The westernmost thirteen miles of the Bogue Banks barrier island of the Southern Outer Banks is where you’ll find Emerald Isle. The population (in 2010) was around 3,600, but during the summer season, that number can balloon to over 50,000. Instead of building ocean-front resorts and skyscrapers, though, Emerald Isle has remained fairly family-oriented and has kept its neighborhood-feel in tact.
Emerald Isle is a beach-lover’s paradise. With stretches of wide shoreline and plenty of activities to do at the beach, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself here. The island is the perfect getaway for the family, a group of friends, or even a solo trip.
If you’ve ever wanted to try paddle boarding but haven’t found the time, Emerald Isle is the place to do it. Through Flatwater Paddling, you can rent paddleboards and get a quick 15-minute guided instruction to teach you everything you need to know before heading out to uninhabited Wood Island. The island served as a target for bomb practice in the early 1930s, and a paddle board ride out to explore it is a great way to start your day. Through Carolina Kitesurfing, you can also take kitesurfing lessons, rent paddle boards, or take a group tour on either.
Water Boggan of Emerald Isle is a great place for the whole family, offering tube and mat water slides for the kids and a deck lounge area for adults. Head to The Point, where the ocean and the Bogue Sound meet. Visitors love to lounge on the beach, bike along the road, and collect shells here. The view, though, is what brings most people. Come at sunrise or sunset for an incredible view.
Just under an hour’s drive from Emerald Isle lies Croatan National Forest. The nearly 160,000 acres that comprise this forest make it the only true coastal forest eat of the Mississippi River. Developed hiking trails, long stretches of sandy swimming beaches, marshes, fishing areas, and a variety of wildlife make the Croatan National Forest a perfect day trip.
A bit longer to travel, Bald Head Island is home to the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina. The island is about a 3-hour drive from Emerald Isle and the is accessible only by ferry. Once you’ve stepped off the ferry, though, you’ll have plenty of history to explore. The island has the Smith Island Museum of History which provides visitors with the history of lighthouse keeping, pirates, and more. The lighthouse itself is 108 steps high. Climb to the top and up a ship’s ladder into the lanthorn, or lantern, room for a unique view of the island.
If you’re traveling from out-of-state, fly into Albert J. Ellis Airport in Jacksonville, North Carolina and rent a car. From the airport, it’s just a 45-minute drive to Emerald Isle. If you’d rather not rent a car, you could also take a taxi or shuttle service from the airport.
Once you’re in Emerald Isle, you’ll often see locals and visitors on bikes cruising around the town. Bike rental shops are easy enough to find, but you can always go to Highway 58 Bicycles if you have trouble finding one. Paddle boarding is another way to travel here, as you can get almost anywhere on the shoreline via paddleboard. Kayaking and canoeing remain another option, as well as some good, old-fashioned walking.
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Between the southern charm and beach town atmosphere, Emerald Isle seems to have it all. For food and entertainment, the same is true. On a hot, summer day, head to Sweet Spot and try some homemade ice cream. With flavors like Oatmeal Cookie and Moose Tracks, this place has people of all ages coming back time and again. The Banks Grill, short bike ride away in Morehead City is a crowd pleaser. They make everything from fried chicken and waffles to some of the best seafood in the Outer Banks. For some shopping, stop by the Emerald Plantation and check out the gifts and souvenirs each shop has to offer.
Find the best Emerald Isle vacation rentals on Tripping.com. With over 293 home rentals, take your pick from a wide variety of choices including studio apartments, luxury condos, and cozy cabin rentals. Prices in Emerald Isle range from $50 a night. Many rentals can also be booked directly online.Vacation home rentals found on Tripping.com offer more amenities than the average hotel room along with many of the comforts of home. Going on a business trip or need to stay connected? 267 homes in Emerald Isle offer high-speed WiFi Internet so you won’t miss a beat. Travelling with kids? Let them splash around in any of the 98 rentals with pool or jacuzzi, or relax with the family in one of the 271 homes with cable TV.For all those pet owners with dogs or cats, Emerald Isle offers 78 pet-friendly vacation rentals for your extended family. Find the perfect vacation rental that matches your budget and style on Tripping.com.Search properties from 5 vacation rental sites in Emerald Isle where the top providers in that area are HomeAway, TripAdvisor, and Booking.com. There are 207 HomeAway rentals, 79 TripAdvisor short term rentals and 4 Booking.com vacation rentals.