Are you choosing which charming seaside town you should visit for your trip to the NC Crystal Coast? The choice isn’t always apparent, especially when debating Emerald Isle vs. Atlantic Beach. After reading this guide by Spinnaker’s Reach Realty, choosing the ideal coastal town to stay in during your dreamy NC Crystal Coast vacation will be a breeze. The Spinnaker’s Reach Realty team has been helping travelers make memories they’ll treasure for years to come since the mid-1990s.
Where To Go on Your NC Crystal Coast Vacation?
1. Group Size
Since the towns are only around 10 miles apart, your group size is one of the most important factors in where to stay on the NC Crystal Coast. Emerald Isle is the clear choice for larger groups and families because of its abundance of spacious vacation rentals. Spinnaker’s Reach Realty has a stunning selection of plush vacation rentals in Emerald Isle, NC. Atlantic Beach is ideal for smaller groups because it has a lot of condo rentals and hotel rooms.
2. Modernized or Natural Beauty?
Come to Emerald Isle to enjoy plenty of trees, local wildlife, two public kayak launches, and one public boat launch/ramp. Sea turtles are one of the area’s most beloved wildlife. You can read our Emerald Isle sea turtle season guide to learn more! Emerald Isle is also a bird sanctuary with plenty of bird-watching opportunities.
Atlantic Beach is the ideal NC Crystal Coast destination for a more beach city scene (although it’s technically not a city). The Atlantic Beach Boardwalk is the perfect place to stroll and enjoy the stunning ocean views. Although Atlantic Beach is more developed, both towns offer excellent privately owned restaurants and bars.
3. Nearby Activities
There is a wide array of things to do outdoors in Emerald Isle, NC. The beaches are much less crowded, so your family can spread out and relax by the ocean in Emerald Isle. Your family can also enjoy some fun in the water at the Salty Pirate Water Park!
Boating and inshore fishing are some of the most popular water sports in Emerald Isle, NC. The Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier has some of the best fishing opportunities on the NC Crystal Coast. You can take a break from fishing at Surf’s Up Grill & Bar at Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier. The Oceanana Pier in Atlantic Beach is also one of the best fishing spots and has a great restaurant and bar.
There are tons of fascinating things to do in Atlantic Beach, NC, for history buffs. Fort Macon State Park is a restored pre-civil war fort in Atlantic Beach. Enjoy daily guided tours and frequent musket and cannon demonstrations. There are also plenty of engaging exhibits and hiking trails. You can watch for over 300 species of birds while you’re exploring the park’s hiking trails.