Emerald Isle is a town that is situated in the county of Carteret in North Carolina, United States. This town covers an area of five square miles and has a population of around thirty-seven hundred residents. There are sixteen hundred households and eleven hundred families in the town. The population density of the town is six hundred and sixty-five people per square mile. The racial makeup of the town can be broken down in the following manner; ninety-six percent are Caucasian, eight tenths of a percent are African American, a half of a percent are Native American, a half of a percent are Asian and one percent are of multiple races. The average median age of the residents of the town are fifty years old and there are one hundred and five males for every one hundred females.
From the sixth century to colonial times, the area on which Emerald Isle is located was home to various Native American tribes. Eventually, white settlers moved to the area and the majority of them were fisherman and whalers. During the 1920s, Henry Fort tried to open a summer resort in the area, but the plans never came to fruition. During the 1950s, seven people purchased the twelve mile stretch of island and sliced it up into fifty four blocks. In the 1960s ferry services began to Emerald Isle and in 1971, the Cameron Langston Bridge was opened. Today, visitors are attracted to the beautiful area. One of the most popular attractions are the beaches of this community. All of the beaches here have southern exposures that allow visitors to get an excellent view of both the sunrise and the sunset. There are miles of beaches to enjoy that have warm waters and are devoid of the commercialization that many other beaches have. At the western portion of the island is Point Beach. This is a great location to take out a kayak or enjoy great views of the Atlantic Ocean, Bear Island, Bogue Sound and Bogue Inlet.
Another popular attraction on Emerald Isle is Hammocks Beach State Park. This beach park covers an area of eleven hundred acres and consists of Bear Island, Huggins Island and Jones Island. Bear Island is three miles long and has an extensive system of dunes. Other key features of the island include a marsh, thicket and a maritime forest. This island is extremely popular with boaters and campers. Most of the island is wild and undisturbed and contains a variety of different animals. Despite its name, it doesn’t contain any bears, however. Between Bear Island and the mainland is located Huggins Island. This island is one hundred and ten acres and has a lot of forest. On the western end of the island is a marsh and from this location the town of Swansboro can be seen. A small island just off of the coast of Huggins is known as Shark Tooth Island. This island received its name from the large number of shark teeth that has washed upon its shore. Another island is located at the mouth of White Oak River and is named Jones Island. The northern end of the island has evergreen forest. The island has a population of birds that include painted buntings, which are considered to be rare in the North Carolina area.
Another popular attraction in the area of Emerald Isle is North Carolina Aquariums. This is a system of three public aquariums which are located at Kure Beach, Roanoke Island and Pine Knoll Shores. All three of these aquariums are run by the Aquariums Division of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. These aquariums were opened in 1976 and feature feeding programs, animal encounters and dive shows. The aquarium at Fort Fisher features frogs, bass, catfish and snakes. It also has an exhibit of box turtles and alligators that are native to the area. At the hands on exhibit, visitors can hold horseshoe crabs, sea urchins and other native animal life. It has a two hundred thousand salt water aquarium that contains a large variety of saltwater fish and marine life. There is also a five hundred and fifty gallon Pacific Reef Display that contains giant clams, sea anemones, living coral, surgeon fish, cardinal fish, wrasses, clown fish and dozens of other marine life. Other features of the aquarium include the Open Oceans Gallery, Coastal Waters Gallery, Sharkstooth Ledge and the Spadefish Sculpture.
Fort Macon State Park is another prominent attraction in the Emerald Isle area. This state park is situated in Carteret County and is near Atlantic Beach. It was opened in 1936 and receive over one and a half million visitors each and every year. The park covers an area of three hundred and eighty nine acres and was the site of the Battle of Fort Macon in April of 1862. The fort that is located here has been fully restored and is available to the public. There are also ranger guided tours, nature trails, a swim area, bathhouse and surf fishing. This state park surrounds the United States Coast Guard Base Fort Macon.