Coast Host

July Fourth

July Fourth is reason enough to celebrate, although a weekend on the NC Coast will make it even better. Whether you’ve already planned your getaway or are just considering it at this point, we’ve got a number of exciting events and festivities taking place up and down the entire coast for everyone to enjoy. Here’s a look at our Top 3 events that will have you dancing, enjoying delicious food and watching spectacular fireworks displays while celebrating America’s birthday:

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Soak Up the Sun this Summer in North Carolina

hammocks beach state park

While a visit to the North Carolina coast typically consists of long, sunny days spent on the beach, there is so much more to see and do – especially in the spring months when temperatures are still mild and enjoyable. We have rounded up 3 non-beach activities up and down the coast for you to check out this season.
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Celebrate North Carolina’s Rich Military History

Calling all history buffs! From the much-anticipated Wings Over Wayne event to a fort, which was once a project worked on by Robert E. Lee, the NC Coast is home to many military memorials that you don’t want to miss.

Wings Over Wayne

The “most exciting air show in North Carolina” is just weeks away! Wings Over Wayne is held in odd-numbered years and the event serves as a way for the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base to thank local and regional communities for their support to the base’s mission. The mission of SJAFB is to “deliver dominant Strike Eagle Airpower…Anytime, Anyplace.”

This May 20th and 21st, the legendary US Navy Blue Angels venture to Goldsboro to put on a show you won’t forget. SJAFB graciously opens its doors for two days for FREE, daylong air and ground demonstrations. This family-friendly event will also feature performers, entertainment, vendors, food, and drinks.

Battleship North Carolina

The Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington welcomes visitors to walk her decks and step back in time. The crews’ vivid stories allow history to come to life by depicting daily life as well as the fierce combat that the original crew faced during World War II. Guests are even invited to steer the ship, start her engines, and fire her guns during this unique experience.

Fort Macon State Park

Nestled along the edge of Atlantic Beach is North Carolina’s most visited state park – which just happens to include a 19th Century Civil War fort.  The fort was once a project of Robert E. Lee, a famous young army engineer. Guided tours feature cannon and musket demonstrations.

Lejeune Memorial Gardens

Onslow County, home to some of the world’s fiercest fighters, United States Marines, is an area rich in history and patriotism. Take a leisurely stroll through the beautiful Lejeune Memorial Gardens which includes the Beirut Memorial, Onslow Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, Montford Point Marine Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial which includes a beam from the Twin Towers, presented to the first troops who invaded Iraq from the police and firefighters of New York. If you’re in town on September 11th, be sure to attend the moving Patriot Day Observance Ceremony honoring those who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and those who continue to fight the war on terror.

For details regarding the schedule of events for Wings Over Wayne, tickets, as well as accommodation information, visit  If you are interested in any of the other military memorials home to the North Carolina Coast, visit

A Lesson in North Carolina Wine

Close your eyes and think of North Carolina. Now open them. You probably weren’t thinking of wine, were you? Well, though you might not think about wine when you think of North Carolina, did you know that North Carolina is actually home to over 100 wineries? There are also two main focuses here in our state: Europena-Style Vinifera grapes, which are prominent in the Western and Piedmont areas, while native muscadine grapes are what populates the coastal region. 

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Spring is in the Air in Eastern North Carolina

Spring is in the air in Eastern North Carolina – spring festivals that is. In addition to ideal weather, the eastern part of the state serves as a host to must-attend festivals each spring that you won’t want to miss. Whether you’re planning your next vacation for April or May, you’re sure to find a calendar of events chock-full with fun festivals for the whole family.

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How a NC Coast Host Membership Will Help Your Business

With a mission “to increase economic growth by promoting travel and tourism along North Carolina’s three hundred mile coastline,” NC Coast Host has established itself as the premier tourism marketing association in eastern North Carolina. Membership to our non-profit group allows tourism professionals to interact, network, and collaborate with one another to share the history, culture, and beauty of the North Carolina coast with visitors and residents. Some of the benefits members receive are: 

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3 Reasons You Should Book Your Summer Vacation on the North Carolina Coast Early

While a spontaneous weekend trip in the middle of the summer can be fun for the family, planning your vacation well in advance has many notable advantages. As North Carolina’s Coast is a popular vacation destination, if you’re hoping to visit anywhere from Elizabeth City to Wilmington this summer you may want to consider booking your trip a little earlier this year. This is also important if you’re considering booking one of the incredible rental properties on the Northern, Central and Southern coast. Here’s a look at why, if you’re thinking of visiting the NC coast, you should plan ahead:

crystal coast photo gallery

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3 Interesting Places You Must Visit on the North Carolina Coast

When you visit the coast of North Carolina, it is very easy to stay on the beach, relaxing in the sun and enjoying all the activities the coast has to offer. However, there are a number of exciting non-beach outings to be enjoyed in coastal North Carolina and here’s a look at three memorable choices. That’s right, beyond our amazing shores, we have some interesting destinations that you’ll want to add to your must-see list for your next vacation.

Camden County Dismal Swamp

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