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Coastal Living in Jacksonville, NC

Just south of Cape Lookout, Jacksonville offers residents four things most U.S. cities do not: beaches, sun, sand and salt.

By Marc Acton on November 8, 2016

jacksonville, nc
Jacksonville / Courtesy of Russell Harrison Photography under a CC 2.0 license.

There are plenty of reasons to move to Jacksonville, but there’s one that stands above the rest: the coastal lifestyle. Situated just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean, this small-but-growing town is chock-full of outdoor activities that not only give residents something to do, but reasons to never leave. Here are just a few of the perks from living on the coast of North Carolina.

See Why Jacksonville is Such a Great Place to Live

Kayaking On the Intracoastal Waterway

Boating is great, but if you really want the full water experience, nothing beats the calming lap of a paddle in the current. The Intracoastal Waterway was originally created to give boats a safer route to ship goods up and down the Atlantic coast, but today it offers residents of towns like Jacksonville the perfect way to explore the coast. 

Camping in the Croatan National Forest

The chirps and suspicious squeaks you hear during your first overnight in the Croatan National Forest might take some getting used to, but once you do, you’re in for a great night. The 160,000-acre park is home to an enormous amount of wildlife from the normal, like deer and turkeys, to the odd-but-cool, like the carnivorous Venus fly trap. Croatan is a great place for a day trip, with plenty of sites available for cookouts. But for the full coastal living experience, take a tent (and a hammock), and set up shop for the night. 

Jacksonville is the Perfect Place For Families

Fishing in Stones Bay

This huge bay has enough variety to hold the attention of even the most avid angler. It’s home a large number of catchable species, including speckled trout, black drum, striped bass, and more; and its nearness to the Atlantic gives you the chance to land the kind of catch that all your Facebook friends will be jealous of. Make sure to have the camera ready! (And perhaps put it in a waterproof case.)

Sunrises on Topsail Beach

If you’ve ever been on a beach during the first few seconds the sun starts peering over the Atlantic, you know there’s nothing quite like it. The spread of orange across the water is bewitching, even for the non-early risers. Just make sure to do one thing: Take off your shoes. It’s not a beach sunrise without your warm toes in the cold sand. 

Jacksonville luckily affords many opportunities to do this, but we recommend heading down to Topsail Beach, just south of the city. Here you’ll find one of the best coastal experiences around. To learn more about it, check out our article on great weekend trips within a short distance of Jacksonville

The Food (Pretty Much Anywhere)

It goes without saying that one of the things coastal living is known for most is its food. (If you didn’t know this, check out Pat Conroy’s cookbook.) From low-country boils, to Carolina-style barbecue, you can find the best of the best here. Just know this little secret: Enjoy other people’s food as much as you want, but nothing beats the taste of something you caught yourself.

Best Places to Eat in Jacksonville

The Scenery

There’s a reason Nicholas Sparks has made millions writing romance novels set along North Carolina’s coast: because, well, it’s stunning. So, what else do you need to know? Get down here and enjoy it for yourself.

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