I've been coming to Emerald Isle for years now & I love it! The beaches here are so nice and you can totally find a place that's less secluded if you go away from the pier, in the more residential areas. That's why I usually stay at an Airbnb, and make sure that I get one close to a public beach access. The last Airbnb Brian and I stayed at was perfect - it was 1 block from the sound and 3 blocks from the beach, so we were able to enjoy both areas.
There's so much to do in Emerald Isle, and it's also so close to Swansboro, Morehead City and Beaufort, which are my favorite little towns. You can go kayaking in the sound, rent a boat (if you know how to drive one!), or hit up Emerald Isle or Atlantic Beach. There's also Fort Macon State Park, and Shackleford Banks that you can visit.
I loved visiting Shackleford banks and seeing the wild horses! Brian & I took the ferry from Beaufort and it was only about a 20 minute ride to the island where they dropped us off and we were free to explore. There is nowhere to buy food or drinks on the island (it's uninhabited), so definitely bring some water and a few snacks or a picnic lunch! There was a storm rolling in so we weren't able to stay as long as we wished, but we were able to find the wild horses so we were fine with it!
If you're interested in taking a ferry ride to Shackleford Banks or Cape Hatteras, click the link below for more information on ferry times and pricing.
Caribsea, Surf's Up, Flipperz, The Trading Post, and Snapperz are great seafood restaurants. Or try MichaelAngelo's Pizza and El Zarape for Mexican! For breakfast or lunch I love going to The Village Market.
Saltwater Grill, The Boro, Icehouse, White Oak River Bistro, and Boro Low Country Kitchen
Morehead: Southern Salt Seafood is my favorite! There's also the Sanitary, Shuckin' Shack, Redfish & Off the Hook. After dinner, head over to Jack's for drinks & music.
The oysters in this photo are from Southern Salt in Morehead City.
Beaufort: Front Street Grill is amazing! Also, Clawson's & Dockhouse. If you want some great pizza, check out Black Sheep! A few other great spots are: Aqua, The Spouter Inn, Moonrakers and Finz.
There are many little islands you can explore. Rent kayaks, take a ferry, or rent a boat (or find a friend with one!) and visit one of the many beautiful beaches that this area has to offer. Some of the islands to choose from are: Shackleford Banks, Carrot Island, Radio Island, and Huggins Island.
LOVED this swimsuit I got off Amazon, so I thought I'd share and link it HERE
Seeing the wild horses in person was AMAZING. As soon as we hopped off the ferry we set off in hopes of finding a herd of horses. It took some exploring and tracking skills, but we found them! We were getting very hot and tired from walking down the island, but we found a path with hoof prints and followed them a bit. Brian and I walked through a patch of briers and bushes and when we popped around the corner there were about 3 of the horses grazing right beside us. You're not supposed to get too close to the horses, so we climbed a sand dune and watched them from afar. There ended up being 7 horses together, along with the newest addition to the herd, a 3-month old foal! We chilled on the sand dune for a bit, took some photos, and then all of a sudden we were surrounded by horses and we couldn't move. Another couple who got off the ferry with us came walking up and we decided to try moving to where they were so we could start heading back. One of the horses didn't like that and it charged at Brian! I taught Brian well with our own horses though, and he waved his arms in the air and the horse ran away.
To explore Cape Lookout, you'll need to take the ferry from either Beaufort of Harkers Island. The lighthouse is located on Harkers Island. You'll need to bring food and water to this island as well, because they don't have any place to buy snacks here. The beaches here are gorgeous, and you can even camp here. You can climb the lighthouse on certain days, and also visit the Keeper's Quarters Museum.
CLICK HERE for the cutest suit that I wore to explore the lighthouse
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