The oceanside community of Pine Knoll Shores is a shining example of the Crystal Coast beach scene. Filled with charming vacation rentals, natural preserves, an acclaimed country club, and little else to draw attention away from the postcard perfect beaches, Pine Knoll Shores is a perfect beach lover's retreat. Located in between the western beaches of Emerald Isle and bustling Atlantic Beach, this beach town is just a five minute drive away from the Atlantic Beach Causeway, (the bridge which connects the mainland with the Bogue Banks), and yet feels miles away from everyday mainland life.
While many of the big local attractions of Morehead City and Atlantic Beach are certainly within a 5-10 minute drive, Pine Knoll Shore vacationers typically don't stray too far from the beach. The wide stretch of coastline, with few crowds even during the height of summer, has made this small town a North Carolina coastal paradise, and a true treasure along the renowned Crystal Coast beaches.
The town of Pine Knoll Shores was originally a grand, private tract of land that was purchased by a wealthy, part-time local, Alice Hoffman. Hoffman purchased 8.5 miles of the Bogus Banks in 1917, and made the coastal retreat her private home during the latter portion of her life, from 1938 to 1971. Quiet and perfectly preserved, this stretch of beach was an isolated patch of shoreline that bordered the busier, and certainly commercialized Atlantic Beach. Upon her death, she left the estate to her niece and her husband, Mr. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., who donated a portion of the land to North Carolina, and focused on developing the rest as a coastal vacation destination, cumulating in the formation of a new and vibrant Crystal Coast community.
Alice wanted Pine Knoll Shores to maintain its wild and natural allure, and that sentiment is evident in virtually every aspect of the town. Relatively free of big development, Pine Knoll Shores is instead a vacation destination that is comprised of small inns and resorts, and vacation homes that are secluded and bordered by towering live oaks and dark green cedar trees.
The town's most distinctive landmark also has a natural legacy, the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Home to a collection of representative local residents, rare deep water species, and remarkable rescued marine life, (including a rare White Sea turtle), the aquarium has become a "must see" destination for virtually all Crystal Coast visitors since opening its doors in 1976.
Adjacent to this favorite Crystal Coast attraction is the Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area, a legacy of Alice Hoffman's estate, and a 265 acre undeveloped nature preserve that takes up a large section of Pine Knoll Shore's northwestern terrain along the Bogue Sound.
The biggest attraction for most Pine Knoll Shores visitors, however, is the beach itself, and with well-planned clusters of vacation rental homes bordering the oceanside, the beaches in this Crystal Coast town are pristine, uncluttered, and offer miles of privacy. With a gradual sloping ocean floor, visitors will find plenty of room to wade and splash around in the ocean, as well as some fantastic shelling opportunities along the uncrowded shoreline. Sand dollars, colorful coquinas, angel clams, small periwinkles and augers, and whelks or oyster drillers, all make regular appearances, generally clustered in small piles along the ocean wash.
The town is also home to a North Carolina Top 100 country club, Crystal Coast Country Club, who is ranked #91 in the state out of over 600 golf course. The Club features an 18-hole championship golf course, 4 clay tennis courts, 4 pickleball courts, swimming pool, kids splash pad, fitness center, tennis & golf pro-shops, and a clubhouse which serves lunch and dinner to its members. The Club offers golf and tennis lessons to members, as well as the public, provided by PGA Professionals and USPTA Tennis Professionals. Crystal Coast Country Club has over 700 member families and is currently on a waitlist to join. Membership applications can be found on their website at https://www.crystalcoastcc.com/
While there are limited dining options in Pine Knoll Shores, visitors will find a number of acclaimed establishments located just outside the town's limits, including an ice cream shop, a fine dining restaurant, and a casual bistro bar located just outside the town's limits. There are also several boutiques and art galleries located on the edges of the town, making a shopping expedition an easy afternoon or day trip.
As for accommodations, visitors will find a chain hotel located on the eastern edge of Pine Knoll Shores, as well as several locally run oceanfront resorts, including the Windjammer Inn and the Atlantis Lodge, however, the majority of the town is comprised of vacation rental homes. Ranging from 3 bedroom classic cottages to exquisite 10 bedroom oceanfront estates with private pools, hot tubs, and game rooms and / or theater rooms, the majority of these homes are managed by the Bogue Banks' two main property management companies, and can be rented in one week increments, with special last minute partial stays available depending on availability.
For a weeklong stay that involves the entire family, renting one of these accommodating properties is the way to go for many seasoned vacationers, and while off-season rentals can almost always be found, summer weeks tend to fill up quickly and should be booked as far in advance as possible.
With quiet soundside residential streets that are lined with vacation homes and natural scenery, and miles of beaches that are uncrowded and clean, it's clear that Pine Knoll Shores has remained true to its roots as a private and remote natural beach getaway. With the unspoiled beaches a star attraction, this community has even earned a spot on Coastal Living Magazine's "Best Beach Towns" list, and long-time visitors and residents are not at all surprised. Discover the Crystal Coast beaches in their natural state, and plan a trip to one of coastal Carolina's hidden gems with a stay in scenic, and environmentally-friendly and appreciative, Pine Knoll Shores.