My original post can be found on Carolina Blogging.

My family has always made going on fun vacations a priority but there’s one place that stuck out. Since I was a young child, Emerald Isle, North Carolina has always been my family’s beach of choice. There’s just something captivating about the beach, shops, and the fun we have always had here. The best part about the majority of the things to do in Emerald Isle is that aside from somewhere to stay, they are free or pretty cheap. This beach effortlessly keeps you coming back for more, year after year. I stand by my claim that it’s the best beach in the Carolinas.

Photo Credit: bratsphotography.com -Talented South Carolina photographer

As young children, we loved going to a rented beach house for a week in Emerald Isle. We would pack up our boogie boards, our little nets, and our sand castle toys into the car and make the big trek to the beach. There was always tons of things for us to do at the beach, and completely free at that! Some of our favorites were making forts out of sand and catching crabs at night. It was a safe place for us to make friends and just be kids. It was also easy on the pockets too because we brought the same toys and boogie boards year after year to use.

My brother fishing. Photo credit: bratsphotography.com

As we got older, the beach was still just as nice. We kept renting beach houses on the water and took friends with us to enjoy the beach too. We started riding big waves in on our boogie boards, making elaborate castles, and started fishing from the beach. We would just pick up some cheap bait originally and some weights then we would use the fish we caught as cut bait and even our supper. There’s nothing quite like reeling in a big fish on the beach and it’s a free meal too!

One of our favorite parts of our stay in Emerald Isle was exploring all of the shops and arcades in the area. We went to the Golfin’ Dolphin multiple years to mini golf and race go-karts. It was such a fun thing to do at night when we couldn’t play in the water. We would then swing over to Mac Daddy’s to play all of the arcade games before heading back to our beach house. You can play so many games at Mac Daddy’s for $20. It was enough to keep us busy for hours as we excitedly ran around playing games and racking up tickets to buy ourselves little souvenirs.

It was always a treat to go into town to see the shops even if you didn’t buy anything. The beautiful beach themed souvenirs and jewelry were breathtaking! The workers were so laid back and excited to see you as you entered the store. We went to Wings to get souvenirs and the random beach essentials we forgot or broke during our stay since it is close and not too overpriced.

One of my favorite hidden gems of a store is Elly’s Gifts near Food Lion. They always had the coolest beach paintings. I come home with one every year now. They also have an entire room dedicated to Christmas decorations, which is an awesome Christmas present for family members or something sentimental to remember your trip by. While you’re there, walk around the back of the store until you reach the water. There are tons of HUGE turtles and fish to feed for a quarter. That was always a blast and if you ration the food, you could be there for an hour with just $1!

Another place to find some awesome shops and delicious ice cream would be Swansboro, which is right across the bridge on 24. This is one of my favorite little towns to walk through. Most of the shops are little boutiques or cool home decor shops. Don’t worry. There’s also a nice bar to send the boys to on the same road while the girls stroll around and shop. It’s a quaint little area with a cool beach vibe. There’s usually a tent in a big lot with tons of cheap little trinkets and food that are all handmade. It’s neat to support the local community and get yourself something cute, all while being thrifty.

My boyfriend and I Photo Credit: bratsphotography.com

As an adult, we still go the same beach with our family. Now our significant others are in tow to experience our favorite beach with us. There are so many nice places on the water to eat dinner at and to have some alone time. You can walk down the beach, sunbathe, and watch the sunset together for absolutely no money! Last year at the beach, we discovered how cheap and amazing hot stone massages were. There are some awesome places to get a massage and they had tons of openings for the week. I highly recommend looking into those.

Fishing when the sun comes up. Fishing when the sun goes down!

Fishing when the sun comes up. Fishing when the sun goes down!

What I also love about this beach is how clean and well kept it is. We have never had to worry about leaving our stuff at the beach unattended. It is always in the same spot we left it, which is very comforting. It’s also a great place to throw out a line to catch some big fish in the surf and even sharks at night! This has been quite a thrill for us as avid fishermen and women. We get up early to fish with the sunrise and stay out well after the sunset to catch monster fish or even an occasional shark.

For how amazing this beach is, it’s even more amazing that it’s not packed. The awesome part is that by renting a beach house, you are also receiving a private beach. That means there is plenty of room for you to spread your things out. It also means this beach is perfect for workouts along the water without worrying about bumping into people all of the time.

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Go baby turtle. Go!

One of my favorite parts about this beach, though, is the small square sections of the sand blocked off with tape. These are protected wildlife areas where hundreds of sea turtle eggs have been laid. We have watched 3 different nests hatch in our years at the beach. It’s such a miracle to sit in complete silence and watch these little turtles as they hatch and begin crawling towards the water. I do want to warn you that touching or accidentally killing them is a huge fine… so do not touch them!

This beach has become one of my favorite parts of my childhood. We have had so many laughs and memorable moments with my family and our close friends at this beach. There’s nothing that matches how quiet and private it is. It helps immensely that there are so many free or cheap things to do in Emerald Isle once you get there, which only adds to the relaxation you feel as you bathe in the sun. If money is the only thing holding you back from taking this amazing vacation, here are some apps to help you save money. Emerald Isle, North Carolina is the perfect place to create memories to last a lifetime, so what are you waiting for?

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Emerald Isle

Photo Credit: bratsphotography.com

Photo Credit: bratsphotography.com