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​​​​​​​​​​Once a remote region with waters home to both pioneers and pirates, Coastal North Carolina is now famous for sunny stretches of sandy beaches, world-class fishing, charming 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.

Southport - For more than 200 years, the historic community of ​Southport has guarded the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Today, it continues to be the light keeper of its history. Enjoy charming downtown shops and eateries, explore the fascinating story of a nearby town wiped off the map by the British, or spend some time on the laid-back beaches and beautiful golf courses of the Brunswick Islands.

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 nearby​ Wilmington (aka “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 Pamlico 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 dig for their own fossils in two spoil piles from the mine. Aurora also serves as a gateway to several coastal communities in Beaufort and Pamlico counties.

Bay​view​ - Bayview is a residential community on the north shore of the Pamlico River. It is just a few miles from historic Bath, North Carolina’s first town and port. Here, a state historic site details colonial life and stru​ggles with political rivalries, Indian wars, and piracy. Visitors can walk through some of the oldest buildings in the state. Belhaven​ is another nearby community. With waterfront views, Belhaven offers shopping, restaurants and recreational activities.

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 enjoy time in the ​oceanfront communities of Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Salter Path, Indian Beach and Emerald Isle.

Swan Quarter - A birder's​ 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, nightlife, 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 attempted to settle America or where man first took to the skies in a powered aircraft. Visitors can enjoy the family-friendly, laid-back atmosphere of ​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 in 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 farm. The island is also home to a handful of horse stables and a small but thriving artistic community.

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6/2/2023 4:52 PM