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Things to Do on Emerald Isle

The Top Things to Do on Emerald Isle

During your stay in one of Spinnaker’s Reach beautiful vacation rentals, be sure to take advantage of all of the fun things to do on Emerald Isle, NC! There are so many opportunities for fun during your stay on the Crystal Coast, from the nearby state and national parks and preserved shorelines to the miles of pristine beaches. Watch the sea turtles at the NC Aquarium or try your hand at fishing along the Bogue Inlet! All this (and so much more) is waiting for you in the Southern Outer Banks!

Don’t forget to always book direct with Spinnaker’s Reach! Skip the fees and extra charges from third-party sites and get the most out of your next vacation.

Things to do on Emerald Isle

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

With miles of beautiful Emerald Isle beaches, you’ll find plenty to explore and enjoy during your stay. Discover the many excellent ways to take in this beautiful town!


One of the best ways to sightsee in Emerald Isle is to do it on the water! Kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding are all favorite hobbies around town. You’ll have no problem finding beach equipment at these fantastic rental places.

  • Barrier Island Kayaks: This family-owned business has been offering kayak rentals and guided tours for more than 20 years.
  • Blown Kiteboarding: For an adrenaline-filled adventure, try kiteboarding! You can find lessons and equipment rentals at this great shop.
  • Carolina Kitesurfing: If you’re looking for surfboards, paddleboards, or kitesurfing equipment, head to Carolina Kitesurfing. They provide rentals as well as individual and group tours.
  • Olympus Dive Center Scuba Diving: Located in Morehead City, this center boasts the best way to dive in North Carolina.
  • South Swell Surf Shop: The premier surf shop in Emerald Isle, South Swell offers apparel as well as surf lessons and board rentals.
  • AB WaterSports: You’ll find a little bit of everything at AB WaterSport, including parasailing, boat rentals, and even Cape Lookout Tours!


Play a round (or two) of golf while on vacation. There are some excellent courses nearby that are sure to challenge you!


Fishing is a time-honored tradition on Emerald Isle. Whether you enjoy surf fishing, deep-water excursions, or you’re looking for the perfect pier from which to cast your line, you can find it in the list below.

  • Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier: This Emerald Isle institution is a must for anyone new to the area. When you purchase your pass and fish from this pier, you don’t need a North Carolina fishing license. Plus, you’ll get the knowledge and experience from the friendly staff!
  • Captain Stacy Fishing Center: This Atlantic Beach-based charter has over 50 years of experience of fishing in these waters. From private tours to shark-hunting excursions, you’ll find a little bit of everything.
  • Emerald Isle Adventures: Here, you’ll find boat rentals, fishing charters, and family photography in one easy stop!
  • Sandbar Safari Fishing and Ecology Tours: With Sandbar Safari, you can book a fishing charter or eco-tour of Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach, Swansboro, Morehead City, and Jacksonville.

Take Advantage of the Kid-Friendly Fun

One of the best parts about staying in Emerald Isle is the abundance of kid-friendly activities

  • Lost Treasure Amusement Park: Located in Salter Path, this mini-golf course spins a story of Professor Duffer A. Hacker and his discoveries on Fogclift Islands. This amusement park also features go-karts, bumper boats, and other kiddie rides.
  • Golfin Dolphin Miniature Golf and Driving Range: With year-round attractions, this site is one of the best things to do near Emerald Isle during the offseason.
  • Mac Daddy’s Bowling and Arcade: Enjoy an afternoon of bowling and arcade games! Discover one of the best things to do near Emerald Isle when it rains.
  • Fun World Arcade and Motorsports: Located off Coast Guard Road, Fun World is an amusement park with arcade games, go-karts, and so much more!
  • Salty Pirate Water Park: Formerly called the Water Boggan of Emerald Isle, this wonderful water park is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon.

Dine at Local Restaurants

You won’t have any trouble finding great places to eat in Emerald Isle, NC. From fine-dining establishments to family-friendly eateries, you’ll have plenty from which to choose. Check out some of our favorites below.

  • Caribsea: This fine-dining establishment utilizes fresh North Carolina seafood and aged prime cuts of beef to create an outstanding experience. It’s one of the most romantic things to do on Emerald Isle, NC.
  • Flipperz Family Grill: This family-friendly restaurant features a diverse menu (perfect for those picky eaters) and a great selection of drinks.
  • Kathryn’s Bistro & Martini Bar: After the kids go to bed, head to Kathryn’s Bistro and Martini Bar for a delicious cocktail and scrumptious seafood.
  • Rucker Johns Restaurant: It’s not a trip to the south without some down-home classics, like shrimp and grits.

Things to do on Emerald Isle

Discover some of the fun attractions available in another small town, like Atlantic Beach or Morehead City!

Museums, Heritage Sites, and Aquariums – Oh My!

  • Beaufort Historic Site: If you’re in the area, stop by the Beaufort Historic Site to get a peek into the past. Learn about the history of this former fishing village and what life was like back in the 18th and 19th centuries. This is one of the best things to do in Beaufort!
  • Core Sound Waterfowl Museum: Enjoy art, history, and culture when you visit this amazing attraction. Located on Harkers Island, the museum offers fascinating exhibits and some outstanding events.
  • Fort Macon State Park: Civil War history buffs shouldn’t miss the chance to tour the grounds of Fort Macon State Park!
  • North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores: Without a doubt, visiting the NC Aquarium is one of the best things to do with kids along the Crystal Coast. Before you visit, check the calendar of events to see if there are any fun tours or special parties happening during your visit!
  • North Carolina Maritime Museum: So much of life in North Carolina revolves around the water. Nowhere showcases that better than the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Learn about the history of boating, surfing, fishing, and so much more when you visit.
  • The History Museum of Carteret County: Learn about the history of this region, from the Native Americans who originally lived in this region to North Carolina’s role in World War II. Best of all, admission is totally free, so this is one of the best attractions to visit on a budget!
  • Tryon Palace: Visit North Carolina’s first permanent state capital. From the 14 acres of gardens to the interactive and educational exhibits, this attraction is sure to spark your interest.
  • Cape Lookout National Seashore: From seeing the wild horses on the shores of Shackleford Banks to climbing the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, you’ll have no problem spending a day at this famous stretch of protected beach.
  • Hammocks Beach State Park: This pristine slice of beachy paradise is a fantastic place to go for a day of kayaking, canoeing, or paddleboarding. Located in the nearby town of Swansboro, this park features paddling trails educational programs, and fascinating exhibits on local wildlife.