Although I have said that the only way to get to Beaufort is by boat, practically speaking you have to have a car. There's no train, subway or nearby airport, and most people aren't going to be traveling by bike. So as in a lot of the US, the default is the automobile.
And that goes for getting around town as well, although a bicycle would also be a possibility here.
Beaufort is a seaport town from way back. In 1722, Beaufort became both the port of entry and the courthouse town for Carteret precinct.
For hundreds of years, Beaufort could be reached only by boat. It wasn't until the very early 20th century that there were roads.
Beaufort is still best reached by boat, although Morehead City has taken over as the main port in this area.