A Sunday sunset on the Intercoastal Waterway at Holden Beach. While Holden Beach itself is a location for beach cottages and vacation places, the ICW is where the real work gets done as evidenced by the fishing trawlers tied up at the dock. This keeps the trawlers safe from ocean storms which the barrier islands do not. Some of these boats are commercial fishers while others take sports fishermen out far into the Atlantic to search for tuna, blue marlins, king mackeral and the like.
You can travel the Intercoastal Waterway all the way from Norfolk, Virginia to Key West, Florida, although you can continue to Maine using bays and canals, but that will bring you at times into the open ocean. Using the ICW is what most recreational boaters will do as it provides safe navigation.