The Quick Emerald Isle Travel Guide

I’ve been living near Emerald Isle for almost ten years now. Living here has given us a much different perspective than when we used to just visit.

This site is my free on-line travel guide to the area and a quick update for those who purchased earlier versions of our guides. If you really want to know about the area and have the latest up to date information, you need to spend a little and buy one of our books.

The fourth version of our book, A Week at the Beach, An Emerald Isle Travel Guide was published in May 2016. It is still available at the Kindle Store for only $3.99. The Kindle version has 100+ full color pictures, 12 maps, and 10 recipes. The Kindle version also has over 150 links to additional information. We think you will find the Kindle version well worth its modest cost. Both paperbacks are 6X9. The black and white paperback version and the color version have the same content. The paperbacks have 142 pages, 66 pictures and nine maps. The paperbacks are available from Amazon with free Prime shipping for around $7.99 (B&W) and $19.99 (Color). If you buy the paperback from Amazon, you can purchase the Kindle version for $1.99. The B&W paperbacks are available at Emerald Isle Books & Toys at Emerald Plantation. The EI town office carries the color books. You will meet very nice people at both locations.

All the current books include lots of information about the area and suggestions about how to have a great vacation at the beach. You will find information on boating, kayaking, and fishing among other things. The Kindle book comes with beautiful pictures of the area’s beaches, some great bird pictures, and even some wonderful recipes. If you want to plan some quality time along the beaches and waters of the Crystal Coast, our book is an indispensable, up to date guide. The 2016 version has all the changes that have have happened in the last couple of years plus links to a web page where I have posted pictures during the summer of 2016. This a local review of our five star rated 2016 guide.

While our electronic book is at the Kindle store, you do not need a Kindle. You can use the free Kindle Reading Apps which work on Windows, Mac, and iPad.

If you want some quick information about the beach to whet your appetite for a great beach vacation, you will find find it on this page, but you can also read our latest newsletter.

We live just up the White Oak River near Hancock Point twelve months out of the year. That puts us three miles from the Intracoastal Waterway and about ten minutes from the beaches of Emerald Isle. Because of that I get to feel the heat in August, the warm breezes in the fall, some cold storms in winter, and the persistent breezes of spring that let us sleep with our windows open.

Each year here on the coast is a little different, but you can generally count on three to four months of nice beach weather and that does not even count the magnificent fall weather that we usually get. In 2013 fall was nice enough that we got to go out by the big water late in the year.

Spring of 2014 started with some lingering cold but it was not long before the weather turned around and this year's beach season was in sight. As usual we have enjoyed a wonderful early spring season filled with local produce. Our strawberries lasted until the end of May this year and we had fresh local blueberries even before the strawberries were gone. As I write this, it is now the middle of June 2014 and summer’s heat is upon us. We are already enjoying local corn and lots of other fresh vegetables. In a little over two weeks we should be tasting some delicious Bogue Sound Watermelons. Fresh shrimp, flounder, crabs, and clams are also available this time of year.

This year in spite of the cool spring, we managed to get our first ripe home-grown tomato on May 25. We are currently feasting on a wide variety of tomatoes including some wonderful Cherokee purples. Besides beaches, we do fresh produce really well and it is easy to get a taste of it with a great produce stand like Winberry’s in Cedar Point.

Because of the great weather here, I often spend more of my time outside enjoying our world without walls than I spend at my desk writing. I spend time walking on the beaches and even more time on the water. I am an avid boater, fisherman, and kayaker. This is a great area to do all of that and 2014 has provided many opportunities to enjoy some late spring Crystal Coast magic. I have already had a good spring of fishing for drum, but you don’t have to catch fish to have a good time on the water. Fish are just an optional part of having fun.

While I cannot guarantee anyone a perfect vacation if you come for a visit, I can tell you that the beaches of Emerald Isle, neighboring Salter Path, and Pine Knoll Shores can restore your appreciation of the natural world. It is a world that is always changing. Areas like the Point where Bogue Inlet meets the ocean are magical places that change almost before our eyes. Where there is water one day, you might find sand in the same place tomorrow.

You will not find the night life or shopping of Myrtle Beach here in Emerald Isle. But you will find safe, uncrowded beaches that are there for the enjoyment of the people who take the time to walk them. Emerald Isle is proud of its image as one of the last family beaches. Almost everyone that visits falls in love and comes back again and again.

As in any area with hundreds of individual accommodations available for rent, your individual experience is going to have a lot to do with the property that you rent or the motel you choose. If you are renting a beach property, the best suggestion is that you pay careful attention to the reputation of the people renting you a vacation spot. People doing rentals depend on repeat business so they want to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.

Before you come, you should know that Emerald Isle is not a large place. However, Emerald Isle’s 3,800 year round residents, make the town one of the larger towns in Carteret County. With only 64,000 permanent residents and more water than land, Carteret County is not known for crowds. Of course our population more than doubles in the summer, but it is still easy to get around the area even during busy times in the summer. There is still plenty of room on the beach, and when you compare Emerald Isle to many of the other east coast beaches, it is very uncrowded and relatively easy to enjoy your own private space on the beach. There are no high rise condominiums to pack the beaches. Finding a spot on the beach is never a challenge. And if you have a skiff you will not have any trouble finding even more private beaches in Bogue Inlet. If you are willing to walk a few minutes, the Point at Emerald Isle has plenty of space to spread out and explore areas that most beach visitors never see.

Part of what attracted me to Emerald Isle is that it reminds me of the Carolina beaches of my youth. You can still walk on a fishing pier in the evening or even go fishing on the beach. Walking the beach at night is a special treat since there are no city lights. The days on Emerald Isle seem to slow down. There always is plenty of time to enjoy an ice cream cone or a walk on the beach. A vacation in our uncrowded area lets you surf fish, swim, or just relax on the beach without getting in anyone’s way. There are plenty of things to do while at the beach. The list changes as the seasons do, but whether it is enjoying fresh local produce in the summer, surf fishing in the fall, or catching fish in our backyards, there are lots of things that make the area special.

As for accommodations the area has a number of large oceanfront homes know locally as sandcastles. They are very popular for family reunions, but it is still possible in Emerald Isle to find reasonably priced accommodations within walking distance of the beaches. There are nice motels in Cedar Point and Swansboro. Details with links are in our books.

What Emerald Isle might lack in night life, it makes up for in convenient services for visitors and full time residents. Even on the popular Saturday and Sunday check in days for the rentals, it is possible to slide into area grocery stores without too much inconvenience. We have maps of services and suggestions on restaurants in our books.

Beaufort with its historic district, shops, and the Maritime Museum are only thirty five minutes from Emerald Isle. Our books provide a lot of suggestions on how to enjoy a visit to Beaufort along with some other popular day trips.

A few restaurants call Emerald Isle home and there are more on the neighboring mainland. I think the restaurants along the Crystal Coast do a fine job of preparing some exceptional seafood. You can often get better service and even tastier meals during peak season by adopting a slightly different meal schedule than the general population. Again we provide detailed restaurant recommendations in our books.

There are a number of attractions in the Emerald Isle area including some wonderful trails, two golf courses, a driving range, three miniature golf courses, bumper boats, bike trails and a water slide. For 2014 the bike trail has been extended to the eastern border of Emerald Isle and also down Coast Guard Road to the point where the road makes its final turn south towards the beach. There is still beach volleyball at the western regional access.

You will need a salt water fishing license for most spots but there is one spot, the Bogue Inlet Pier, to try your luck fishing where you do not even need a license. My book has detailed fishing information for the surf and suggestions on gear and places to try including my favorite spot the White Oak River.

Probably one of the nicest things about Emerald Isle is that the beach seems to have room for everyone who wants to enjoy the beach. The range of accommodations and the relative ease of finding a parking space at either the eastern or western regional beach accesses makes going to the beach something that everyone can enjoy. There is now a small fee on weekends and holidays during the summer for parking.

There are others spots that you can easily access the beach like Third Street Beach. Our area concerts are back. We are also lucky to have concerts in both Emerald Isle and in Swansboro. Emeraldfest Concerts will be held every Thursday evening from June 19th through August 21st at the Western Ocean Regional Beach Access just off Islander Drive. There is no seating so bring your own blanket or chair. Swansfest also started on Memorial Day in nearby Swansboro. Again you’ll find more details, maps, pictures, and detailed suggestions in our books.

Vacationing on Emerald Isle is a restful experience. When you are done enjoying the beach for the day, you can enjoy some tasty seafood at one of the area restaurants. If you want unforgettable seafood order some grouper at Riverside Steak and Seafood. For some traditional Carolina fried seafood, try the newly opened Angie’s Lighthouse Cafe or Salty Air Open Market which has Lil Johnny’s Crab Shack on the weekends. You will find that T&W's Oyster House and Jordan's Seafood continue to deliver what most people expect in Carolina fried seafood. Shark's Den opened last summer in Emerald Isle after we published our book. We have enjoyed a few meals there this spring.

Restaurants come and go, but what really defines the Crystal Coast are special places like the Point. There are few places only a couple of hours from a major metropolitan that offer such a rare opportunity to explore almost unknown territory. You will have a hard time finding a more beautiful place for a morning or afternoon at the beach.

Whatever other activities you try when you visit the Island, I hope you at least go home having enjoyed a walk or two along our beaches. Hopefully your toes got some therapy in our warm, crystal clear salt water. Perhaps the taste of fresh area seafood will also remain in your memory until you can visit again. May you also come away from Emerald Isle with an appreciation for the beautiful waters of the Crystal Coast and how important it is that we protect them. If you can do that, you will likely rate your vacation as a success.

Check out this this beach walk near the Point for more local scenery. If you fall and love in our area and decide you need a home, get in touch with me and I can suggest some good real estate agents. Many of us fell in love after visiting here. If you just want to dream about moving here visit my Saltwater on my feet site. There are lots of articles there about living in the area.

To sign up for my almost monthly newsletter, visit Crystal Coast Life Newsletter page. You will find additional though more sporadic area observations at my Ocracoke Waves blog. Find out more about me and my other books at my Amazon author page.