Like 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 Island, 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.

 

Kitty Hawk Kites Beaufort

Kitty Hawk Kites Beaufort

Kitty Hawk Kites has remodeled and opened its new doors directly on the Beaufort waterfront. This shop offers the leading selection of kites, wind art, toys, t-shirts and apparel, Hobie kayaks, and more. In addition, stop by and make your reservation for one of our new Beaufort adventures:

USCG Emerald Isle

USCG Emerald Isle

The Crystal Coast's offshore waters are guarded by the US Coast Guard, and Emerald Isle is home to one of their flagship stations, encompassing a large section of the town's western edge, adjacent to the inlet, and marked by an unimposing station house that more closely resembles a classic beach cottage than a military outpost.

Indian Beach

Indian Beach

The small communities of Indian Beach and Salter Path, located in between Emerald Isle and Pine Knoll Shores, are scenic Crystal Coast destinations in their own right. Home to some of the area's favorite attractions, multiple options for weekly stays or long-term escapes, and plenty of gorgeous beaches and docks for travelling mariners, this region of the southern Outer Banks has just about everything a beach vacationer could ask for.

Shackleford Banks Wild Horses

Shackleford Banks Wild Horses

One of the most sought-after attractions of the Shackleford Banks are the famed wild horses that call this deserted barrier island terrain home – the Shackleford Banks Wild Horses. Local residents for hundreds of years, these feral horses may be shy and only make occasional appearances when humans are around, but they are nonetheless one of the most unique and popular aspects of the 56-mile long Cape Lookout National Seashore. Every beach visitor hopes for an opportunity to spot one of these feral horses in their natural environment, and often, a chance to see one of these famed island residents is just a short water taxi or ferry ride away.