Family walking to the beach

When deciding to take a beach vacation its important to decide what is important to you! Then, it’s helpful to compare your wishes with what is available in various locations. We are comparing: Atlantic Beach, NC and Emerald Isle, NC. For today’s comparison, we are going to assess three main features cost, location and activities. It’s up to you to decide which location is the right one for you!

Emerald Isle, NC versus Atlantic Beach, NC

Atlantic Beach, NC

Atlantic Beach is a coastal city on the Crystal Coast. This beach is considered a member of the Bogue Bank. Located on the main mainland, Atlantic Beach has a multitude of dining and lodging options.

Cost: Hotels range from $90 to $200 depending on what you are looking for, and there is a wide range of hotels on Atlantic Beach so there are more options to choose from and prices to compare along with amenities. The Sandpiper Motel is a mid-range motel price-wise and is family owned with four-star customer review ratings. If your mission is to have fun on the beach and all you need is a bed, you can watch prices and get a room at the EconoLodge for under $100 in Morehead City. With all the options, finding a hotel that meets your needs will not be a challenge.

Location: Atlantic Beach is east of Emerald Isle and primly located on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. Parking is plentiful, although it comes at a price, so if your hotel does not have beach access, consider looking up parking locationsbefore you head to the beach. There are public showers and lifeguards on duty and food is not far from the beach.

Activities: Atlantic beach is more than just a spot to sunbathe, there is a local farmer’s marketwatersport rentals and even a sea turtle wildlife program for those interested in local ecology.

Emerald Isle, NC

Emerald Isle is comprised of 12 miles of clear and beautiful (crystal*) coastline just south of Atlantic and Indian Beach. More quaint and less populated, Emerald Isle is a quiet alternative to Atlantic Beach, NC.

Cost: Overall, there is less lodging in Emerald Isle, but it does have a few hotels. The Islander Hotel and Resort is the only ocean front hotel in Emerald Isle. Prices fluctuate, but tend to lean closer to the $200 mark due to the location and vast resort amenities.  In addition, if you are trying to save money and have a simple experience with nature in mind, look at one of the several campgrounds available. Emerald Isle has more in the way of vacation rental home properties, and at a wide range of size and price, might be something worth looking into—having a home with a kitchen is always a plus!

Location: Emerald Isle is small, and located west of Atlantic Beach. If you are looking for a more private location with access to restaurants and shopping, Emerald Isle is perfect. Its located close to Morehead City and Atlantic Beach.

Activities: Emerald Isle boasts a slow-paced lifestyle and offers chartered fishing tours to show tourists how locals catch the famous seafood fare. Emerald Isle (and Atlantic Beach) are only a short drive to the Rachel Carson Reserve which lends the opportunity to see wild horses! Also, it is close to Atlantic Beach so that if you can still rent water sport equipment or visit markets. Yet, it is also secluded enough to offer simple and reflective activities to match your pace!


Ultimately, it all comes down to what you are looking for! Hopefully, this comparison gives you an idea of what each beach offers to help you find your perfect vacation destination!

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