147 miles SE of Raleigh; 3 miles W of Beaufort; 45 miles SE of New Bern; 87 miles NE of Wilmington
This has been an important port for oceangoing vessels since 1857 and is the world's largest tobacco-export terminal. Across the Intracoastal Waterway from Beaufort, and the gateway to the Atlantic Beach-Emerald Isle area, it attracts many fishermen. Both onshore and offshore fishing trips are offered here, and tournaments are held throughout the year. The biggest event is the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament (tel. 252/247-3575; www.thebigrock.com), staged over 6 days, beginning the second Monday in June. Stroll the little waterfront boardwalk, where boats hired for deep-sea fishing trips clean the day's catch. Or stop in for a platter of fresh shrimp and hush puppies in "old-timey" seafood restaurants like Captain Bill's and the Sanitary Fish Market, both with waterfront dining.