The White Oak River, the Croatan National Forest, and Cape Lookout National Seashore provide the background for North Carolina’s Crystal Coast which is also called the Southern Outer Banks or SOBX.
Most of the Crystal Coast is part of Carteret County, but almost everyone considers Swansboro, NC part of the Crystal Coast. Swansboro is Onslow County’s eastern most outpost. The mouth of the White Oak River meets Bogue Sound at Swansboro.
Swansboro Harbor is often a stopping point for sail boats as they make their way up and down the Intracoastal Waterway. The town has plenty of modern conveniences but has not lost its small fishing village flavor as it has grown. In addition to two car dealerships, you will find a dry stack marina and a number of locally owned restaurants including, Riverside Steak and Seafood, the best place to eat grouper in the whole world in my opinion. Grouper is a favorite local fish enjoyed by many who would rather have their fish broiled or seared instead of fried.
Swansboro is also the home to a Food Lion, Piggley Wigley, and a Walgreens Drug Store. A new Hampton Inn was added in the spring of 2011. The town also hosts the annual Mullet Festival, which takes place in early October, the Swansboro Arts by the Sea Festival which is scheduled in June, and one of my favorite festivals, the Swansboro Oyster Roast and Pig Out which is planned for March 16, 2013.
There are a number of nice shops including the Poor Man’s Hole, Vagabonds, the Gray Dolphin, Russell’s Ode Tyme Shoppe, and Noah’s Ark. The shops change and I’ll be posting a current list for 2013 at the end of March. You can find anything from tee shirts and gifts to some interesting snacks along Front Street in Swansboro. Tidewater Galleries is now on Front Street.
If you are find yourself in town early, you can grab a wonderful breakfast at Yana Mamas on Front Street. They also do lunch and have daily specials during the winter. The Ice House is just off Front Street and located on the water by the bridges over the White Oak. They are a good spot for lunch or dinner. It is pretty easy to get a window seat to look out over the water during the day. In the summer you can eat outside on the water. Across Highway 24 by Centennial Park, you will find Trattoria where you can enjoy a nice Italian meal or taste their subs which come on homemade Italian bread. There is a walkway under the bridge. Other restaurants of note in Swansboro are the Saltwater Grille at the end of Front Street and Las Fincas on the other end of town. Church Street Deli is also in downtown, and the owners have added a small inn. Close to the Deli and Saltwater Grille is Through the Looking Glass, Swansboro’s downtown florist, gifts, and Christmas Shop. A little further up Church St. is the Swansboro Tourist Bureau.
Nicky’s restaurant which used to be near Clyde’s Phillips Seafood has moved “downtown” to where Captain Charlie’s was located just off Front Street. While their daily specials change regularly, I personally am holding out for another order of their fried clam strips.
You can check out this Swansboro area map for many of the local services. The map has not been updated for 2013 but was current at the end of summer 2012. Once you are ready to head to the beaches from Swansboro, you will take a right turn on Highway 24 from Front Street and head east across the two bridges which cross over the White Oak River.
Don’t hurry across both bridges, because if you need some fresh seafood or shrimp, you will find Clyde Phillip’s Sea Food located between the bridges. While Clyde’s storefront doesn’t look like much, the seafood is as fresh as it gets, and it has survived many storms so there is no danger of it falling down in spite of what my wife says. They will clean your fish while you wait and even take the heads of your shrimp for you. Verne, who often mans the counter on weekends isn’t much on conversation, but he fillets a flounder as well as anyone that I have ever seen. You can’t visit the area without making some fresh shrimp on your own. It is very simple, just follow these instructions.
Make sure you have a camera with you when buying fish. We have some especially quiet pelicans that like to hang around Clyde’s in case some fish are being cleaned. They will often pose on the pilings at no charge. The shrimp boats at Clyde’s are probably the most photographed boats in the area. The parking lot by Clyde’s is also a great place to catch a sunset especially in January or February.
After leaving Clyde’s and continuing east on Highway 24, you will enter Cedar Point as you drive off the second bridge over the White Oak River. Just as you get off the bridge, to your right is Dudley’s Marina. It is where I fuel my boat since they have ethanol free fuel. It is relatively easy to dock a boat there and get it fueled. You can get almost anything that you need for a boat or fishing including fishing licenses at Dudley’s except parts for Yamaha motors. You will have to go Emerald Marine in Bogue for genuine Yamaha parts or Boats Inc. or any of a number of other boat dealers in Morehead City.
After driving past Dudley’s, you will see The Waterway Inn on your right, they have some of the cleanest motel rooms around, and the motel is on the water and has some facilities for boats. The rooms are small, but fishermen do not spent a lot of time in their rooms anyway. All they need is a bed, bathroom, and a small table to eat a snack.
Right beside Waterway Inn is Barrier Island Kayaks where you can rent a kayak and explore Bogue Sound or the White Oak River.
Farther down Highway 24 on the same Intracoastal Waterway side of Highway 24, you will find Captain Charley’s Shrimp Stand. Their house is right on the water, the boat is docked behind the house, and the shrimp stand is between the boat and the road. They often fish Pamlico Sound and have some great shrimp in season.
Next comes the Wildlife Resources Public Boat Ramp. In the summer and on weekends it is an especially busy spot but the recent renovations have helped a lot. Another restaurant of note while driving through Cedar Point is the Bogue House which does fried fish, oysters, barbecue, and fried chicken among other things. It sort of like fast food fried fish, but they do serve some nice vegetables including collards in season. They close by 8 PM in the evening so keep that in mind.
My wife enjoys going into Sweet Dreams, a shop with gifts, home decor, and baby things. If you make if here after the middle of May, you will likely want some fresh produce. Bucks Corner Farm usually has a stand on the left as you make your way through Cedar Point, and our personal favorite is the Winberry Produce Stand. We enjoy everything from their strawberries to corn, watermelons, and sweet potatoes. Just tell Sara that I sent you.
Right beside Winberry’s is Redfearn’s Nursery. Mr. Redfearn is a palm tree expert and appears to know more about centipede grass than anyone in the area. It is a great place to buy plants, materials, sprays, and get advice.
Also in Cedar Point, you will find the Best Western Silver Creek which is one of the two big motels in the area. It is a very nice, modern facility with a swimming pool. It is also very clean. Just beside the motel, a new Dunkin Donuts is under construction. The other big area motel is the new Hampton Inn, Swansboro.
Other businesses that we enjoying the Cedar Point area are Harrika’s Brew Haus, Christina’s Collectables, and Coastal Outlet which is labyrinthine shop full of all sorts of things from fishing tackle to towels. You will recognize them from the brightly colored trolley that is often parked out front. If you need a tire fixed Cedar Point Tire is a good place to have it done,. There are also two furniture stores in the area, Sound Furniture in Cedar Point and Mills and Thomas near the Wendy’s in Swansboro.
There are plenty of other small businesses in Cedar Point. You can find an office supply store, the UPS Store, a Bicycle Shop, Walston’s Hardware and some antique shops.
If you can’t find what you need in Cedar Point, back on the Jacksonville side of Swansboro, there is the Post Office, a Taco Bell, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Party Store, Wendy’s and our favorite burger place, Highway 55 Burgers, Fries and Shakes. It is owned by a local and a great spot for an inexpensive and delicious home style burger with great fries. Swansboro also has an Advance Auto Parts Store.
Continuing on trip along Highway 24 east, you can tell that you are exiting Cedar Point when you see a BB&T Bank on your left. It is the last business in Cedar Point, and once you cross Highway 58 and stay straight on Highway 24, you will be driving through Cape Carteret. Cape Carteret has two golf cart dealerships but no car dealerships.
While Cape Carteret doesn’t have as many services as Cedar Point, it does have a strip mall located on the left just after the intersection with Highway 58. If you turn left at the first stop light after crossing Highway 58, you will be entering by Walgreen’s. If you continue straight on that road you will end up at MacDaddy’s Arcade, Sports Bar, and Bowling Alley. It is a brand new facility and great place for kids on a rainy day.
If you take a right just beyond the Walgreen’s, you will find a Coffee Shop, the ABC Superstore, Quizno’s, Golden China Chinese Food, Lowe’s Grocery Store, Great Clips, Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, a couple of banks, and Lowe’s Home Improvement Store.
Also in the same area is the local Hardee’s and Ribeye’s Steak House. Ribeye’s is our favorite place for a Sunday lunch or a quiet evening meal. They have a wonderful salad bar and lots of nice grilled entrees. The lunch specials are very reasonable.
Across the street from the strip mall, there is a Subway, the Cape Carteret Police, a gas station and our new McDonalds.
If you continue east on Highway 24, you will find a Baptist Church on your right, then the Presbyterian Church we attend, Cape Carteret Presbyterian.
Continuing on Highway 24 east will take you by the White Oak Elementary School. Make certain that you obey the speed limit there. The Highway Patrol has little tolerance for speeding in school zones. Not far after the school, you will come to a stop light. If you turn left there you will be on Taylor Notion Road which takes you back to Highway 58.
Following Taylor Notion you will go by the area’s fitness center and the library, both of which will be on your left. You can see most of this by checking my map of the area. The fitness center has an indoor pool, lots of good equipment, and does day passes. There’s also a barber shop in the same area as the fitness center.
After the library, you might notice signs for Star Hill Golf Course which will be on your right. It is a public course and one of two in the immediate area. The other is Silver Creek which is a up Highway 58 about three miles from the stoplight at Highway 24. They also have a par three course.
Right now when Taylor Notion runs into Highway 58, you can take either a left or a right turn. If you go to your right, you are heading towards Pelletier. Nearby you will find the Parkerton Inn, which is a pet friendly motor inn. There is also a car wash in the area which we often use and one of the automated ice machines which is great when you are filling your boat coolers.
If you turn around near the automated ice machine and head back to Cape Carteret, you will pass the Fairway Restaurant on your right just after the intersection with Taylor Notion Road. Fairway has a very large menu for such a small place. It is very popular in the summer so go early. I enjoy their shrimp baskets, club sandwiches, and their pork supreme. They are under new management so they now do breakfast and the menu is changing.
The last road on your right going south on 58 after Fairway but before you get to the stop light in Cape Carteret is VFW Road. If you turn right there and follow a left a little ways down the road, it takes you to the Croatan Trails at Cedar Point. It is a great place for a hike especially in spring and fall. It is a fantastic place to take energetic dogs and children for a walk that will slow them down a little.
Just before arriving back at the Intersection with Highways 24 you will notice MacDaddy’s Arcade and Driving Range on your left. Once you get to the stoplight, if you go straight on Route 58 it will take you to Emerald Isle. The local tourist information office is on your right just after the stoplight.
If you take a right at the light you are back in Cedar Point and headed towards Swansboro. If you take a left at the light you are in Cape Carteret.
If you are heading to Emerald Isle, you might find my Emerald Isle Travel Guide helpful. There are lots of things in Emerald Isle, and most are year round except the water slides and one of the Pizza places. There is a movie theater in Emerald Isle, a fishing pier, and of course plenty of wonderful beaches and sand.
The Cape Carteret-Cedar Point-Emerald Isle-Swansboro area is a great place to visit or live. There are some wonderful neighborhoods around with a wide selection of homes. Old Cape Carteret is popular with many folks and has a wide range of homes. Starhill and Starhill North have everything from older homes on the golf course to brand new construction. If you want to live close to the river, there is Marsh Harbor which is in Cedar Point. It you want to live on the river and have a boat ramp, there is Bluewater Cove, Silver Creek Plantation, River Oaks Plantation, White Oak Bluffs, and River Reach over in Swansboro. If you are looking for new inexpensive homes, Coldwater Creek is a good place to look on Highway 58 near T&W’s Oyster House. It you don’t need brand new, you can find similar homes to the ones in Coldwater Creek in White Horse Ridge which is in the same area. Nice 3 bedroom, 2 bath homes there can be had for under $170K.
You can find more expensive homes at Megan’s Bay, Crystal Shores, and Cape Point. There are many homes tucked in along the water of our area. I know about all the subdivisions because I used to be a Realtor® but I am a full time writer. However, if you are not familiar with the area and are interested in seeing homes, I can certainly refer you to someone who will do an excellent job showing you homes.
This is just a great area. Access to the water is hard to beat. The weather is nice almost all year. What services we don’t have very close by are easily found in Morehead City where there’s a Walmart, Best Buy, Staples, TJ Maxx, Belk’s, Harris Teeter, Panera, Starbucks, Olive Garden, Five Guys, Hobby Lobby and just about everything you could want except a Barnes & Noble and a Target. For those you have to go to Jacksonville or New Bern.
Morehead City also has a hospital, Carteret General Hospital. It takes around 30 minutes to get there without speeding from where I live just off the White Oak River, and probably under 25 minutes from Cape Carteret. There are dentists and doctors in Cedar Point and Swansboro. You will also find veterinarians in Cedar Point, Swansboro and Morehead City. There are Ace Hardware Stores on Emerald Isle and in Swansboro. There are also auto part stores in Cape Carteret, Cedar Point, and Swansboro. Banks are sprouting up everywhere.
If anyone has a question before visiting, just use the contact form to send me an email.
This guide is always a work in progress so you can count on additions and changes.
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