Current Beach Conditions

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Beach Warning Flag System

Beach Safety FAQs

The Town flies these flags at both Regional Beach Access facilities (which are served by lifeguards in the summer months), and on all Town beach patrol vehicles patrolling and providing services on the beach strand. Please look for these warning flags on our beaches and know what they mean, so that you can avoid hazards and have a safe and enjoyable beach experience in Emerald Isle.

YELLOW FLAGS indicate moderate hazards, and that the public should use caution in the ocean.  In Emerald Isle, even the calmest of days on the beach can pose an inherent risk when entering the ocean and the public is always advised to use caution. 

RED FLAGS indicate dangerous rip current activity is expected and rip currents are likely to be stronger and more frequent.  It is recommended that you stay out of the water.  


DOUBLE RED FLAGS indicate the ocean is closed for swimming and you can be fined or arrested for entering the water.



PURPLE FLAGS indicate an abundance of potentially hazardous marine life in the vicinity, including Portuguese man-o-war, jellyfish, and other creatures.  The town will fly these flags as needed in specific locations, however, the use of PURPLE FLAGS is relatively rare.

Printable Version Here

William Matthias, Ocean Rescue Director, and Emerald Isle lifeguards Luke Brooks and Savannah Kilbane explain the beach warning flag system in this video: