Sun Protection 101

Sunshine, it’s what we live for here on Emerald Isle! Unfortunately these days, its damaging effects on our fragile skin & eyes are all too known. The sun’s intensity seems to grow more powerful as each year passes, making it all the more important to protect yourself and family. I understand you may not want to hear my lecture about sun safety, but seriously, heed my words people, this is no joke! You will get burned, it will hurt, there will probably be some tears…

Take it from me, nothing will ruin your vacation quicker than catching a wicked sunburn on the second day of your trip. (A bad burn put me in the E.R. a few years back… I know about these things!) The pain you’ll suffer with during the rest of the week will be a reminder of every bad choice you’ve ever made in your life. Yes, of course there are topical products to help cool the burn, but those won’t change your ghastly new lobster look. Oh, and all that peeling skin… sign me up, not! Seriously folks, we’re adults now. Let’s practice some self-care!

Sun Babies, Not Sunburned Babies

Anyone excited for a few sleepless nights? That’s another joy of sunburn you’ll enjoy, especially if you allow the little ones to get crispy. Kids don’t know anything besides sandcastles and waves, so make absolutely sure to cover them well. They want to enjoy their vacation pain-free, too. When I say protection, I really mean it. I’m talking UV clothing, hats, and lotion on any exposed body parts, including their ears and tops of their little feet (remember to do yourself, too.) Avoid the anguish of it all and take simple precautions to keep that skin safe!

Your children are not sea lion pups… cover them up!

The Burn: It’s not even cute…

…Neither is a smear of lotion across your nose. There are, however, modern & more sufficient methods of sun protection. Consider the options! What exactly are the options? Well, that brings us to the most important question of your beach vacation. How exactly do you protect yourself and still enjoy your fun in the sun? Let’s explore the options, shall we?

Yea, it is that serious…

Clothing is your friend on a sunny day. Period. Nowadays, there are fashionable and effective UV blocking clothes to keep you covered while still looking beach-savvy. Sun-related skin damage is completely preventable, and you can look great while protecting yourself. UV Skins has taken sun protection to the next level, offering 50+UPF apparel for the entire family. Swim shirts, cover-ups, and clothing for the kids are just a snippet of their selection. There are many companies offering UV protective clothing, so take a look and gear up!

Remember to protect the tops of your feet and ears also!

It Puts the Lotion on the Skin…

So, anyone who knows that reference knows that you’d better put the lotion on the skin… but with so many products out on the store shelves, it’s hard to know which are the best (and safest) sunscreens for your family. Let’s start with reading some labels and avoiding sunscreens containing the following:
oxybenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octinoxate, octocrylene, avobenzone, dimethicone, parabens, BHT, nanoparticles, propylene glycol, synthetic fragrances, retinyl palmitate, cocamide dea, & phenoxyethanol.

Yes, it is a long list… but do you realize some of these chemicals and preservatives are hormone disruptors and carcinogens?! People cover themselves with whatever they grab off the shelf, with little or no regard to the toxins being absorbed into their skin. Let’s be safe, and smart… Look for products containing non-nano zinc oxide (or titanium dioxide)! And for goodness sake, apply your products evenly…

Word to the Wise

I bet he did’t say that after 5 hours in the sun…

I’m finished preaching. It is now your responsibility to keep yourselves safe from the hot, hot sun. Whether you chose safe sunscreens, UV protective clothing, or a combination, you’re doing something good for yourself and your family. Just like the ocean, the sun makes no promises to anyone. Have respect for these awesomely powerful natural forces and your next trip to Emerald Isle should be fantastic! Have fun, be safe, and as always…

Stay Salty!

Christine B.

It’s a Dogs Life on the Isle

Top Tips for your Dog’s Best Vacation to Emerald Isle

Emerald Isle is an island full of pet enthusiasts, pet-friendly locations, and miles of beach for you and your pups to explore. Many beach rentals on the Isle are pet-friendly because, let’s face it, what’s a family vacation without the whole family?

Bringing your fur babies on vacation to Emerald Isle is a breeze, not to mention a total blast! Just keep a few important pet traveling tips in mind and your next trip to the Isle will be the best one yet!

Throw ‘em some shade… and lots water

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it always… having sun protection is crucial on the beach. Sunscreen (yes, for dogs) is important but having a tent or an umbrella will be your best friend’s best friend on those sunny summer days. Doggy sunscreen is recommended (they have skin too!) Ask your vet to recommend a sunscreen that is safe for your pup.

Also, discourage your pets from drinking sea water. Their insides will be sparkling clean but drinking too much salt water will dehydrate them quickly, especially on a hot summer day. Keep that fresh water available at all times!

BYOB… Bring your own ball

Pack your dog’s favorite balls and toys to keep them entertained at the beach. If your dog is a good swimmer, they will have fun for hours fetching their favorite floating toy from the waves. Also, remember to pack their blanket, woobie, or whatever it is that makes them feel safe and happy while away from home. The first few nights in a new place can be stressful for some pets. It may good idea to consider bringing a crate to your vacation rental. Your pup might appreciate having their own space to cozy up in at the end of a long beach day.

Olympic swimmer or kiddie pool…

Even the strongest swimmers must be cautious in the ocean. Know you dog’s skill level in the water and decide if a doggie life vest is appropriate for the occasion. These come in all sizes and are highly recommended, even if your dog is a great swimmer. Anything can happen in the ocean and it’s best to be prepared.

Remember, your pups will definitely need a good rinsing once the day is done too! Pack the doggie shampoo & brush and let them dry off in the breeze.

Dress to Impress

There are stylish alternatives to sunscreen and tents that offer additional UV protection so your pups can put out their own island vibe. Sun shirts, rash guards, eye protection, hats, and more are available through a number of retailers. Protect your pup’s eyes and skin from the sun and sand!

Also, bring an extra collar and leash for when the pups do decide to spend all day swimming. It will give the other waterlogged collar a chance to dry, while keeping in accordance with local leash laws. Know the local laws and please pick up after your fur babies (don’t forget the baggies!)

Snacks on Snack on Snacks

Snacks and treats, along with their regular diet, will be lifesavers when you need to keep their attention or reward them for good behavior while out in public. Being on a crowded beach or out in a new public place may cause your pup to lose focus or become stressed. Keep them at attention and relaxed with their favorite goodies!

Watching fur babies play by the sea is enough to make any Dog Mom or Dad smile. Other than sun protection, food, water, & toys, your pup only needs a shore to explore. The dogs will enjoy themselves on Emerald Isle just as much as you enjoy watching them!

Until next time, Stay Salty.

Christine B

Happy New Year!

Well, 2018 left in quite a hurry, didn’t it? Whew, and here we are now, staring 2019 directly in the face. I can tell you one thing for sure, everyone at Shorewood is looking forward to the excitement, growth and, of course, awesome vacation season that 2019 has in store! Our participating homeowners love to celebrate the New Year by offering, what else, but the New Year’s Discount! Get your beach house reserved asap! For those of you who haven’t booked yet (and you know who you are), get on it! Now is the time, or anytime before March 31! Don’t let your favorite vacation rental escape you!

Emerald Isle vacation discounts
Bring on those New Year’s Discounts, 2019!

We Are The Champions… of Guest Service!

Previous patrons of Shorewood can tell you just how easy we make our rental process. From answering your very first questions to checking in to re-booking you for your next stay, we are with you through the entire process. Our Guest Portal gives you access to the easy handling of your own reservation as well. We are always available to assist you, ensuring a smooth and excellent rental experience. Tell us what you want, need, and hope to get out of your vacation, and we will do our very best to make it happen. That’s the kind of guest service we are so honored to offer you!

Emerald Isle vacation discounts
Seashore Treasures

New Year’s Wishes

This year will be the greatest year there has ever been! One can only hope. At least you know you have a beach vacation coming up, and that’s always something to be grateful for while you’re counting the days until check-in. As for us, we’ll be here waiting for you! Remember, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the rental process or your experience, talk to us! We love to help and love feedback even more. You’re vacation happiness matters 🙂

Until next time, Stay Salty!

Christine B

Best Cooler Packing Tips

There are quite a few blogs that claim to have the best cooler packing tips. Very well… I can agree that many do have valid points about prechilling the coolers, layering, and whatnot. The problem I’ve noticed is that most of these tips and tricks are targeted towards campers, not beachers. (Folks that go camping vs. those who go to the beach… I’m sure you were able to figure that out 😉) As you can imagine, there is nothing so disheartening as reaching into your cooler mid-day only to find its contents lukewarm. It is a sad state of affairs, I know,  but so avoidable! With a little preplanning, you will have the coldest, most well-stocked cooler on the beach! And, you know I’m going to teach you how!

Chill Out!

best cooler packing tips

There is a popular misconception that loading your pack down with bulky ice packs and pounds of watery ice is the only way to achieve maximum chill factor. This is simply not true. From my experience, ice packs and ice are only a third  of what keeps coolers coldest all day long in the summer heat. Packing techniques are, of course, another key element. Freezing food and drinks is the final key. Check out this list of freezable foods that will thaw just in time for lunch:

  • Fruits like grapes, peach slices, apple slices (tossed in a little lemon juice to prevent browning), cherries, & strawberries.
  • Yogurt tubes
  • Juice pouches (delicious slushies when they start to thaw!)
  • Water Bottles
  • This one is only for the adults in the group! Frozen bag of pre-made cocktail– This baby will help keep your cooler ice cold. If you happen to enjoy box-o-wine, remove the box, freeze the bag and voila… a lovely bag of wine cooler with a ready-to-pour spout! Or fill that bag up with any other cocktail mixture and enjoy your day in the sun. (Enjoy responsibly, especially on the beach!)


Wrap It Upbest cooler packing tips

Sandwiches or wraps? Well, wraps obviously! What is better than a full meal you can hold in one hand while tanning your legs? Nothing, that’s what. That being said, here are my reasons for supporting wraps over bread for picnic purposes. Bread gets squished very easily and has to be packed with care. Wraps hold together well  and can take a little abuse without getting  bent out of shape.

Also, anything that can be put on sandwich bread can be put on a wrap, and then some. Have you ever tried to stuff a sandwich full only to have it fall apart at the seems? (Once upon a time, I got so mad a peanut butter and banana sandwich because it refused to hold together. I picked it up and squished it between my fingers, cursing the sticky mash that oozed from my little hand… I was five years old. Took me years to attempt another one…) So yea, wraps are the way to go at the beach. Let us not forget that you only hand to have one relatively clean hand to eat a wrap! Here are just a few family-friendly wraps that will be just fine hanging out in the cooler.

Buffalo Chicken Wrap

best cooler packing tips

  • Chicken – Cooked, shredded chicken is best but frozen tenders or nuggets cut up work well too.
  • Buffalo Sauce – Use your favorite (Frank’s & Texas Pete are my favorite!)
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Lettuce & Tomato – Optional but oh, so good!
  • Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing (Or Blue Cheese crumbles) – Gotta have ’em!
  • Large Flour Tortillas

Mix the chicken, buffalo sauce (to spice preference), & cheese. Fill the center of your tortilla with the mixture, adding lettuce, tomato, & sauces as desired. Fold in the sides, roll it up, & wrap it tight in wax paper or foil.



Asian Crunch Wrap

best cooler packing tips

  • Chicken – Cooked, shredded chicken is best but frozen tenders or nuggets cut up work well too.
  • Coleslaw mix – Cabbage and Asian food go hand-in-hand.
  • Sweet Chili Sauce – Mae Ploy… I live for it!
  • Soy Sauce – Just a splash for flavor
  • Fresh Cilantro – It wouldn’t be the same without it… so fresh & delicious.
  • Fresh Green Onions
  • Roasted Peanuts – That’s the crunch!
  • Large Flour Tortillas

For every 2 cups of coleslaw mix, toss in 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce, 2 chopped green onions, & 1 tsp soy sauce together. Lay chicken on tortilla, adding slaw mixture, & top with cilantro & peanuts. Fold in the sides, roll it up, & wrap it tight in wax paper or foil.



Cranberry Turkey Wraps

  • best cooler packing tipsMandarin Oranges
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Apple – Peeled & diced
  • Nonfat plain yogurt – Greek or otherwise
  • Mayo  – Just a little dollop
  • Lettuce
  • Turkey Breast – Grab your favorite from the deli at Publix
  • Mozzarella Cheese – Sliced thin for sandwiches
  • Pecans
  • Large Flour Tortillas

Mix a little mayo with the yogurt and spread on the tortillas. Layer on the lettuce, cheese, turkey, fruits and pecans. Then… you guessed it, fold in the sides, roll it up, & wrap it tight in wax paper or foil. Naturally, depending on the size of your group, and who wants what, all of these wraps can be tailored to individual tastes!



Pack It Up!

best cooler packing tips

Packing frozen fruits in Tupperware protects them from squish-age, and helps them act as ice packs. The sandwich wraps should be fine wrapped in wax paper of foil, and then protected in a gallon sized Ziploc bag. Chips and whatnot go directly into the beach bag or dry storage pouch!

When it’s time to assemble your goods, keep in mind that cold air settles to the bottom of your cooler. It is a good idea to pre-chill your cooler in some way, either by filling it with “sacrificial ice”, or chilling it in the freezer (if you have access to a freezer big enough, that is.) I prefer the “sacrificial ice” method.



So, this is how the pros do it:

  • Fill your cooler with ice, up to 12 hours before your beach day (the night before will work just fine.) Let that bad boy chill…
  • In the morning, dump the ice… yes, just let it go, that’s why it’s sacrificial.
  • Add a layer of block ice on the bottom – Make your own by freezing water & salt in Tupperware containers or empty milk/juice cartons. Salt keeps the ice colder, longer!
  • Add your frozen water bottles & juice pouches to the cooler.
  • Layer your picnic food – Amazing, delicious wraps in this case!
  • Top with your chilled snacks – Frozen fruits, yogurt tubes, etc.
  • Add a light layer of loose ice or a few frozen juice pouches.
  • Anything that does not require refrigeration, I say pack in a separate compartment or toss them into your beach bag. The less that cooler is opened the better!


It’s not that I’m against ice packs, I just like the fact that you can leave whatever ice has melted right there on the beach rather than carrying back thawed ice packs. Remember, keep that load light. You will thank yourself later, I promise! And for the love of all that is beautiful and natural, please leave only your footprints! Bring a small trash bag to collect any garbage and take it off the beach when you leave.  The beach will thank you!



Vacation Smart, Not Hard!


best cooler packing tipsIn my noble pursuit to provide you with the best vacation information possible, I wrote this post especially for all my beach-goers. These here are the best cooler packing tips for a day at the beach, tried and true, and they haven’t failed me yet! And you, my vacationing friends, you are above squished, soggy sandwich and lukewarm yogurt! Take it from me, these tips will save you from some real headaches (and gross lunches.)

Of course, you can always leave me comments about your very best cooler packing tips and tricks… I’d love to hear them! Like I’ve said before, “Vacation Smart, Not Hard.” I stick by this statement with all my passion for vacation pleasure, and my disdain for things being more difficult than necessary. It’s the beach, not rocket science after all. You’re here to relax… and that’s just what you should do.


Until Next Time, Stay Salty!

Christine B.

Crystal Coast of North Carolina

Getaway to the Crystal Coast of North Carolina

Every salty corner on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina offers  the opportunity to awaken dreams and make new memories.  From Emerald Isle to Atlantic Beach, Swansboro to Beaufort, there are countless nooks and crannies waiting to be explored! It’s no wonder families have been gathering here for generations (yes, literally for generations!) Year after year, Bogue Banks draws in visitors from around the world, each one falling for the charm & natural beauty of our coast. It’s no mystery why! You see, here on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina we don’t care where you come from or how much money is in your wallet. We welcome visitors from all walks of life! Think you can’t afford a beach vacation? Think again! Vacations here are possible on every budget (it’s true, with a little bit of savvy planning!)

Needless to say, I could spend all day describing the gorgeous beaches and endless dining options the Isle offers, but I’ll spare you the rhetoric. Simply put, the Crystal Coast is a place you just have to experience to understand. The fact is, beach towns are often misunderstood. People either picture an overly commercialized beach “metropolis” or an overpriced resort town filled with homes that only the 1% can afford. The Crystal Coast is neither of those stereotypes. Emerald Isle is a community of real people, families, & business, all year round. Being a family beach destination, the Crystal Coast offers an accessible vacation spot available for everyone to enjoy!

Breathtaking Views of the Crystal Coast of North Carolina

crystal coast of north carolina
Views of the Crystal Coast

Some sights in this world are so breathtaking they leave you with a sense of humility and wonder. The unique geography of the southern-facing Isle lends itself to awesomely surreal, panoramic sunrises and sunsets.  Emerald Isle is one of the few places in the world where the sun rises and sets over the water. Blue summer skies are painted with vibrant oranges, pinks, and purples. I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and the beauty of the sunsets here are still moving. Stunning natural scenery is found just about everywhere on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina! This certainly sets the Crystal Coast apart from most other vacation destinations.

A Tasty Bite

crystal coast of north carolina
Salty Air Open Market, Cedar Point, NC

I’m not going to lie, we’re spoiled around here. Living at the beach affords  locals the opportunity to indulge in the freshest seafood and produce available. There’s plenty to go around, though! Seasonal selections are found year-round at the local seafood stands and farmers markets.  Admittedly, I’m a sucker for local honey and farm-fresh Lima beans, not to mention the fresh shrimp and assorted local catches. Fresher than fresh!

crystal coast of north carolinaSo, you don’t want to cook? Not a problem! Most restaurants on the Crystal Coast are family-friendly and serve up food even the pickiest eaters will adore. Have you kids ever tasted hushpuppies? They are called that for a reason! However, if an adult night out is more your speed, take advantage of the amazing food served at some “finer” dining spots on the Crystal Coast. I say “finer” because even the fanciest places around here are down-to-earth and relaxing. I’m a big fan of our local hole-in-the-wall gems, also!

Heading in from the beach and want an awesome lunch? Head to The Trading Post or Flipperz. Need a pick-me-up? Well, you’ll definitely want to head over for a cup of coffee at 4J’s or Muttigans. Most everything on the Isle is accessible by foot, bike, or very short car ride (golf-carts come in handy around here, too!) Ahhh, the salt life, drink it in.  There’s nothing quite like it!

Like a Local on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina

Perhaps no words other than ‘Welcome to the Beach’ can describe the sense of belonging we offer visitors of our favorite little Isle. The laid-back island vibe here encourages visitors to live like locals during their stay. Many of our locals walk or ride bikes when they can, because hey, why not?  Everything is just so accessible here on the Isle! Grocery stores, pharmacies & a handful of convenience stores make it so you never have to leave the Isle during your visit (although it would be a terrible disservice to your vacation if you didn’t explore the surrounding area!)

crystal coast of north carolinaAnother local favorite is the 11-mile Emerald Isle Bike Path that stretches from the western-most tip of Emerald Isle down to the beginning of Indian Beach.  Built with ease and recreation in mind, the bike path is yet another excellent opportunity to see the Isle from a different point of view.  It is even wide enough to accommodate bicycles with pull-behind kid buggies. Let me tell you, the kids will certainly enjoy it!  Oh, by the way, you can rent all of that lovely biking equipment right here on Emerald Isle!

A Picture Lasts Longer

crystal coast of north carolina

Just about every local gift shop and gallery on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina showcases the amazing art created by local artists.  As a matter of fact, there is quite a bit of talent among the creative Crystal Coast residents! It goes without saying, the seashore is a breeding ground for inspiration. You’ll see this reflected throughout a wide variety of  beach scenes, wildlife & nautical themes.   Without a doubt, novice & professional artists alike take full advantage of living on the Crystal Coast.

Oh, and talk about a fabulous photo shoot opportunity! Throughout the county you’ll see the beauty of our area in galleries, local shops & restaurants. Art is everywhere!

crystal coast of north carolina

It’s simply undeniable that here on Bogue Banks the scenery is gorgeous and smiles are plentiful. (Seriously, no one has any reason to be unhappy here.  Even the worst day at the beach is still a good day!)

Photo-ops are all around, so keep your eyes open and capture your own whimsical seascape on film!

One of my very favorite photographs, taken beneath the  Bogue Inlet Pier, is a classic scene captured by many photographers & artists. There are many renditions of this exact scene, yet it’s never the “same ol’ picture.”  Even cooler, just above head are the grinning anglers holding up their prized catches (or mad anglers if their lines just happen to snap.) Either way, everyone around here finds priceless enjoyment, authentic to the coast.

‘Sounds’ Good!

The Atlantic Ocean is powerful, majestic and the main attraction on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. However, the Intracoastal Waterway is equally lovely, not to mention crucial to the survival of our thriving coastline. Full of exciting places to explore, many locals prefer hanging out on the Sound. The calm waters and grassy marshlands grant safe haven for wildlife while providing protection from the surging sea water. Shark’s Tooth Island & Bear Island, just off the coastline, are awesome kayaking destinations favored among locals & visitors alike. And yes, you really can find shark teeth on either!  crystal coast of north carolina

Many enjoy the serenity of the Sound while paddling peacefully  through the natural paths within the grassy islands.  Others enjoy slicing through the water on jet skis and motor boats, happily towing behind rafts of giggling riders.  Regardless of your vacation plans, I highly recommend spending time on the small islands and private nooks along the Sound. Kayaks and paddle boards are available to rent through local shops that often offer lessons and guided tours.  Go ahead, get in touch with nature!

Home Sweet Home

Bogue Banks is held dearly in the hearts of regular visitors & locals alike.  This tranquil vacation locale is our home (or home away from home), our playground, our sanctuary by the sea.  It is where our little ones touch their tiny toes to the cool, clean Atlantic.  Here among the gnarled trees and sea oats we can breathe deeply & rest peacefully in the warm sunshine.

Crystal Coast of North Carolina
Home Sweet Home

We live & love by the surf and sun, feeling truly blessed each day we wake up with salty air in our lungs. It is a gift beyond measure!


Some folks are born here and others find themselves here by serendipity. Regardless, the Crystal Coast of North Carolina is the place to be.  We hope you find your way here. The salt life is here waiting for you!


Until Next Time, Stay Salty!

Christine B.

The Perfect Cooler: A Vacation Essential

Choosing the Perfect Cooler for You

What do coolers and people have in common? Well for one, they come in every shape, color, and size imaginable. They can be found everywhere, in every walk of life. They might be rugged, tough, soft, or pretty. I’ve seen them plain and I’ve seen them very colorful. Some are huge while others are tiny. And, as the saying goes, there’s someone for everyone. Ok, that’s a stretch, but you better believe the perfect cooler exists out there just for you!

the perfect cooler

So, where does one begin when selecting the perfect cooler?  Consider the function and purpose you intend for your cooler. Will you use it frequently throughout the year or just a few times during family trips and whatnot? Will you have help carrying it or do you need something portable and hands-free? These are all things to consider before driving yourself insane blindly shopping around or grabbing the cheapest thing off the nearest shelf.

“You Get What You Pay For”

Naturally, the price tag is usually where most people begin with any purchase.  That being said, I’m a big believer in “You get what you pay for,” and I refuse to pay for poor quality. Yes, I know how that sounds but I urge you to adopt the same attitude towards your beach gear. Items that can be used for a lifetime are an investment in your vacation arsenal. This goes for chairs, sun shelters, and, of course, coolers. If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time. Am I right or am I right? These coolers are not your ordinary cold plastic boxes, because, well, you’re more than the ordinary beach-goer. Let’s explore & find you the perfect cooler, shall we?!


the perfect coolerOh my goodness, the Yeti. This company is all the rage, and for good reason. The products they make are of superb quality and functionality. I seriously doubt you’ll find  coolers and hoppers built to take more hard-knocks than these! Although the sticker shock may cause purchase hesitation, it’s like I said before, you get what you pay for in quality.

Now, size DOES matter when you’re purchasing a Yeti. There is a variety of sizes available including hard coolers, soft hoppers & an assortment of other goodies. Yeti even makes a backpack cooler called the Backflip.  Did you get that? Hand-free Yeti… yaaassss!!!

the perfect cooler

Although the Yeti hard coolers are amazing, I personally  prefer the hoppers and backpack-style coolers, only because I’m all about going hands-free when possible.  Ice stays cold for about a million years, keeping everything in the coolers fresh all day long.  The zippers on these hoppers are designed like a water-proof wet suit zipper, creating a watertight seal with no leakage if the hopper tips over accidentally. Oh, and let us not forget about the incredible insulation built into these fantastic coolers. As far as I’m concerned, Yeti’s are worth their weight in gold doubloons.

Tommy Bahama

the perfect cooler

Now, this is cute… and functional. Perfect for a smaller sized family to enjoy a picnic on the beach! I like this Tommy Bahama’s Insulated Backpack Cooler because it is a breeze to carry, freeing up your hands for the more important things (like holding onto your toddler, for example.) Although this cooler isn’t monster-sized, it has plenty of room for all of your beach day edibles.  The top portion even has a spacious dry compartment and pockets galore to stash snacks, valuables and beach treasures! When you pack this baby full of cold food, your goodies will stay cold and sand-free (I’ll teach you all about cooler packing in my next post!)


I stumbled upon IceMule in my research and this brand has me completely impressed! These soft-pack, wearable coolers seem to be up to par with the quality of a Yeti but with an innovative design not seen on most coolers.

the perfect cooler

The exterior is highly durable, with a foam insulation layer and an air valve that allows you to add or remove air within the insulation layer. (Adding air thickens the insulation layer, keeping the interior colder even longer!) Best feature of all, it rolls up and stashes for easy storage! This means you can pack it in your suitcase and bring it out when your ready for your day on the sand!

The IceMule line is appealing to me, especially with their built-tough quality, watertight seals, and easy-to-carry designs. Not only is it far less bulky than a standard hard cooler, but it is also much easier to transport! You know I’m all about that!

Get the Perfect Cooler, ‘Cause You’ll Need It!

I truly care about your vacation happiness, which is why I happily do what I do! You need, and deserve (yes, you do!) to be here on Emerald Isle, relaxing with your friends and family. I’m simply here to nudge you in the direction of things that will make your vacation life much easier. When you have what you need, from the perfect cooler to the comfiest chair, it makes the entire experience that much more pleasant. Take it from me, investing in your vacation arsenal is an investment in your sanity and peace of mind. Having a wonderful time is the main focus, not worrying about if the ice is melting. In the next post, I’ll let you in on some clever tips and tricks to packing an awesome picnic suited for a sunny day on the Crystal Coast!

Until next time, Stay Salty!

Christine B.


Emerald Isle Beach Bag Essentials

emerald isle beach bag essentialsPutting some thought into choosing your Emerald Isle beach bag essentials can save your beach day and preserve your sanity, take it from me. Every year, I watch people put the same effort into preparing for their few sweet hours on the beach as they would if they had just sold their house and were moving off-grid. I can only giggle when I see a poor lost soul fighting a beach cart up through the hot sand. Oh, and those poor parents packed like camels tracking through the Sahara with back-breaking loads. It’s rough to watch them struggle while also attempting to herd their children like cats.

Listen up, there is a better way! Knowing which Emerald Isle beach bag essentials to bring can and will help you avoid lugging endless amounts of beach gear across the sand when all you really want to do it relax! As always, I’m here to guide you!

Over the years, I’ve discovered a few  Emerald Isle beach bag essentials that I’m excited to share with you! Bottom line, I refuse to be a pack mule and you should too. With a little thought and a few crucial items in your favorite beach bag, your next trip to the shore will be a pleasure. Check out these cool items that will make life so much easier… and lighter!

Emerald Isle Beach Bag Essentials

Parachute Beach Blanket

emerald isle beach bag essentials

Parachute material is the BEST when it comes to repelling sand, hands down. Who would have guessed this would become an Emerald Isle beach bag essential.?

The Grand Truck Parasheet is the most wonderful beach ground cover. This is seriously the only beach blanket you’ll ever need again!  The travel experts at Grand Trunk have a knack for making useful and durable products perfect for beach trips, or any other trip for that matter. Furthermore, these ground covers are the size of a football when packed up… convenient! They spread out big and have fillable corner pockets to hold it down on windy days. All you do it scoop and tuck…so easy! When it’s time to go, flip the pockets to empty, stuff it back it’s handy-dandy carrying bag (which is attached so you cant lose it) and you’re done with that!

Baby Fresh

emerald isle beach bag essentials

For certain, baby powder is an Emerald Isle beach bag ESSENTIAL! (Look for the type made with cornstarch.) Nothing takes sand off easier, leaving you and the little ones soft and clean. Powder bags can be purchased online or made DIY-style with socks or cloth bags. I especially like these bags from Etsy. With cute designs and a convenient carrying bag, these are all you need for a quick clean-up! Simply pat skin to release powder and wipe that sand away! This little trick is also great for de-sanding before eating. Powder those sandy hands and wipe off with a clean towel… then chow down!

Pop-up Shelter vs. Umbrella

This is a toughie…. Pop-up shelters are awesome when you need a bit more room to spread out and hide from the sun. Yet, umbrellas have their function and charm as well. Let’s explore the difference between these two Emerald Isle beach bag essentials!

People usually associate pop-up shelters with those square canopies that you find at tail-gating parties and campgrounds. Don’t get me wrong, those serve their purpose but are not particularly ideal for beach trips. They are very heavy and take two or three people to put up. Believe me, the very last thing anyone wants to do after a day at the beach is break that thing down and lug it up the sand and back to the car. Therefore, let’s re-imagine how simple a sun canopy can truly be.

Quick Tents

emerald isle beach bag essentials

Canopies like the Sunshack Pop-Up Beach Shade are awesomely quick and effective sun shelters. This tent opens with the flick of a wrist and fold up just as easily. The less fuss the better, especially when little ones are with you. You certainly don’t need to be distracted by messing with poles and stakes. Simply fill the pockets with sand to it weight down, and you’re good to go!

Under My Umbrella

Umbrellas, however, also have their place on the beach. In doing my research, I stumbled across this “Why didn’t I think of that!” product. Presenting the beachBub beach umbrella system… genius. Well-built umbrellas are hard to find, but this one looks like a champ. It comes with useful accessories to assist in the simple set-up… even comes with a towel hook (you may want to bring a few extra as well.)

The options are limitless as to what kind of shaded shelter you bring. Regardless of what you choose, just be sure to have some sort of sun protection… it gets hot out on that sand!

The Chair

Beach chairs can be bulky, heavy, and awkward to carry. That being said, the chair you chooses directly affects your overall beach enjoyment, so choose wisely! There are a few varieties I’d like to share since not every chair works for every person. Consider these options:

emerald isle beach bag essentialsThe Tommy Bahama Deluxe Backpack Beach Chair comes complete with an adjustable pillow, an upper storage pouch, lower cooler pouch, and a side pouch for your cell phone and whatnot. When folded, it can be worn on your back to free up your hands! This is a great choice for any beach goer.

The Chillbo Shwaggins Air Loungers, or any air loungers for that matter, are amazingly cool options and so convenient. emerald isle beach bag essentialsAll you need is air! And no, you won’t be killing your lungs trying blow up this bad boy. Simply open one end and capture air inside of the bag. Flipping the end closes the bag while a simple fold and snap seals it… voila, a couch. I have one and it’s the best thing ever! When the day is over, release the air, fold it up and you are done! Deep pockets hold your reading material and drink and thing can even be staked down on windy days. Consider this to be one of the coolest Emerald Isle beach bag essentials in existence!

Beach Smart, Not Hard: Emerald Isle Beach Bag Essentials

emerald isle beach bag essentials

My father had it right when he said, “I work hard all year long, so why do I want to work hard on my vacation!” My sentiments exactly…

All in all, take my advice and travel light. A well stocked cooler and plenty of water should be the heaviest things you bring.  Speaking of coolers, in my next post I will share a few great companies who make coolers you’re going to love!

As Always, Stay Salty!

Christine B

We are Crystal Coast Strong

The Crystal Coast v.s. Hurricane Florence

crystal coast
Bogue Inlet Pier right before Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence slammed the Crystal Coast, leaving behind disarray like we’ve not seen in many, many years.  The aftermath was unnerving, surreal even. Photos of the wreckage brought tears to my eyes, days before returning from evacuation. Now that clean up has begun, tall mounds of crumbled drywall, wads of gooey insulation and debris galore line the streets.  Twisted trees ripped from their cozy earthen covers lay on their sides, awaiting the next available chainsaw to cut them into manageable chunks. Memories of summer lie in ruins, washed away by Florence’s pounding rains, howling winds, and strategically place tornadoes.


Crystal Coast Strong

How do we recover from the widespread wreckage? How do we rebuild after such damage? Together it will happen, because we are Crystal Coast Strong!  Brave emergency personnel, rescue squads and the Cajun Navy stood by during the storm, saving many lives as a result.  Now, in the midst of the aftermath, the silver lining truly shines brightest. From every corner of the country, people have come here to help in any way they can. Clean up crews, contractors, outreach groups and many others have permeated the Crystal Coast. These good Samaritans come offering their love, support and very important services to our bruised community. People helping people… it’s a beautiful thing.


crystal coast

Eventually, life on the Crystal Coast will surely regain a sense of “normal.”  Displaced families will once again have safe roofs over their heads. In time, lives will be rebuilt. A community as proud & strong as ours has a way of pulling itself back together. Understandably, you may be asking yourself, “What is to become of Emerald Isle?” We will rebuild, simply put! It will take a lot more than rain and wind to chase us away from the coast we love so dearly. We plan for our properties to be ready and available for next summer, therefore, don’t hesitate call us and reserve for your 2019 summer vacation! (The Bogue Inlet Pier lives on!)

A very special thank you to all who have come to the Crystal Coast to help us regain our bearings post Florence. You are blessed!

Until next time, Stay Salty!

Christine B


Emerald Isle Beach Rentals

As our area blossoms, Emerald Isle beach rentals continue to grow in popularity. Undoubtedly, times are exciting on the Crystal Coast! Our thriving tourist community continues to draw in new guests from around the globe. First-time visitors fall in love with the gorgeous coastlines and unique cultural experiences available here.  Whether you are a history buff, a die-hard foodie, an art enthusiast, or nature lover the activities here are endless. In fact, the choices of available Emerald Isle beach rentals are endless too! Bring a crowd or come solo to the Isle, and we’ll find you the coziest home away from home.

Dolphin Watch

emerald isle beach rentals

Nestled along Ocean Drive is the newest additions to Shorewood’s repertoire, Dolphin Watch! This roomy 3 bedroom (+2 bonus rooms), 3 bathroom home offers ample space to relax and  reconnect at the seashore.  Its 2-part deck offers both shade and a  sunbathing area overlooking the emerald Atlantic waters.

Without a doubt, the views from the deck are amazing, earning the home its playful name!  Furthermore, the new kitchen appliances will certainly appeal to guests who like a more updated look.  Simply put, this lovely beach rental home is everything a family could ever need!

Emerald Isle Beach Rentals

During this time of year, the Isle is a bustling paradise filled with guests from around the world. Like clockwork, Emerald Isle beach rentals quickly fill up with happy families and friends anticipating a week of sandy splendor. Vacations are often the once-a-year opportunity for loved ones to see one another. We greatly take that to heart. In the spirit of family and friendship, Shorewood always welcomes guests with open arms. We are happy to see guests come, because with visitors comes support and growth for our community… and that just makes us smile all over! So go on and dig your toes in the sand, take a deep breath, and consider yourself at home on Emerald Isle!


Until next time, Stay Salty!

Christine B.

Emerald Isle Coffee Shops

What’s the Buzz ⇒ Emerald Isle Coffee Shops

“Hello darkness, my old friend…”, yes, I’m singing to my cup again…my cup filled with delicious hot coffee from one of my favorite Emerald Isle coffee shops! Now, a good coffee shop isn’t too difficult to find these days, but going on vacation to a new place can certainly leave you in search of you’re next tasty pick-me-up.  Fear not! As always, I’ll faithfully lead you to the road paved with goodness… and caffeine.

So, what does it take to become one of the greatest Emerald Isle coffee shops, anyway? Delicious brew, of course, and a relaxing environment to enjoy it!

Along with many avid coffee fans, I appreciate a selection of good quality menu options and signature offerings.  All the Emerald Isle coffee shops serve strong espresso shots, creamy mochas and smooth iced coffees, yet the question still remains… where do the locals go? We go where the coffee is good, the treats are tasty, and the service is friendly.

Each of the charming Emerald Isle coffee shops have their own signature style and flair, yet all are equally satisfying.  Allow me to introduce you to your next cup of happiness…

Stir It Up

Emerald Isle coffee shops

This little gem in the Emerald Plantation Shopping Center serves up some seriously tasty refreshments and treats. Stir It Up has a wide variety of drinks available, frappes being a big summertime seller.  My personal recommendation is the Mexican Mocha Frappe, a most heavenly frozen combination of ice-cold chocolate with warming cinnamon. Delish!

The Milky Way Frappe is another winner. Honestly, who doesn’t love chocolate and caramel… yum!  With a slew of flavor combinations available, there is definitely something for everyone, including the kids.  The baked goods on display are so delicious, convenient, and individually packed for an easy grab and go treat. Grab the little ones a hot chocolate and a cookie, and see those smiles appear!

4J’s Cafe and Bake Shop

I’ve raved about 4J’s Cafe & Bake Shop in the past and I’ll rave about it until the cows come home! Drink options are awesome and they offer so much more than just coffee. Their smoothies are to live for, especially with the variety of protein options. My favorite is definitely the Angela smoothie, an awesomely light yet filling blend of strawberries and chia seeds (I add banana… oh-so-yummy!) The options are vast, so discovering your favorite should be breeze. 

4J’s, of course, gets it right with coffee as well! They offer personal pots, hot and cold signature blends, and the tea selection here gives them bragging rights among other tea rooms in the area… 42 teas to choose for your infusion pleasure! The imported products offered vary from kitchen tools to oils and seasonings, and much more.

The proprietor is originally from NYC, so you know he does it right when it comes to baked goods. This is the only place around offering Brooklyn-water bagels, along with the other fantastic pastries baked up fresh each morning. If you’ve never experience a Brooklyn-water bagel, you absolutely must! I guarantee you won’t be sorry. Get their early or pre-order bagels for the next morning… they sell out quickly (and yes, they are that good!) Specialty cakes and pastries are also available to order… the perfect way to celebrate a beach vacation. Check out the 4J’s website for their great selections!

Muttigan’s K9s & Coffee

Friendly staff members set the welcoming tone while they prepare one of the best coffee drinks you’ll ever enjoy. They have refreshments for kids as well, and even offer the Pup Cup (whipped cream with a cookie treat topping just for the fur-babies.) The hot Mocha and the Flavor of the Day brewed coffee options are my personal favorites. You can taste the quality in each sip! (Check out their Swansboro location, as well!)

Half of this shop is dedicated to high quality pet supplies and gifts, while the other half is dedicated to refueling, reconnecting, and relaxing with your favorite friends, furry or otherwise. The impressive menu showcases the owners passion for quality products, proven in all aspects of this establishment. In addition to coffee, they offer an assortment of locally baked goods, along with a selection of craft beer and wine. Coffee connoisseurs and pet lovers are head-over-heels for this awesome java hut, unique among the Emerald Isle coffee shops. Seriously, this place is so cool… and pet friendly! In fact, it was rated as one of America’s Coolest Stores 2018 by Pet’s Plus Magazine. They certainly earned it, too!

Emerald Isle Coffee Shops

There is deep peace in sipping coffee while the ocean lulls you into total euphoria. It’s always Coffee O’Clock somewhere on Emerald Isle!

Until next time, Stay Salty!

Christine B.