Our Guide for the Perfect Vacation in Emerald Isle, NC

Emerald Isle is a beautiful destination located on the coast of North Carolina. It is known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and scenic views. The place offers everything you would want for a perfect beach vacation. In this guide, we will highlight the top things to do, places to eat, and information on the top vacation rentals Emerald Isle, NC has to offer.

What is Emerald Isle, NC, Known For?

Emerald Isle, NC, is known for its natural beauty and vibrant coastal lifestyle. The town has breathtaking beaches with crystal-clear waters and pristine shorelines. 

Visitors can enjoy themselves in the calmness of the surrounding natural landscapes while engaging in various recreational activities, such as water sports, fishing, kayaking, and hiking. The town’s welcoming and family-friendly ambiance makes it a sought-after destination for creating cherished memories with loved ones.

Things to Do in Emerald Isle, NC

Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier

Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy a great time at Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier, which offers a scenic view of the ocean and is an ideal spot for fishing. The pier features amenities such as a bait and tackle shop, drinks and food options, beach gear, restrooms, and beach parking, ensuring that visitors have all they need for a comfortable and enjoyable fishing experience. 

Hammocks Beach State Park

Hammocks Beach State Park
Photo from Shutterstock

Hammocks Beach State Park is a preserved natural area of barrier islands and salt marshes, offering visitors a peaceful escape into nature. Guests can take a ferry to explore the island, participate in water activities such as hiking, paddling, swimming, and fishing, or hike through the trails. The park also provides opportunities for picnicking and birdwatching, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to experience the beauty of the coastal environment. 

Salty Pirate Water Park

Salty Pirate Water Park is a fun-filled attraction for all age groups, offering endless entertainment and a way to beat the summer heat. The park features numerous water slides and pools, making it the perfect place to cool off and have a splashing good time. Visitors can check out the Salty Pirate Store, where they can find a variety of fun t-shirts and bags to remember their trip by and take a piece of the park’s pirate-themed excitement home with them. 

North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

While on the Crystal Coast, visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. This aquarium takes you on an aquatic journey “from the mountains to the sea,” allowing guests to interact with sea creatures like sharks and stingrays. Explore exhibits on local marine habitats and the famous “Living Shipwreck” with a replica German U-352 submarine and Blackbeard’s ship. Popular attractions include a stingray touch-tank, river otter exhibit, sea turtles, and sharks. The aquarium offers indoor and outdoor excursions like paddle boarding and sea turtle treks for a fee. 

Golfin’ Dolphin

If you’re looking for golfing on Emerald Isle, Golfin’ Dolphin should be at the top of your list. Golfin’ Dolphin offers a fun-filled experience for families with mini-golf, go-kart tracks, and arcade games. Their Go-Kart track has 24 of the fastest cars, complete with windy turns and a large bridge for a thrilling 5-minute race. They also have an 18-hole mini-golf course that caters to players of all ages and skill levels with sandtraps, water hazards, caves, waterfalls, and multi-level shots. The Driving Range facility has 25 covered mats, perfect for rainy days and 25 grass tees for serious players. They also offer a PGA-sanctioned practice facility with a putting green, chipping green, and sand bunkers, with 2 PGA Teaching Professionals available for private lessons. 

Emerald Isle, NC, Restaurants

Surf’s Up Grill & Bar

Located at the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle, Surf’s Up Grill & Bar is a locally owned, beachside establishment that offers a unique and unforgettable dining experience. The restaurant is the perfect spot to watch the waves, listen to tunes, and relax with friends and family. With friendly staff, a spacious location, and a laid-back atmosphere, Surf’s Up Grill & Bar is ideal for private events, business meetings, or casual gatherings. Whether you’re looking for a scrumptious seafood specialty, a refreshing beverage, or a fantastic beachside atmosphere, Surf’s Up Grill & Bar delivers an exceptional dining experience for all.

Rucker Johns

Located in Emerald Isle, Rucker Johns is a casual family restaurant that offers a diverse menu catering to a wide range of tastes. From a variety of appetizers, juicy burgers, sophisticated sandwiches, and specialty salads to fresh seafood, tender steaks, flavorful chops, and ribs, the restaurant has something for everyone. The restaurant provides a kid’s menu featuring smaller portions of popular dishes for the little ones. With all ABC permits, a wide variety of wines, and an array of beers on tap, Rucker Johns ensures that guests have a well-rounded dining experience with a beverage selection to complement their meal.

The Trading Post

Established in 2016, The Trading Post is a local seafood market and restaurant that prides itself on great food and Southern hospitality. They offer a wide range of seafood delicacies, including fresh sushi, steamed crabs, and lobsters. Their outdoor space is equipped with fireplaces, cornhole, and hula hoops, making it the perfect spot for fun activities. To add to the ambiance, they even have live music to jazz up your meal. Their menu features a variety of dishes, including seafood, burgers, and fried green tomatoes. With a focus on excellent food and a welcoming atmosphere, The Trading Post is a must-visit for locals and tourists.


Caribsea is a popular waterfront dining spot in Emerald Isle that offers a diverse menu to cater to all tastes. The warm ambiance and excellent view of the ocean further enhance the dining experience. Whether you’re craving an exceptional steak, locally sourced seafood, or a signature cocktail, Caribsea has you covered. The restaurant features a rooftop lounge where guests can sip on a cocktail, enjoy a sunset, and socialize. The rooftop lounge provides an amazing setting with breathtaking views of the Emerald Isle. To make the experience even more delightful, live music is offered every Friday and Saturday, creating a memorable night out. 

Flipperz Family Bar & Grill

Flipperz Family Bar & Grill, a local favorite in Emerald Isle, NC, has been serving quality foods and beverages with a family-oriented atmosphere since opening its doors in 2001. Specializing in seafood, the restaurant offers an extensive menu featuring an assortment of scrumptious dishes, including flavorful seafood and steaks, tasty sandwiches and salads, and gourmet burgers in a casual yet sophisticated, family-friendly environment. Featuring a full-service bar and lively atmosphere, Flipperz Family Bar & Grill is also one of the best Emerald Isle bars. 

Plan Your Visit

Ready to experience the best of Emerald Isle for yourself? Browse our entire inventory of vacation rentals on Emerald Isle to find your perfect accommodations!

How Far is the Drive to Emerald Isle, NC?

Driving from Atlanta, GA, to Emerald Isle takes approximately six hours, covering a distance of around 380 miles. Driving from Raleigh, NC, takes around three hours, covering 140 miles. Driving from Charlotte, NC, takes about five hours, covering 280 miles.

Find the Best Emerald Isle Rentals with Spectrum Properties

For the best Emerald Isle vacation rentals, look no further than Spectrum Properties! Visitors can choose a suitable rental from a wide range of options, such as oceanfront homes, villas, and condos. We even have pet-friendly Emerald Isle rentals for when you’re traveling with a furry companion. All properties are fully equipped with modern amenities and our excellent customer service ensures your stay is hassle-free. Emerald Isle is a great beach destination that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and coastal living. Book your stay today and be one step closer to the coastal escape you deserve!