Travis and Gabby meet as a neighbor in small North Carolina beach towns and wind up their relationship so beautifully– 

Who are Travis and Gabby? Any Idea?

They are the famous characters of Nicholas Sparks’ friction stories. 

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks has always sparked romance among every 90s kid. The real setting of the environment always sparked up the character’s chemistry.

Or, Along for the Ride, a teenage romance movie hit to inspire fans and the shots of Pleasure Island, Wilmington, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach are so mesmerizing.

The Choice
The Choice

Picture courtesy: rogereber

Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, or Night in Rodanthe, are movies which soon rear romance after the characters met.

the coastal towns in North Carolina has some magic! You should move to North Carolina.

I always thought it was the characters, Auden and Eli or Adrienne Wills and Dr Paul Fianner, but later I realized it is the southeastern North Carolina charm.

A beautiful aesthetic place complemented by natural coastal beauty, history, fun food scenes, and small commutes, North Carolina is home to wonderful beach towns. 

Read: 17 Best Pet Friendly North Carolina Beaches

Best Beach Towns in North Carolina

Call me biased, but the beach towns in North Carolina are so vibrant with amazing weather, affordability, access to jobs, and relaxation that I’m in love with the place.

Or head to Wrightsville Beach for Christmas celebration and eat yummy ice cream. See the Christmas lights at Botanical Garden in December, where candle lanterns can light your mood so easily.

Cape Lookout North Carolina, beach towns in north carolina
Cape Lookout North Carolina

No matter where you are, the beauty of the beach towns in North Carolina is so impressive that you should plan your next address or trip here soon.

With that, I’ll take you through the best beach towns in North Carolina where you might meet your Denise Holton. 

You should watch The Rescue; it shows how gorgeous Edenton is!


Population: 4,352

Crime rate: 64.35 (per 1,000 residents) 

Cost of living index: 80.7 (US average of 100) 

Known as “one of America’s prettiest towns” by, Edenton is quite a small harbor town and one of the first colonial capitals of North Carolina. 

Edenton sits on Albemarle Sound and Chowan River offering stunning views of the inner banks, and complete knowledge of history since 1767. 

The historic buildings and homes nowadays run as hotels and restaurants. The bay, walkable streets and relaxed surroundings make it a perfect place to relax.

Edenton, beach town in north carolina
Edenton – beach town in north carolina

The cypress trees growing by the Chowan County Courthouse range from 500 to 2,000 years old. Edenton is one of the best coastal towns in North Carolina. 

Explore : Episcopal Church, Historic Edenton State Historic Site, 1767 Chowan County Courthouse, 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse, Maritime Underground Railroad Site, and 250-year-old Cupola House.

Read: 11 Creepy Abandoned Places In North Carolina 


Population: 767

Crime rate: 

Cost of living index: 80.2 (US average of 100)

Ocracoke is one of the best beach towns in North Carolina to live on the Outer banks among maritime forests, relaxed romance, white beach, and an iconic lighthouse. 

Spark’s recent novel, The Wish movie was shot here. Reaching Ocracoke is so exciting you’ve to take a morning ferry to enjoy the relaxed environment.

One of the famous slogans for Ocracoke is “the Cure for the common beach”. Make sure your camera is ready as you walk through the island.

Ocracoke, beach town in north carolina
Ocracoke- Beach town in north carolina

Good luck photographers!

From Ocracoke, you can visit Springer’s Point Nature Preserve which leads to Pamlico Sound. 

16 miles of secluded feeling underneath blue sky with crashing waves on the side is so filmy about Ocracoke! 

Explore: eat local seafood at Daijo, Lifeguard Beach, unwind pages of the history of Blackbeard, and pirates, British cemetery, meet Banker Ponies, and Silver Lake Harbor.

Nags Head

Population: 3,250

Crime rate: 3,701 (100K residents)

Cost of living index: 114 (US average of 100)

Silver land along the Outer Banks and north of Cape Hatteras National Seashore sits Nag Head, one of the gorgeous small quaint beach towns in North Carolina.  

Nags Head has a rich history dating back to the 1880s from where you can explore Jockey’s Ridge, the tallest living sand dunes on the Atlantic Coast. You can spot dolphins!

The sandy shorelines and glimmering water make Nag Heads one of the most family-friendly beach towns in North Carolina where you can chill at restaurants or play mini golf.

Bodie Island Lighthouse - Nags Head
Bodie Island Lighthouse, Nags Head – beach town in North Carolina

From Nags Head, you can walk to Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills to know more about the history of airplane flights. The view of cedar shake beach cottages is so raw!

Explore: Roanoke Trail, Dowdy Park, Bodie Island, Outer Banks Fishing Pier, Jennette’s Pier, and Tracks in the sands, Seaside Art Gallery, and Hang Gliding at Nag Head Piers. 


Population: 3,960

Crime rate: 37.13 (per 1,000 residents)

Cost of living index: 92.4 (US average of 100)

“The Friendly City by the Sea”, Swansboro is the best coastal town in North Carolina and sits at the confluence of the Intracoastal Waterway and White Oak River.

Did you watch The Guardian directed by Andrew Davis, a love story incorporating love and danger? Few shots were taken in Swansboro.

Just a few minutes from Emerald Isle, the town feels like its own, giving very vacationers amazing historic gorgeous waterfront views, pristine untouched beaches, and a relaxing vibe.

Swansboro, beach town in north carolina
Swansboro – beach town in north carolina

Swansboro is a waterside retreat and the most thriving town of Crystal Coast with strong fishing and tourist industries. 

Try to come here during seafood festivals, the Mullet Festival. 

Explore: Hammocks Beach State Park, eat food at Duck’s Grill & Bar, and The Kettle Diner, stop at Yana for breakfast and stroll down the main street. 


Population: 1,075

Crime rate: 4,271 (100K residents)

Cost of living index: 133.3 (US average of 100)

Of all small towns, Duck is the best place to live in North Carolina near the beach. The place is absolutely offbeat with large green trees and no big stores.

One-mile boardwalk out over the water looks so beautiful during sunset. It sits north of Outer Banks offering you ample water sports opportunities to explore.

I would recommend booking a stay at Sanderling Resort, as it is also known as the best family beach town in North Carolina. Go for lunch at Aqua Restaurant.

Duck, beach town in north carolina
Duck -beach town in north carolina

The cute boutiques, flat Currituck Sound shoreline, or a trip to Corolla to ride on the beach are the best things to do in Duck. Duck is free from all congestion and noise

Explore: riding on six miles Duck trail, Duck Jazz festival, free show at the amphitheater, spas, and kayaking through its unique wetlands. 

Note: Duck has been named as Best Resorted Beach for 2018


Population: 117,247

Crime rate: 35.98 (per 1,000 residents)

Cost of living index: 96.5 (US average of 100)

Wilmington is another famous Nicholas Spark destination where Safe Haven was filmed. It is also called “Hollywood East” or “Wilmywood” because Hollywood loves to feature this place on their cameras. 

I am sure you’ve seen a glimpse of Wilmington Convention Center or Victorian-era Apartments, the Market, or the famous Fort Fisher State Recreational Area somewhere.

How can Wilmington not be the best beach city in North Carolina? The romantic historic mansions, wide clean beach, and view of One Tree Hill are something you cannot miss.

Wilmington, beach town in north carolina
Wilmington – beach town in north carolina

Picture courtesy: brunswickforest

I believe Wilmington’s location at Cape Fear is just a blessing! It has a best beach, an urban outlook, a standard university, and modern job opportunities. 

Explore: eat food at Pinpoint restaurant, Riverwalk on the Cape Fear River, University campus.

Note: Wilmington’s beauty and proximity to Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach, and Carolina Beach make it America’s Best Riverfront.

Surf City

Population: 4,269

Crime rate: 5,321 (100K residents)

Cost of living index: 119.5 (US average of 100)

As the name suggests, Surf City is the best beach town in North Carolina sitting between Onslow and Pender countries on Topsail Island. It is not at all touristy!

Topsail Island is 26 miles long, and Surf City is only the walkable section of Topsail with large waves best suited for surfing. You should join Surf City School.  

Even entering Surf City through Swing Bridge is so adventurous. It is one of the small beach towns in North Carolina with a mix of old fashion shops and modern facilities.

Surf City, beach town in north carolina
Surf City – beach town in north carolina

The best thing about the beach town is the lush maritime forests and calming vibe that level up your experience. The sunset from the beach is mesmerizing. Just beauty!

Explore: Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center, visit 1970s gift shops, taste ice cream

Note: You should come to Surf City in the month of May to September


Population: 4,199

Crime rate: 23.67 (per 1,000 residents)

Cost of living index: 98.4 (US average of 100)

Southport is an old-timey city block where Fourth of July was filmed. It has been registered on the National Register of Historic Places featuring in 40 movies.

Just at the mouth of the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean sits this fun beach town in North Carolina. Southport is called “the home of salubrious breezes”. 

The natural beauty of the maritime city is so ideal for an evening walk and having good food at Ports of Call, American Fish Co., or Fishy Fishy Café. 

Southport, beach town in south carolina
Southport – beach town in south carolina

You can also visit Oak Island or Kindred Spirit Mailbox, which was shown in the movie Every Breath. Take a seat, and chat with your innermost thoughts as you reflect on a perfect trip at Southport. 

Explore: Old Brunswick County Jail Museum, Fort Johnston- Southport Museum, Riverwalk, Southport Pier, and Visitors Center. 

Note: Southport in 2015 has been ranked as America’s Happiest Seaside Town. You can bring your dog too!

Morehead City 

Population: 9,736

Crime rate: 41.23 (per 1,000 residents) 

Cost of living index: 94.0 (US average of 100)

There’s a reason why Morehead City has been voted as a beautiful beach town in North Carolina. On the crystal coast sits the vibrant town that reels you in its magic!

Morehead City in Bogue Sound is so perfect for kids building sandcastles and friends coming for fishing. Fishing is the king activity in Morehead City!

North Carolina’s Seafood Festival and Carolina Chocolate Festival are celebrated here. In the second week of June every year, they celebrate the Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament. 

Morehead City, beach town in north carolina
Morehead City – beach town in north carolina

Miles of sandy golden beaches, a well-diversified economy, and a romantic setting make it one of the best places to live in North Carolina near the beach. 

You should visit Tight Lines Brewery, famous for serving hard seltzers and ciders. I would ask you to plan for the North Carolina Seafood Festival held in October each year.

Explore: Sugarloaf Island, Promise Land Heritage Trail, and Fort Macon State Park, and walk over the Atlantic Beach on the bridge.

Emerald Isle

Population: 3,885

Crime rate: 38.47 (per 1,000 residents)

Cost of living index: 122.3 (US average of 100)

A place that welcomes singles, professionals, and families with affordable cost of living and low home prices, Emerald Isle is one of the best places to live in North Carolina near the beach.

Emerald Isle is also called Crystal Cost because of its proximity to Gulf Stream and Bouge Island. You can dip into the clearest water in the world!

Emerald Isle, beach town in north carolina
Emerald Isle – beach town in north carolina

With 12 miles of clean shore with old-fashioned neighborhoods, chartered boats on the coast, and plenty of dining scenes, Emerald Isle is the best small beach town in North Carolina.

It is one of the great places for water sports enthusiasts as there are a lot of public water access, parks, vacation rentals, and hotels. 

Explore emerald Isle Woods Park, a gorgeous shoreline, and Swansboro. 


Take a look to these above new aesthetic beach towns in North Carolina, I am sure you’ll only complement them with beauty and awe expressions!

So, this winter, let’s explore the North Carolina beach towns.


What are the affordable beach towns in North Carolina?

Cape Hatteras is the most affordable beach town in North Carolina with a cost of living 103. 0 based on the USA average of 100. On average the cost of living for a single adult is $40,299 annually.

What are the beach towns in North Carolina to live for families?

Duck is the northernmost town on the Outer Banks perfect for families. You can easily get a job in the hospitality and medical sector. 

What are the cheapest beach towns in North Carolina?

Morehead City, Wilmington, and Swansboro is the cheapest beach towns in North Carolina.

What are the small beach towns in North Carolina?

Wilmington is a small beach town in North Carolina with the best beach and urban outlook, a standard university, and modern job opportunities.

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