Sunday, January 27, 2013

Carteret County- The Best Kept Secret on the East Coast

Carteret County, NC, highlighted in red.

           Located on what is known as North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks or Crystal Coast, Carteret County is a haven for beach-goers, boaters, and vacationers alike. Carteret County was originally founded in 1722 by Sir John Carteret, the Earl of Granville and soon to be one of the Lords Proprietors of North Carolina. Before English settlement in the early 18th Century, Carteret County was home to two tribes of Indians, the Tuscarora, who lived in the river-estuaries of the Pamlico-Neuse River system, and the Coree, who are assumed to have lived in what is now modern day Downeast. In fact, the name Core Banks is named after the Coree Indians who frequented the banks to hunt and fish. By the start of the 1700's, settlers from English, Scottish, German, and Irish decent settled in the area, beginning to plant roots in what would soon be called Carteret County. By the 19th Century, Carteret County had turned into a agricultural and fishing hot spot, producing tobacco, lumber and grain, while at the same time shipping vast amounts of fish to the northern markets of Norfolk, Philadelphia, and New York. Moving into the 20th Century, towns such as Morehead City, founded by local politician John Motley Morehead and Atlantic Beach began to take shape and form the beaches and towns we know today.
          In present day, Carteret County has about 21 small towns resulting in a population of nearly 67,000 people, the three largest towns being Morehead City, Beaufort, and Emerald Isle. What drives the economies of nearly all 21 county towns now is a simple question to answer: tourism. Tourism is what runs the engine of Carteret County these days. In fact, tourism brought the county nearly 300 million dollars in 2011, a remarkable figure for such a small county. So, the question that begs to be asked next is, what are all of these people coming to see in Carteret County? The answer this time is a bit more complex. First and foremost, the beaches. The beach towns of Emerald Isle, Pine Knoll Shores, Atlantic Beach, right on up through the protected beaches of Fort Macon and Cape Lookout offer a pristinity (not a word, but should be) found little place else on the East coast. The "Crystal Coast", also known as Bogue Banks, offers a return to small beach towns of the past, while still providing the amenities desired by the 21st century tourist. Aside from the unspoiled beaches, Carteret County offers an abundance of history, ranging from the Civil War fort, Fort Macon, located at the east end of Bogue Banks, to the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, which provides a gateway to the maritime history which has engulfed Carteret County since its founding.
         What many people seem to forget is the fact that Carteret County is much more than just the beaches of the Crystal Coast and the quaint towns of Beaufort and Morehead City. In fact, Carteret County has over 1300 square miles of land (over 60% of which is water) filled with rivers, creeks and small towns which provide the perfect setting for a quiet vacation full of the outdoors. The north portion of the county, along the shores of Pamlico Sound provide excellent boating, fishing, and camping, as does the eastern portion of the county, along the shores of small towns such as Davis, Atlantic, Sea Level, and Stacy. In visiting Carteret County, the vacationer feels much like the early settlers did, as there is still much to explore, wilderness that has yet to be touched by the developing hand of mankind.  In the section below, you will find things to do and explore, as well as a climatic overview of Carteret County.

Things to do-
1. Enjoy the unspoiled beaches of Cape Lookout
2. Learn the history of Carteret County by visiting the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, the Core Sound Waterfowl museum in Harkers Island, and Fort Macon State Park on the eastern end of the Bogue Banks
3. Explore the rivers, creeks, and sounds of the county via kayak or skiff
4. Dine on some of the best seafood around (I especially recommend The Sanitary in Morehead City)
5. Stroll the historic streets of Beaufort, North Carolina's third oldest town.
and much much more!

The climate of Carteret County is like much of the south, which typically experiences cool winters, warm springs, hot and (very) humid summers, and beautiful falls. During the winter months, you will typically find temperatures in the 40's, 50's and 60's with high temperatures in the 30's being extremely rare. Precipitation is uniformly spread out in this season. Spring brings the return of mild to warm temperatures with highs ranging from 65 in March near 80-85 towards the middle to end of May with precipitation once again fairly well dispersed throughout the season. Summer brings the most uniformity to Carteret County, with daytime temperatures typically in the mid to upper 80's with lows ranging from 75-80 degrees, making for nights that are quite humid. Precipitation is a bit more abundant, however prolonged droughts are not uncommon. Falls are noted by the drop in humidity with temperatures still in the 70's until the beginning of November with precipitation being at its minimum. Of course, with both summer and fall, there is a threat for a tropical storm or hurricane. On average, North Carolina is struck about once every 2 to 3 years. The average water temperature are: Winter- upper 40's to mid 50's. Spring- upper 50's to upper 60's. Summer- upper 70's to low/mid 80's. Fall- mid 70's to mid 60's.  For a graphical view to the temperatures check out


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