Hopefully most of the cold part of the winter is behind us and spring will be here soon and summer not far behind. Tourism has been down a little over the last couple of years, but Emerald Isle and the entire Crystal Coast has fared better than most destinations. Tourism in 2010 was up a little over 2009, and I think we will see that trend continue in 2011.
The big plus for Emerald Isle has been the wide range of activities available. For a good while we have had the wonderful beaches, sound, fishing of all kinds, kayaking, golf, Aquarium, Ft. Macon, Beaufort, Cape Lookout, etc. In recent years we have added 4+ miles of multiuse path and two miles of sidewalk which have been well received by all. We will add another ½ mile of multiuse path this spring (mostly with grant and fundraiser proceeds).
The big additions for this year throughout the Crystal Coast are the new/improved boat launching locations. The Wildlife Resources Commission, County, and local municipalities have been working on improved boat launching facilities for several years. When spring comes, the Crystal Coast will have the best boat launching facilities on the North Carolina Coast.
Construction is underway now on the boat launch site in Emerald Isle located next to Chapel By The Sea on Emerald Drive. This location will have 4 boat launching ramps, and provide parking for 112 vehicles and trailers. It will also be a good place to launch kayaks and canoes, watch sunsets, and will have restroom facilities.
Other recent boat launching improvements along the Crystal Coast are as follows:
Cedar Point – The County bought additional land next to the existing Wildlife Resources Ramp. The Wildlife Resources Commission will complete additional improvements in 2011 to accommodate approximately 45 vehicles and trailers.
Morehead City Visitor Center- The entrance, exit, and parking arrangement was recently modified in 2010 and they now have parking for approximately 40 vehicles and trailers, with overflow parking for weekend boaters at the adjacent parking lots for the UNC Marine Sciences Institute and NC Division of Marine Fisheries.
Radio Island – This is a brand new ramp being constructed by the Town of Morehead City, and will accommodate nearly 100 vehicles and trailers.
Taylor’s Creek in Beaufort – This launch location has existed for many years. The ramp is being rebuilt this year and the parking layout modified and will have parking for approximately 30 vehicles and trailers.
East of Beaufort – There are 4 other smaller unpaved launch sites east of Beaufort with parking
Check the NC Wildlife Resources Commission website (http://www.ncwildlife.org) for information on all of the boat ramps they maintain throughout the State. The Emerald Isle site will be listed when it is completed this spring.
I am sure your friends are beginning to plan for summer vacations. Be sure to tell them about the many things they can do on a vacation in Emerald Isle, especially about the multiuse paths and boat launch facilities. A healthy tourism economy benefits all of us.
Make plans to be in Emerald Isle for the St. Patrick’s Day Festival on March 12, 2011. It is a great way to kick off the 2011 season.