Clark Leonard Family Memories

Our family has been coming to Emerald Isle since before I can even remember. One of the first places we stayed was our beloved “blue cottage.” So many great memories were made there, even stitches I had to get because I was jumping on the bed. Then there’s the old family videos we have from there of us kids walking around with mops singing “Who wants cotton candy?” It’s been so long since we first stayed there that the cottage isn’t even blue anymore: it’s pink.

We went on a three- or four-year stretch of going to Atlantic Beach and Myrtle Beach instead, but it didn’t take long for us to come to our senses and get back to a place that feels so much like home to us: Emerald Isle.

Starting in 1999 and continuing until now, our family has stayed at the Pebble Beach condos of Emerald Isle. Our routine has become almost religious. Every year we leave Garner, NC, our home, on a Sunday morning around 9:30 a.m. and set out for that little slice of paradise we like to call Emerald Isle. We meet relatives from Southern Pines and from Georgia and stop just before the bridge at McDonald’s and Subway for lunch. Then we get into our three or four condos as early as possible before heading out for a little bit of time on the beach on our first day.

From there, it’s a week of craziness and fun. Our group can vary at any time through the week from 15 to 25 family members and occasionally some of our friends. But for the most part, it’s a family affair — one so large most restaurants get a long look on their face when they see us walk in the door or hear us utter a number like “22” for how many there are in our party.

But what we love most about Emerald Isle isn’t the meals out or the meals in our condos; it’s that time of all of us just being together on the sands of the beach and listening to the waves of the ocean in a place second only to home in our hearts. It’s where many of our best memories have been made. It’s where almost all our summer vacations have been spent. We’ve met other families. We’ve met people from all up the East Coast. And it’s clear to us why they come from so far: Emerald Isle is a place that has a way of forging a special place in your heart once it’s become a part of your family’s life.