Oceanana Pier in Atlantic Beach NC

Closest Beaches near Beaufort NC | 20 Amazing Options

Looking for the Closest Beaches near Beaufort NC?

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Welcome to the breathtaking coastal paradise surrounding Beaufort, North Carolina! Known for its rich maritime history and charming waterfront, Beaufort offers a gateway to some of the most stunning beaches along the Crystal Coast. 

If you’re seeking a coastal escape just a stone’s throw away from Beaufort, you’re in luck. In this guide, I’ll take you on a journey to discover the closest beaches near Beaufort, each with its own unique charm and allure. 

Whether you’re looking for a serene day by the sea, water adventures, or a taste of local cuisine, these nearby beaches have it all. So, pack your sunscreen and beach gear as we explore the coastal gems that await your visit.

The list is sorted from closest to furthest distance; now, let’s dive into the Closest Beaches near Beaufort NC.

Closest Beaches near Beaufort NC

1. Radio Island Public Beach Access

Distance: 3 miles | Time: 10 min

Address: 65-101 Olde Towne Yacht Club Dr, Beaufort, NC 28516

Radio Island Public Beach Access, a lesser-known gem nestled between Morehead City and Beaufort, offers a unique and serene beach experience. This accessible and tranquil spot is perfect for those looking to escape the more crowded beaches.

Radio Island’s beach is characterized by its calm waters and soft sand, making it ideal for a variety of activities. It’s a great spot for families, as the gentle waves are suitable for children to play in. The beach also provides excellent conditions for swimming and wading, as well as for kayaking and paddleboarding for those seeking a bit more adventure.

One of the highlights of Radio Island is its fantastic view of the Morehead City waterfront and the Beaufort Inlet. These picturesque views, combined with the peaceful atmosphere, make it an excellent location for relaxing and taking in the natural beauty of the area.

Beach at Radio Island

2. Harkers Island Beach and Boat Ramp

Distance: 15 miles | Time: 20 min

Harkers Island Beach and Boat Ramp, nestled between Beaufort and Harkers Island, is a delightful destination that caters to a variety of seaside pleasures. This area, while somewhat secluded, is easily accessible and offers ample parking right at the water’s edge, making it a convenient and attractive spot for both locals and visitors.

The beach itself, though small, boasts soft sand that leads into shallow waters, creating a perfect environment for various activities. It’s an ideal spot for fishing enthusiasts, offering a peaceful setting for casting a line. Families and individuals will also find joy in the gentle waters, suitable for splashing around or simply wading in the calm sea.

Apart from the water activities, the beach at Harkers Island is a serene place for relaxation. Visitors can lounge on the sand, enjoying the panoramic views of the water and the scenic backdrop that the area provides. The beach’s quiet and relatively undiscovered nature makes it a perfect escape from more crowded coastal spots.

The on-site boat launching area adds another layer of appeal to this destination. Boaters can easily access the surrounding waters, making it a popular launch point for a day of boating, exploring, or fishing in the nearby maritime areas.

3. Shackleford Banks

Distance: Ferry Ride from Beaufort

Shackleford Banks, a stunning and unspoiled barrier island, is an extraordinary destination for those seeking a unique coastal experience. Accessible only by boat, this remote island promises an adventure right from the start, with ferries and private charters readily available in Beaufort to transport you to this natural paradise.

As you approach Shackleford Banks from Beaufort, you’ll be greeted by the sight of pristine sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, offering a perfect escape from the hustle of daily life. The island is renowned for its wild horses, which roam freely, adding a magical and almost surreal element to the landscape.

The beaches of Shackleford Banks are ideal for a variety of activities. Sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing are popular, with the island’s isolated nature providing a peaceful and uncrowded environment. The clear waters are also excellent for snorkeling, offering a glimpse into the vibrant marine life.

Please note facilities on the islands are sparse, with composting toilets available on Shackleford Banks, situated approximately half a mile from the west end.

Wild Horses on Shackleford Banks

4. Atlantic Beach

Distance: 7 miles | Time: 15 min

Atlantic Beach awaits you nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Bogue Sound. Here, endless sandy shores offer a haven of relaxation and beach activities. You can build sandcastles, hunt for unique seashells, and enjoy the gentle ocean breeze brushing against your skin.

Oceanana Pier in Atlantic Beach NC

The excitement continues with fishing opportunities on the pier, where you might reel in a big catch, or by kayaking in the glistening waters, a perfect spot to possibly see dolphins play. When hunger sets in, local seafood eateries are ready to serve you their freshest dishes, a true taste of the ocean’s bounty.

For those seeking adventure, the nearby North Carolina Aquarium offers a glimpse into marine life, while Fort Macon State Park brings history to life with its rich past. Atlantic Beach isn’t just a destination; it’s an experience that invites you to explore, relax, and create unforgettable memories.

Fort Macon State Park Fort

5. Indian Beach

Distance: 16 miles | Time: 30 min

Nestled along the stunning Crystal Coast between Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle, Indian Beach offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and relaxation.

This pristine beach boasts soft, sandy shores that invite visitors to bask in the sun, take leisurely strolls, or simply unwind while listening to the soothing sounds of the ocean waves. The crystal-clear waters provide a refreshing respite on warm summer days, making it a great spot for swimming and water activities.

Indian Beach also caters to those who love water sports, with opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, and even surfing in the Atlantic waves. The beach’s calm and welcoming atmosphere makes it suitable for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.

Indian Beach

6. Emerald Isle 

Distance: 20 miles | Time: 30 min

Emerald Isle invites you to its white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This quaint beach town bursts into life each summer, hosting over 50,000 tourists weekly. Here, you can embrace the thrill of surfing with lessons available for beginners or simply relax on the beach and add to your seashell collection.

For outdoor enthusiasts, a network of hiking and biking trails weave through the landscape, offering a different way to experience Emerald Isle’s natural beauty.

A visit to the Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier is a must. Dating back to the 1950s and rebuilt several times after storms, it stands as one of the longest piers on the North Carolina coast, extending nearly 1000 feet. The pier promises spectacular ocean views and a glimpse into the resilient spirit of this coastal community. 

Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier in Emerald Isle

7. Hammocks Beach State Park

Distance: 31 miles | Time: 45 min

Hammocks Beach State Park offers a serene escape accessible only by boat or ferry, with the latter service pausing from November through March. If you’re up for an adventure, consider renting a kayak to explore this natural haven at your own pace. The park’s diverse landscapes, from sprawling salt marshes to enchanting swamp forests, are perfect for bird-watching and soaking in the tranquil atmosphere.

A special experience awaits as sea turtles visit the park’s shores to lay their eggs, an extraordinary sight you might catch while kayaking. For those wanting to delve deeper into the park’s beauty, primitive camping is available, offering a unique overnight experience amidst nature.

Access to the park is free, though fees apply for ferry or boat launch use. Your furry friends are welcome too, both in the park and at designated campsites. 

8. Cape Lookout National Seashore

Distance: 24 miles | Time: 1 hr. 

Escape to Cape Lookout National Seashore, accessible only by ferry or private boat. This pristine coastal destination boasts endless sandy beaches where you can beach comb, swim, and savor the sun. Keep an eye out for the iconic Cape Lookout Lighthouse, climb its 207 steps, and relish panoramic views of the islands.

Wild horses roam freely, offering a unique wildlife encounter. Cape Lookout is a haven for nature enthusiasts, with maritime forests, salt marshes, and excellent bird-watching opportunities.

While planning your visit, remember that Cape Lookout has limited facilities, so pack essentials. Activities range from camping, kayaking, and paddleboarding to hiking and wildlife watching.

Cape Hatteras Seashore

9. Surf City

Distance: 75 miles | Time: 1 hr 30 min

Surf City, nestled on Topsail Island, is one of three charming communities on this coastal gem. When visiting, make sure to stop by the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Center to witness their conservation efforts and enjoy the stunning local beaches. Surf City is a haven for surfers, with conditions ideal for catching waves. If you’re keen to improve your surfing skills, the local surf school offers lessons to help you ride like a pro.

Topsail Island’s intriguing history includes its role as a missile testing site for the U.S. Navy post-World War II. The Missiles and More Museum is a popular attraction here, offering insights into the island’s involvement in Operation Bumblebee.

A must-visit in Surf City is the iconic Surf City Pier, a perfect spot for fishing or just taking in the spectacular ocean views. At night, the pier lights up, creating a magical atmosphere for those who enjoy night fishing. Surf City combines the thrill of surfing, rich history, and scenic beauty, making it a memorable destination on Topsail Island.

Surf City NC Beach

10. Topsail Beach 

Distance: 81 miles | Time: 1 hr 45 min

Topsail Beach, the quaintest of the three communities on Topsail Island (pronounced “Tops’l”), is steeped in tales of pirates who once hid their ships in the channel, leaving only their topsails visible. Legends even whisper of Blackbeard’s buried treasure still hidden somewhere on the island.

Today, access to this historical island is easy with two bridges: one on the north and a new bridge that replaced the swing bridge leading to Surf City. Topsail Beach is renowned for its commitment to sea turtle conservation, with these magnificent creatures nesting and laying eggs along its shores typically between April and September.

Aerial View of Topsail Beach with pier and water tower in the back

11. Wrightsville Beach

Distance: 99 miles | Time: 2 hr 5 min

Wrightsville Beach located a mere 9 miles from Wilmington, NC, is celebrated for its stunning blue waters. It’s no wonder Southern Living listed it among the “South’s Best Beach Towns.” As one of North Carolina’s most accessible beaches, it draws beachgoers from all over and is particularly known for its world-class waves and surfing opportunities.

Enjoy a Private Boat Charter “Had a wonderful time sailing with Captain Jim very knowledgeable, safe, and fun trip. Can’t wait to go again. Thank you, captain.” ~ Dwayne_C

Beyond the beach, Wrightsville Beach offers a variety of experiences, including shopping, dining, vibrant nightlife, and relaxing spas. Water sports enthusiasts have plenty to look forward to as well. A visit to Johnnie Mercer’s Pier is a must. It stretches 1,200 feet into the ocean, is complete with restaurant and restroom facilities, and offers exceptional views and fishing opportunities.

Dog lovers take note: leashed dogs are welcome on the beach from October 1st through March 31st. During the busier season, from April 1st to September 30th, dogs are only allowed on the beach before 9 am and after 5 pm.  

Aerial View of Wrightsville Beach NC looking north

12. Carolina Beach 

Distance: 113 miles | Time: 2 hr 30 min

Just 15 miles from Wilmington, NC, this beach destination offers a laid-back coastal vibe, perfect for those seeking a mix of relaxation and entertainment. It’s home to the Carolina Beach Music Festival, which is unique as the only music festival held directly on a beach in North Carolina.

The beach’s vintage boardwalk, recognized nationally and ranked among the top 10 by Food & Wine magazine, offers an array of dining options and a vibrant nightlife. Adjacent to the boardwalk, the nearly 100-ft-tall Carolina Beach Giant Ferris Wheel awaits, offering panoramic views of the seaside.

For nature enthusiasts, Carolina Beach State Park is a must-visit. Spanning 761 acres with miles of hiking trails, the park invites you to explore the impressive 50-ft Sugarloaf dune. An interesting tidbit: the park is home to the Venus flytrap, a fascinating carnivorous plant. 

Aerial View of Carolina Beach

13. Kure Beach

Distance: 120 miles | Time: 2 hr 30 min

Kure Beach boasts the distinction of having the oldest fishing pier on the Atlantic Coast. Constructed in 1923, this 700 ft long pier is a beacon for fishing enthusiasts and history buffs alike. If you have a passion for history, Kure Beach is an ideal destination.

The Fort Fisher State Historic Site, the largest earthen fort in the South, offers a glimpse into the past. Although only about 10% of the original fort remains, it’s a significant site to explore. Additionally, Fort Fisher is home to the North Carolina Aquarium, blending historical intrigue with marine discovery.

Fort Fisher Boardwalk in Kure Beach NC

For scuba diving enthusiasts, the waters off Kure Beach are a treasure trove, with over 200 shipwrecks to explore, including The Condor, a Civil War-era Blockade Runner. Its location is even marked with buoys for easy identification.

Fort Fisher also features 6 miles of pristine, undeveloped beach, a favored nesting spot for sea turtles. And when it’s time to return to the mainland, a convenient ferry near Fort Fisher is available. 

Kure Beach Sand and ocean

14. Oak Island

Distance: 133 miles | Time: 2 hr 40 min

Oak Island is a delightful destination for families looking to enjoy a beach vacation. This popular spot is not just about the beach; it offers a variety of family-friendly activities, including mini-golf and ice cream parlors for sweet summer treats. The island boasts over 60 public beach access points, two fishing piers, and numerous spots for launching kayaks or boats, ensuring plenty of opportunities for water-based fun.

The local charm is enhanced by a variety of shops and restaurants, perfect for browsing and dining. For shell collectors, Oak Island is a treasure trove, offering a diverse array of sea shells to discover. Pet owners will appreciate the island’s pet-friendly nature, with leashed pets welcome on the beach year-round.

History enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the Oak Island Lighthouse, completed in 1958 and notable as the last lighthouse built in North Carolina. Offering guided tours for visitors aged nine and up, the lighthouse provides a unique historical perspective and stunning views. 

Aerial View of Oak Island with the Lighthouse in the background

15. Holden Beach

Distance: 138 miles | Time: 2 hr 45 min

Holden Beach, a tranquil small beach town, is an ideal destination for a peaceful vacation. Nestled in the southern part of North Carolina’s shore, it has been recognized by National Geographic Traveler as one of the best family beaches in the country. This beach is perfect for those who enjoy a more laid-back atmosphere.

Visitors to Holden Beach can indulge in classic beach activities like building sandcastles, flying kites, or simply relaxing in a beach chair, all with the added benefit of fewer crowds. The beach’s serene environment makes it an excellent place for some quiet time by the sea.

For those who love water activities, the Intracoastal Waterway offers a splendid opportunity to kayak or paddleboard. It’s an ideal spot to search for dolphins or watch shrimp boats glide by. Holden Beach is also pet-friendly, allowing your furry friends to join in the fun from September 11th to May 19th, and before 9 am and after 5 pm between May 20th and September 10th.

Holden Beach

16. Ocean Isle Beach

Distance: 146 miles | Time: 2 hr 55 min

Ocean Isle Beach, a charming small town, is a treasure trove of white sand beaches and a plethora of local attractions, events, and activities. It’s the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure, suitable for all ages.

At the heart of Ocean Isle Beach are its stunning beaches, ideal for soaking up the sun, building sandcastles, or simply enjoying the serene ocean views. But the fun doesn’t stop at the beach. The town is home to the Museum of Coastal Carolina, offering an educational and entertaining experience that delves into the region’s natural and cultural history.

For families, River Country Mini Golf provides a fun-filled outing, while adventure seekers will love The Swamp Park Zip Line and ATV Center, offering thrilling experiences in a unique natural setting. Stroll out onto the Ocean Isle Beach Pier for breathtaking views and a peaceful escape.

Surfing enthusiasts or those looking to try something new can head over to the Carolina School of Surf. Here, expert instructors are ready to teach you the art of surfing in the welcoming waters of Ocean Isle Beach.

Ocean Isle Beach NC Sunrise

17. Sunset Beach

Distance: 150 miles | Time: 3 hr

Sunset Beach, acclaimed as one of the top 21 Best Beaches in the World by National Geographic, is a destination that offers incredible sandy beaches and natural beauty. This beach, intriguingly named Sunset Beach, despite facing east, presents a unique spectacle. Due to the island’s positioning, from late fall to early spring, you can witness both the sunrise and sunset over the water, a rare and beautiful occurrence.

While visiting, don’t miss the chance to explore the Sunset Beach Pier. It’s a perfect spot for fishing enthusiasts or those who simply want to enjoy the panoramic views. Another must-visit location is Bird Island, boasting 1,200 acres of unspoiled natural beauty, ideal for those who love to explore and immerse themselves in nature.

For astronomy buffs, the Ingram Planetarium is a treat. Here, you can experience the wonders of the universe with a show at the SciDome Sky Theater, offering an educational and awe-inspiring experience.

Sunset Beach Fishing Pier : Things to Do in Sunset Beach NC

18. Nags Head

Distance: 183 miles | Time: 3 hr 25 min

Nags Head, nestled in the stunning Outer Banks of North Carolina, is a coastal town that blends breathtaking beaches with a rich historical tapestry, creating a perfect retreat for families and beach enthusiasts.

The town’s expansive sandy beaches are a sight to behold, offering endless opportunities for beach games or simply basking under the warm sun. Nags Head is also a haven for water sports lovers. Whether you’re inclined to surf the rolling Atlantic waves or prefer a tranquil swim in the ocean, this beach has something for everyone.

Nags Head Beach NC

But the allure of Nags Head extends beyond its shores. The Nags Head Woods Preserve is an ecological marvel featuring scenic trails ideal for hiking and birdwatching, providing a peaceful escape into nature. Plus, visit the tallest active sand dune on the East Coast, Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

Take Beginner Hang Gliding Lessons at Jockey’s Ridge State Park

“Great instructors and a wonderful time. Everyone flew and had a great time. Highly recommend this activity to anyone even with little athletic ability. Never very far from the ground and the sand made for easy, soft landing. Tried to add photos unsuccessfully.” ~ Brekk_M

For those interested in the area’s history, the Bodie Island Lighthouse offers a glimpse into the maritime past, while the nearby Roanoke Island Festival Park transports visitors back in time, showcasing the rich heritage of the region.

19. Bald Head Island

Distance: 140 miles | Time: 3 hr 30 min

Bald Head Island offers a unique and tranquil escape, accessible only by private boat or ferry, where the hustle of car traffic is replaced by the quiet charm of bicycles and golf carts. This island is a haven for those seeking a serene retreat from the everyday.

One of the island’s remarkable features is its status as one of the largest sea turtle nesting sites in North Carolina, making it a must-visit for nature and wildlife enthusiasts. Adding to its allure is Old Baldy, North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse, constructed in 1817. This stout brick lighthouse invites visitors to climb its 108 steps, rewarding them with breathtaking views from the top.

The ferry journey to the island, departing from Southport, NC, is a brief 20-minute ride that transitions you from the mainland to this peaceful island retreat. Once on Bald Head Island, South Beach awaits you with its beautiful sandy shores, perfect for visitors of all ages to enjoy a day of relaxation and beach activities.

Bald Head Island

20. Ocracoke Island

Distance: 60 miles | Time: 3 hr 30 min

Ocracoke Island, nestled in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. This idyllic island, accessible only by ferry, private boat, or small plane, offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Upon setting foot on Ocracoke, you’ll be greeted by a quaint village atmosphere with a rich maritime history and a laid-back lifestyle. The island’s pristine beaches stretch for miles, offering a perfect haven for relaxation, beachcombing, and soaking in the sun. Ocracoke’s waters are ideal for swimming, surfing, and kayaking, providing endless opportunities for water enthusiasts.

History buffs will find Ocracoke fascinating, with its storied past involving pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard. The Ocracoke Lighthouse, one of the oldest operating lighthouses in the United States, stands as a beacon of the island’s rich heritage.

Ocracoke Island Lighthouse

The island’s natural beauty extends beyond its beaches. The marshes and maritime forests are ideal for bird watching and nature walks, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the tranquility of the island’s diverse ecosystem.

Ocracoke Island Beach

Closest Beaches near Beaufort NC: FAQs

📌 Does Beaufort, NC have beaches?
Beaufort, NC, does have a small beach on Radio Island nearby. However, there are several beautiful beaches located a short drive away from Beaufort, such as Indian Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Emerald Isle, where visitors can enjoy the sun and surf.

📌 Does Morehead City, NC have a beach?
Morehead City, NC, does not have its own public beach within the city limits. However, just over the bridge, there are nearby beaches, such as Atlantic Beach and Indian Beach, that are a short drive away and offer beautiful coastal destinations for beachgoers.

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose to soak up the sun on the sandy shores of Indian Beach, embark on an adventure to Shackleford Banks to encounter wild horses or discover the unspoiled beauty of Radio Island Public Beach Access, each beach offers a unique experience.

Beaufort’s proximity to these coastal havens makes it an ideal starting point for your beach excursions. With its rich maritime history, charming waterfront, and diverse dining options, Beaufort provides the perfect blend of coastal charm and convenience.

So, whether you’re planning a day trip or an extended beach getaway, these closest beaches offer a tapestry of experiences that will leave you with cherished memories of the Crystal Coast. 

From tranquil moments by the sea to exciting water adventures, Beaufort and its neighboring beaches are sure to capture your heart. We hope this guide has inspired your next coastal adventure and that you’ll return to these shores time and time again to create new memories and bask in the natural beauty of the North Carolina coast.

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