In Atlantic Beach, NC, residents and visitors alike enjoy a nice blend of old and new neighborhoods. With a remaining hint of a nostalgic air about it, Atlantic Beach is seeing its 1950s beach houses change to modern structures. There are still plenty throwback-to-the-1950s rambling beach houses and small cottages, but they are nudged right up next to ponderous two-story clapboards on narrow streets running parallel to the ocean. Atlantic Beach continues to be primarily made up of "local" residents — people who have lived here most of their lives and wouldn't dream of living anywhere else. The demographics at this end of Bogue Banks are slightly different than the rest of the island. Expect a younger crowd at Atlantic Beach instead of the large concentration of retirees found at other beach locations. Families in their 30s and 40s are commonplace, probably because of the small, affordable, near-beach cottages that allowed these couples to purchase their homes at a reasonable price in years past.
Today, transition can be seen as Atlantic Beach is making great strides to revitalize itself. The Circle, a once-popular family amusement area, is being renovated and plans are well underway for major developments and improvements to the area. Condos, restaurants and shops will soon fill the area that once was home to a Ferris wheel, go-cart tracks and amusement arcades.
Private homes, vacation rentals and mobile homes are mixed throughout this small oceanfront town, and over the years building has extended several blocks back from the water to N.C. Highway 58 (Salter Path Road). Most of the dwellings in Atlantic Beach are within walking distance of the ocean or sound, and the majority of new homes are concentrated on the eastern end of the island, along Fort Macon Road.
Here, too, are a number of developments, such as Sea Spray, A Place At the Beach and Southwinds, with prices ranging from $195,000 to $400,000. Sands Villas Resort offers resort condominiums in the range of $345,000 to $500,000. Island Quay is a development of homes that average about $500,000.
By far Atlantic Beach's most colorful development is Sea Dreams at MM 1.5. Built on a high dune with views of the ocean and sound, this small development offers bright, cheery homes and a clubhouse, playground and pool. An oceanfront home here is in the $1.5 million range.