Beaufort, North Carolina

Best Places to Retire in North Carolina


Beaufort (pronounced “bo-furt”) is located on the coast, just four miles east of Morehead City. It is an historic seaport community and the third oldest in the state, dating to 1722. Its year-round population is about 4,000 residents. This region of the North Carolina’s coastline is known for its magnificent sand beaches, and is commonly called the “Crystal Coast.” It includes the Bogue Banks communities of Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Indian Beach, Salter Path, and Emerald Isle, which together, boast a strip of beautiful sand beach about 20 miles long.

Beaufort is just inside the main ship’s channel from the ocean, which comes between Shackleford Banks and Bogue Banks islands. The inlet is wide, well marked, and maintained to a depth of 40 feet. It is a very popular stopping place for large private vessels that travel up and down the coast, either on the Intracoastal Waterway, or the ocean. Beaufort’s harbor is a favorite for sailboaters because its Taylor creek offers deep water and a well-protected mooring field and its waterfront features a boardwalk with extensive town-owned docks. The street along the waterfront is lined with interesting shops and there are a number of good restaurants. On weekends in boating season, there is usually live music at the docks in the evening. Tourists and visitors alike flock to the waterfront, which is usually active with boats moving in and out, or perhaps a fishing tournament. People also congregate or to watch the porpoises, or catch a glimpse of the wild horses across the channel on Carrot Island.

As you walk a block or two from the water, there are many beautifully restored Victorian homes, and a number of Bed & Breakfast establishments. Several streets carry the English influence from colonial days, such as Queen and Ann Streets, or Pollock for the Colonial Governor. Beaufort has been careful to preserve its history and many structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Anyone looking for an area of unspoiled charm where you can relax and enjoy the laid back pace, and the natural beauty of salt marshes, the protected sounds, and coast barrier islands will appreciate Beaufort. And though it is a small community, there are many resources and amenities that are not far away, supported by the combined populations of the small communities that dot the coast, and the large influx of beach-goers that come to the Crystal Coast from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Annual events of note are the Seafood Festival and the Big Rock Marlin Tournament held in Morehead City, with prizes of one million dollars or more.

Beaufort is an area that has long been appreciated for all it has to offer. Now it is being discovered as a possible retirement destination.

Arts & Culture

Historic Fort Macon rests on the east end of Bogue Banks where it has stood guard for the deepwater shipping channel into Morehead City and Beaufort. Constructed from 1826-1834, the fort was captured by the Confederacy early in the Civil War and occupied by its troops for about a year. It was re-taken by the Federals after an artillery siege in the spring of 1862, giving the Union forces complete control over the entire North Carolina coast. The fort was re-commissioned for service during World War II to prevent German U-boats from entering the harbor.

The North Carolina Maritime Museum preserves and interprets all aspects of North Carolina’s maritime heritage. It also has an active boatbuilding program which uses master builders and area volunteers to both restore old boats or construct new small boats, often as likenesses of those that plied the waters of the area generations ago.

Tryon Palace at New Bern (30 miles) is where the colonial governor of the North Carolina Colony lived. Governor Tryon left North Carolina at the time of the American Revolution to become Governor of the New York colony. The palace is a very large, stately brick structure with extensive grounds and beautiful gardens which are frequently refreshed with new plantings . There is a visitors center and a number of other historic buildings in the area open to the public. Docents in period costumes serve as guides.

Forty miles away is historic New Bern with an active arts calendar, a civic theater, a community concert series, and a number of community-supported events such as the very popular Ghost Walks, Mum Festival, and Christmas boat parade.


The coastal region of the state offers outstanding opportunities for birding, surfing, in-shore or off-shore fishing, wreck diving, claming, crabbing, oystering, canoeing, kayaking, boating, and sailing. It has miles of sand beaches, including sand beaches on barrier islands that may get only a handful of visitors even at the busiest season of the year. Of course, you need to reach them by small boat or kayak. There are also a number of good golf courses, and tennis courts.

Fort Macon State Park, the site upon which the fort is located, is a 398-acre site. In addition to the Fort, visitors can crest the huge sand dunes and fish, or sunbath on the Morehead/Beaufort inlet (no swimming allowed), or they can use the mile or more of sand beach that stretches down the island. At the west end of the park there is a beach entrance road that leads to a large parking area, with pavilions, picnic tables and grills, and there are showers and restroom facilities. A climb up the stairs and over the boardwalk and you are on a beautiful sand beach. There is no charge for use of the beaches, or to visit the fort.

One of the big events in nearby Morehead City is the “Big Rock Fishing Tournament” held annually in the first part of June. It is one of the most prestigious Billfishing events in the world, attracting off-shore fishing boats costing 200 million dollars and up. Prize money exceeds $1,000,000. While not many can afford to fish, it is a great spectator event to see the big fish brought to the scales and weighed each day of the week.


Carteret Community College in Morehead City is part of the North Carolina college system. It offers more than 100 course of study. The college enrolls about 1,900 in its curriculum and has approximately 4,500 continuing education students.

Senior Programs

Carteret County Senior Programs Division, Morehead City —


Carteret General Hospital in Morehead City is a 117-bed acute care hospital.


Coastal Carolina Regional Airport at New Bern is about 30 miles away. It has a modern terminal and offers scheduled flights that connect in Charlotte. 


The average temperatures for January are a high of 55 and low of 35 degrees. For July the averages are a high of 89 and low of 73 degrees.


Beaufort Gazette —

Property Taxes

Carteret County Tax Assessor’s Office.

State Taxes

Chamber of Commerce

Carteret County Chamber of Commerce.

State Aging Agency


Morehead City – 4 miles
Atlantic Beach – 6 miles
Salter Path – 14 miles
Emerald Isle – 18 miles
Havelock – 21 miles
Swansboro – 28 miles
Jacksonville – 47 miles
New Bern – 40 miles
Greenville – 82 miles
Wilmington – 98 miles
Raleigh – 148 miles

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