Down East, North Carolina is actually a group of communities to the East of the town of Beaufort
in Carteret County. Most often, the communities included in Down East are: Bettie, Otway, Straits, Harker's Island, Gloucester, Marshallberg, Tusk, Smyrna, Williston, Davis, Stacy, Masontown, Sea Level, Atlantic, and Cedar Island. Harker's Island is arguably the most popular with tourists as it has ferry services available to the lighthouse on Cape Lookout National Seashore
, Shackleford Banks
and the Core Sound Museum
Harker's Island is a great place to have a picnic
Cape Lookout and Shackleford are both great places to enjoy the beach and go shelling and Shakleford is home to wild horses, descended from horses from old Spanish shipwrecks. The Core Sound Museum is dedicated to the of the peoples of Down East and the occupations of the area.
The lighthouse at Cape Lookout
Wild horse on Shackleford Banks
The other popular community Down East is Cedar Island. Cedar Island is, in large part, a wildlife refuge with hiking and boating access. The main reason that this community sees so much traffic, however, is that Cedar Island serves as the southern gateway to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Tourists and locals alike take the Cedar Island ferry
to the town of Ocracoke
and from there, on to the rest of the Outer Banks.
Public boat ramp/dock on Cedar Island
There is plenty to do Down East, from shopping, to dining to just enjoying nature. The locals are nice albeit sometimes difficult to understand because of their local dialect (High Tider), which is a remnant of Elizabethan English. Whether you are looking to gain access to the Outer Banks or just want to go for a nice drive, Down East offers splendid views the entire way.