Not surprisingly it is a lot of fun to live near the beach. While people living in cities go for walks on sidewalks, we head over to the beach to enjoy some sand beneath our feet and warm salt water around our ankles. Many people might think that beach walking is only a summer pleasure. Most residents walk on the beach all year. My favorite time for beach walks is late fall. The water is still warm, the air is often less humid, and any crowds are long gone.Living at the beach is dream come true for many people along the Crystal Coast. We start the year with New Year's celebrations just like everyone else. Yet our weather is usually warm enough for a pleasant hike along some of the trails of Croatan National Forest. It is not unusual for January days to have high temperatures in the sixties and seventies.
February is usually our coldest month, but it is also the time for the Chocolate Festival in Morehead City. We usually have a few days when the temperature doesn't get to fifty, but the sun is noticeably stronger and makes those outdoor activities even more fun. Almost all the restaurants remain open all year so the relative quiet of February is often a great time for locals to meet each other.
With March comes the first festivals of the year. Festivals and community events are a big part of life on the coast. The Emerald Isle Saint Patrick's Day Festival and the Swansboro Oyster Roast are usually the same day. They provide a great kick off for the spring season.
By April we usually have some fish biting and people are taking advantage of the warm days to get out on the water. April and sometimes even late March brings the first of the area's special farm treats. We usually have plenty of strawberries ripe by the middle of April.
In May the braver souls are wading in the ocean waters. The weather is often nearly perfect with much of the month being a time when people keep their windows open all day. May is a great month to visit Beaufort and stroll down the board walk along the harbor.
June can go either way. This year it was very warm and the water was just right for swimming early in the month. It is a great time of the year to take advantage of some of the low tide beaches that show up in Bogue Inlet or to take a trip to Shackleford Banks to look for shells. Last year June was a great month to fish and sleep with your windows open.
Most people know what the beach is like in July and August. As residents we tend to avoid some of the more popular restaurants on the beach. We also try to confine our main grocery shopping to Monday through Thursday. It never seems to be a problem to sneak in and pick up a few items, but it you go on the weekend you certainly might find the aisles a little crowded.
With fall the crowds disappear, and the fishermen show up. It is a great time of year. There are more festivals and the whole coast seems to relax a little.
By November we are thinking about holidays and decorations. Before December rolls around, people are planning flotillas and crab pot Christmas trees are starting to show up.