The Five Barrier Island Communities of Bogue Banks on the NC Crystal Coast

Staying in one of the five barrier island communities on Bogue Banks is a popular way to access all of the best attractions that the Crystal Coast has to offer, along with some beautiful, quiet and pristine stretches of beach.

Each community has its own fascinating character and distinct charm to explore. Below is an overview of these popular barrier island communities, where we offer many of our conveniently located vacation rentals:

  • Atlantic Beach – This beach town is one of the most visited on the Crystal Coast and is filled with some of the most beautiful and scenic beaches in the area. It’s very family-friendly with plenty of things to do including several incredible waterfront dining destinations, Fort Macon State Park, Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail, and the Oceanana Fishing Pier for incredible views and ocean activities.
  • Pine Knoll Shores – Pine Knoll Shores is located just west of Atlantic Beach and an ideal spot to enjoy coastal nature and a more secluded beachside experience. This community offers convenient public beach access points and the Theodore Roosevelt State Natural Area, a 265-acre beautiful coastal state park. Don’t miss the family-friendly North Carolina Aquarium here.
  • Emerald Isle – Emerald Isle is located on the western end of Bogue Banks and offers scenic bike paths and tours and the family-friendly Salty Pirate Waterpark, the only one on the Crystal Coast. Head out to the Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier for some exciting fishing and lovely sunset and wildlife views. Emerald Isle Woods Park offers scenic trails and a 9-hole disc golf course as well as facilities for grilling.
  • Indian Beach – Located right in the middle of Bogue Banks between Emerald Island and Pine Knoll Shores, Indian Beach is a small town that offers several soft, pristine and hidden beaches in a total area of just 2 square miles.
  • Salter Path – Directly east of Indian Beach on the narrowest path of Bogue Banks is Salter Path, a small unincorporated residential community with excellent beach access. Some of the first homes on the island were founded here.

Top Attractions and Places to See

No matter where you stay on the Crystal Coast, you won’t be far from any of the area’s attractions, which can fill up many days of your vacation.

The Crystal Coast is rich in piers, nature parks, landmarks, historic sites and other places to see that all contribute to the magic and charm of the area. Below is an overview of some of the top attractions to explore:

Oceanana Fishing Pier

Location: 700 E Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC

The Oceanana Fishing Pier in Atlantic Beach is vast, stretching almost 1,000 feet into the ocean and offering you the opportunity to catch a vast range of gamefish species.
Most visitors, however, simply stop by to indulge in the breathtaking views throughout the day and during sunset.

Relax and enjoy a freshly caught seafood meal with the family at the Oceanana Pier House Restaurant with reasonable prices, quirky maritime décor and a laid-back atmosphere.


Fort Macon State Park

Location: 2303 E Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC

Fort Macon State Park in Atlantic Beach is arguably the area’s top must-see historic site. The fort has been revitalized as a museum, featuring outdoor and indoor exhibits, musket demonstrations, guided tours, and more. In the surrounding area, you will find some jaw-dropping water views in the 9 acres that make up the grounds.

The park is almost totally surrounded by water and features a pristine shoreline for beachgoing, designated trails for hiking, year-round fishing for bluefish, whiting, sheepshead, flounder and many other species, swimming areas, picnic facilities and more. Lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day through Labor Day at the protected swimming area.


The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

Location: 1 Roosevelt Blvd, Pine Knoll Shores, NC

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores gives you an opportunity to see the marine life of the area up close while learning some fascinating facts with the family.

The aquarium features thousands of aquatic animals, from the open Atlantic to the waterfalls and rich mountains of North Carolina. You can spot river otters playing and frolicking at the otter exhibit or touch sting rays in the family-friendly petting tank.

Various events, such as the fishing school lessons, the “Design-a-Dino” coloring day, and the shark-themed family fundraising event make the aquarium a local community staple.

Where else can you safely stare a shark right in the eye in immersive settings that are similar to how these majestic creatives live in the wild?

There are daily programs to participate in and interactive exhibits, from art displays, to sea turtle puppets, a nature play area and more for the kids.


Cape Lookout National Seashore

Cape Lookout National Seashore is directly east of Bogue Banks and a grand encapsulation of what makes the Crystal Coast so special. It is only accessible via boat, with 56 miles of sparking sandy beaches surrounding the crown jewel – the iconic Lookout Lighthouse also known as the Diamond Lady.

It can’t be missed as you approach it, boasting a brilliant diamond pattern across a classic black and white color design. It’s was used for generations to introduce weary sea-travelers to the Crystal Coast.

Take a ferry out to the area from nearby Harkers Island or Beaufort, indulge in the views, and spot the wild horses of the nearby Shackleford Banks. Experience fishing, shelling, swimming, camping, birding and even climb the lighthouse. The Island Express Ferry Service can be reached at (252)-728-7433 for more details.


Contact Us to Plan a Crystal Coast Vacation

As you can see, there’s no shortage of activities for romantics, adventurers, families, and everything in between while on a vacation to the Crystal Coast. It’s just where you want to be. The Crystal Coast has it all. You can find a world of opportunities and activities just waiting to be explored.

Contact us at (252)-247-7610 for a walk through the top attractions, the best fishing excursions, the friendliest family activities, and the most exciting local places to eat here.

We know the Crystal Coast and we are ecstatic to share it with as many people as possible. Our Crystal Coast vacation rentals throughout the area offer new renovations, access to the beach, and several highly sought-after amenities and features.