The Outer Banks Guide
When you begin to see the bumper stickers that read “OBX”, you know you are getting close to the coast of North Carolina, where several barrier islands make up the island chain known as the Outer Banks. In the summer months, the Outer Banks can get heavy populated with tourists and locals alike, many of whom return each year. Not only are there expansive beachfronts in the Outer Banks, North Carolina is also a centrally located beach destination for anyone living in the South. The only disadvantage of the Outer Banks is that the spring months are usually too chilly for really enjoying a day of swimming in the ocean or laying out on the beach. There is also that pesky hurricane season to keep in mind. But let’s be honest, the real reason for visiting the area is that we all want to see where Dawson’s Creek was filmed, right?
Where to stay:
The Outer Banks is definitely distinct from other beaches like those in Gulf Coast of Florida, because it is a more family oriented place, and doesn’t exactly cater to spring break party animals who want to do Jell-O shots and dance on tabletops. The rental properties don’t allow houses to be rented to anyone under the age of twenty-five to avoid this kind of noise and behavior. But there are several hotels, inns, and motels, that charge anywhere from forty to one-hundred dollars a night, all along the Outer Banks for those under twenty-five. There is even a hostel, called the Outer Banks International Hostel. It is in a great location, but not the cleanest. However, they do have a camp site in the side yard and a lot of interesting people. And when the area does not provide much in the way of exciting downtown nightlife, hanging out at a hostel is a great alternative to going out. Ocracoke Island is the best for beachfront camping, with a large campsite area located behind the sand dunes. The only way to reach the island is by ferry. There is a small village on the island with restaurants, bike rentals, and zero commercial franchises. Make reservations ahead of time and come prepared for high winds and mosquitoes that venture over to the campsite from the wetlands behind it. Some of the other best beaches to stay at include Kitty Hawk, Corolla, and Nags Head.
What to do:
While the nightlife scene is lacking in the Outer Banks, that doesn’t mean you will be bored by any means. Restaurants and bars are located all over the islands, and many of them are along the beach, allowing patrons to walk up in their bathing suits, shorts, and flip flops and enjoy delicious local seafood. If you are camping or even staying in a hotel or the hostel, going to the grocery and stocking up on food for lunches to bring to the beach or dinners will save some money. During the day, there are the options of spending the day at the beach, laying out, surfing, or swimming, or hanging out at the pool at the hotel. Depending on where you stay, there are places for kayaking, kite surfing, hang-gliding, jet skiing, fishing and parasailing. Many believe that the Outer Banks has some of the best surf in the entire East Coast. Surf aficionados will want to visit The Pit, in Kills Devil Hills, which is a surf shop, live music venue, and a restaurant called The Boardrider’s Grill. Thursday nights are “Bring your own mug” nights at The Pit, where you can have your mug filled with beer for as little as a one dollar. Some of the best spots for surfing include Corolla, Duck Pier, Kitty Hawk Pier, Old Station, Avalon Pier, and Nags Head.
The Outer Banks is a good option for those wanting to make a trip to the coast in the Southeast, while avoiding the wet T-shirt contest atmosphere of other beaches like Panama City, Florida or Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. While it can get very crowded in the summer months, the beaches are wide and kept in good condition. And the surf is generally much better than anything found in the Gulf Coast. The trip can be whatever you want it to be, whether it’s camping in a tent on the beach and surfing all day, or staying in a beachfront hotel and lounging in the hot tub. It is definitely a trip that can be done on a budget.
By Carrie McCloud