Beaufort is a town in and the county seat of Carteret County, North Carolina, United States. Established in 1709, it is the third-oldest town in North Carolina. On February 1, 2012, Beaufort was ranked as "America's Coolest Small Town" by readers of Budget Travel Magazine.
The population was 4,189 at the 2008 census. It is sometimes confused with a city of the same name in South Carolina; the two are distinguished by different pronunciations.
Beaufort is located in North Carolina's Inner Banks region. The town is home to the North Carolina Maritime Museum, the Duke University Marine Laboratory (Nicholas School of the Environment), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research. It is also the location of the Rachel Carson Coastal Reserve