Emerald Isle may be one of the region’s newest towns, however, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot to offer. With an almost perfect blend of modern amenities and old-fashioned beach town values, Emerald Isle has become a favorite vacation spot for families – and the numbers prove it. With just over 3,600 full-time residents, Emerald Isle’s population peaks at about 40,000 each summer as families make their way back to the beach for a little rest and relaxation.
Located at the far western end of Bogue Banks, the town’s warm hospitality and hometown charm make it a perfect beach getaway. And options abound, from campgrounds and hotels to condo and private home rentals, when it comes time to choose the perfect place to stay.
Interestingly enough, this area of Bogue Banks remained largely uninhabited until the 1950s when it was purchased by a group of developers. While contemplating their investment, a consultant was flown over the area for a visual survey. Viewing the lush green maritime forest set against the sparkling blue-greens of the Atlantic Ocean, he suggested “Emerald Isle.” Emerald Isle pays tribute to that Irish namesake each March with its St. Patrick’s Festival, one of the Crystal Coast’s biggest spring events.
Development was originally planned in the 1920s by the late Henry Fort, who envisioned a large ocean resort. Until Fort purchased the land, the region had been home to nomadic Native Americans and a handful of whaling families and fishermen. Fort abandoned his plans and when he died, his daughter, Anita Fort Maulick, sold the land to WB McLean from Red Springs. There was little to lure McLean to the project, even the oyster shell road from Atlantic Beach ended in Salter Path. But like Fort before him, McLean had a vision for this lush maritime forest covered island.
Town planners have been lauded by many state and federal agencies for their forethought. Growth in Emerald Isle has been strictly monitored and managed to avoid the overcrowding experienced in many beach towns and gaining the region a reputation as a family beach with old-fashioned values.
While the beach and watersports, including surf fishing, surfing, kiteboarding and boating are popular daytime activities, Emerald Isle is home to a variety of options. Hiking trails, one of the most elaborate biking path systems in the county, amusement rides, a water slide, miniature golf and an active parks and recreation department makes sure there is something to do for everyone, at any age. EmeraldFest, a summer concert series provides live entertainment during the summer months and Bogue Inlet Pier, one of two remaining fishing piers on Bogue Banks, is active nearly year-round.
To learn more about Emerald Isle, visit www.emeraldisle-nc.org.