Outdoor Adventure Bucket List for the Crystal Coast

 Outdoor Adventure Bucket List for the Crystal Coast


*Updated April 2019

So many Crystal Coast adventures to be had and so little time! This gorgeous part of the Southern Outer Banks offers outdoor adventures galore. Whatever kind of outdoor enthusiast you are, you'll find plenty of options to satisfy your thirst for adventure during your time on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. Time is really the issue, not lack of options!

So in a quest to narrow down some of the ultimate outdoor adventures to be experienced, we put together this outdoor adventure bucket list. Check it out!


1. Parasail over the Crystal Coast.

 Parasailing over the Crystal Coast of NC

Get a bird's eye view of the shoreline with a parasail adventure of your very own. You just can't beat the aerial views of Fort Macon State Park, Cape Lookout Lighthouse, the wild horses on Shackleford Banks and the sparkling sea and coastal beauty of the island. Feel the coastal breeze blow through your hair and get your feet wet, if you dare. Parasailing is calm and relaxing enough to get some excellent photographs but exciting enough to get your adrenaline pumping. It's a combination motor boat ride plus high-flying adventure all wrapped up into one coastal excursion. Put it on your list!

Local Recommendation: AB Water Sports - Conveniently located minutes from your Emerald Isle vacation rental offering parasailing along the Crystal Coast in their 35′ parasailing boat with all new chutes and equipment in 2018. USCG approved captain and equipment will ensure a day of high flying adventure on the Crystal Coast. 


2. Wreck dive the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

 Scuba divers wreck diving in the Graveyard of the Atlantic

There are more than 2000 shipwrecks along the North Carolina coastline, hence the nickname: the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Dive into history and see what lies beneath with your own scuba diving adventure. There's an eclectic range of wrecks including vessels sunk by Hitler's U-boat fleet, tankers, cargo ships, British fishing trawlers, German submarines, a World War I gunboat, late 18th century schooner, and even an early 20th century luxury liner are all part of the underwater scenery along the coast of North Carolina. Couple that with the artificial reefs which are purposefully sunk and play host to an array of marine lifeand you have an epic underwater adventure that is bucket-list worthy. It's no wonder that the Graveyard of the Atlantic is consistently voted a top wreck diving destination in North America.

Local Recommendation: Olympus Dive Center in Morehead City and Discovery Dive Center in Beaufort - Both offer excellent wreck dive excursions and other scuba diving adventures in a variety of locations. 


3. Visit the remote shores of Cape Lookout National Seashore.

 Cape Lookout Lighthouse and National Seashore

Accessible only by boat, the remoteness of Cape Lookout National Seashore makes it a sought-after bucket list adventure item. Experience some of the best shelling, wild horse watching, fishing, camping and breathtaking coastal scenery in a barrier island setting all its own. Don't forget to bring all of the supplies you need for your adventure like water, food and sunscreen because you won't find anywhere to buy it on the island. While you're here, go ahead and make it a two-fer by crossing off a Cape Lookout Lighthouse climb from your bucket list (available seasonally May to September, so plan accordingly).


Local Recommendation: You can take any of the local passenger ferry services to Cape Lookout or you can take it up a notch and enjoy a sailing cruise to the Cape on a 45-foot catamaran by Lookout Cruises located in Beaufort.


4. Paddle the local waters.


You have the benefit of the ocean and the sound waters when you visit the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, thanks to our barrier islands. Paddle your way through the local waters of your choice, whether you choose to kayak the placid soundside waters or embark on a paddleboard excursion in the open waters. You can find all of the instruction and equipment you need locally. There are endless places to paddle, so choosing where may be your hardest decision. Read up on our Top 10 Tips for Kayaking Along the Coast for more helpful information and recommendations. Surf boards, kite surfing, body boards and skim boards are paddle-free options for some additional on-the-water adventuring.

Local Recommendation: Carolina Kitesurfing, Island Water Sports Rentals, and Hot Wax Surf Shop are all located nearby and offer a variety of paddling adventures during your stay in Emerald Isle.


5. Go deep sea fishing.

Deep Sea Fishing on the Crystal Coast 

You're so close to the Gulf Stream waters while you're here, why not go ahead and get out there on the high seas? Deep sea fishing is an on-the-water adventure that gives you lasting memories for years to come. Take a half-day or full-day excursion and set out on the local waters in search of the big one: king mackeral, wahoo, snapper, grouper, tuna and billfish are all potential catches of the day. Fishing licenses, bait and tackle are included in your deep sea fishing charter and you are in the good hands of our experienced local captains. 

Local Recommendation: CritterGitter Fishing Charters is locally owned and operated by a captain who has been running fishing charters and fishing commercially for over 20 years. He knows where to go and what to do to find the best catch.

6. Camp on a remote beach.

Camping on the Beach 
Have the quintessential primitive camping experience on the beach while you're on the Crystal Coast. Cape Lookout, Shackleford Banks and Hammocks Beach offer some unforgettable remote camping excursions that are thoroughly unique and enjoyable... as long as you are prepared! Need a little help with that? Read our 5 Tips for Primitive Camping on the Crystal Coast before you start out on your outdoor adventure. Spring and fall are the best seasons for camping on the Crystal Coast, so plan accordingly.


Local Recommendation: We've talked in-depth about this topic on our Camping Adventures on the Crystal Coast post, so be sure to check that out for all you need to know about the best places to camp on the coast.


Other Crystal Coast Outdoor Adventure Recommendations for Your Bucket List


Everyone's bucket list is a little different dependent on your interests. So in addition to these six suggestions, we have a few other reading recommendations to help you add a few more to your list. Follow the links below for more information on what the Crystal Coast has to offer you.





Be sure to take a look at our complete list of local links for everything you want to do while you're here and how to get your adventures started. Happy adventuring!

 What's on your Crystal Coast outdoor adventure bucket list?

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