The blue crab is North Carolina’s most important commercially harvested species. More people ply the waters of Pamlico Sound and its tributaries to commercially catch this crusty crustacean than any other aquatic animal in North Carolina. The biology of blue crabs is like a fairy tale, with their “fingernail painted” red-tipped clawed females (sooks) carrying batches of fertilized eggs to spawning areas near inlets, and the larger blue-tipped clawed males (jimmys) preferring fresher waters to scavenge and mate. Amazingly, the blue crab will literally burst out of a confining shell when its mass has outgrown its skeleton. This renewed creature is soft for several hours, until enough minerals have been absorbed from the surrounding waters, when it miraculously becomes hard again.

Crystal Coast Ecotours has their own crab pots allowing participants to experience the thrill of harvesting crabs the way the local watermen do. They also have crab lines that can be fished from their boat or the shore, providing the opportunity to catch your very own crab with a dip net.

Additionally, they can pull nets (seines) through grass beds or tidal creeks which will capture juvenile blue crabs and other creatures. Throughout the crabbing adventure Capt. Jess Hawkins of Crystal Coast Ecotours will explain the biology of the blue crab, describe the vital role they have in our estuaries, and tell how important they are to North Carolina coastal communities.

Come encounter one of North Carolina’s most important estuarine resources, the blue crab.

Personalized Experiences

Your Outer Banks adventure will depart from the Beaufort Hotel.

Capt. Jess Hawkins has fished recreationally in the waters of coastal North Carolina for over 50 years. Also, he studied fish his entire career as a marine biologist and has taught fishing classes to people of all ages. He loves sharing his passion for fishing with others and specializes in having fun with individuals or families while fishing the nearshore waters and sounds. So, don’t worry about any lack of experience!

Half-day Ecotour: $400 – 4 hours
Full-day Ecotour: $500  – 6 hours

Payment is accepted by cash or personal check.

Contact Capt. Jess directly to make your arrangements during your stay for this once in a lifetime experience.

Advance Reservations Only

Call Crystal Coast Ecotours directly to book at (252) 808-3354 or (252) 241-6909. Be sure to tell them you are staying at the Beaufort Hotel. You can also email Capt. Jess at

Please note that these are individualized experiences so they are in high demand and book up very fast.

Person on a boat holding a crab

Locals Recommend

“A day on the water with Captain Jess has been the highlight of all our trips. My son caught not only his first fish, but his first three fishes ever! We can’t wait to schedule a trip (or two) when we come back next year!”

Where your Outer Banks adventure begins.

Situated on ten acres, the Beaufort Hotel is offers the privacy of a boutique hotel within minutes to some of the best experiences you’ll enjoy on the Southern Outer Banks.

During your stay, discover, experience, and explore Beaufort – named the “Best Small Town for Adventure” in America by USA Today.

The Beaufort Hotel is a private escape that’s close to every kind of adventure you can imagine. We encourage you to explore like a local, as we give you a slice of what it’s like to live here on the Crystal Coast.

Attraction Details

Need to Know

  • Family-Friendly
  • Groups Welcome

Experience Beaufort North Carolina’s Attractions

Discover 300 years of Beaufort’s history and step back in time and experience some amazing local attractions during your stay.