Outer Banks Oyster Bar Hopping

OBX Oyster BarsAbout 20 years ago, someone had the bright idea that the best way to harvest Outer Banks oysters was to float a dredge or two out in the sound, scoop as much mud off the bottom as possible and sift everything out but the oysters. That worked spectacularly well for that year, but then we experienced a loss of oysters for several years until state agencies and a number of local volunteers moved forward to rebuild the stripped Outer Banks oyster reefs.

Finally, oysters are back in Outer Banks waters, and the obvious result is a sudden resurgence of local oyster bars. We started getting noticeable harvest levels two to three years ago and now they are once again on local menus and featured in area raw bars.

read more

David Stick

David Stick HistorianFor anyone visiting the Outer Banks in the summer, it seems like a thriving beehive of a community; the beaches are filled with thousands of people, the roads are clogged and businesses are booming. Yet, once the busy season winds down, the Outer Banks is actually a small and tight knit community, and like similar small communities, one can meet some of the most unique and memorable people in day-to-day interactions.

For the Outer Banks, David Stick was one of those remarkable people. He passed away in 2009 and left behind an extraordinary legacy. For those who knew him personally, it would be hard to argue that David could talk the leg off a room full of chairs . . . and still keep talking. But, the most amazing thing about his need to communicate, was how useful the information was that he shared, filled with historic detail and observation.

read more

The Outer Banks, a Typical Melting Pot

Necla_RaderOver a month ago I received an email from a local community college, College of the Albemarle (COA), asking me about the process for printing a magazine.  COA, it seems, has a very active English Department, and the students and teachers had printed a magazine of their work last year and were hoping to do so again.

After a series of emails with a student, we agreed to meet at Outer Bank’s Juice and Java in Kitty Hawk.  In our emails, it was apparent the student’s name was not typical of American or English culture, but the well written emails were from someone in command of the English language so I didn’t think much of it.  In meeting her, it was clear that she hailed from an Eastern European nation, and I asked where she was from.  Moscow, as it turns out . . . actually a suburb of Moscow.

read more

Outer Banks Birding

Outer_Banks_BirdingAs the last days of summer give way to the beauty of autumn, the skies fill with thousands upon thousands of waterfowl making their winter migration to the sounds and estuaries surrounding the Outer Banks. It is a cycle that’s as old as time, and as snow geese spread their wings to break their descent into the water and hundreds of blue petes raft in the waters of the Currituck Sound, the air is filled with the beautiful cacophony of their calls.

The Outer Banks has always been known as a place of autumn abundance. During the 19th and into the mid-20th century, it was considered the premier East Coast destination for hunting migratory waterfowl. The hunting remains excellent and duck blinds still dot the sounds, but these days more and more people “hunt” our spectacular water fowl using binoculars and a camera.

read more

Best Outer Banks Coffee Shops

Coffee in Duck, NCAutumn is here, temperatures are dropping, the wind is picking up, which makes it the perfect time to write about Outer Banks coffee shops. I’m talking about the real thing here, those places filled with the sound of compressed steam escaping from an espresso machine that fills the air with the wonderful rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

There are a surprising number of coffee shops on the Outer Banks, and almost all of them are locally owned. Since Starbucks arrived at The Marketplace in Southern Shores, a lot of attention was naturally drawn to them. They certainly deserve a special mention, since they serve great coffee and create a good place to meet on that end of the Beach. Yet, the locally owned shops are turning out some really great product, and I have no problem recommending any of those I visited. In order to keep these shops organized, I’ll start north, in Corolla, and head south.

read more

Life on the Outer Banks

Family at the beachMost every topic imaginable gets covered about the Outer Banks except the one that might be the most important, “What is it like to live on the Outer Banks?” There is a certain amount of logic to discussing this question, since ours is an economy dominated by tourism, so folks come down for a short visit and then head home. Since it’s a question that comes up consistently, maybe this is a good time to give my personal overview.

First of all, for those people asking about our schools, or whether we even have schools, the answer is, “Yes, we have an excellent school system.” Dare County Schools, which comprise most of the Outer Banks, are amongst the best in the state. First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills and Manteo High School were recently ranked in the top 10% of high schools in the nation by two national publications.

read more

Outer Banks Brews

OBX BrewsLet’s face it, not everyone likes to go wine tasting.  If you’re a beer drinker, for example, there’s a good possibility that wine just isn’t for you.  Now . . . if only someone would just invent beer tastings.

You’re in luck!  It’s doubtful this was invented on the Outer Banks, but a few local businesses that are always on the lookout to garner more customers, are offering beer tasting, three of which, are brewing their own beer.  To participate in this tour, we’ll start in the south and work our way north.

read more

Outer Banks Wine and Tastings

outer banks wine tastingLet’s face it, northeast North Carolina is not known as a hotbed of wine production, yet there are a couple of wineries in our area turning out some very decent wines. Just because local wineries are few and far between, doesn’t mean we don’t have wine tasting tours. There are a number of opportunities on the Outer Banks to tour the world in a one ounce pour.

We’ll start our wine tasting tour at Trio because it’s the only true wine bar on the Outer Banks. For those in your group who appreciate specialty beers, Trio offers a great selection of brews.

read more

Secrets of a Sandbar

cape hatteras pointHere are some facts that may not be well known about these sandbars, and the word “sandbar” is used purposely because although our notorious bumper stickers say, “I’m on Island Time,” the Outer Banks are actually not islands. The northern Outer Banks, north of Oregon Inlet, are in fact a continuous spit of land extending all the way to Virginia Beach. As a matter of fact, at one time there was a dirt road connecting Carova with Sandbridge, Virginia.

Even Hatteras Island, although surrounded by water, is not considered a true island because there is nothing actually anchoring it to the seabed. It is, as are all barrier islands, a sandbar that happens to be higher than the current level of the ocean.

read more

Expanded Outer Banks Season

Outer Banks Fall SeasonIn many respects, the fall season is the best time to visit the Outer Banks.  The weather is spectacular, ocean temperatures are perfect and there are still enough visitors here to keep businesses open.  Autumn has become its own second season for vacationers.  This shoulder season means no heavy traffic, long lines or half hour waits.  With shows and events lined up, September through November is the time to return and enjoy amazing Outer Banks weekends and week-long events.  This is a chronological list, having nothing to do with personal favorites. The hard choice is picking and choosing from so many great selections.

read more