Picture this - the island is 20 miles long.....Atlantic Beach is at one end, and Emerald Isle is the other. My house is dead center......the area is known both as Salter Path (the historical name) and Indian Beach (the legal name).....Within .3 miles of the house is a nice public ocean beach access, 2 fully equipped marinas on the sound (you may rent jet skis, kayaks, or small power boats)....there are currently 4 local seafood restaurants.....there is a small amusement park with 2 miniature golf courses, a little train, an arcade, bumper boats, and a race track.
And small crowds.
We feel this is one of the best kept secrets and fabulous vacation spots on the east coast.
You can actually catch some smaller fish off our pier, particularly during high tide. The sound is shallow in this area, and sometimes less than a foot deep.....it is clear with a sandy bottom, and a great place to play and discover sea life. Even the dolphins have been seen cruising the channels less than 30 yards from the end of the pier.
The ocean at Salter Path is incredible. The water rolls out in long, low sand bars. The beach is wide enough for lots of sand castle building, volleyball, and sleeping. It has the most perfect slopes for skim boarding and safe enough for the youngest shell collectors. At the right time of year, surf fishing is popular.
The state aquarium is at Pine Knoll Shores - less than 3 miles from the house......they honor family memberships from most major attractions (state zoo, etc)....it offers many programs during the summer, including some guided canoeing trips, island adventures. I would encourage you to just google 'NC Aquariums' and you can check schedules and make arrangements before you arrive. Activities do fill up during peak times.
At the tip of the island toward Atlantic Beach (12 miles) is Fort Macon State Park.....It has a civil war fort and some re-enactments and displays (it is small, but nice) it also has spectacular ocean access with views of the port....this is where the best deep-water fishing would be from the beach.
Just off the island (12 to 15 miles) in either Morehead City or Beaufort, are small local museums - Beaufort has a quaint water front with some art galleries, and excellent dining, and a hand-made boat making shop. You can also rent charters to visit some of the more remote outer islands. There is a mid-sized cruise ship that offers dinner cruises.
It all depends on how much you want to do. Life is on a smaller scale in this area, but you have access to chain grocery stores at each entrance to the island, as well as trusty Walmart. There is a theater at each end of the island that offers current run movies and you can find bike rentals, kite rentals,.......It all depends on how much you want to do.
If you want to venture a little farther afield, New Bern, NC is about an hour away, and has a castle, and antiques, and lots of history......and if you are feeling REALLY adventuresome, you can drive to Harker's Island (about 25 miles) and take a ferry to Cape Lookout National Seashore to visit the lighthouse.
And yes, if you 'google' golf courses near Atlantic Beach NC..... you will find there are 5 within 20 miles.....
We chose to build in this area, having been to Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, and the 'Outer Banks' because this is certainly quieter, less hectic, smaller scale....But there are enough activities to do every day, that you could find yourself not sitting and resting.....