Bogue sound map

The Bogue Sound is one of the primary enticing backdrops on the Crystal Coast. Bordering all of the coastal beach towns from Emerald Isle to Atlantic Beach, and serving as a popular portion of the Intracoastal Waterway that cruises through this coastal Carolina region, the Bogue Sound is arguably the most popular – and the most visited – sound along the entirety of the Crystal Coast.

Serving as a playground of sorts for mariners, fishermen, watersports fans, and anyone who appreciates a good sunset, this body of water is easy to enjoy, scenic year-round, and so easy to reach that often all it takes to enjoy a view is a stroll from a local Crystal Coast vacation home.

Bogue sound at sunset behind Willis Seafood

About the Bogue Sound

The Bogue Sound stretches for roughly 25 miles along the Crystal Coast from the borders of the Beaufort Inlet and the Back Sound to the east, to the Bogue Inlet to the west. Protected to the south by the barrier island beach towns of Carteret County, (from Atlantic Beach to Emerald Isle), the ensuring waters are nicely shallow and calm, with no rough waves and generally slow moving currents. The Bogue Sound is fairly narrow as well, measuring just 3 miles wide at most at its widest points, which makes it a tempting destination for mainland kayakers and mariners who want to reach the beach.

While the southern border of the Bogue Sound is a barrier island, the northern border is mainland Carteret County, which extends from Morehead City to the east to Cedar Point, Cape Carteret and even Swansboro to the West. The geography of this saltwater sound means that virtually all the communities within the barrier island Crystal Coast region are within strolling distance of the soundfront, while mainland explorers will never be too far away from the salty waters as well – particularly in popular regions like Downtown Morehead City, or quieter western locales like Broad Creek or Cape Carteret.

In addition to serving as a saltwater sound and playground for local vacationers, the Bogue Sound is also a part of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), which is why visitors may often spot a wide range of maritime traffic trickling through the waters, alongside the Crystal Coast barrier island shoreline.

A number of marinas and public docks are located on its edges as well to attend to this maritime traffic, and because of this notoriety as part of the ICW, (as well as its locale next to a half dozen beach towns), the Bogue Sound is easily one of the most visited sounds along the northern or southern Outer Banks regions.

Boat ramps and marinas line Bogue Sound

Accessing the Bogue Sound

Because the Bogue Sound borders so many Crystal Coast hot spots – including Downtown Morehead City and the beach communities of Atlantic Beach, Salter Path, Indian Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, and Emerald Isle, reaching this large body of saltwater is an easy affair.

Visitors will find ample opportunities to rent a vacation home or condo that is soundfront, or right on the borders of the Bogue Sound, through the various rental companies that serve the Crystal Coast. In addition, there are several motels, hotels or resorts in the region that are soundfront, or at least close enough to the sound that patrons can reach the waters with a relatively easy stroll from the premises.

Many of the rental homes and condos may also offer sound-specific features that make enjoying the waters even more effortless, such as boat docks, launching areas for kayaks or other equipment, or boardwalks that lead out into the water for a picturesque sunset view. Look for “soundfront” accommodations when performing a vacation rental search, or ask your favorite Crystal Coast vacation rental provider for their varying soundfront options in the area.

In addition to the vacation rentals and other accommodations that offer 24/7 sound access, there are a number of local parks, hiking trails, and boat ramps where vacationers of all varieties can enjoy easy Bogue Sound access – regardless of whether they are visiting this body of water on foot, or visiting by boat.

Bogue Sound Access for Hikers, Explorers and Sunset Fans

If you want to catch a pretty sound sunset, cast out a fishing line from the sound borders, or simply enjoy a great birdwatching perspective, there are several parks or trails throughout the Crystal Coast that will lead you right to the Bogue Sound.

Emerald Isle Woods Park
9404 Coast Guard Road, Emerald Isle
This 41-acre park that’s located just off of Coast Guard Road features a rustic nature trail that leads through deceptively thick maritime woods before reaching the edge of the Bogue Sound, as well as a small pier and a floating dock. This park is also distinctive as its part of the NC Birding Trail system, which makes it an enticing destination for birdwatchers.

Cedar Street Park
344 Cedar Street, Emerald Isle
With just seven parking spaces, but room for kayaking and windsurfers to launch as well as a small pier, the Cedar Street Park is an enticing destination for Emerald Isle visitors who want a breezy way to explore the soundside.

Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area / North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

Map it
Head to this popular and central attraction for an opportunity to enjoy the Bogue Sound in a myriad of ways. The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores has an outdoor boardwalk and pier for wildlife watchers, while the Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area has two nature trails that are roughly 1-mile long each, and which run to the marshy sound borders.

Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail
Milepost 3.5, Hwy. 58, Atlantic Beach

Adjacent to Bojangles
This easy to access ½ mile nature trail that’s located alongside a popular Atlantic Beach shopping plaza presents a perfect opportunity for everyday vacationers to reach the Bogue Sound. The trail winds through 31 acres of maritime forest and marshes before arriving at the water’s edge, and a pretty sunset vantage point.

Jaycee Park
S 9th St, Morehead City
Jaycee Park takes up a small sliver of Downtown Morehead City terrain, but this scenic park that has local statues and benches steps away from the docks serves as a fine viewing platform for admiring the local vessels that cruise along the ICW, as well as the barely outlying Sugarloaf Island.

Bogue Sound Access for Mariners

In addition to the numerous parks and trails where visitors can launch a kayak, take a hike, or just enjoy a water view, there are also a number of local public boat ramps so mariners cruising along the ICW can pause to explore the area, or everyday vacationers can set off on a Bogue Sound adventure.

Cedar Point
144 Cedar Point Blvd., Cedar Point
This mainland boat ramp features 44 parking spaces, handicapped accessible facilities, and a prime location that’s on the intersection of NC 58 and NC 24 in western Carteret County. From this launching point, mariners can head south and then east to connect with the Bogue Sound within minutes.

Emerald Isle
6800 Emerald Dr., Emerald Isle
This popular boat ramp in the heart of Emerald Isle features an impressive 131 parking spaces, handicapped accessible facilities, and a locale that’s on the edge of the Bogue Sound. The ramp is also easy to reach, and is just off of Emerald Isle’s “main drag,” or Emerald Drive.

Morehead City
3407 Arendell St., Morehead City
This public boat ramp that’s next to both the Crystal Coast Tourism Authority and the NC Division of Marine Fisheries features 33 parking spaces, handicapped accessible facilities, and an easy to reach locale for any mainland Crystal Coast visitor.

Bogue Sound from Cedar St Park

Ways to Enjoy the Bogue Sound

Once a visitor is at the water’s edge, they’ll find a tempting array of things to do that can range from cruising in a pontoon or skiff, to paddling on top of a SUP board. Offering an alternative to lazy days by the ocean, the Bogue Sound is a treasure trove of on-the-water fun.

Fishing – A number of inshore or nearshore charters like to head to secretive corners of the Bogue Sound, and for good reason. The Bogue Sound is a prime destination for a number of coveted NC saltwater species, including flounder, occasional sheapshead, cobia, mackerel, trout, and mullets of all sizes, (but especially the smaller baiting mullet.) Casting a line, cast-netting, and even dunking in a hand-line for crabs are all effective fishing methods in these waters, thanks to its abundance of species.

Kayaking – Kayaking is nice and easy along the Bogue Sound, thanks to the barrier island border that generally protects it from strong ocean currents or waves. Kayakers will just want to use caution, and steer clear of the main “traffic routes” that are utilized by a wide range of ICW maritime traffic.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding – Visitors who want to try a new watersport will want to check out stand up paddle boarding, or SUP, which is easily the hottest watersports craze to hit the Carolina coastline since kiteboarding. A number of soundside watersports companies offer rentals and / or lessons, and also feature on-site docks which make it easy to explore the Bogue Sound waters within minutes.

Windsurfing and Kiteboarding – Windsurfing and kiteboarding are both big in coastal North Carolina, and many soundfront rental homes or public soundfront parks offer rigging areas, as well as easy access points that connect with the Bogue Sound within seconds. With ample room to move, and fall and spring winds that are often ideal for boarders of all skill levels, the Bogue Sound is an ideal platform for boarding enthusiasts.

Birdwatching – From the quiet nature trails of Emerald Isle and Pine Knoll Shores to the waterside docks of Downtown Morehead City, virtually any locale along the Bogue Sound can present exceptional birdwatching opportunities. With several local trails listed as part of the NC Birding Trail system, (particularly in Emerald Isle and Atlantic Beach), visitors will have no trouble checking off a wide range of shorebirds off their list.

Boating – Boating is naturally a popular activity in the Bogue Sound, due to its connection with the Intracoastal Waterway, the Atlantic Ocean, and a network of other major bodies of water. With multiple public ramps and marinas and / or marine services abundant in the area, going on a boating adventure through the sound is always an easy feat.

From mariners cruising along the East Coast to everyday vacationers who want to get their toes wet in a new watersport, the Bogue Sound offers plenty of ways for Crystal Coast visitors to enjoy the water in new and enticing ways. Bring along the skiff or swing by a watersports rental company, and come discover one of the most popular bodies of water on the Crystal Coast, second only to the Atlantic Ocean.

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