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Old 05-01-2015, 07:11 PM
 
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I am considering relocating to Coastal North Carolina in a year or so. I originally visited the Wilmington & Southport area last August and was disappointed with the ocean water at the beaches (Wrightsville, Carolina and Oak Island) really murky and dark. I know its not the Caribbean but its not near what I expected. I was also told that beach parking is inadequate during the summer and you need to get there first thing in the morning to get a parking space. Neither of these is what I am looking for so I have shifted my focus and am looking in Ocean Isle, Sunset Beach, Calabash area. Is the water clearer at the southern part of N. Carolina (Ocean Isle, Sunset, Holden Beach) and is there parking at these beaches??

The beach is really important in my relocation selection. Any opinions or suggestion is appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 05-01-2015, 09:01 PM
 
Location: The Emerald City
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It's the Atlantic Ocean. I'm not sure you'll see clear water ever. I have lived near this ocean all my life and never seen my feet while swimming in it.

People who live and work near the coast come to the beach on weekends. North Carolina families have come to these beaches during summer for generations.

If you want clear water, try the west coast of Florida.
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Old 05-01-2015, 09:10 PM
 
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I've seen the ocean from Key West, Florida to Searsport, Maine and the water is pretty much all the same. Sometimes it may be cloudier than others if there are storms offshore stirring things up, but it doesn't have anything to do with what beach you're at.
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Old 05-02-2015, 03:57 AM
 
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Of the top 50 clear blue water destinations, the only one in the in the US is Torch Lake, Mich. Hope you like it cold.
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Old 05-02-2015, 05:23 AM
 
Location: Sneads Ferry, NC
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The Crystal Coast water is claimed to be clearer because the beaches face more east than south. Those beaches are the ones nearer Morehead City: Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach, etc.

I can not verify that claim.
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Old 05-02-2015, 07:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldenage1 View Post
The Crystal Coast water is claimed to be clearer because the beaches face more east than south. Those beaches are the ones nearer Morehead City: Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach, etc.

I can not verify that claim.
I'm a bit confused by this statement in that generally, the NC coast line faces south east once you get south of Cape Hatteras but:

Two predominant shoal's, Diamond shoals and Frying Pan shoals "turn" the coast line almost due south. That is, the coast line runs east/west with the view of the ocean to the south.

Diamond shoals is associated with Pine Knoll Shores, Atlantic Beach, Indian Beach, Emerald Isle (collectively called The Crystal Coast) all face almost due south.

Frying Pan shoals is associated with Oak Island, Long Beach, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle (generally just called the Brunswick County beaches) also all face almost due south.


Both areas are 30-40 miles in length and offer sunrises over the ocean to your left and sun sets over the ocean to your right. I don't think there are many places on the east coat that can claim this except Key West and maybe the northern Long Island and Nantucket areas.

Does any of this make the water clearer? I'm not so sure. I've done a fair amount of SCUBA of the NC coast and visibility can vary greatly from day to day, even hour to hour. Seldom does it come close to the clarity of waters further south like the Florida Keys or the Caribbean.

I've been fortunate in that I have boated in almost every river and sound along the NC coast and the entirety of the ICW in NC. Water color seldom changes from the olive green you generally see but at times there are areas that can be as cobalt blue or aquamarine as any water you would see in the Caribbean.

Last edited by ditchoc; 05-02-2015 at 07:39 AM..
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Old 05-02-2015, 07:12 AM
 
Location: Chapelboro
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I'm not sure your expectations are in line with reality. It's the ocean and it's gonna do what it wants to do. Some people say that Oak Island is a little murkier because the Cape Fear empties into the ocean close to there, but I have not found significant differences in the water at any of the beaches I've been to in NC, SC, GA, VA, MD, NJ, NY, MA, ME or the Atlantic side of Florida (northern areas). It's been so long since I've been to the Gulf I can't remember the water clarity there, but I believe Destin and Sanibel Island are supposed to be very nice. I was just at Wrightsville over Spring Break (first of April) and the water was very cold, but gorgeous IMO that day. Very blue/green out at sea. It wasn't crystal clear. I'm afraid you're going to have to go to the Caribbean or South Florida for that.
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Old 05-02-2015, 07:14 AM
 
Location: Sneads Ferry, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ditchoc View Post
I'm a bit confused by this statement in that generally, the NC coast line faces south east once you get south of Cape Hatteras but: ......
Does any of this make the water clearer? I'm not so sure. I've done a fair amount of SCUBA of the NC coast and visibility can vary greatly from day to day, even hour to hour. Seldom does it come close to the clarity of waters further south like the Florida Keys or the Caribbean.
Perhaps the CrystalCoastHost can explain better. I believe there is some pollution from the lumber mills and farms up the Cape Fear River which affects the water clarity at Oak Island.

Just based on the geography of Brunswick County with all south facing beaches, I don't see why Sunset, Ocean Isle or Holden Beach would have significantly cleaner water than Oak Island.

I was also wondering if the OP wanted to do Scuba diving. If so, there are better areas.
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Old 05-02-2015, 07:15 AM
 
Location: Wilmington, NC.
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I've been to Wrightsville beach 10+ times and twice it was clear blue that you could be chest deep in the water and still see clear down to the sand and see your toes clear as day. It was awesome. Some people wanted to relate it to the storms that just went through. But who knows.
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Old 05-02-2015, 07:36 AM
 
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I have little doubt the Cape Fear river basin suffers from more pollution that affects clarity. My comments were more generally about the direction the beaches face in these areas face which is generally due south and not "more east than south". It can be a bit confusing. The shore line actually runs east and west. Looking straight out into the ocean from these areas is generally due south. I still stumble around thinking north and south most times on the beach when someone says something about the east or west end of the island I have to stop and think "huh?".
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