Oriental, NC

At the mouth of the Neuse River on Pamlico Sound is the village of Oriental ( 36 miles from Beaufort, NC). Although Oriental is in the far east area of coastal North Carolina, its name has nothing to do with its location or relationship with the Orient. The town was named by the wife of Oriental’s founder and first postmaster. She saw the name on the transom nameboard of a steamship that sank off Hatteras in 1862.

The nameboard washed ashore and was displayed in a residence in Manteo where she was visiting. She learned that the steamship, headed from New York to blockade the Wilmington harbor, was in the service of Union forces when it sank during the Civil War. Passengers and crew aboard were saved, but the steamship was never salvaged. Its legacy is preserved in the name of the village now known as the “Sailing Capital of North Carolina.”

Probably because of the number of sailors in town with a legendary ability to create a legend, Oriental annually celebrates the Running of the Dragon on New Year’s Eve. Oriental also celebrates a Croaker Festival each Fourth of July weekend with parade, waterfront carnival, fish fries and fireworks. The weekend honors this most plentiful of local fish that croaks when it’s caught.

The Tarpon Tournament in late July brings lots of anglers to Oriental for some of the most interesting fishing possible. Tarpon, which average 100 pounds in size, summer in the Pamlico Sound and Neuse River and provide exciting engagements with competing anglers. Sail racing also is a top sport in Oriental. The Oriental Cup Regatta each September raises funds for scholarships for local students. It’s a great weekend on the river. Oriental’s Spirit of Christmas in the second weekend of December is a good reason to return. The hospitality of open house at shops and galleries with live entertainment, the Tree of Lights in the waterfront park and decorated boats in the harbor bring visitors back to Oriental for the holidays.

Discover Oriental’s sailing schools, summer camps, boat shopping, bed and breakfast inns, antique plundering and nice dining. These features make Oriental a year ’round destination for any reason.