Belhaven is located on Pantego Creek just off the Pungo River portion of the ICW at 35.5402° N, 76.6230° W. Safe harbor may be found at five full service marinas, and free docking is available at Cooperage landing on Pantego Creek. For further details see “Outdoor Links” below.
There are three North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission boat launch ramps within 20 miles of Belhaven that provide access to the upper and lower Pungo River, Pamlico Sound, and the myriad tributary creeks. Free of charge and open to the public, the ramps are located at Wright’s Creek, Rose Bay, and in Belhaven.
Kayaks can be rented at Dowry Creek Marina, located on paddler-friendly Upper Dowry Creek. and Belhaven Marina, located on Pantego Creek which is surrounded and protected by vast pristine wetlands. Dinah’s Landing at Goose Creek State Park also offers a quality paddling stream open to the public.
The Pungo River is a sub-estuary of the Pamlico Sound estuarine system, hemmed in from the Atlantic Ocean by the Outer Banks.
Its temperate latitude places it in the northern range of many southern species, and in the southern range of several northern species. Combined with a range of brackish salinity the location and seasonal temperatures allow the system to support a broad diversity of fisheries within short distances of each other.
Whether fishing from the bank for White Perch with a cane pole or stalking Giant Redfish and Tarpon from a boat, the Belhaven area has fishing choices for every angler. Other popular species include Speckled Trout, Southern Flounder, Striped Bass, and Spanish Mackerel.
Pungo Charters is among the guide services offered in the region. Public fishing opportunities are available at the Cooperage Landing on Pantego Creek pier, the Town Dock at Wynn’s Gut, the foot of the Route 99 bridge on the southbound side, and at Bell Island Pier in Swan Quarter National Wildlife Refuge. Essential tackle may be purchased at Riddick and Windley Ace Hardware and Baker Building Supply.
The Pungo River and its numerous tributary creeks are home to a healthy population of Blue Crabs.
Several of Belhaven’s cottage and room rentals feature private piers and public crabbing locations include Cooperage Landing on Pantego Creek pier, and at Bell Island Pier in Swan Quarter National Wildlife Refuge.
Line and nets can be purchased at Riddick and Windley Ace Hardware and Baker Building Supply. Bait, (chicken necks, and pieces) are available at Food Lion in Belhaven. Machapunga Ecotours offers a charter specifically dedicated to learning the blue crab life cycle and crabbing.
Wildlife and Birding
The Belhaven region is rich with venues for casual birders, avid enthusiasts, and photographers. Several hundred thousand acres of nearby National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs), North Carolina Game Lands, Goose Creek State Park, and vast areas of wetland and forested acres throughout the Pungo/Pamlico watershed offer year around birding and wildlife viewing by land and water. Passerine birds, raptors, wading species, and migratory waterfowl seasonally inhabit the area, making for a diverse selection of species throughout the year.
The nearby Pungo Unit of Pocosin Lakes NWR and Lake Mattamuskeet NWR are especially popular for the presence of Tundra Swans, Snow Geese, and many other species of migratory waterfowl in late fall, winter, and early spring. The Pungo unit is also known for its dense Black Bear population and the elusive Red Wolf. Pods of Bottlenose Dolphin and otters are frequently sighted in the waters of the Pungo River. Machapunga Ecotours can be charted for a private estuarine ecology cruise.
The Belhaven area is surrounded by hundreds of thousands of acres in public lands, including National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) lands and North Carolina Game Lands, providing a wealth of options for public hunting resources.
Small game, dove, turkey, waterfowl, white tail deer, bobcat, and black bear hunting opportunities may be included on these lands. See “Outdoor Links” to explore public hunting in the area, and be sure to read regulations carefully for different location.