10 Free or Nearly Free Things to Do this Summer in Emerald Isle

Vacations are a chance to escape the life you live every day and feed your wandering and playful soul. An annual trip to a different destination offers us the opportunity to discover new places and experience new adventures.

Emerald Isle, North Carolina is the perfect destination for families and groups looking to make the most of their getaway while sticking to a budget. Emerald Isle Realty makes planning your trip easy, with a wide variety of charming North Carolina vacation homes to choose from. As you continue to plan your trip, read on to discover 10 free and or free activities that you can enjoy on your next island vacation.

Where the Sky Meets the Sea

Emerald Isle is a barrier island on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. The beaches here are some of the most beautiful in the world, with soft sand, clear water and refreshingly gentle waves. There are miles of beaches for you and your family to explore, so you can find your own perfect spot to relax and soak up the sun.

Imagine yourself on a beach in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. The sun is shining, the waves are crashing and you can hear the laughter of children playing in the waves. The beach provides you with the opportunity to enjoy a variety of sunny activities. The inviting emerald waters will inspire you to go for a swim, the shore is the ideal location for building a sandcastle or going for a refreshing walk.

You can also go fishing, kayaking or paddleboarding. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try surfing! Any trip to the beach is sure to help you feel completely relaxed and at peace.


A Modern-Day Treasure Hunt

A coastal shoreline is the perfect place for finding vibrant seashells, and Emerald Isle has plenty of these seaside treasures waiting to be discovered. Shelling is a favorite pastime in this town, and it’s easy to see why. With so many different types of shells to find, it’s like going on a modern-day treasure hunt.

Whether you’re a seasoned sheller or a beginner, you’re sure to find something special on the beaches of Emerald Isle. Common finds include whelks, sand dollars and shark teeth. But if you’re lucky, you might even find a rare shell, such as a Junonia or a Scotch Bonnet.

You can find shells on any day or season of the year. Just be sure to bring a bucket or bag to collect your findings.

Shelling is a great activity for all ages, and it’s a fun way to get some exercise and enjoy the beauty of the North Carolina coast. So next time you’re in Emerald Isle, be sure to pack your sunscreen and your bucket, and head to the beach for some modern-day treasure hunting.

Shackleford Banks – A Natural Wonder

If you’re looking for a truly unique and unforgettable travel experience, then Shackleford Banks is the place for you. Shackleford Banks is an island located between Beaufort Inlet and Cape Lookout National Seashore. It is only accessible by boat or ferry, making it a truly remote and wild destination.

The island is home to a variety of wildlife, including wild horses, dolphins and sea turtles. The horses are one of the main attractions on Shackleford Banks, and they are truly a sight to behold. These majestic animals roam the shoreline and take shelter in the maritime forests. They are descendants of Spanish horses that were brought to the Americas by explorers in the 16th century.

In addition to the wild horses, Shackleford Banks is also a great place to go hiking, swimming, and fishing. There are several hiking trails on the island, and the beaches are some of the most beautiful on the North Carolina coast. The water is clear and shallow, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

When you visit this breathtaking location, be sure to bring your camera. You’ll want to capture all the amazing sights of this natural wonder.

Take a Picture with the Diamond Lady

Cape Lookout National Seashore is a beautiful and serene destination located just off the coast of North Carolina. The seashore is home to a variety of free or nearly free activities, making it a great place to visit on a budget.

One of the most popular attractions at Cape Lookout National Seashore is the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. This iconic lighthouse is the perfect backdrop for any vacation photo.

Another great free activity at Cape Lookout National Seashore is exploring the beaches. The beaches are wide and sandy, and they are perfect for relaxing, swimming, or sunbathing. You may even be lucky enough to spot some dolphins or sea turtles while you’re out enjoying the beach.

If you’re looking for a more adventurous activity, you can go hiking on one of the many trails on the seashore. There are trails for all levels of hikers, from easy walks to challenging hikes.

No matter what you’re looking for in a vacation, Cape Lookout National Seashore has something to offer. With its beautiful beaches, stunning lighthouse and trails, Cape Lookout is a great place to relax and enjoy the unspoiled beauty of North Carolina.

Bogue Inlet Pier: A Coastal Icon

Another Emerald Isle treasure you’ll want to visit is Bogue Inlet Pier! The coastal icon is a popular destination for fishing, birdwatching and photography. The pier stretches about 1,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, providing stunning views of the beach and the surrounding area.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, you’re sure to have a good time fishing at Bogue Inlet Pier. The pier is home to a variety of fish, including flounder, mackerel, and kingfish. You can also find sharks and stingrays, but these are less common.

If you’re not interested in fishing, you can still enjoy the pier by birdwatching or taking photos. The pier is a great place to spot a variety of birds, including pelicans, seagulls and terns. You can also find ospreys and herons, but these are less common. The underside of the pier is also a great place to take photos. The beams and pilings provide interesting backgrounds, and the natural light is perfect for photography.

No matter what you’re interested in, Bogue Inlet Pier is a great place to spend an afternoon. With its beautiful views, abundant wildlife, and great photo opportunities, Bogue Inlet Pier is a treasure trove of activities.


Get on the Water

If you’re looking for a fun and relaxing way to explore Bogue Sound, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding is a great option. With its shallow waters, calm currents, and abundant wildlife, Bogue Sound is the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of the North Carolina coast.

Bogue Sound is a tidal estuary located off the coast of North Carolina. It is a great place to go kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, as the shallow waters are perfect for beginners and advanced paddlers alike.

The barrier island that separates Bogue Sound from the Atlantic Ocean prevents strong ocean currents and waves from creeping in, making for a smooth and relaxing paddling experience. You can paddle for miles along the sound, exploring the marshes, creeks and islands.

A variety of birds nest along the shallow waters of Bogue Sound, making it a hot spot for bird watching. Be sure to pack your camera to snap some shots, there are quite a few birds that call this area home!

Have a Picnic at Fort Macon State Park

North Carolina is rich in history, and Emerald Isle is near one of the state’s most popular historic sites: Fort Macon State Park. This impressive fort was built in the 1800s to defend the coast from British invasion, and it has since become a popular destination for history enthusiasts of all ages.

Visitors to Fort Macon can explore the barracks, visit the armories where soldiers stored their weapons and even get up-close and personal with an authentic cannon. The fort also has several hiking trails, picnic areas, and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to its historical significance, Fort Macon is also a great place to relax and enjoy the coastal outdoors. The park has several pavilions that are perfect for setting up a family picnic, and there is also a refreshment stand open during the summer months. Whether you’re interested in history, or simply enjoying the beautiful North Carolina coast, Fort Macon State Park is a great place to visit.

Hike the Trails of Emerald Isle

Whether you’re taking in the island’s sights on foot or two wheels, there are plenty of scenic trails in and around Emerald Isle. The Crystal Coast is also home to the Croatan National Forest, a coastal woodland that is home to various habitats and ecosystems.

The Croatan National Forest offers a variety of trails that take hikers and their pets through swamplands, pine forests, and more. In Emerald Isle, there is the nearly two-mile trail at Emerald Isle Woods Park. This 41-acre park’s trail is also part of the North Carolina Birding Trail, so be sure to keep an eye out for several native birds, woodpeckers and shorebirds. Plus, you might even spot some white-tailed deer and plenty of squirrels, which should keep the dogs entertained if they’re along for the ride.

If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, you can try the Patsy Pond Trail in the Croatan National Forest. This 2.6-mile trail takes you through a variety of terrain, including swampland, pine forest, and open fields. No matter what your fitness level or interests, there is a trail in Emerald Isle or the Croatan National Forest that is perfect for you. So, lace up your hiking boots or hop on your bike and explore the beauty of this natural paradise!

Tour Beaufort Historic Site

Beaufort Historic Site is another great place to discover the culture of North Carolina. The site is home to several historic homes, as well as the county jail, apothecary shop, and doctor’s office. Visitors can take guided tours of these buildings year-round and learn about the history of Beaufort and the people who lived there.

If you don’t want to walk, you can hop aboard the double-decker bus for a narrated tour of the historic district. The tour will take you past the many historic homes and buildings, and you’ll learn about the history of Beaufort from the guide. A guided tour of the Beaufort Burying Ground is also available. The cemetery is the final resting place of many local historical figures, and the guide will tell you about their lives and legacies.

Before you leave, make sure to stop at the Old Beaufort Shop to browse for gifts, souvenirs, and handmade items from local artisans. You’ll find a wide variety of items to choose from, including jewelry, pottery, and artwork.

Whether you’re interested in history, architecture or simply want to learn more about the culture of North Carolina, Beaufort Historic Site is a great place to visit.

Photo Credit: Beaufort Historic Site

Enjoy a North Carolina Sunset

There are plenty of stunning sites to see when you visit Emerald Isle, but nothing compares to the breathtaking sight of the sun setting along the horizon. Catching a sunset is a must-do for you and your family while you visit. These majestic natural masterpieces paint the coastal sky each evening with vibrant hues of orange, red, yellow, and purple streaks. The colors are so vibrant that they seem to almost breathe, filling the sky with a sense of wonder and awe.

Knowing that every sunset is different gives everyone more reason to enjoy them daily. No two sunsets are ever the same, so you’re sure to see something new and amazing every time you visit. If you’re looking for the perfect place to catch a sunset in Emerald Isle, there are a few great spots to choose from. The Point is a popular spot, as it offers stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding marshes. You can also catch a great sunset from the Bogue Inlet Pier or from the deck of your vacation property.

No matter where you choose to watch the sunset, you’re sure to be left breathless by the beauty of this natural phenomenon. So, make sure to add catching a sunset to your list of must-do activities when you visit Emerald Isle.

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With its stunning beaches, crystal-clear water, and lush forests, Emerald Isle is a natural playground for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Whether you’re looking to relax in the sun, explore the great outdoors, or learn about the area’s history, you’ll find plenty to do in Emerald Isle without breaking the bank!

Start planning your trip to the coast today. Emerald Isle Realty offers more than 600 vacation rentals ranging from cozy beach condos to charming cottages. So don’t wait. Start planning your trip today!

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