Town of Emerald Isle

Take an early morning walk on our wide sandy beaches. Enjoy shelling, sailing, swimming, or fishing. Take in the natural beauty of the salt marshes. Watch the pelicans, gulls, herons and egrets.



The Town of Emerald Isle

(reprinted from The Town of Emerald Isle Residents’ & Visitors’ Guide)

Emerald Isle is located on the western half of Bogue Banks — one of the barrier islands of the Southern Outer Banks chain. The tranquil resort and residential community of Emerald Isle is located about halfway between the states of South Carolina and Virginia.


The western portion of Bogue Banks remained totally natural until 1951 when it was purchased by a group of seven developers from the Red Springs area of North Carolina. When viewed from the air by the developers during negotiation for the island’s purchase, it appeared as a green gem in the middle of a sea of sparkling blue water and was appropriately named Emerald Isle.

Often called “Gem of the Crystal Coast,” and the “Closest Thing to Heaven on Earth.” it is also known as “the Family Beach.” The original developers, in their wisdom, planned a resort community with an image much different that its resort neighbors. They succeeded in crating a family beach image without the carnivalization most prevalent at other similar oceanside resorts. Town Boards and Planning Boards have worked diligently and effectively since development began to maintain that family beach image through proper zoning and planned and orderly growth.

The town was incorporated in 1957, and a high-rise bridge was built to provide access from the mainland to the island in 1971, replacing the old ferry. According to the federal census in 1960, 14 individuals had take up residency on Emerald Isle. In years later, Emerald Isle still maintains its family beach image and is highly touted by major print media. It has received recognition from such publications as USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post for providing a tranquil, peaceful and relaxing atmosphere for its permanent and absentee property owners as well as the many tourists who visit each year.sunset2-a

Its property appreciation values have made Emerald Isle one of the best resorts or second home investments in the United States, and the community is often ranked with other major resort communities in terms of resort or second home investment and property value. The town’s tax base is now over $1.3 billion and the current advalorem tax rate per $100 valuation now stands at only .175/$100, one of the lowest tax rates in North Carolina and the USA.

Emerald Isle and the surrounding area offer a wide variety of activities for the family: the North Carolina Aquarium at neighboring Pine Knoll Shores, the North Carolina Maritime Museum, Shackleford’s wild ponies, Fort Macon State Park, Hammocks Beach State Park, Cape lookout National Seashore, the seaside villages of Beaufort and Swansboro, the Croatan National Forest and numerous other sites and attractions.

The area offers a wide variety of aquatic activities: swimming, surfing, windsurfing; offshore, inshore, pier, surf and Gulf Stream fishing; personal water craft and boat rentals; and scuba diving.

Or, simply walk along our beaches, do some shell hunting or just be awed by the beauty of our sandy white beaches, beautiful sunrises, or breathtaking sunsets.

Our restaurants are full of fresh seafood caught by local fishermen. We have adequate amusements for the kids, numerous golf courses and tennis courts, and plenty of activities to keep you going all day or, provide you with peach and tranquility for pure rest and relaxation.

So, check us out, bring the family, enjoy our amenities and welcome to the “Gem of the Crystal Coast,” the “Closest Thing to Heaven on Earth” . . . Emerald Isle!


(reprint from

ei-townsealLike many of North Carolina’s coastal islands, Emerald Isle was first home to Indians; the Algonquin Indian tribe occupied the surrounding countryside from about 500 A.D. to colonial times. Later, the area was settled by whalers and fishermen.

Located on the western end of Bogue Banks, with Bogue Sound dividing it from the mainland, the Emerald Isle area overlooks a small inlet. The settlement of the mainland area inside Bogue Inlet by English colonists began around 1730, at the mouth of White Oak River.

This was, of course, famous pirate territory. Blackbeard sailed from Teach’s Hole at Ocracoke, just to the north around Cape Lookout. In the early 1720’s, Beaufort (on the mainland across from the eastern end of the island ) was an official seaport –complete with customs office. Twice during the summer of 1747, pirates sacked Beaufort.

During the Revolutionary War, a number of patriot privateers operated through the inlet. Following the war, Swansboro –on the mainland– assumed such importance that in 1786 it was declared a separate customs district.


Captain Otway Burns, naval hero of the War of 1812, was born and grew up in Swansboro. In 1818, Burns brought national attention to the area by constructing the first steamship ever to float in North Carolina waters. Captain Burns continues to draw attention to this day, as he saw to it that an actual cannon from his privateer The Snap Dragon would adorn his grave in nearby Beaufort.

The Civil War ended the relative prosperity enjoyed by the mainland communities behind Bogue Inlet. Later, with the decline in the trade of naval stores, the major industry became fishing.

Emerald Isle, which takes its name from the large maritime forests on the island, was mostly uninhabited until the 1950’s, when small family cottages began to appear.