Sailing around the islands of the Crystal Coast has always been a favorite pastime for locals and guests alike. This North Carolina boating paradise offers endless opportunities for exploration, adventure, and even romance. Whether you’re on a private charter or riding a catamaran to Cape Lookout with dozens of other adventurous travelers, there’s something for everyone on the water.
The historic community of Beaufort offers several opportunities for sailing the sea and the sound. Lookout Cruises, located in Beaufort, offers daily sailing excursions for up to 42 passengers on a stunning 45-foot catamaran with plenty of sun and shade. For an unforgettable experience, rise and shine and set sail on their morning dolphin watch up the Newport River. Guests are able to observe these beautiful creatures playing in their natural habitat, as they frequent the area year after year. A morning dolphin cruise is perfect for both kids and adults.
For a longer afternoon excursion, grab your bathing suit, beach towel, and camera, and hop aboard the Cape Lookout Cruise. Take a six mile voyage out to Cape Lookout, docking first at the tip of the cape. You’ll spend your first three hours of this cruise enjoying a catered lunch from the Beaufort Grocery Co. Restaurant, swimming, snorkeling, and some of the best shelling on the East Coast. The boat will then tie up at the government dock, where you’ll spend the second half of the trip. You’ll be able to spend your time exploring the Keeper’s Quarters museum, the National Park store, and the historic Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Climb to the top of the 160’ tower for spectacular views and photo ops before returning to Beaufort.
Lookout Cruises also offers both sunset and moonlight cruises as well. Wrap up the day with a evening sail, where you’ll experience sunsets that will take your breath away. Or take part in a late night cruise, letting the light of the moon guide you. The moonlight cruise only sails during the full moon period, so you’re promised an incredible experience.
Also in Beaufort is Crystal Coast Lady Tours, which offers a plethora of narrated dining cruises for any time of day. Depart on the morning dolphin cruise where you’ll enjoy a spectacular brunch buffet with everything from pastries and bagels, to scrambled eggs and bacon, all with complimentary mimosas for passengers over 21.
For a lunch cruise, tour the Crystal Coast on a Wild Pony and Dolphin Scenic Tour. While you’re enjoying your catered lunch of customized sandwiches and sides, explore the Carrot Island and the Rachel Carson Reserve, NC State Port, Blackbeard’s House, Ft. Macon, Morehead City Waterfront, and so much more, all while spying dozens of wild horses and dolphins.
For a dinner feast, set sail each evening for a sunset cruise, with stunning scenery and views of the colorful horizon and catered by a different theme each day. Enjoy buffets featuring Cajun Country food, Southern Homecookin’, BBQ, Italian Cuisine (including wine tasting), Hawaiian Luau, Seafood, and a Captain’s Dinner. This sunset cruise is sure to please any appetite.
For those of you who want to explore the environment and all it has to offer, Crystal Coast Ecotours in Morehead City is where you’ll want to go. For two hours, a half-day, or whole day, travel to secluded barrier islands, sea grass meadows, backwater sounds, marshes, and the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Activities along the cruise include shelling, clamming, or crabbing along the coast line, as well as bird and dolphin watching and a variety of fishing. The tours are all uniquely planned based on consultation with the travelers and are paced so that the experience can be relished. Throughout the tour, your captain will explain interesting aspects and history of the area so that you can truly understand this unique ecosystem.
Looking for even more adventure? Especially for the little ones? Then walk the plank onto the “Revenge” for a Pirate Treasure Cruise. A fun-filled adventure awaits, with sword fights, singing, a chase on the high seas, and water cannon battles for treasure. For an even spookier quest, take off on the Ghost Float Haunted Pirate Cruise. At night, set sail over the dark waters of the Crystal Coast and return to the days of Blackbeard. See the actual sites where battles and betrayals occurred, and see the ghostly shipwrecks while onboard. It’s a one-of-a-kind, thrilling experience for all ages!
As you are planning your trip to the Southern Outer Banks, do not miss out on the opportunity to see the beautiful natural resources that make this area one of the most unique and best kept secrets along the coastal United States. Whether devoting a few hours or a whole day, you’re sure to find an excursion you’ll enjoy and cherish.