Another Wonderful Visit to the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks of North Carolina

The Outer Banks of North Carolina

I recently spent a week at the beach with my boyfriend, Steve. We were on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (OBX), one of the most alluring surf side destinations in the world, and a spot he has been frequenting for almost three decades.

So Pretty

So Pretty

Almost There

Almost There

Steve’s an avid beach enthusiast and I love the fact that he can just as easily appreciate lounging in a sun-baked dune as catching a ten-foot wave in the surf. Depending on the season and the weather patterns, you can find big swells in the waters off of Nags Head, Rodanthe, Hatteras, Frisco, and a slew of other OBX surf spots revered by  surfers and beach aficionados from around the world.

House in Rodanthe Which Was Featured in the Movie Nights of Rodanthe

House in Rodanthe Which Was Featured in the Movie Nights of Rodanthe

We spent a glorious seven days in Rodanthe, on Hatteras Island in North Carolina this time and I’m already sensing I might need a beach fix before the end of the year.

Rodanthe Pier

Rodanthe Pier

Bode Island Lighthouse

Bode Island Lighthouse

The 200-mile-long stretch of oh-so thin barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina known as the Outer Banks offer a variety of vacation possibilities for couples, families and individuals, whether sports-minded or not. From the northern beach destinations in Kitty Hawk and Duck to down south by Cape Hatteras, a stay here rings in as one of the more affordable beach vacations in the United States. I found that rather surprising, since the beaches rank as some of the most pristine in the world.

After School Activities

After School Activities

Steve tells me there’s been a lot of development since he first went down there twenty-eight years ago although fortunately the wild beauty and character of this east coast destination have been largely preserved due to the fact that  Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the first national seashore in the U.S., was established here in 1937. Part of the U.S. National Park Service, this glorious stretch of seashore, which borders both the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound (the other huge body of water that typifies the Outer Banks), is comprised of vast stretches of unspoiled shoreline, marshland and coastal inlets. Carefully monitored beach and wetlands access may be readily found throughout, providing many secret spots for kayaking, surfing or just walking along the water’s edge.

Rodanthe Shoreline

Rodanthe Shoreline

As for the reason vacationing on the Outer Banks remains a fair option for budget-minded travelers, it’s likely due to the fact that it takes a bit of effort to drive there; you can’t just fly into OBX–even the less remote destinations on these barrier islands require about an hour and a half of driving from a major airport. Also, there’s a surplus of lodging options and the overall approach from accommodations to dining remains fairly down-home. (Although you can find some high-end establishments on the Outer Banks, most of the lodging and dining options are moderately priced.)

Beautiful Beach Houses

Beautiful Beach Houses

Big Beach House

Big Beach House

Small Beach Box

Small Beach Box

Lodging

This was my third visit to OBX and each time I’ve stayed in a rental close to the beach. From immense houses to quaint little beach boxes to modest apartments, the rental rates for a week’s stay remain affordable for most. For even better deals, rent before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. (The weather can also be sublime then and there will be fewer tourists.) Like most resort destinations, you’ll find tons of real estate offices that handle vacation rentals and you can easily book online for most of them without even having to make a call.

A Typical OBX Seafood Feast

A Typical OBX Seafood Feast

Breakfast at Our Beach Box

Breakfast at Our Beach Box

Fried Chicken Too

Fried Chicken Too

Dining

From scallops and tuna fished fresh from the Atlantic to shrimp and oysters gathered in Pamlico Sound, you can enjoy a big catch of regional bounty on this island paradise. The range of dining options here is equally varied although aside from an occasional casual meal and drinks out, we mostly ate at home.

Marinating the Fresh Tuna

Marinating the Fresh Tuna

Firing Up the Grill

Firing Up the Grill

Our Salad

Our Salad

She Crab Soup

She Crab Bisque

Key Lime Pie and Tea

Key Lime Pie and Tea

OBX supermarkets offer a wide choice of products at competitive prices; stock up there for the majority of your larder and bar (they sell beer and wine in supermarkets in NC) and do your more homegrown shopping at the many local produce stands and fish markets you’ll find in the area. The better part of our best dinner at home was procured from St. Waves Seafood Market in Waves, North Carolina, where I bought tuna steaks, she crab bisque, red potatoes and key lime pie. Yum.

Dinner at the Bar at Kelly's

Dinner at the Bar at Kelly’s

After visiting friends in Kill Devil Hills (don’t you love that name), we stopped at Kelly’s, one of our favorite places on the Outer Banks, one evening for a light dinner at the bar. This is a good spot to keep in mind, since their kitchen stays open later than most; the bar often has live entertainment, too, and their food and drink are tops.

My Kinda Place

My Kinda Place

Jack and Stacie at the Helm at FatBoyz

Jack and Stacie at the Helm at Fat Boyz Ice Cream & Grill

What would be a beach trip without hitting a great grill and ice cream shop? We found it at Fat Boyz in Nags Head where we feasted on fried shrimp, crispy French fries and onion rings and burgers before heading out of town. On busy summer nights the line is as long as an Outer Banks’ beach is wide, so plan ahead and be prepared to stand out in the sultry evening air for your mouthwatering treat.

Beach Food

Beach Food

Boat

Taffy Boat

Ice

A Small Ice Cream: Outer Banks-Sized

Drinks and sunsets go together like sand and surf and we enjoyed ours both out and at home. Down by Cape Hatteras in Buxton, I relished my first Tanqueray and tonic of the summer season on the deck of Sandbar & Grille, a family-friendly restaurant/bar that overlooks Pamlico Sound. The restaurant was super busy and we already had dinner plans elsewhere, but I hope to try a bite here some day on another visit.

Sunset on Pamlico Sound

Sunset on Pamlico Sound

Cocktails at Sunset

Cocktails at Sunset

The Grill Master

The Grill Master

Sunset on Pamlico Sound from the Deck of Our Beach Box

Sunset on Pamlico Sound from the Deck of Our Beach Box

Pamlico

Enjoying the View at Sandbar & Grille

We padded down the street from our house in Rodanthe and savored our frosty libations as we watched the sun set over Pamlico Sound another night. Romantic moments were shared all around.

Surf Scene

Surf Scene

Taking the Plunge

Taking the Plunge

Paddling Out

Paddling Out

Activities

You can rent all kinds of toys to enhance your stay on the Outer Banks including bikes, fishing equipment, kayaks, catamarans, surf boards, kite boards, kites–you name it. Rentals on some are reasonably priced although other items can represent more of an investment, especially if you take lessons. Steve, a super athlete who knows how to surf and windsurf very well, tried kiteboarding for the first time during four days–enough to give him a good sense of the sport. He could have bought me a respectable rock for the amount he shelled out in lessons but in the end, he came back to me tanned, challenged but happy and pumped up. So I guess I’m a winner in his investment as well. More on kitesurfing and other OBX activities at a later date. (Don’t forget:  It’s the land of wind. The Wright Brothers were onto this early on and you can find out all about it at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. They achieved the first successful airplane flights in Kitty Hawk, NC, in December, 1903.)

Kitesurfing Mania

Kitesurfing Mania

Wet Suit Lineup

Wetsuit Lineup

Back at Our Beach House

Back at Our Beach House

For more on the Outer Banks, read Loving the Beach, The Outer Banks:  The Perfect Hideaway for a Travel Writer and a Hotel GM and East Coast Adventure:  The Outer Banks.

Come Back Soon

Come Back Soon

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