A barrier island off the coast of North Carolina, Emerald Isle is nestled next to the Croatan National Forest. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Bogue Sound on the other, Emerald Isle offers plenty of outdoor activity for everyone in the family. Grab a beach vacation rental in Emerald Isle, and reconnect with the kids while playing in the sand, swimming in the water, and relaxing in the sun. Here are some of the top things to do here with your kids.

1. Fishing

Whether your family is big into angling or it’s your first time, Emerald Isle offers several fishing charters that can get you started. Reel Life Adventures, for instance, has all the equipment you need along with trip photos and a scenic tour of the Crystal Coast as you fish. Another option is to go to the Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier where you can fish in comfort. Rent equipment on-site, or bring your own. Take a break with a picnic lunch, or stop at the Plaza Mexico Grill or Flip Flops Donut Shop.

2. Visiting Emerald Isle Woods Park

Located on the Bogue Sound side of the island, the Emerald Isle Woods Park is a 41-acre area with picnic areas, grills, restrooms, a pier, and a floating dock. Take a leisurely walk on one of the hiking or birding trails for a touch of nature, or play a rousing game of disc golf with the kids.

3. Kayaking

Rent a few kayaks for the day at Hot Wax Surf Shop or Barrier Island Kayaks, and explore Bogue Sound. Weave through the Burthen, Burden, and Banks channels while watching for some of the local birds such as the brown pelican, the American oystercatcher, and the great crested flycatcher. Instead, opt for some sea kayaking and glide along the beach at Hammocks Beach State Park. Take a break, and spend a few hours in the sand at Bear Island.

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4. Splashing at Salty Pirate Waterpark

Salty Pirate Waterpark is a water park with enough slides and pools to please any child. Plus, it’s the perfect way to break up days on the beach. Lounge in the sun while your kids go on one of the slides or swim. The water park includes a kid’s zone, the ideal size for your youngest children. The snack bar gives the kids something to munch on between meals.

5. Enjoying the Beach

Speaking of the beach, Emerald Isle boasts miles of it with plenty of public access. However, getting a beach vacation rental gives you direct access, enabling you to spend your early mornings beach-combing with the kids. Either way, build sand castles, look for turtle tracks, and play in the sand and swim in the Atlantic waters. After a day of fun, cruise down Emerald Drive and enjoy some good food at the Emerald Grill, Fishbar 58, The Village Market, and Circle Pizza and Subs.

6. Paddle Boarding

Take advantage of the water, and try out paddle boarding, suitable for children and adults alike. Book a paddle boarding trip at Hot Wax Surf Shop, or opt for a rental at Swansboro Paddle Boarding. Here, you can go on a guided tour of the downtown waterfront area. Paddle NC specializes in guided paddle board tours of the area’s ecosystem. The kids might even catch a glimpse of the dolphins or the bald eagles that live in the salt marshes.

7. Learning about Sea Turtles

Insert a little education into your vacation with the Sea Turtle Program of Emerald Isle. You and the kids can learn all about the sea turtle’s life cycle and maybe even view hatchlings making their arduous way from their sandy nests to the ocean beyond. Months from the spring to the autumn mark the nesting and hatching season, so keep your eyes peeled. Make sure to fill in any holes your kids might dig to keep the turtles from falling in and getting injured.

8. Playing Miniature Golf

It’s not all about the sand and sea; It’s also about miniature golf — at least on Emerald Isle. Emerald Forest Golf and Lighthouse Golf both offer 18-hole miniature courses, and then after a competitive round enjoy an ice cream cone. The faerie theme is sure to delight the youngsters. Opt for Lighthouse Golf and get not only quaint replicas of lighthouses located on the Outer Banks but an entire amusement area. Take a ride in the bumper cars or bumper boats, and then grab a snack at the snack bar.

9. Visiting Croatan National Forest

Drive (or boat) across Bogue Sound to the Croatan National Forest. The 160,000-acre area, filled with swamps, estuaries, and forests, offers a slew of activities from hiking to boating. Take a day trip to the forest, and camp around Neuse River or spend time at the Great, Long, Little, or Ellis Simon lakes. Bring your boat, and go boating in the pristine waters or kayak along the estuaries. Take the Patsy Pond Nature Trail through the Longleaf Pine Flat Woods, or opt for the Neuslok Trail. The latter is a 20-mile trail along sandy beaches and salt marshes where you can view cypress swamps. Deer, birds, and other wildlife are plentiful, so keep your binoculars and camera close.

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