When you go over the bridge to Emerald Isle and first glance down at the riot of brilliantly hued cosmos planted by the NC Dept of Transportation and then behold the verdant marshlands of the sound with a bevy of anglers casting off in search of elusive flounder or redfish, a pleasurable serenity envelops you and you sigh deeply, thinking “I’m so glad I’m here.” As you wind down the main corridor of Emerald Isle, purple crape myrtles line the road and the breeze sways them as they greet you the first time guest and welcome back the old salts. The lively ocean with its green tones, the wide sandy beach with palm-sized shells, and the myriad of eateries and boutiques all spell fun and relaxation for the beachcomber as well as for the store shopper, and the restaurant trawler.
During my stay, I slurped oysters at Jordan’s Seafood Restaurant trading jokes with the oyster shucker behind the bar, warded off anorexia with the bountiful Sunday brunch at Mike’s Place, supped heartily at Fairway Restaurant while meeting the friendly locals, and dined on exquisite grouper at the elegant Riverside Restaurant in the picturesque Swansboro. One Thursday night, my 21 year old daughter, her pal, and I ended up at MacDaddy’s and got to listen to Karoke that rivaled many concert performances. What an overload of fun that place is with its neon bowling, arcade bonanza, and bar and restaurant. A lot of military young men frequent there. One day I joined buddies for a morning on the sound and learned how to bait pin fish without getting “pinned” myself, and though we didn’t capture a thing, we saw a leopard sting ray fly out of the water behind the boat with a five foot wing spread on it! Amazing Kodak moment! Spanish mackerel jumped around our craft too but not onto our hooks!
There’s a mall on the island with several beach décor stores where anything with a sea motif is sold. An excellent bookstore is there too. At it, I purchased some notecards and a tome on the Cape Fear River but I also took advantage of the Carteret Library with its internet. The facility is a short drive away. When you cross over the bridge to Highway 24, an information center sits on the left among the wildflowers, and you can pick up maps, ferry timetables, restaurant menus, and pamphlets to all the attractions. My cousins liked the looks of the brochure on the Civil War fort and made a day trip to Fort Macon while I journeyed down the road to the historic Sanitary Restaurant in Morehead City and ate King Mackerel.
A pedestrian walkway/bicycle path parallels the highway and meanders through pampas grass clusters for the fitness minded, and if so inclined one can join the recreation center where they have an exercise room, gym, and tennis court. Me, I like to get my exercise jumping the gargantuan waves and seashell collecting. Sometimes, I need to get it by pushing away from the table especially when my pal has purchased a mess of shrimp from Captain Willis Seafood Market and cooked them to perfection and then pulls out a chocolate pie she got at Meadow Restaurant in Meadow ,NC off I-40, en route from Raleigh. Yum!
My cousins who visited from Scottsdale, Arizona had two days of rainy, cloudy weather which they ABSOLUTELY LOVED! “It’s a pleasant change from dry heat,” said Dr. Ron Hauptmann. “We like body surfing in this weather!”