Emerald Isle Check Availability

- 2017 Family Traditions Contest -


Coming together with family and friends at the beach can create special memories as you reconnect with each other. For our annual Family Traditions contest, we would like to hear about your favorite adventure or excursion on the Crystal Coast. Share your family traditions about a special place, a new discovery or your favorite memories.

We invite all Emerald Isle Realty guests to enter. First place prize is a free one-week vacation on Emerald Isle during our Islander or Sports season!

Submission Format Rules:

  • Tell us your story in an essay format, either printed or in a Word document.
  • Scrapbooks, calendars or other special items are welcome.
  • Maximum of 5 photos can be emailed. Limit to 2 MB each or 10 MB total per email submission.
  • Video entries can be a maximum of 2 minutes in length and cannot have music. The preferred files are .avi and .mov, however, all submissions will be accepted.
  • Include the date of your vacation and the name of your vacation rental property.

Submissions can be emailed to SummerFun@EIRealty.com: 

Deadline is September 1, 2018. By submitting your stories to Emerald Isle Realty’s Family Traditions contest, you acknowledge and agree that text, photos, videos and all other related material may be used at our discretion including, but not limited to, advertising purposes by Emerald Isle Realty. 

2016 Family Tradition Winner

The Rives Family Reunion: A Tradition

My family has a habit; a nearly 60-year-old one. We can’t stop it and there seems to be no cure.  Honestly, none of us want to stop. Some folks might call it an “addiction,” but we call it a “Family Tradition”; Webster’s Dictionary calls it “something that is handed down one generation to another.”  We always do it at the beach.

Currently 5 generations are involved and everyone that hears about what we do is surprised, shocked even. Some folks think we’re crazy; others think it’s a phenomenon. Lots of people simply don’t believe it. We’re getting ready to do it again next summer, in July 2017 for the 22nd time in 57 years.

A. R. RivesIt all started in the early 1950s quite by accident. A North Carolina Mother, Florence Rives, who happened to be my Grandmother, wanted to see her son.  He lived in Arizona and barely got home once a year. He had fought in WWII on the North African and Italian fronts and had been one of the lucky ones to return home. She wished he were nearer. My grandfather, Arthur Rives, died in 1944, while my Uncle A.R. (Alston Ramsey) Rives was still fighting on the frontlines.

The remaining 7 of the 9 children she’d birthed in the modest Lee County home that she shared with my grandfather were much closer by; 5 girls and 3 boys living, 1ne small son buried as a child.

image004In the hot piedmont summer of 1954, one of her daughters, my Aunt Julia, suggested to their mother (my grandmother) that perhaps whoever was able could gather at the North Carolina coast for a nice long week at the beach and share a cottage. That way my grandmother could see her beloved son A.R. and any siblings that could make it could spend time with their beloved brother. Cousins could get to know cousins and a long easy week of calm breathtaking beauty at the North Carolina coast would provide a perfect backdrop for luxurious, nourishing visits.

Well it would take 6 years to make the first gathering happen; plans got interrupted by the nearly total devastation of Hurricane Hazel in October of ’54 and the ever busier lives of the siblings with growing families and careers.  But at long last in the summer of 1960, a single, simple and very crowded cottage held 7 adults and 7 children;14 of 35 Rives descendants of my Grandparents; and that included my strong and beautiful Grandmother, Florence.

The following summer of 1961 all 35 Rives’ (my grandmother, all 8 of her children, their spouses and 20 little ones, including me) gathered for a week-long reunion, happily crowded into 3 old-fashioned cottages side-by-side on the North Carolina coast. Our incredible tradition was born!

image007Fast forward with me to right now….to 2016. Currently, nearly 200 descendants of my grandparents, Florence and Arthur Rives, are putting holds and deposits on approximately 25 cottages, condos, duplexes and houses at the Crystal Coasts’ Emerald Isle.  During the week of July 22-29, 2017,“Rives” flags bearing our family’s Coat of Arms will be flying high from each of the cottages filled with our people (our cottage rentals are too many now to be side by side.)

So you might be wondering how it is that our family has “re-unioned” 21 times in the last 56 years and are planning our 22nd of those reunions for 2017? As our family grew (exponentially it seems) our summer beach reunions moved from yearly to every two years, and then in 1972 became triennial, every 3 years. Counting the upcoming July 2017 reunion, we will have met 16 times in the last 45 years (1972 – 2017) and 6 times in the 10 years before that (1960–1970).

And you can bet I’ll be back there in 2017. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I have a lifetime of profound memories etched in my soul, years of having the privilege to know…to really know my family, my cousins, my aunts and uncles….to hear the stories…to witness and be a part of the rich history of the Rives family.

image009I usually don’t tell my age, but I was 5 years old at my first “Rives Family Reunion” in 1961 and I’ve only missed one since. (That little girl hugging her knee sitting on the railing in the picture with my Grandmother and all of her beautiful daughters is me.)


My Grandmother died when I was 10; I’ve had the honor over the years at our reunions of sitting on the beach for hours and telling the younger ones who their Great Grandmother Florence was and telling stories about their great uncles and aunts. I also get to share about their Great Aunts, Julia, now 96, and Sarah Lynn, now 88; the last 2 remaining of the original 8 siblings.  We’ve discussed at length the difference between a 2nd cousin twice removed, a 3rd cousin by marriage, and whether some of the people who come to the reunion are actually our cousins at all. (Actually I don’t really understand that last part but we’ve all spent many an hour at the Rives Family Reunions talking about it.)


I’ve welcomed countless babies, new brides, grooms and boyfriends, stood fast with family through tragedy and triumph, honored the lives of the family members who have gone on; won and lost many a Rives Family Olympic event, and danced ‘till the early morning hours on Cousins’ Night Out.  At the 1987 reunion, I baby sat for a sweet little cousin who is now married and pregnant with her first child. She will be bringing a precious new Rives to the reunion in 2017, a new great-grandchild for my Aunt Julia. And my mother, Sarah Lynn, also welcomed a new great-granddaughter (a great niece for me) on August 21,  2016. What a profound privilege to be a part of this family that gathers on the coast every three years and loves on one another.

image015Though I could fill more volumes than the Harry Potter books with the stories of our adventurous weeks together at the beach, I’ll “cut to the chase.” In July 2017 if you happen to be on Emerald Isle, North Carolina you’ll see my “Rives Family” flag flying proudly from Emerald Isle Realty’s cottage, “Buena Vista.” And if by chance, while on a stroll down the beach you run into an unusually large group of folks in and around multiple umbrellas and beach tents, sporting matching “Rives” t-shirts with “#RivesRule” koozies in hand…..or you see a great big tug of war going on with 25 kids and adults on either side…….by all means, jump right in…..introduce yourself…..become a part of our Rives Family tradition.



2015 Family Traditions Winner


family_traditions_EI_Wine Glass

Just imagine the sea breeze stirring your hair and the waves lapping at your feet and you’re halfway there. As we have every year for over thirty years, this is the image in our minds as we make the trek to Emerald Isle. But this year I kept thinking: Emerald Isle gives me so much…peace of mind, precious time spent with my loved ones, and a sense of well being that only the beach can capture. What do I take back with me each year?

Of course I take a few seashells, nice tan and usually a few more pounds. But what is it about the beach that makes me thirst for more? I decided that I receive a type of wisdom every time I go. I call it beach wisdom.

family_traditions_Fun with bubblesThat is what the beach does. It gives us a chance to hear the truths of our own heart’s whisper and to slow our careening inner pace to something that more closely matches the rhythms of the tides. Our lives slow down for a few days and take on a more peaceful pace, like the tides ebbing in and the tides ebbing out.

The beach also reminds us of the playfulness of childhood and even makes us childlike again. That inner child comes alive as we play with our children in the sand or the surf. A streak of joy that resides in us comes alive in the brilliant sunshine.

A trip to the beach has the power to restore us to ourselves, to even our keels, to lighten our hearts…at the very least, to put a little color in our cheeks.Our daily lives go at breakneck speed with work, family and everyday life. At the beach we tend to grasp the days less tightly, to let life flow more easily, like the warm sand sifting through our fingers. We begin to realize the things that make us so uptight and gnash our teeth are not that important at all, in the grand scheme of things.

Perhaps that’s the most important wisdom we can take away from the beach. Life is to be enjoyed. Let’s dive in.

family_traditions_Kayak Fun

family_traditions_Dive In








The Asbell and Ward Families.

2014 Family Traditions Winner


We all have too much stuff!

This reality led our visionary sister to decide on the best of all possible gifts for our Mother’s 70th birthday: a family gathering at Emerald Isle!

family traditions contest winner 2014 emeralIt was late October, 1989, and the cool days offered wonderful fishing while still being warm enough for the sun lovers.  All five siblings with spouses and children joined the adventure.  Crisp evenings were perfect for delicious home-cooked meals, wine, and conversation enjoyed around the enormous dining room table.  Family members whom life had taken in different directions magically returned to childhood, reminiscing, laughing, teasing and yes, even dancing on the deck.

Our Mother, thrilled to have her “children” all under one roof, enjoyed strolling on the beaches looking for shells while soaking in the last remnants of the sun.  It was a birthday like none other~ a reunion like none other.  Did she sense that her time with us was short?

Family Traditions Contest 2014Twenty-five years have passed.  Each October, we feel the pull to return to the Atlantis Cottage.  It is, to us, the PERFECT house which now seems like our own.  The little boy who rolled biscuits from a chair at the kitchen counter is now grown.  Teenagers who had to be coaxed to join us now look forward with anticipation to the next family beach gathering, even when all technology is disconnected.

Traditions have been born from the annual gatherings:  fishing competitions of catching the first and the largest; celebrating milestones while “roasting” the individual; compiling old recipes for the family cookbook; playing nightly games of charades and trivia; and hosting the Gambles (Atlantis’ next-door neighbors) for fish fries.

Thank you Jean for helping us to understand what is really important!  Forget the stuff and focus on making new memories and spending quality time with those you love!   And thank you Emerald Isle Realty for providing a perfect home away from home on the Crystal Coast: a place of relaxation, of laughter and of perfect peace.

So here’s to our annual Emerald Isle gatherings and to perpetuating the spirit of family.

The Hamlin Family

See the Runners Up from 2014:
The Durrer Family
The Steigleder Family
The Valu Family