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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Just How Much Beach Do You Need?

A few days ago I got a kick out of an article about people in Britain flocking to the beach. What really made me smile was the first picture in the story. It showed a beach scene by Brighton Pier, south of London. At least I think it was a beach since you cannot see the beach for the people. I had to think how lucky we are on the Crystal Coast. Even in July there is plenty of beach room here in Carteret County. It is just a matter of going for a walk until you find a spot that suits your fancy. Talking about crowded beaches here is a little like talking about traffic jams. It all depends on what you are used to seeing.
Our traffic jams rarely last more than a few minutes. Even on the Fourth July last year, it only took me five extra minutes to get from one end of the town of Emerald Isle to the other. That means we would be laughed off the Washington Beltway if we said that we were in a traffic jam.

When I am talking about our beaches, I certainly feel no need to do anything but tell the truth. We just do not have the dense development or crowds that would lead to a scene like the one on Brighton beach.

What we do have are miles of beaches with low density housing almost always within walking distance of the beach. There are plenty of beach access points, and these are just the ones in the town of Emerald Isle. On top of that we have some very convenient beach parking areas which make access easy even for those of us who live on the mainland. It is nice to be close to the beaches and to be able to enjoy those same beaches without feeding a parking meter or buying a beach tag.

There are four more options if you cannot find enough solitude on the beaches along Route 58 through Emerald Isle, Salter Path, Indian Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, and Atlantic Beach. First grab a ferry from Beaufort or Harkers Island and visit Cape Lookout. There are 56 miles of undeveloped beach there. You can read about one of my favorite day trips in my post, The Best Twenty Dollars You'll Ever Spend.

If Cape Lookout is a little far for your taste, try Shackleford Banks. You can catch a ferry from Beaufort or if you have a boat, it is an easy boat ride. We have even taken our skiff all the way from our home on the White Oak River to Shackleford Banks. It is a great trip if you pick the right day. This is a slide show we made of a trip to Shackleford in 2007.

The third choice for a more remote beach is to catch the ferry over to Hammocks Beach from Swansboro. That is about as close an uncrowded beach as you find with one exception.

Those who know this end of the sound well will know where this is headed. If you want a nice private beach, there are plenty of them around Bogue Inlet as you can see from the picture of this beautiful beach in Bogue Inlet. I can tell you it is my daughter's favorite beach, and all it takes is a few minutes in a skiff to get there.

After a couple of cloudy and drizzly days, we are slated to have an absolutely stunning Memorial Day holiday. There is a chance of afternoon thunderstorms on Saturday, but Sunday and Monday look like great days to find a beach that actually fits your personality and gives you that feeling of pure delight that I had on my first dip in the salt water this year. 

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