Top 10 Reasons to Visit Emerald Isle

So, you’re thinking about taking a vacation to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and just spend some time relaxing and spending time with family and friends. With its miles of pristine beaches and beautiful waters, North Carolina’s Crystal Coast has been drawing families back year after year for vacations since the 1960s.

Read on to discover why you should visit Emerald Isle and make it your own family’s vacation tradition.

  1. The most pristine beaches and emerald green waters.

Dig your toes into the sand while soaking up the sun on Emerald Isle’s gorgeous beaches. North Carolina’s Crystal Coast is known for its miles of gorgeous beaches and emerald green waters, perfect for swimming or trying your hand at a variety of water sports such as kayaking or fishing. Spend your days relaxing on the beach, where even the simplest activities such as building a sandcastle or beachcombing for shells become some of the fondest memories.

Emerald Isle, NC is known for its pristine beaches and emerald green waters

Located on the southern portion of the Outer Banks, Emerald Isle’s small-town appeal has made it a popular beach destination for family vacations, weddings and group gatherings. The beaches along Emerald Isle and the Crystal Coast are so close to the Gulf Stream, the waters present a magnificent turquoise color and offer a warmer alternative to the colder waters found along the northern parts of the Outer Banks. The coastal waters are also home to an abundance of marine life and hundreds of amazing shipwrecks available for exploration, making it a popular destination for scuba diving.

With its uncrowded beaches that lie both on the ocean side and the sound side, and abundance of beach activities, Emerald Isle is the perfect place to find tranquility, soak up some sun and create memories with family and friends that will last a lifetime.

  1. Museums and galleries featuring coastal driven history and art.

If you’re looking to get to know the Crystal Coast a little better, check out our museums and art galleries. Listen to fascinating stories from the past on a guided tour of the restored homes and buildings at Beaufort Historic Site or see the historic gravesites of those laid to rest on the Old Burying Ground Tour. The site is also home to the Mattie King Davis Gallery, the oldest art gallery in Carteret County featuring works of art by local and regional artists.

Explore the area’s rich maritime history on a visit to the North Carolina Maritime Museum and see Blackbeard’s famous pirate ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. From one-of-a-kind exhibits to art inspired by the Atlantic, North Carolina’s Crystal Coast boasts a history as vast as the island itself.

  1. Fun attractions and things to do for kids of all ages.

Have you ever been to an amusement park along the coast? There is nothing quite like taking in the seaside air while zooming past your kids in a go-cart race or seeing who has the best putting skills in the family during a round of mini-golf. And no matter how much time the kids spend playing in the water at the beach, nothing beats an afternoon spent at the waterpark, racing down slides, and seeing who can make the biggest splashes.

And no trip to the Crystal Coast would be complete without a visit to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Get an up-close look at river otters, sharks, sea turtles, stingrays and more! Emerald Isle attractions offer countless ways to create laughs and new memories with everyone in the family and may even bring back a bit of your own childhood.

  1. Untouched and uninhibited parks and seashores in the most pristine of conditions.

Some of the area’s best-kept secrets are the national parks and seashores that can be found sprinkled throughout North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. Venture out for the day to the islands of Cape Lookout that stretch 56 miles from Ocracoke to Beaufort Inlet. Enjoy the spectacular views from atop Cape Lookout Lighthouse, catch a glimpse of the wild horses, or even enjoy shelling, swimming or fishing.

Explore miles of unspoiled beaches at Cape Lookout Lighthouse and National Seashore

Explore the miles of unspoiled barrier island beaches and maritime forests found in Hammocks Beach State Park. Or watch a Civil War reenactment at Fort Macon State Park. You will find an abundance of natural beauty thriving in an almost secluded sense, perfect for nature lovers or those looking for a scenic hike.

  1. Outdoor adventures for the adrenaline junkie in all of us.

You didn’t plan on staying indoors the whole time, right? The number of outdoor activities, both on and off the water, available to explore during your vacation in Emerald Isle are virtually endless. The Crystal Coast offers an array of waterways perfect for kayaking, sweet waves for surfing, amazing clear skies for parasailing, lush green grass for golfing and so much more.

Go kayaking and explore Bogue Sound

Fishing has always been one of the most popular pastimes on the Crystal Coast and one that locals and visitors alike can enjoy year-round. The beaches in Emerald Isle and throughout Bogue Banks are accessible for surf fishing. Fishing from atop Bogue Inlet Pier offers a great way to fish in deeper waters without being on the water. For those whose only desire is to bring home the big one, a deep-sea fishing charter should be on your list.

Ready to try something new? Stand up paddle boarding has become one of the most popular water activities in Emerald Isle, offering a fun way to get out on the water and do a little exploring. The Crystal Coast is also home to miles of walking, running and biking trails that allow families to spend time outdoors enjoying the diverse coastal habitats with a chance for spotting birds, deer and other wildlife that roam the area. Guided kayaking, paddle boarding and biking tours are also available at area businesses.

  1. Nearby beach communities rich in culture and camaraderie.

Did you know that the infamous pirate Blackbeard once made a home along the Crystal Coast? This is just one of the many extraordinary historical learnings you will discover as you learn more about the area. Many of the beach communities near Emerald Isle still remain rich in their coastal cultures – some have even retained their native accents!

Enjoy the quaint shops and locally inspired cuisine you will find in Beaufort, voted America’s Coolest Small Town, and where Blackbeard left one of his sunken ships off of the Beaufort Inlet. Watch the fishing charter boats unload their catches on the Morehead City waterfront each afternoon or get a taste of some of the area’s best seafood and entertainment at the North Carolina Seafood Festival that is held during October each year. From Harkers Island to the north to the historic fishing town of Swansboro to the south, enjoy Southern hospitality with a coastal flair on some of the finest unspoiled beaches in the country.

  1. Amazing sunsets like nothing you’ve ever seen.

North Carolina’s Crystal Coast is also known far and wide for its majestic sunsets that extend as far as the eye can see. It’s the best way to end the day, or the perfect way to kick-off your evenings. Bring your camera and get ready to take in nature’s masterpiece!

Amazing sunset with sailboats in Beaufort, NC harbor

Our oceanfront rentals in Emerald Isle offer some of the best spots for viewing sunsets and the spacious outdoor decks and patio furniture make it easy to just sit back, relax and take in the beauty of it all. The Point, near the end of Coast Guard Road in Emerald Isle, is another amazing spot for stunning views of the sun as it sets over Bear Island and the emerald green waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  This is truly a place where you collect your thoughts and have some “me time.”

If you’re an early-bird, be sure to catch a sunrise along the coast with a warm cup of coffee. These are equally impressive and make starting the day sooner that much more worth it. Emerald Isle is truly beautiful from sunrise to sunset!

  1. Some of the best locally caught seafood on the East Coast.

Your taste buds will thank you by the end of your Emerald Isle vacation. There are plenty of restaurants throughout the Crystal Coast serving up only the freshest seafood caught along the Atlantic (and straight from the source!). Just look for the Carteret Catch logo displayed on signs and menus at area restaurants, guaranteeing dishes made with the freshest local seafood around. Seafood not your thing? Crystal Coast restaurants offer ample dining options that are sure to please even the most refined palates. From fine dining options offering seats with an ocean view and chef-driven menus to family-style restaurants featuring extensive menus, enjoy great local dining that can fit any budget.

Some of the fondest memories are created around the dinner table with the people you love. The fully-equipped kitchens and spacious dining areas in your vacation rental, along with local grocery stores offering delivery and curbside pickup options, means that you can enjoy creating even more memories in your home away from home. Many homes also come equipped with gas or charcoal grills, perfect for a family meal outdoors as the sun begins to set or for throwing on the day’s catch after a fun day spent on the water. With so many amenities at your fingertips, you can easily create the perfect setting for your seaside memory.

  1. Unique coastal shops and boutiques that offer a little something for everyone.

If you’re looking for the perfect keepsake to take back with you or a little something for family and friends, you’re going to love the shops of Emerald Isle and nearby communities. Browse the many boutique shops and specialty stores along Emerald Drive that offer great selections in home décor and some of the best coastal fashions.

If you are into antiques, you will want to check out some of the antique stores offering collectibles and relics from the past that represent a more personal side of the coast. Discover even more local gems in the surrounding communities of Beaufort, Swansboro and Morehead City. From pirate-themed gifts to a wealth of coastal goodies, you are sure to find a few treasures to take home that will remind you of your blissful getaway.

  1. Stunning vacation rentals that make you feel right at home.

The second you walk into your vacation rental, you will feel welcomed and right at home. At Emerald Isle Realty, we strive to make sure your stay is both comfortable and memorable. So much so, that you may just forget you’re on vacation.

Emerald Isle vacation rentals make you feel right at home

Looking at a computer screen or the same thing day after day can make you want to step away and find something nice to look at. In Emerald Isle, you can do just that by stepping outside any of our available vacation rentals to find a view that begs you to stay. Our oceanfront rentals give you the luxury and privacy of having the beach right outside your back door, while our soundfront rentals make the peaceful Bogue Sound your own private backyard. If sitting on the dock and gazing out at Bogue Sound or lying on the beach without any distractions sounds like your cup of tea, then Emerald Isle is definitely the place for you.

Condos are also great options for smaller vacation groups, but still pack great amenities in addition to the incredible views.


Emerald Isle Realty has plenty of properties that will meet your needs and expectations. Use our helpful vacation rental search tool to narrow down your search by location, property type and even amenities like game rooms, private pools and elevator access. Now is the time to book the vacation you’ve been waiting for.


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Top 10 Reasons to Visit Emerald Isle on North Carolina's Crystal Coast


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