The idea of a secret beach always creates a little buzz. Weekend warriors like myself are always looking for a little undiscovered piece of sand to escape the masses. When I lived in Seattle, I discovered a tide-specific beach accessible only by boat. At high tide the beach vanished below the waterline but if you timed it just right... I eventually wrote an article about the beach and the piece even got picked up by the Seattle PI. Fast forward to my current life in Eastern North Carolina. I've got my favorite spots but they too get a little crowded in the summer. Luckily I shifted into explorer mode and found a few secret spots.
Now, although I blew my cover by sharing the exact location of the Seattle secret beach, I'll not make that mistake again here. However, I will tell you a great place to launch so that you may discover your own secret beach on one of the Intracoastal Waterway's many barrier islands. The little sandy launch site pictured above is adjacent to the Cedar Point Intracoastal Waterway Access, located in Carteret County, just past Swansboro on highway 24 (called NC WRC Boating Access on Google Maps).
Here, there's instant boat ramp access to the ICW and plenty of parking for trucks & trailers, and about 6 single parking spots (no trailers). On busy weekends the single spots fill up pretty fast. When full, I have parked in the 'boat slip owners only' parking spots (didn't get a ticket...maybe I got lucky?). This boat ramp is close to kayak rentals, restaurants, and plenty of little shops. It's close to both Swansboro and Emerald Isle.
Although I'm sworn to secrecy, I can say that it's a quick paddle and a few turns to arrive at several uninhabited barrier islands with beaches to explore (no camping though). Many of these islands and beaches are no doubt private property, however, the frequency of 'no camping' signs and lack of 'no trespassing' signs is, I'm pretty sure, North Carolinian for "go for it".
So, we hope we've given you a few leads on how to discover your very own secret beach via the boating access at Cedar Point, NC. It's a great launch if you're looking for a quick, scenic paddle around barrier islands (and if you need a beach to let your dog off-leash!). As always, paddle safe, watch the weather, and check the tides - a return paddle against the wind and current is no fun.
~Paul, Amber, Eleanor ETC
P.S. Link to all of the NC WRC Boating Access Sites
Plan B: Is the lot full? Too busy? Try plan B close by: Hammocks Beach State Park
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