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The Natural Traveler Along North Carolina's Coast

John Manuel

John F. Blair, Publisher
$18.95 paperback
7 x 9
322 pages
black-and-white pictures throughout
Published in 2003

Many people who visit North Carolina’s coast have ambitions no grander than lying on the sand, eating seafood, and shopping the outlet malls. On the other hand, there are those who would prefer a nighttime “turtle walk” on Bald Head Island, where they might see a giant loggerhead emerge from the sea and lumber across the sand to lay her eggs. And those who would travel the Roanoke River Paddle Trail, negotiating a labyrinth of streams by day and camping by night in a swamp home to minks, bobcats, barred owls, and black bears.

If you’re a nature lover who’d like to discover a surprising array of wild places, then The Natural Traveler Along North Carolina’s Coast is the resource for you. The book covers all the region’s classic sites—Wright Brothers National Memorial, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Tryon Palace, historic Wilmington—but gives special emphasis to places that celebrate nature. Here, you’ll discover the birder’s paradise that is Lake Mattamuskeet. You’ll see why the revamped North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is as impressive as any such facility on the East Coast. You’ll be moved to explore the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum before your ferry ride to remote Cape Lookout.

Author John Manuel’s introductory chapter on the natural history of the coast will familiarize you with the variety of habitats you’ll encounter in your travels. He also provides hard information on dates of operation, fees, and directions, as well as sidebars on subjects of special interest and recommendations for restaurants and lodgings.

A sample of the activities described in The Natural Traveler Along North Carolina’s Coast:

  • Sign up for a wolf howling at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
  • Hike the trails in the Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve
  • Hang-glide off the sand dune at Jockey’s Ridge State Park
  • Deep-sea fish for marlin out of Oregon Inlet Fishing Center
  • Canoe the Roanoke River Canoe Trail and camp on a wooden platform
  • Observe tundra swans migrating through Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge
  • Watch sea turtles crawl on to the beach at night on Bald Head Island
  • Hunt for Venus flytraps in the Green Swamp
  • Sea kayak out to Bear Island


“The coast of North Carolina remains one of the nation's top tourist draws, bringing in more than 8 million visitors each year to fish, fly kites, and build sand castles. For those who are about to make their summer vacation plans—those ready for more adventure than what they can find on the pier, those whose knees buckle at the thought of miniature golf, those with no more quarters for the video arcade—John Manuel offers his new guidebook The Natural Traveler Along North Carolina's Coast.” —The Regulator Bookshop
“I bought this guide to the North Carolina coast at a book signing by the author while I was at the Outer Banks. It was very useful with an interesting and different slant from the typical guidebook. It makes me want to come back and spend more time exploring other parts of the area in more depth. I highly recommend it for anyone who loves the natural world and North Carolina.”

“Who knew that there were so many interesting and accessible areas to explore along the NC coast? We look forward to taking some of the trips described in this unusual book.”

—Amazon.com reviews