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Located on what is referred to as “The Inner Banks”, the gateway to the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW) and the Pamlico Sound, Belhaven, NC is perhaps eastern North Carolina’s best kept coastal secret. We locals like to refer to Belhaven as the closest thing you’ll get to Mayberry, the fictional town based on Mount Airy, NC in the Andy Griffith show. The most common thing we hear from our guests is, “The people in Belhaven are so friendly”.

It’s a town where our kids still go out the door in the morning to play and come back inside when the street lights come on, and nobody worries too much if they locked their doors when they left the house because our neighbors help watch out for neighbors.

Belhaven played a vital role in the construction of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in North Carolina and to this day enjoys a steady tide of visiting boaters making their way up or down the ICW. The waterway has brought guests as diverse as actor John Ratzenberger to Jimmy Buffett to our docks and it’s not uncommon to meet folks that have docked in town from Canada, New Zealand, Belize, California and many locales up and down the eastern seaboard.

Our history with this little coastal gem goes way back to our childhoods. We grew up visiting Belhaven with our families to check on relatives in the area, boat, fish, catch blue crabs from the brackish waters (that’s half salt/half fresh water) and to eat the smorgasbord buffet in the River Room Restaurant in the world famous River Forest Manor and Marina. We still get goose bumps when we come over the bridge that crosses the harbor bringing you into town. You smell the coastal air, see the sailboats anchored in the harbor and feel a sense of relaxation coming over you. It never gets old.

Belhaven was always a laid back river town that seemed to be on its own clock, and it’s still that way today. We often joke there’s island time and there’s Belhaven time, and Belhaven time can be, “whatever time I get there”, but that’s part of it’s charm and baked into its character and the characters that live here year around.

Belhaven, like so many small towns, has had it share of population decline over the years. However, there’s been a surge in new residents moving in, especially during the “Covid years”, and we’re seeing lots of new faces around town. We’re also experiencing growth in restaurants and new businesses opening in town. For years we had limited options for dining and shopping so we made the 35 minute trek over to “Little” Washington or the 50 minute drive to Greenville. Now we have lots of amazing restaurants to choose from. Spoon River, a personal favorite, has become a destination spot for excellent dining for and has been featured on WUNC TV and in Our State magazine. Belhaven has something for just about every palate; a little Mexican restaurant that stays busy. There’s Fish Hooks, a seafood restaurant that offers the best fried shrimp and a great Sunday buffet. There’s Farm Boys right on the corner downtown that has been serving supremely delicious burgers, fries and shakes for as long as we can remember, and for the daring ask the counter staff at Farm Boys for the meat sandwich. We even have a few food trucks now and our first brewery (more on that brewery in a later post).

Even with the growth we remain a friendly small town with only three chain stores (Walgreens, Food Lion and Hardees) no hotels and a place where there is no “rate race” and rushing around takes a backseat to just being happy. We have the best sunrises and the most amazing sunsets and the fishing is by far some of the best you will find on the east coast. In future posts you’ll read more about the amazing natural beauty of the area like the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and the amazing bounty of natural waterways and tributaries. We also have one of the largest populations of Black Bear in the United States and we have many photographers that stay with us to photograph these magnificent animals. I won’t even get into the bald eagles and the millions of migratory birds, I’ll leave that for another post, too.

We hope you’ll book a stay with us and come experience NC’s best kept (coastal) secret. If we’re home we’ll be glad to play tour guide, get you on the water and point you in the right direction for exploration. You won’t be disappointed.

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