How to Have the Best Vacation with This Emerald Isle Bucket List
When it comes time for your Emerald Isle, North Carolina beach vacation, there are a few things you really need to put on your bucket list. Okay, maybe more than a few—but that's only because there are so many wonderful opportunities and local adventures to be had on the Crystal Coast of NC. This is just the short list of Emerald Isle beach vacation bucket list items you'll want to check off during your time here. How many of these have you already done? We want to know! Your vacation begins here. Find the right Emerald Isle rental for you and your family, and then get ready to have some fun. Don't forget to print or download the free Emerald Isle bucket list at the end of this post. Enjoy!
✓ Stay in an Emerald Isle rental.
Your best beach vacation starts by booking a beautiful Emerald Isle rental with the location, size, and amenities that work best for you and your family. From oceanfront to soundside and everything in between, there's a vacation rental to suit every family's preferences. Find your favorite Emerald Isle rental right here, right now. Book early and save!
✓ Splash, wade, or swim in the Atlantic Ocean.
Whether you're only getting your feet wet or going all in, you must splash around in the Atlantic Ocean while you're here. Stroll the shoreline, go shelling, grab your board, cast your line, or dive head first into the waves and take a nice long swim—however you most enjoy the ocean's ebb and flow be sure to get your fill.
✓ Catch an Emerald Isle sunrise and sunset.
Emerald Isle's south-facing beaches gives you a double dose of nature's coastal beauty with sunrises over the ocean and sunsets over the sound. They are beautiful in their own way, so be sure to catch at least one of each—but we recommend that you catch as many as you can. It's a different color show each and every day—and very romantic.
✓ Visit The Point in Emerald Isle.
The Point is located at the westernmost end of Emerald Isle and Bogue Banks where the large, sandy beach tapers into the ocean. It's a local hotspot for fishing, surfing, photography, shelling, and beach driving. Parking is very limited, but it's worth the trip. Just follow Coast Guard Road to Inlet Drive.
✓ Fish or stroll the Bogue Inlet Pier.
The Bogue Inlet Pier is the only fishing pier in Emerald Isle. It's also great for strolling or grabbing a bite to eat at the pier house. The Bogue Inlet Pier is seasonal, so be sure to check the website before you go. You can always click on the Pier Cam anytime you want to see the ocean and beach view live from wherever you are.
✓ Visit the nearby NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.
The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is right down the road from your Emerald Isle rental and a must-do on your beach vacation bucket list. From the indoor exhibits and aquatic animals to the outdoor trails and nature exploration, it makes for a wonderful day of fun, hands-on learning and scientific discovery for all ages.
✓ Explore one of the many Emerald Isle parks and trails.
Emerald Isle offers many ways to experience the great outdoors with its many beach accesses, boat ramps, parks and trails. Explore as many as you can during your beach vacation and immerse yourself in the natural coastal beauty of the area. Visit the Town of Emerald Isle Water Access & Parks page to learn more.
✓ Walk, run, or bike the Emerald Isle Path.
The Emerald Path extends approximately 11 miles from the Indian Beach town limits all the way to The Point at Bogue Inlet. The path winds through grassy areas along Coast Guard Road to Loon Drive, snakes through wooded areas from Loon Drive to the Welcome Center, meanders through downtown, and ends at the eastern town limits.
✓ Eat fresh, local seafood from an Emerald Isle restaurant.
Is it even a beach vacation if you don't go out and enjoy a fresh seafood dinner at an Emerald Isle restaurant? Questionable! Fresh, seasonal, local seafood is available all year long and served up from boat to table at many of the local dining establishments. Click here for a list of Emerald Isle restaurants and click on the Eat tab.
✓ Try a new watersport or take a lesson from a local outfitter.
So what's it going to be? Paddleboarding, surfing, kayaking, waverunning, scuba diving or boating? Whatever water adventure you're ready to try, there's a local outfitter or surf shop to meet your needs when it comes to equipment rentals, lessons, and/or gear. It's always fun to try something new and it makes for great vacation memories.
✓ Go beachcombing in the off season or after a storm.
Some of the best shelling in Emerald Isle happens in the off season or after a storm rolls through and churns up the Atlantic. The winter months are a wonderful time to beachcomb for seashells, sea glass, and sharks' teeth. There are fewer people on the beach and more opportunities to snag the good finds. Get out there early and often! Read more about shelling on Emerald Isle beach here.
✓ Observe a sea turtle nest (from a distance, of course).
Spotting a sea turtle nest in Emerald Isle is a true delight. That usually happens between the months of May and October, which is sea turtle nesting and hatching season in Emerald Isle. The Emerald Isle Sea Turtle Patrol does a wonderful job of monitoring sea turtles, nests, and hatchlings. If you're here for an extended stay, put volunteering on the sea turtle patrol as another bucket list item.
✓ Take a Crystal Coast sightseeing cruise or fishing charter.
Get to know the beautiful Crystal Coast of North Carolina better by booking a sightseeing cruise or fishing charter. The local guides, captains and crews are a wealth of information, making excursions both enjoyable and educational. There's a little something for everyone including sunset cruises, moonlight sails, dolphin watching tours, Cape Lookout cruises, and deep sea fishing charters to name a few.
✓ Plan a day trip to a nearby historic NC town.
Historic Fort Macon in Atlantic Beach is at the opposite end of the island from your Emerald Isle rental and absolutely worth the visit. But don't stop there! Make the day trip to a nearby seaside town with a rich maritime history and ambiance all its own. Popular day trips include the historic towns of Swansboro, Morehead City, Beaufort, and New Bern—each with their own lovely waterfront district.
✓ Play a round of golf or mini golf.
Emerald Isle has some nearby championship golf courses for the serious golfer and the family-style mini golf courses that are a quintessential part of a family beach vacation. Emerald Forest Mini Golf, The Golfin' Dolphin, and Professor Hacker's Lost Treasure Golf are local favorites. Whichever you choose, you're sure to enjoy the coastal setting and excitement of the quest for that next hole-in-one.
✓ Go parasailing over the Crystal Coast.
Getting a bird's eye view of the gorgeous Crystal Coast truly is a bucket list item for your next Emerald Isle beach vacation. Soar above the sand and sea to get a sky-high glimpse of how this area got its name. Beaufort Parasail is not far from your Emerald Isle rental and can help you plan your adventure.
✓ Splash around and play at the Emerald Isle waterpark.
Spend a day of family fun splashing around the Salty Pirate Waterpark in Emerald Isle. Fun waterslides, plenty of relaxation, plus a fully equipped arcade and snack bar are available, too. Admission is seasonal, so visit the Salty Pirate Waterpark Facebook page for the latest updates and hours of operation. This one is a summer favorite for the kids and kids-at-heart.
✓ Shop and buy locally in Emerald Isle.
Your Emerald Isle bucket list should absolutely include some local shopping. Our small businesses and local retailers appreciate your business and value your patronage. Whether you're shopping for yourself or someone else, there are one-of-a-kind beach boutiques, unique specialty shops, and coastal markets that are fun to browse and buy from—making the experience as exciting as the purchase. Visit our Area Information page and click on the Shop tab to learn more.
✓ Stop by an Emerald Isle art gallery.
Support the local artists and artisans by visiting an Emerald Isle art gallery during your beach vacation. If you're looking for the perfect way to bring a piece of the coast home with you, then take a look around these galleries. There's a little something for every artistic soul, and you can find some great gifts and souvenirs too.
✓ Pamper yourself or someone else during your Emerald Isle beach vacation.
This is a vacation, so pampering should be on your bucket list! Whether it's for yourself or someone else, go ahead and splurge on some self-care while you're here. Spa treatments, massages, hair and nail salons, and more are available to you during your stay in Emerald Isle. Plan a special day for your loved one or indulge yourself. Gift certificates make great gifts, too. Check out these Emerald Isle spas and salons.
print this emerald isle bucket list!
Are you ready to start checking off your Emerald Isle beach vacation bucket list items? Here you go! You're welcome. 😊
What's next on your emerald isle bucket list?
We want to know!