Can You Drive on Emerald Isle Beach?

Beach driving is the perfect weekend activity to do while at the ocean. Of the many attractions that Emerald Isle brings, beach driving is always a favorite! So, can you drive on Emerald Isle Beach? Short answer: YES! Long answer: You will need to apply for a permit before you can drive on the beach strand. Let’s get into the details!

What time of year can I drive on the beach in Emerald Isle?

According to the town of Emerald Isle, beach driving opens in mid-September and runs to late April of the next year. For 2021-2022, Emerald Isle beach driving runs from September 15th to April 30th. However, beach driving is closed in Emerald Isle from April 15th – 25th for the Easter Holiday. Due to the time change, the beach will have differing operating hours throughout the year. Check out the list below for a full breakdown.

EMERALD ISLE BEACH DRIVING HOURS 2021-2022

  • September 15th to November 6th – 5:00 am to 9:00 pm 
  • November 7th to March 12th – 5:00 am to 7:00 pm 
  • March 13th to April 30th – 5:00 am to 9:00 pm

*Note: All vehicles must be off of the beach strand before closing hours. Vehicles not off the beach strand may be cited by the police department. 

Do I need a permit to drive on Emerald Isle Beach?

Yes. All vehicles require an annual beach driving permit issued by the Town of Emerald Isle. For non-residents, a beach driving permit is $175, for Carteret County residents, a beach driving permit is $100, and for Emerald Isle residents under 65, a beach driving permit is $50. If you are a person with a disability, a Veteran with a disability, a Town employee, or an Emerald Isle resident over age 65, your beach driving permit will be free of charge. 

beach driving sign in emerald isle
Signs at each Beach Driving entrance in Emerald Isle.

What type of vehicle do I need for beach driving?

At Emerald Isle beaches, all vehicles must be 4-wheel drive vehicles. All-wheel drive vehicles are prohibited. 

How do I apply for a beach driving permit in Emerald Isle?

The application process is very simple. Just visit the Town of Emerald Isle’s website and apply online. You will need a valid driver’s license, your vehicle registration, any supporting documentation, and payment information ready. Apply for a beach driving permit here.

What are the beach driving rules for Emerald Isle?

All vehicles must abide by North Carolina Vehicle laws while driving on the strand. The speed limit is 20 MPH and all vehicles must allow pedestrians the right of way. Please reduce speed and avoid driving near beachgoers. Also, be on the lookout for any sea turtle nests or other wildlife that may have come ashore. 

Driving on the dunes is not allowed at any time. This is vital to the environment and vehicles should stay a minimum of 10 feet away from any primary dunes. Occasionally, beach driving locations may be closed to all guests, in which case a sign will be posted at the entrance to the beach. 

Where can I enter to drive on Emerald Isle beach?

Authorized beach access ramps for entry and exit are located at the following sites. 

Emerald Isle Beach Driving Ramp Access Map

Ocean Drive Ramp – “dog-leg” (located on the east end near mile marker 15 on NC 58 near 3101 Ocean Drive and the Emerald Isle Dollar General) **Fun fact: Our vacation rental property Blue Sapphire is located across the street from this driving ramp!

Black Skimmer Ramp – Black Skimmer Drive (located across from the Police Department near 7501 Ocean Drive)

Point Ramp – The Point (located at the terminus of Inlet Drive and Bogue Ct. near 100 Bogue Ct.) 

Other things to know about Emerald Isle Beach Driving 

Please be sure to adhere your Beach Driving Permit to the inside of the lower left-hand side of your front window and remove decals from all previous years. The Emerald Isle Police Department strictly enforces these rules. Please also allow 20 feet from the primary dunes to remain open for first responders and town vehicles to pass by once on the beach strand. If any of your party digs holes in the sand while visiting, please fill in the holes before leaving as these can be detrimental to other cars. 

Last but not least, HAVE FUN, bring your dog, your family, and enjoy our beautiful Emerald Isle beach! If you have any further questions, please be sure to visit EmeraldIsleNC.org for more information. 

7 Reasons To Visit Emerald Isle Beach in the Fall

If you can’t stand the heat…visit Emerald Isle Beach in the Fall! One of the best times to visit the beach is during Fall not only because of the cooler crisp weather but also the amazing deals & festivals you can find! It’s the perfect season to visit with your family or go on a weekend getaway with your friends. See our full list of reasons to visit Emerald Isle in the fall below!

1. Off-Season Pricing for all Vacation Rentals

Visiting the beach in the Fall and Winter is one of the best seasons due to price drops in all vacation rentals for the off-season. Typically searching through your preferred rental websites such as Airbnb or HomeAway for off-season pricing is the easiest way to find a lower rate! The Emerald Isle area has a ton of vacation rental homes that are either oceanfront or sound front and with these rates, it’s definitely worth booking.

2. Family Holidays are easy – Everyone under one roof!

Fall family photos at the Beach

Fall is also a huge ‘gathering’ season with Halloween, Thanksgiving, & even Friendsgiving events. This is the perfect time to take your family holiday gatherings to the beach and allow everyone to remain under one roof. Also, for those of us with high tension family gatherings, this is the perfect neutral zone to gather! We highly recommend getting away for the holidays at Emerald Isle beach. You can also find lots of fully equipped kitchens in these rentals for cooking huge meals together. What fun!

3. Less Crowding – No lines at your favorite restaurants!

As many of us know, the beach can get crowded! That’s why the Fall season is the perfect time to visit since there are so many activities and no lines. The beaches are crowd-free for beautiful sunset walks, fun photoshoots, and any of your favorite seafood restaurants are line-free! Time for some Crab Shack at Salter Path!

4. Golfing & Putt-Putt

Family playing Putt-Putt at Treasure Golf & Raceway in Emerald Isle

You have the greenways to yourself! The local golf courses in Emerald Isle and Beaufort are open and ready for players! We love visiting Star Hill Golf Club and playing a round of golf since they have 27 holes or offer a short 9 hole game. Another awesome golf activity is of course Putt-Putt! Lost Treasure Golf & Raceway has an amazing course and also has go-karts that are fantastic for the entire family!

5. Camping & Bonfires on the beach

The Emerald Isle Beaches are also great places to camp out. You can throw up a tent on the beach at night and some rental properties even have fire pits for smores. At Emerald Isle, there are also camping sites like the Holiday Trav-L Park Resort which is an oceanfront camping site that allows Full-Hookup Sites (up to 50 feet), Water & Electric Sites for RVs, and Water & Electric Sites for Tents (one 6 to 8 person tent). They also have an on-site Arcade, 3 direct beach access locations, and a snack shack on the beach.

6. Fishing along the Crystal Coast

Bogue Inlet Pier at Emerald Isle NC

Fishing tournaments like the Annual Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament and the Swansboro Rotary King Mackerel Tournament during October are popular tourist attractions. You can also always find a great fishing spot off of the dock at Emerald Isle at the Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier. Pricing at the pier is daily or seasonal. Daily Fishing Passes for Bottom Fishing are $12.50, you get 2 rods per person and children 6 and under are FREE & King Fishing is $25 with 4 rods per person. For reference, the North Carolina recreational fishing size and bag limits are listed on this website.

7. Fall Festivals!

NC Seafood Festival is typically on the first weekend in October and Emerald Isle City also does a Halloween Carnival. During November, Emerald Isle typically celebrates Thanksgiving with their Annual Christmas Parade. This year the Christmas parade is being held on November 30th at 3 pm on Hwy 58 off of Emerald Drive. Click here to learn more about the Emerald Isle Christmas Parade!

We hope you take advantage of this beautiful season and visit Emerald Isle for your Fall Vacation this year! If you are interested in a Fall vacation reach out to PDL Beach Properties and stay in one of our fully equipped rental homes in Emerald Isle. We can’t wait to hear from you! 

Top 11 Things to do in Emerald Isle NC

You may think it’s all fun and games in Emerald Isle NC…

and YOU’D BE RIGHT!

Our curated list comes from years of experience and adventure all along the gorgeous Crystal Coast of North Carolina. Emerald Isle is a town on Bogue Banks Island, part of North Carolina’s Crystal Coast that is full of adventure, relaxation, and beautiful sunsets. Check out our list of the Top 11 Things to Do in Emerald Isle NC!

  1. The most obvious…THE BEACH! Come to Emerald Isle NC to get your summer tan on and enjoy the crystal clear waters of North Carolina. You can bring the family for a beach day with your umbrellas and chairs & build sandcastles along the wide stretch of beach. Listening to rolling waves while reading a good book or sleeping under a huge sun hat sound good right about now!

2. Next up, the ocean! Emerald Isle is a hub for watersports! Anything from Surfing to skimboarding to water skiing. We have it all! The Western and Eastern Ocean Regional Accesses are public entry points to the beach for this watersports hub. You can even rent canoes, paddleboards, and kayaks along the Intercoastal Waterway to avoid any huge waves and stay close to shore. This is ideal for those kids and teens who secretly want to be surfers! Who doesn’t?

3. We told you about the watersports but we forgot to mention one of the biggest tourist attractions…Deep-Sea Fishing! The Bogue Inlet Pier is a popular fishing spot, with views of the Atlantic Ocean. Many of the boats like to charter from Morehead City and Swansboro, NC.

4. If you love to see fish and other sea creatures from a safe distance, the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is for you!! Our aquarium is by far one of our must-see attractions, if you can only manage a few of these suggestions, let it be the NC Aquarium.

5. Emerald Isle Woods Park has a disc golf course and a dock, plus shoreline and forest trails, including part of the North Carolina Birding Trail. This is a great place for the entire family to find something they will enjoy!

6. The Salty Pirate Water Park is full of water slides that are both big and small, and is perfect for a day trip! Check out that “pirate ship”!!

7. Shopping!! Who doesn’t love a beautiful boutique filled with buried treasures? You will find so many fun places to find those one-of-a-kind souvenirs to bring home to family and friends.

8. Golfing and Putt-putt galore! One of our favorites is Lost Treasure Putt-Putt Golf & Raceway on Salter Path Rd. Bring the whole family and challenge each other to get that hole in one on the last hole to win a secret prize!

9. For our History buffs out there, Emerald Isle is very close to historic Beaufort NC. Learn about the beautiful historic homes and visit the town!

10. Fine Dining and Fun dining with delicious Seafood restaurants and fun beach-style atmospheres. Some of our personal favorites: Caribsea, Crab Claw Oceanfront Restaurant, Michaelangelo’s Pizza and Subs, Jackie’s American Grille, The Trading Post, and The Village Market.

11. Throughout the year Emerald Isle NC is also host to many events like Fairs & Festivals. Here is a list of the upcoming Emerald Isle NC events in 2018:

Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival – September 29, 2018

NC Seafood Festival in Morehead City – October 5-7, 2018

Emerald Isle Flavor Festival – October 20, 2018

Swansboro Christmas Flotilla – November 23, 2018

Crystal Coast Oyster Festival – November 24, 2018

Emerald Isle Christmas Parade – November 24, 2018

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus at the 2013 Emerald Isle Christmas parade on a candy cane float

Beaufort Art Walk and Candlelight Homes Tour – December 8, 2018

In the words of our Property Manager at PDL Beach Properties, “There is always an adventure that awaits and a relaxing paradise when you visit Emerald Isle.” If you are in search of an amazing vacation rental in Emerald Isle NC, reach out to us by using our contact form online, emailing us at joycejones@pdlbeachproperties.com, or calling (919) 753-5751. We can’t wait to help you plan a truly memorable Emerald Isle Vacation with Places Designed for Leisure!