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Cedar Island Resort Review

A few weeks ago, one of our campground contributors Matt took his family for a weekend of camping at the beach. This time around, they went to Cedar Island Resort, which is located in Cedar Island, NC on the North Carolina coast near the Outer Banks Ferry Terminal. Here’s what Matt had to say!

Cedar Island Resort is located about 5 ½-6 hours out of Charlotte off Cedar Island Rd, Cedar Island, North Carolina. Their website features solid travel guide links and a complete list of amenities and nearby attractions including Cedar Island restaurants

It was a lovely drive on mostly small roads, with only a few hills of any substance, which is a nice bonus when you’re hauling a trailer. We arrived late in the evening, and the entrance to the resort from Cedar Island Rd. is a little confusing. The entrance is on the right side of the roadway, near Cedar Island Ferry Terminal. It’s a one-way-in, one-way-out entry, but we got in okay.

Just for reference, if you wanted to fly in for the weekend, the nearest airport is New Bern Simmons Nott (EWN), which is about 70 miles away by car in New Bern, North Carolina.

Because Cedar Island is a beach resort and campground, they have a motel and onsite, full-service restaurant and bar, Sharky’s Bar & Grill, which also features a basic store with ice, beer, and other sundries on the premises, in addition to the campground itself. One mile from the campground entrance is a full convenience store and gas station. It’s sort of like a “micro-Walmart” with basic camping and camping supplies, tourist goods, and souvenirs in addition to all the usual snacks, beverages and so on you’d expect to find in a well-stocked convenience store. The resort is pet friendly, so if you’ve got four-legged companions, you won’t have any trouble getting them in! Cedar Island Resort has a 4-star rating through TripAdvisor LLC, where it’s the top-rated listing for beach hotels in the area. They also get rave reviews on the travel forum! According to the website, the motel has flatscreen TV in the rooms and the site mentions a fitness center and coin-operated laundry. I can’t speak to these items from experience, but it may be useful to know this in case you decide to tent camp and the weather closes in on you.

The sites are spacious, comfortable with great views, and well-distanced from one another with ample private parking. One nice amenity is that just about all the sites seem to have ocean views, either of Cedar Island Bay or the Atlantic Ocean depending on which way you’re facing. The campground has a very rural, rustic feel, and they’ve worked hard to keep it that way. They offer water and electrical hookups, but there’s no sewer access. You either have to drive 200-300 feet to the sewage dump or they will come and pump your sewage out for you, for a small fee. Also, the WiFi is a bit limited, since you can only get a good signal near the campground entrance, at Sharky’s Bar or the motel.

The nighttime is very quiet. After 10 pm, just about everyone is asleep after a long day of activities, so we got set up and bedded down almost immediately.

Waking up to the private beach views was amazing. Wild horses and cows graze in the inlet pond next to the campgrounds. It’s a very peaceful, quiet place even during the day. There are fish in the inlet pond and streams nearby, so if you’ve got a fishing license or a guide, you can wet a line and try to catch yourself dinner.

After we got ourselves together, we headed down to the beach, which in my opinion is second only to Maui for the best beach I’ve ever been on! The water is very warm and clear, the quartz sand doesn’t get too hot and there are lots of sandbars, so you can walk out around ten feet from the shoreline and still be in water shallow enough to stand in for a grownup. They also keep the beach very clean. There are no riptides near this area, which makes it much safer for children who want to swim.

However, there are no restroom facilities on the beach, so if you need to do your business, you have to go back to the campground. This isn’t exactly a hardship; the facilities have been recently renovated, updated, and upgraded. According to their website, they recently dug a new well, which improved water pressure and quality. You should definitely bring a canopy or umbrella and plenty of sunscreen!

The Cedar Island Resort campground has no shortage of things to do. Activities include: 

  • A fully equipped playground with a climbing wall for the kids
  • Since they allow pets,  they are working on completing a dog park for your four-footed family members. 
  • The resort offers horseback riding on the beach, and they invite visitors and families to come to visit and pet the resort horses. (Note: Do NOT try this with the wild horses or cows! They can be very unpredictable and should be left alone.) 
  • If you’re not into horseback riding, you can 
    • Fish
    • Go boating from the resort’s private launch or the state park launches at the ferry terminal 
    • Play horseshoes 
    • Volleyball
    • Play cornhole

The resort also offers canoe and kayak rentals for people who want to hit the water.

Just off the resort property and right up Cedar Island Road, you can find access to the daily Cedar Island ferry to Ocracoke Island and the Outer Banks. You can walk onto the ferry or take your car or bicycle. The Outer Banks offers more options for shopping, dining, exploration, and activities if Cedar Island Resort doesn’t have enough to keep you and the family entertained. If you want to stay on the mainland, you can also check out the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, visit the Cedar Island city center and check out the offbeat tourist shops, or visit the Cedar Island Wildlife Refuge.

One unique perk Cedar Island RV Park offers which a lot of RV parks don’t is a picnic table and fire ring delivery service. If your site doesn’t have one, and there’s a picnic table or fire ring available, the staff will actually pick it up and deliver it to your site. The staff does regular security and fire sweeps and checks in to make sure everything’s okay and you don’t need anything at your site. The campground is not very crowded, and is set up to facilitate social distancing, which is always an important consideration during a pandemic!

For those who have never been to Cedar Island Resort, I suggest bringing extra water and supplies, just to be on the safe side. There are a lot of mosquitoes and horseflies on the Outer Banks, and they don’t mind taking a bite out of people. Fly strips and citronella candles, along with generous amounts of bug spray, will help keep the critters away. Also, make sure you plan to get lots of sun and pack accordingly with umbrellas, canopies, and sunblock.

Overall, I would highly recommend Cedar Island Resort and Campground to anyone who loves the outdoors. The staff was friendly, the amenities are top-notch and the overall experience is like nothing you can get anywhere else. My daughter loved it and the family had a wonderful time. If you’re considering Cedar Island hotels, beach house, or vacation rentals such as Harbor House or Serenity Home, you might want to think again. I would definitely recommend changing your search to include Cedar Island Resort in your RV travel plans and a list of places to explore on your next outdoor adventure at the North Carolina beach! To learn more about Cedar Island Resort, check availability or make a reservation, click here to visit the Cedar Island Resort website!

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