Overview and History

Bogue Banks

Bogue Banks is the narrow barrier island that stretches below Morehead City, with its main highway, N.C. Highway 58, nearly parallel to N.C. Highway 24. At the east end of the island is Fort Macon and the town of Atlantic Beach and at the west end of the island is Emerald Isle. The body of water called Bogue Sound separates Bogue Banks from the mainland. The 30-mile-long island is connected to the mainland by two high-rise bridges, one at each end — one bridge from Morehead City to Atlantic Beach on the east end and the other bridge from Cape Carteret to Emerald Isle on the west end. Because the ocean and sound beaches attract visitors and summer residents, you will find many second homes, condominiums, hotels and summer rental cottages on the island.

Bogue Banks offers residents and visitors a special treat. The island runs east to west and its Atlantic Ocean side faces due south, so you can watch the sun rise in the east over the ocean, travel across the sky, and set in the west over the ocean. This barrier island changes with each storm or hurricane as sand is shifted or eroded away.

N.C. Highway 58 extends the entire length of Bogue Banks. Along the way, it is marked with green mile markers (MM). The MM series begins with mile 1 at the east end and continues along N.C. 58 to mile 21 on the west end.

The majority of Bogue Banks' development, both commercial and residential, is along N.C. 58, and in the Coast Guard Road area of Emerald Isle. A ride from one end to the other gives you an overview of the island communities. To illustrate how narrow the island is, in several places you can see both the sound and the ocean from the road.

Bogue Banks embraces five townships that often seem to blend together. Atlantic Beach is at the far east end of the island and borders the town of Pine Knoll Shores. Indian Beach surrounds the small unincorporated community of Salter Path, and Emerald Isle is at the far west end of the island. Each town has its own personality, points of interest and governing body.

As N.C. Highway 58 passes through the different communities, it often takes on a new name. In Atlantic Beach, the road is called Fort Macon Road. East Fort Macon Road is the strip between the old fort and the main intersection in town. West Fort Macon Road is the strip between that intersection and the western edge of town. The longest stretch of the highway is called Salter Path Road, and it runs from Atlantic Beach through Pine Knoll Shores, Indian Beach, and Salter Path. In Emerald Isle, the highway is called Emerald Drive. It really isn't as confusing as it sounds — N.C. 58 is just one road with several names that all spell scenery and coastline comforts.

Emerald Isle

It is said that this west end of Bogue Banks was originally home to nomadic Native Americans and whalers. The area was also home to about 15 families, who arrived in 1893 and settled at Middletown, a small section of the island that is now part of Emerald Isle.

Other than those small groups, Emerald Isle was largely unsettled until the 1950s. Several years after Atlantic Beach was developed as a seashore resort, Henry K. Fort of Philadelphia bought the land that now makes up most of Emerald Isle along with 500 acres on the mainland, in what is now the town of Cape Carteret. Fort planned to link the island and his mainland property with a bridge and develop a large resort. When support for constructing the bridge could not be raised, he abandoned the project. Years later a ferry was created, and it carried motorists and pedestrians over to the Bogue Inlet beaches of modern-day Emerald Isle. The ferry landed near Bogue Inlet Pier, the first recreational spot at the island's west end.

Today, the Cameron Langston Bridge provides access from the mainland to Emerald Isle and the western end of Bogue Banks. It spans the Intracoastal Waterway, and from the top offers a great view of the waterway and Bogue Banks.

Emerald Isle has a year-round population of around 3,600 and a seasonal population of more than 16,000. It is a thriving beach-vacation spot, with plenty to do for the entire family. The town's municipal complex and community center has large meeting rooms, a full basketball court and a gym (see our Sports, Fitness and Parks chapter). The town also offers many public beach access areas for residents and visitors alike. Several new housing sections have been developed west of the high-rise bridge, in the area surrounding the Coast Guard Station, and a few choice spots have become fairly exclusive gated communities.

Thank you to our site sponsors for supporting the local business community