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9 Gorgeous Beaches near Beaufort, NC (within 1 hour)

Beaufort is a much-loved vacation spot on North Carolina's Crystal Coast and for a good reason. The town offers access to a wide variety of beaches most of which are within an hour's drive.

Beaufort is a much-loved vacation spot on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast and for a good reason.

The town offers access to a wide variety of beaches most of which are within an hour’s drive.

Some options are classic Atlantic swimming hotspots bustling with activity, while others are secluded and undiscovered by tourists.

Adventurous souls can take a ferry to Cape Lookout Seashore and spend the night stargazing in primitive campsites.

Beaufort has options for all types of beach-goers, check out the selection!

1. Atlantic Beach

Atlantic Beach North Carolina
Source: unsplash
  • Distance from Beaufort: 7 miles
  •  Activities: Swimming, Surfing, Surfcasting, Beachcombing, Bodyboarding, Volleyball
  •  Amenities: Lifeguards, Volleyball Nets, Boardwalk, Eateries, Pier

Atlantic Beach, is a dynamic coastal playground, captivating visitors with a wide array of activities. 

Sun-drenched sands and cool Atlantic waters create the perfect arena for swimming, surfing, and fishing, accommodating all, from novice adventurers to seasoned enthusiasts. 

For those with a competitive spirit, well-maintained volleyball nets serve as an invitation to engage in a thrilling match under the radiant coastal sun.

The bustling boardwalk, acting as a bridge between the beach and town, opens up to a trove of local shops, resorts, and dining establishments.

Just a stone’s throw away lies the historic Fort Macon State Park, amplifying the allure of Atlantic Beach with its rich past and photogenic landscape. 

Atlantic Beach is an ultimate seaside destination that offers more than just sun and sand.

2. Indian Beach

Indian Beach in North Carolina
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Distance from Beaufort: 14 miles
  •  Activities: Swimming, Fishing, Beachcombing
  •  Amenities: Eateries, Concessions, Parking

Amidst the bustling tourist hotspots on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, lies the undiscovered haven of Indian Beach

Tucked between Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle, it delivers a tranquil and secluded beach experience like no other. 

Unlike its more populous neighbors, this hidden gem has largely remained off the radar of tourists.

Visitors can revel in an almost private beach experience, lounging on soft sand, amidst crystal-clear blue waters. 

However, Indian Beach’s exclusivity extends beyond solitude. 

It’s a favored nesting spot for sea turtles, offering the unique opportunity to observe these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat. 

But, while delighting in this spectacle, visitors are reminded to exercise care, not disturbing the barricades protecting turtle nests. 

All told, Indian Beach is an uncrowded sanctuary, offering an intimate connection with nature, yet to be discovered by the swarms of tourists.

3. Emerald Isle

Emerald Isle Beach in North Carolina
Source: unsplash
  • Distance from Beaufort: 22 miles
  •  Activities: Swimming, Surfing, Surfcasting, Beachcombing, Bodyboarding, Volleyball
  •  Amenities: Lifeguards, Volleyball Nets, Airbnb, Concessions, Pier

Emerald Isle, a peaceful counterpart to the bustling Atlantic Beach, serves as a serene coastal sanctuary and the crown jewel of the eastern seaboard. 

With nine distinct access points leading to its pristine sands, this part of the Crystal Coast offers a tranquil getaway for those seeking to escape the humdrum of daily life.

Boasting a wealth of activities such as swimming, surfing, fishing, and boating, Emerald Isle provides ample opportunities to immerse oneself in the alluring Atlantic waters. 

Notable amenities like lifeguards, picnic facilities, a boat launch, and volleyball courts further elevate the visitor’s experience.

Nearby, the Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier calls out to avid anglers, promising a productive day of fishing. 

The island also welcomes explorers to embark on a leisurely paddleboard or kayak journey along the sound. 

With several RV spots in close proximity, an extended stay in this charming beach town is an enticing option for many.

4. Fort Macon State Park

Fort Macon State Park Beach in North Carolina
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Distance from Beaufort: 9 miles
  •  Activities: Swimming, Surfing, Surfcasting, Beachcombing, Bodyboarding
  •  Amenities: Lifeguards, Historical Fort, Trails, Concessions

Fort Macon State Park, North Carolina’s most frequented, stands as a testament to the state’s rich history and vibrant coastal beauty. 

Positioned just 9 miles south of Beaufort, the park offers an abundance of recreational activities amidst a historically significant backdrop. 

It boasts an impeccably restored pre-Civil War fort, complete with daily guided tours and frequent demonstrations of cannon and musket usage.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, visitors are welcomed to a protected swimming area at the Beaufort Inlet, equipped with lifeguards and refreshment stands.

Ocean activities like swimming, fishing, and even surfing beckon those keen on aquatic adventures. 

The park also offers an idyllic setting for picnics, hiking, and biking, making it a premier destination for fun-filled family outings.

5. Radio Island Public Beach

Radio Island Beach North Carolina
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Distance from Beaufort: 3 miles
  •  Activities: Swimming, Fishing, Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Boating, Beachcombing
  •  Amenities: Restrooms, Boat Launch

Located just 3 miles from Beaufort, Radio Island Public Beach is a local treasure that invites visitors seeking a tranquil coastal retreat. 

The calm, sheltered waters of Bulkhead Channel make it a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. 

Kayaking and paddleboarding reign supreme here, with the tranquil cove offering an ideal environment for both novices and seasoned paddlers.

Nearby, the Newport River Boat Ramp, one of the state’s largest public ramps, enhances the area’s appeal to boaters. 

Accessed via a well-maintained boardwalk, Radio Island Public Beach offers a serene space to bask in the sun and enjoy the gentle rhythm of the coastal waters. 

This seemingly secret spot is indeed a hidden gem on North Carolina’s stunning coastline.

6. Hammocks Beach

Atlantic Coastline with River
Source: unsplash
  • Distance from Beaufort: 31 miles
  •  Activities: Swimming, Fishing, Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Boating, Beachcombing, Camping
  •  Amenities: Restrooms, Seasonal Lifeguards, Primitive Campsites

Bear Island’s Hammocks Beach, accessible only by ferry or private boat, is the jewel in North Carolina’s crown for those seeking a pristine beach experience. 

With several campsites hidden amongst its expansive sand dunes, this isolated barrier island is a haven for the adventurous, providing amenities such as potable water and a basic bathhouse. 

Seasonal lifeguards ensure swimming safety, while the unique boat-in location adds a hint of adventure to the journey.

The park offers activities that cater to every preference, from the thrill of kayaking to the tranquility of fishing. 

For those wanting a closer exploration of the surrounding marshlands, canoe rentals are also available. 

A prized feature of the island is its excellent shelling, unmatched in the region. 

For an undisturbed beach escapade, Hammocks Beach on Bear Island is indeed the ideal destination.

7. Cape Lookout National Seashore

Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina
Source: depositphotos
  • Distance from Beaufort: ferry from Beaufort
  •  Activities: Swimming, Fishing, Beachcombing, Camping, Stargazing
  •  Amenities: Miles of Beach, Primitive Campsites, Lighthouse

Not your ordinary beach getaway, Cape Lookout National Seashore, reachable only by boat or ferry, offers a multitude of unique experiences. 

The seashore’s expansive, pristine beaches promise sublime swimming and leisure experiences, free from crowds.

Visitors keen on astronomy can indulge in unrivaled stargazing, thanks to the island’s distinction as the first International Dark Sky Park on the East Coast. 

The tranquillity of the island’s night skies is a spectacle to behold, an enchanting setting amidst the gentle whispers of the Atlantic.

The allure of Cape Lookout extends to the daylight hours as well. 

The historical Cape Lookout lighthouse and village invite visitors on engaging tours led by the National Park Service. 

For those seeking a more immersive nature experience, Cape Lookout offers the opportunity to extend their stay with beachside primitive camping facilities. 

A trip to Cape Lookout presents an unrivaled blend of adventure, history, and serene beachfront recreation.

8. Cedar Island Beach

Wild Horses on a beach in North Carolina
Source: depositphotos
  • Distance from Beaufort: 38 miles
  •  Activities: Swimming, Fishing, Boating, Beachcombing, RV Camping, Horseriding
  •  Amenities: RV Resort, Boat Ramp

Touted as the “best-kept secret you now know,” Cedar Island is our most secluded option on the list.

If you’re looking to get away from crowds and the hustle and bustle of the city, it doesn’t get much quieter than Cedar Island Beach.

Cedar Island Ranch makes it easy to find this secluded beach. The ranch provides RV and tent camping, lodging, and horseriding among other services.

Home to a national wildlife refuge, the island hosts a stunning variety of birds and other coastal creatures, and boasts some of the best fishing on the coast due to its seclusion and infrequent human activity.

The best word to describe a day at this beach is ‘solitude.’ 

9. North Topsail Beach

North Topsail Island Beach North Carolina
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Distance from Beaufort: 70 miles
  •  Activities: Swimming, Fishing, Beachcombing
  •  Amenities: Playground, Concessions, Sports Courts

A coastal hotspot in North Carolina, North Topsail Beach is a family favorite, offering an alluring mix of natural beauty and convenient amenities. 

This 12-mile long stretch of sandy coastline, characterized by its warm Atlantic waves and charming surf-town appeal, is also home to a variety of activities, including swimming, surfing, fishing, and bodyboarding.

One of its major attractions for families is a playground, a rarity among beach destinations. 

The beach is equipped with a range of amenities including restrooms and showers, contributing to its popularity among visitors of all ages. 

Anglers, too, find this beach an enticing destination due to the prevalent schools of mullet.

However, the beach’s popularity can make parking a challenge. 

Visitors are advised to plan their trip accordingly to avoid any inconvenience. 

Moreover, a unique sight at North Topsail is its resident endangered sea turtles, making it an intriguing spot for wildlife enthusiasts.

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