Belhaven, in Beaufort County, is a lovely fishing, farming, tourist and retirement community along the banks of Pantego Creek, Pungo River and the Intracoastal Waterway. Its name means "beautiful harbor." It is served by State Highway 99 and US Highways 64 and 264.
Originally named Jack's Neck, Belhaven was once a bustling industrial town with a half dozen lumber companies and a branch of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad.
Nearby Pamlico River and Pamlico Sound, along with the railroad, provided the transportation necessary to move the hundreds of tons of wood products produced in northeastern North Carolina. These same waters still provide a living for residents today, as they yield their plentiful bounty of crabs, fish and shrimp to local fishermen.
Beaufort County is known as the "Waterfront Capital of North Carolina" with a water area of 88,000 acres within a total area of 826 square miles.
It was selected by the English colonists for much the same reasons people choose to move both their businesses and their families to Beaufort County today: the agreeable climate, the vast expanses of oak and pine forests, and the miles of waterfront property.
The area's climate is typical of the mid-Atlantic. There are 4 full seasons of nearly equal length, with sunshine over 75% of the time. The average low temperature is 57 degrees in January, and the average high temperature in July is 90 degrees.
Many of the grand homes built in the latter 1800s and early 1900s still stand today. The finest is the circa 1904 River Forest Manor. Its first owner was John Aaron Wilkinson, president of Roper Lumber Company, and vice-president of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad. Today this magnificent building is a country inn, restaurant and marina, which boasts of many famous visitors throughout the years.
Other area attractions include the Belhaven Memorial Museum, the Historic Albemarle Tour, the Mattamuskeet Lodge and the Atlantic Coastline Railroad Depot, which currently serves as headquarters for the Beaufort County Arts Council. The freight warehouse is home to the Washington Civic Center and art gallery. Other points of interest are the Ralph Memorial Library, the Boyette Civic Center and others.
Belhaven has also hosted an exciting Independence Day Celebration since the early 1900s. The day of festivities is highlighted by a mile-long parade, and closes with an exciting display of fireworks illuminating the sky over the waters of the Pungo River.
Nearby colleges and universities include East Carolina University, Pitt Community College, Coastal Carolina Community College, Tidewater Community College, Norfolk State University, ECPI College of Technology and Old Dominion University.
Hospitals and medical centers in and near Belhaven include the Pungo District
Hospital, Beaufort County Hospital, Washington County Hospital and Martin General Hospital.
The Pungo River provides many opportunities for swimming, sailing and water skiing, and is a favorite fishing spot for crabs and a wide variety of fish. The area is well known among hunters of deer, geese and ducks. Beaufort County is known as the "Waterfront Capital of North Carolina" with a water area of 88,000 acres within a total area of 826 square miles. It features a 40,000-acre lake, which is North Carolina's largest natural lake that offers plenty of largemouth bass, sunfish, white perch, crappie, herring and blue crabs.
Eastern Beaufort County is also blessed with an abundance of wildlife. For hunters, waterfowl and white-tail deer are the most sought after. Additionally, there is a sufficient population of black bear, squirrels and quail.
For those who don't hunt, but enjoy observing wildlife in its natural surroundings, it's just a short drive to Lake Mattamuskeet where you can see abundant wildlife in the fall and winter. The Mattamuskeet Wildlife Refuge was established in 1934 and presently manages just over 50,000 acres. Mattamuskeet Lodge, which is in the National Register of Historic Places, is 9 miles east of Swan Quarter.