23 BEST Things to Do in Emerald Isle, NC

Emerald Isle is often considered the jewel of North Carolina’s coast. Emerald Isle, is a popular tourist destination that has something for everyone and is often said to have some of the bluest water in the state!

Scenic Bogue Inlet fishing pier stretches out to sea and calls all local fishermen, while non-fishers can enjoy plenty of adventure water activities. After you are finished with all the best things to do in Emerald Isle, it won’t be hard to find a delicious seafood restaurant nearby either as you wind down your day on the coast.

The Best Things To Do In Emerald Isle

Enjoy a Day at the Beach

Emerald Isle

Emerald Isle is situated in a region known as the Crystal Coast and when you see the water at the beautiful Emerald Isle Beach, you’ll see why! The water is crystal clear and warm, especially in the summer.

This long sandy North Carolina beach is a great place to head to on hot sunny days. Swim in that lovely water or relax on the beach with that refreshing ocean breeze keeping the temperature just right.

The beach is accessible from various points.  If you plan on swimming, it’s best to set up close to the lifeguards who are on duty at various points along the beach during the summer season.

Wellness Massage and Yoga

The best way to treat yourself in Emerald Isle is to head to Wellness Massage and Yoga and indulge in a soothing treatment that’s sure to leave you feeling rested and rejuvenated. They offer a wide range of massage styles, including deep tissue, Swedish, Thai, hot stone, sports, and therapeutic. 

The atmosphere is calming in a way that feels more spiritual than spa-like, and it’s clean and spacious. They offer other healing experiences as well, like reiki, reflexology, and yoga classes.

Mobile services are even available for an extra fee if you want them to come to wherever you’re staying. The professionals here are truly gifted, and what better way to get into vacation mode than with total relaxation. 

The Point Beach

Set at the very end of the isle, a tailed-off sandbar beach boasts some of the most impressive scenery around. It’s very popular for sunrises and sunsets in particular, with uninterrupted panoramas out over the ocean, the inlet, the sound, and even Bear Island, plus you’ll rarely find a crowd on this corner of the coast. 

This alluring stretch of shore is covered in seashells as well, so it’s a great place to hunt for the perfect specimen. With a gentle salty sea breeze, calm crashing waves, and warm rays of sunshine, the Point is a picture-perfect place to enjoy all the scenic spoils Emerald Isle has to offer. 

Go Kitesurfing

The region around Emerald Isle has some of the best conditions around for kitesurfing and it’s one of the best things to do in Emerald Isle. At Carolina Kitesurfing, beginners can learn how to kitesurf and more seasoned kitesurfers can build on their skills.

Lessons start on land where you’ll learn about safety before moving into the water for your first real lesson. Their Ticket to Ride program allows more experienced riders to join local kitesurfers in various areas so they can kitesurf independently in a group. 

  • Location: 142 Fairview Drive, Emerald Isle (GPS)
  • Cost: Lessons are around $300.00 per person. 

Go Shopping

Emerald Isle is a delightful destination for spending a day shopping until you drop. There’s a wide array of adorable storefronts for browsing or buying throughout town. Emerald Isle Books and Toys is family-owned and has been around for decades. It’s the largest independent bookshop in Eastern North Carolina and has an extensive selection of good reads to look through, as well as some super cute gifts. 

The Salty Air Open Market hosts an assortment of local vendors offering fresh produce and handmade artisan wares over the weekend in Cedar Point. For unique, local, and handcrafted home decor, a stop into Enchanted Interiors is a must.

Style the Day Boutique has a few trendy fashion fits for women to try on. Beaufort Olive Oil Company is a gourmet grocery store with all the specialty provisions you’ll need for packing the perfect picnic or cooking up a fine feast in Emerald Isle. 

Reel in the Big One at Bogue Inlet Pier

Bogue Inlet Pier
photo via @ Bogue Inlet Pier / Best Things to do in Emerald Isle

Bogue Inlet Pier is a historic pier that is one of the most popular places to fish in Emerald Isle.  Find a spot on the pier and kick back with an amazing view of the ocean while you wait for the fish to bite. Everything you need for your excursion is right there including bait and tackle, restrooms, and refreshments.

Bluefish, red drum, sea mullet, and Spanish mackerel are some of the fish species that are often caught here.  Don’t worry, if you don’t catch anything you can always enjoy a delicious meal at the on-site Surf’s Up Grill and Bar. 

  • Location: 100 Bogue Inlet Dr, Emerald Isle (GPS)
  • Cost: $12.50 – $25.00 depending on the type of fishing you do.

Hammocks Beach State Park

Hammocks Beach State Park

This secluded state park is its own tiny island that’s just four miles long. Though small, Bear Island, commonly called the crown jewel of the Crystal Coast, boasts a remote and pristine landscape that leaves nothing to be desired. You’re in for a delightful day of exploration here, in the most tranquil setting possible. To get to and from the Hammocks haven, you need to take a boat, kayak, or ferry, which only adds to the sense of adventure. 

The visitor center on-site does have a bathhouse and food stand, so you don’t have to worry about packing provisions too much, though we do recommend bug spray, extra water, and good walking shoes. There is an abundance of campsites here as well, for anyone interested in roughing it underneath the starry skies.

As you wander you’ll discover breathtaking beaches, maritime forests, marshlands, and likely even some native endangered species. 

Go Golfing

Whether you’re looking for a long game out on verdant links or the more whimsical pastime known as putt putt, Emerald Isle has got you covered. For serious swingers, the Crystal Coast Country Club is set only a few miles outside of Emerald Isle.

The sound front surroundings offer spectacular views and the championship course is newly renovated. Silver Creek Golf Club is another renowned option nearby. 

For mini golf fun, Lost Treasure Golf in Indian Beach is iconic. Each hole is kitschy and unique and there are two courses to choose from. A little mining train even takes you to the top to begin the elaborately themed game. They also have bumper boats, go-karts, and kiddie rides. Golfin Dolphin also comes highly recommended over in Cape Carteret close by. 

Spend an Afternoon in Emerald Isle Woods Park

 Emerald Isle Woods Park

Emerald Isle Woods Park is a lovely 41-acre wooded area where you can participate in many outdoor activities. Heading here for a walk is one of the best free things to do in Emerald Isle.

There’s space to relax on a patch of grass or under a tree and picnic facilities are on site. You’ll also find a lovely pier and restrooms in the park, and disc golf equipment is available. Make sure to hike along the Emerald Isle Woods Trail.  It’s only a mile long, but you’ll see wildflowers and stunning views. 

  • Location: 9404 Coast Guard Road. (GPS)

Rent a Kayak from Hot Wax Surf

Hot Wax Surf

Emerald Isle is a kayaker’s paradise and one of the best things to do is rent a kayak from Hot Wax Surf and go on your own paddling adventures.  The company rents a variety of kayaks including sit on top and sit-in models.

Some of the best places to kayak in the area include Hammocks Beach State Park, Bogue Sound and White Oak River. At $30 a day, you can have a lot of fun at an affordable price. The company also offers a private kayak fishing tour starting at $125.00. 

  • Location: 200 Mallard Drive, Emerald Isle. (GPS)

Check out The Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival

Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival
photo via @ Emerald Isle, NC / Best Things to do in Emerald Isle, NC

As one of the biggest festivals in the region, The Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival attracts people from all over the country who come to enjoy a day full of festivities on the beach.

This fun event takes place in September and features live music, food trucks, and vendors. Keep in mind that many water activities take place on the beach, so there’s just as much fun to be had in the water as there is on land!

  • Location: Western Ocean Regional Access, 101 Islander Drive. (GPS)
  • Cost: Free.

Cedar Street Park

Cedar Street Park

Set on the sound side of Emerald Isle is the idyllic Cedar Street Park. It’s open year-round and provides some of the best public access to these calm and clear waters. It’s super easy and accessible to launch a kayak from here and there’s also a designated spot for windsurfing. 

Many choose to paddleboard as well, and the charming pier is perfect for soaking up some sunshine or casting a line out for a quick catch. Even just wandering the serene shores offers plenty of picturesque panoramas.

It’s a tucked away spot that mostly locals know, so it never gets too crowded either. Before you go, know that there’s limited parking, and dogs are only allowed if they are leashed up. 

Try Paddleboarding With Emerald Isle Paddle Tours

You don’t need to be an expert to take a paddleboard tour with Emerald Isle Paddle Tours because instruction is included in your tour. Explore marshy areas and estuaries of the Bogue Sound while enjoying the beautiful scenery all around. 

All tours are $50.00 per person or you can rent a paddleboard for $60.00 per day. The company also offers Paddleboard Yoga classes twice a week during the summer. 

  • Location: Emerald Dr, Emerald Isle. (GPS)

Take the Kids to Salty Pirate Water Park

Salty Pirate Water Park
photo via @ Salty Pirate Water Park

If you’re traveling with kids, a perfect place to go on hot summer days is the Salty Pirate Water Park where they’ll enjoy access to water slides, wading pools, mat slides, and an arcade. 

During the warmer season, paying a visit to the Salty Pirate is a time-honored tradition in Emerald Isle. It’s fun for all ages, and a refreshing way to cool off and take a bit of a break from the beaches. It’s not the biggest or fanciest when it comes to attractions, but it’s enough to keep everyone entertained for the day, plus it’s clean, safe, and super affordable. 

Pro-tip, if you go after 5pm the admissions fee is half off. There are small slides and a kiddie pool for any little ones, plus three open slides and three tube slides for the more daring adults around. There’s also an arcade and a snack stand serving up all the classic fares, though you can bring your own coolers in as well. 

  • Location: 8915 Reed Drive. (GPS)
  • Cost: Children 3-5 years – $15.00. Children 6 years and older $20.00.

Go on a Jet Skiing Adventure with AB Water Sport 

Jet skiing is one of the most exciting water sports you can enjoy in Emerald Beach and you can rent one at AB Water Sport. Head out on the open water and check out some of the amazing places along the coast that are only accessible by boat. 

Guided jet ski tours are available and take guests to secluded beaches and islands where you’ll see wild ponies and various species of seabirds. The costs are $125.00 to rent a ski for one hour. $195.00 for a two-hour guided tour. 

  • Location: 612 Atlantic Beach Causeway. (GPS)

Go Deep Sea Fishing with a Guided Fishing Charter

Whether you’re an old pro or you’re new to fishing, guests of all levels are welcome aboard the fishing charters offered by Emerald Isle Adventures.  The goal is to catch some nice fish with the help of your expert captain and crew, but if you don’t reel in the big one, you’ll have a blast trying.

A four-hour charter for four people is $625.00.  It’s $1200 for an eight-hour charter. Bait and equipment are included but you’ll need to pack your o

  • Location: 8618 Marina Drive, Emerald Isle. (GPS)

Visit Fort Macon State Park 

Fort Macon State Park

At Fort Macon State Park, near Beaufort, you get to enjoy the best of both worlds.  You’ll learn about history with a visit to the recreated Fort Macon which was originally constructed in the early 1800s to protect the area from pirates.

The rest of the park is a pristine nature area where you can explore various ecosystems such as salt marshes, dunes, and estuaries. Nature trails and supervised beaches are also in the park. During the summer, guided tours, civil war reenactments, and cannon and musket firings take place throughout the day.  

  • Location: 2303 E Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach. (GPS)

Explore Emerald Isle on a Bicycle 

Emerald Isle is an uncrowded, coastal paradise with limited traffic and endless places to explore, and the best way to do so is on a bicycle.  Not only is biking a safe and relaxing way to see the area, but you’ll also save on fuel and parking and get some exercise too! , which we highly recommend!

There are many biking trails around the area including the scenic Emerald Isle Multi-use Trail, which we highly recommend! There are various types of bikes to rent – a single-speed cruiser is $70.00 a day and a Geared Cruiser is $90.00 a day at Isle Cycle.

  • Location: 8002 Emerald Drive Suite C, Emerald Isle. (GPS)

Take a Surfing Lesson

One of the best things to do on the beaches around Wilmington is surf! There’s nothing like riding a wave to shore for the first time and you can learn how to do that with E. I. Surf Lessons. Every 90-minute lesson includes 30 minutes of land and safety instruction and the rest of the lesson is in the water.

A private lesson costs $85.00, or you can rent boards for $25.00 a day. After your lesson is done, you can extend your time in the water by paying an extra fee.

  • Location: 8609 Ocean View Dr, Emerald Isle. (GPS)

Hike the Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail 

Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail 
photo via website @ Beaufort-nc.com

Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail is in a wildlife sanctuary, so it’s a great place to view some local wildlife and plant life. The trail is about a mile long and is suitable for all hiking levels. Along the way, you’ll enjoy scenic views. Bring bug spray and watch for snakes that are sometimes spotted along the trail.

  • Location: Milepost 3.5, Highway 58, Atlantic Beach. (GPS)
  • Cost: Free

Day Five Art Gallery
Courtesy of Day Five Art Gallery / Best Things to in Emerald Isle

Day Five Art Gallery is a cool little spot in Emerald Isle for a creative excursion. It’s a family-owned and operated space that displays the works of Glenn Lamp. He is known for crafting bold and vivid paintings that capture the ethereal beauty of the seashores here and the marine life that lives within. 

There’s a gift shop on-site as well if you want to purchase smaller items featuring the work like T-shirts or beach bags. Everything is for sale, however, if something strikes your fancy in a wide range of color palettes, sizes, and prices. 

North Carolina Aquarium

Less than a 30-minute drive away from Emerald Isle, North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores is a must-visit whenever you find yourself in the vicinity. The Living Shipwreck is probably the fan favorite exhibit. It’s a 306,000 gallon ocean habitat, the largest of its kind in the entire state. 

A scale replica of a German submarine that sank off this coast sits as the centerpiece as fish, sharks, and turtles swim around it. Outdoor activities are available as well, including beachcombing and kayaking. They even offer private tours behind the scenes and events like Paint Nights Under the Sea.

Sleep Soundly at the Lighthouse Inn And Suites

Lighthouse Inn and Suites
photo via @ Lighthouse Inn And Suites

The Lighthouse Inn and Suites is a newer addition to the accommodation options in Emerald Isle.  This beautiful boutique hotel has a beach theme and features fully-equipped rooms with mini-fridges, microwaves, and flat-screen TVs. 

Also on site are a swimming pool, a 24-hour front desk, and a complimentary breakfast is served every morning. A free beach shuttle is also available and if you forgot to bring beach towels, the hotel has some available for your use. 

  • Location: Situated in the center of the island at 216 Islander Drive. (GPS)
  • Cost:  $119.00 – $249.00 per night. Book here.

Best Things To Do In Emerald Isle, NC Map

Best Things To do In Emerald Isle Map
click for interactive map / Best Things to do in Emerald Isle


About Natasha

Natasha moved to North Carolina for college years ago (but she's not trying to age herself here). Her days were spent reading a book on the beach and enjoying a cold glass of sweet tea in between classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Upon graduation, she met her partner, Cameron, and they traveled the world together crossing 85 countries and seven continents. After, many years of international travel they settled down a bit and launched Lost in the Carolinas to share their experiences about and travel tips on South Carolina and North Carolina.

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