Locals say that the Crystal Coast is the best kept secret in North Carolina. Located in Carteret County, NC the Crystal Coast is also referred to as the Southern Outer Banks. No matter what you call this area, its sandy beaches, emerald waters, and quaint towns are too magical to be kept a secret any longer!
Philip Adams recently had the opportunity to represent Midlothian Lifestyle at an exclusive weekend adventure on the Crystal Coast, sponsored by Emerald Isle Realty. He brought back memories of a lifetime! Here, Philip shares about his experience with exclusive tips to inspire your own travel bug.
Our hosts, Casey Fox and Karolam Ramirez from the Zimmerman Agency, welcomed us to “Poseidon,” our luxurious ocean-front vacation home in Atlantic Beach. With four floors and an elevator, the house provides marvelous space with individual bedrooms and private baths, a game room, television room, well-appointed kitchen with two separate dining areas, and a large living room area. An interior color palette of blues, greens, and aquas brings the calm of the ocean inside. Most rooms have a separate balcony or exterior sitting area to enjoy the gorgeous weather day and night. Large decks complete the third and fourth floors on the ocean side making them ready for an evening of entertaining. Downstairs outdoor showers, a pool, hot tub, and ample parking complete this getaway spot.
Poseidon House is well designed for three families to spend the week – they each have their own floor! With queen and king beds in most rooms, parents and teens will recharge comfortably each night. Even the younger travelers are well accommodated with bunk beds in two of the rooms.
We started out our first night at the Bahia Beach House and Surf Bar for drinks and appetizers. Oysters, crab dip, artichoke dip, ceviche appetizers, and a rum drink called “Walk the Plank” were a delightful start to our evening. Next, we headed over to The Island Grille for dinner where we indulged in fresh, local seafood. Their signature key lime pie and chocolate mousse cake were the perfect end to a delicious meal.
After a great night’s rest, we were greeted by Casey and Karolam with a quick breakfast before heading to Beaufort Paddle for a morning of kayaking – a first for me! We all managed to arrive at the Rachel Carson Reserve on Carrot Island fairly dry. During a brisk hike and tour of the island, we were introduced to the “toothache plant,” “pickleweed,” and other local flora. On our return trip back to Beaufort Paddle, we passed several wild horses – another amazing site! We received a sand dollar as a reward for our trip and great memories of beautiful water, wild horses, and a rustic island adventure.
Following our kayaking adventure, we headed to the Beaufort waterfront for lunch at Front Street Grill. It would be hard to beat the mouth-watering seafood options they offer, although their parmesan fries certainly gave them a run for their money! After lunch, we walked the streets of Beaufort and enjoyed some local shopping.
The afternoon was spent with Sandy of the Beaufort Historical Society, where we toured the sights of Beaufort atop a 1967 English double-decker bus. Beaufort is an amazing area for history and folklore, including pirates, star-crossed lovers, and Confederate spies! Sandy’s poignant, often funny, stories illustrated her love for her town and helped us connect with the pride of the locals.
Next, we popped into Fishtowne Brew House for a beer tasting with Jim Browder, Executive Director of the Crystal Coast Tourism Authority. Over specialty beers, including my favorite – a cranberry-flavored beer, Jim entertained us with even more fascinating stories about Beaufort and its strong historical connection.
Like most locals, Jim shows immense pride in the Crystal Coast. He characterizes the area as an 85-mile “silken shoreline” with “fresh-from-the-docks seafood sensations and rich maritime history.” Indeed, the barrier islands are marked by unspoiled beaches across Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, Beaufort, Pine Knoll Shores, Morehead City, and Cape Lookout. The down-home feel and warm welcome from locals make these destination points a true jewel.
Dinner that night was at Caribsea Restaurant in Emerald Isle, another hidden gem within the hidden gem that is the Crystal Coast. Like many visitors, we went for the food, (which was phenomenal!) but stayed for the fascinating local World War II history that is expressed throughout the restaurant and bar. The Torpedo Lounge references the torpedo attack on the Caribsea in 1942 by the German submarine U-158. Of the 28 men on board, only seven escaped their rapidly sinking ship which now lies off Cape Lookout in an area known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. The Norlindo bar references the Norlindo ship that rescued these seven survivors after waiting 10 hours in the water. A likeness of the Caribsea’s compass is displayed enroute to the bar.
The following morning, we enjoyed a decadent breakfast at Banks Grill. We spoiled our taste buds with cinnamon rolls with pecan syrup, burritos the size of footballs, and French toast with rum-soaked bananas. The locals say the cinnamon rolls are “soon to be famous” and we think they are correct!
Next, we traveled to Harkers Island for the ferry to Shackleford Banks. With the cooling wind and smell of salt spray, we enjoyed the sights of the beautiful lighthouse on Cape Lookout, miles of gorgeous shoreline, and the Shackleford Banks’ wild horses. A brisk ATV ride with our guide, George, followed our ferry tour before heading back to Poseidon for a little rest and relaxation.
A final gourmet dinner was prepared for us at Poseidon House by Chefs Kim Bell and Jonathan Haas from the Inn on Turner in Beaufort. As they walked us through the local ingredients that starred in our meal, we enjoyed an amuse bouche of crispy crostini, tangy red olive tapenade, and fresh-caught shrimp.
Next, came a mouthwatering salad of local greens, candy apple red beets, pea shoots, and pecans. A hearty Italian fish stew with white beans and Swiss chard followed. Our main course featured a very generous serving of spinach, sun dried tomato, pine nut and mozzarella-stuffed pork chop on polenta with Brussels sprouts. We finished the meal with handmade carrot cake with dried fruits, pecans, and orange Chantilly. What can I say but, WOW! They capped off our night with champagne, wine, and several rounds of Blackjack.
Thank you, Casey, Karolam, and Jim for a memorable weekend! It’s no wonder that first-time visitors quickly become regulars, returning year after year to enjoy the perfect combination of relaxation, history, and family fun that the Crystal Coast offers. Plan your next trip through the Zimmerman Agency, email: firstname.lastname@example.org