Friday, December 23, 2011

December on the Beach

It is hard to believe that the four days leading up to Christmas Eve have had temperatures over 65F along North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks.  While it has been a warm winter so far on the east coast,  it has been terrific along the south facing beaches of the Crystal Coast.

The Crystal Coast runs roughly from Beaufort, NC to Swansboro, NC.  It is just enough off the beaten path to miss the huge crowds during the summer.  Most of us living here year round enjoy the few weeks each year that we have tourists.  The area seems festive and busy for about eight weeks during the summer.

Then we slide into the fall which is the favorite season for most of us.  The water is warm, the beaches are empty, and this fall the fish were biting.  It is the best time to be on the coast.  As the fall progresses and the water cools, the fish don't bite as much, and most of the fishermen start thinking about next year.

As late November arrives, usually we cool down considerably.   That didn't happen this year. December has been full of days when the temperature got to seventy degrees and even better.  It has been shorts weather all through our last month of 2012.  There have been some stellar beach days.

When the holidays get close, the beach gets very quiet.  A few restaurants close for part of December and January.  As the new year gets into sight, residents often wander inland to visit family and friends.  A lucky few enjoy the piece and quiet along the waters along Bogue Sound and our coastal rivers as Santa makes his rounds.

With crab pot Christmas trees adorning many yards, and few places to go crazy shopping, the peace of the Crystal Coast seems to remove some of the commercialism from the holiday season.  It is a very quiet time on the coast, but there are still boats on the water and even a few fishermen trying their luck.  The beaches, while uncrowded, are far from deserted.  You can still buy some fresh shrimp and a nice flounder for dinner without much difficulty.

Only during the coldest weather do the beaches become completely empty.  When we do get our cold weather, usually defined by temperatures during the day of just under 50F, the herons, egrets, and pelicans retire to the sheltered creeks and marshes where they find protection from the cold winds.

Winter rarely lasts long.  Even last year's record winter started to fade in the middle of February.  By the end of February the warm North Carolina sun always heats up the soils of Carteret County.   By March things are starting to grow, and sometime between late March and the middle of April, the strawberries announce the beginning the berry season.

By late April or early May, the fishing begins to show some life.  The tourists start showing up on weekends during the spring, and by the second or third week of June, we're back to being a tourist beach.

The rhythm of life along the Crystal Coast doesn't change a lot.  It is a pleasant mix of warm and cool weather with plenty of outside festivals to keep us busy. We have visitors just long enough to make us feel festive.

Join us in the coming year if  you have never been or you can't make it down for the 2012 holidays.  If you need to relax and find the real you once again, we are a good place to start looking.  More information is available on this welcome page.