The Best Outer Banks Beaches

Best Outer Banks Beach

Summer is the ideal time to talk about Outer Banks beaches. Discretion being the better part of valor, I won’t name a favorite beach, instead I’ll describe some favored Outer Banks beaches north of Oregon Inlet, and leave it up to each reader to discover their favorite spot by the sea. First of all, there are no bad beaches on the Outer Banks. Some are a bit sandier or a bit wider than others, but honestly it seems what makes people favor one beach over another is proximity.

For example, in Kitty Hawk, the beach around Black Pelican is very nice, although not quite as wide as the nourished beaches of South Nags Head. However, there are a lot of facilities right there at the parking lot including restrooms, showers and John’s Drive-in just down the road. Up the road near Ocean Boulevard Bistro, there’s ample parking, Art’s Place and Winks Market. The beach there is a bit narrow, and the sand is not as soft as other areas, but it’s a great location for families.

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Hang Gliding, Kite Flying, and Exploring at Jockey’s Ridge State Park

hang glide jockey's ridgeOuter Banks national parks seem to get all the press, but Jockey’s Ridge State Park in the middle of Nags Head, is a natural wonderland easily explored in a day. It is so unique and beautiful, providing so much to do, that residents and visitors return time and time again.

It doesn’t look beautiful at first glance—impressive and awe-inspiring, maybe. A slash of sand piled 80 to 100’ along the sky line seems barren and desert-like. It is that characteristic–the absolute lack of any vegetation that makes Jockey’s Ridge one of the finest places in the world to fly a kite. And that’s any style of kite. From a child giggling in delight as a parafoil or delta kite is launched, to a two or four line stunt kite reaching all the way up towards hang gliders, the constant winds of the dune system create ideal conditions for unpowered flight.

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Endless Possibilities

Endless Possibilities Manteo There is, in downtown Manteo, one of the most wonderful and unique stores ever to be found. It is a place of sanctuary and hope, a place of joy and renewed faith in the potential of the human spirit.

Endless Possibilities is located on Budleigh Street, just a bit up from the waterfront. It’s hard to miss. Two huge picture windows shine light into a store that is filled with color, looms and weavers.

The space, though, is more than a store with unique merchandise and a different look. It was created around the concept that scraps of material could be woven into something new and something that would create the possibility of hope. The proceeds for the sale of these rewoven handbags, rag carpets and hats are given to Outer Banks Hotline to rebuild lives damaged and in crisis.

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Jennette’s Pier

Jennettes-Pier-Nags-HeadIt’s rare for a structure, business or an attraction to become an icon of an area in just two years, but somehow Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head has managed to do that.

There has been a pier at that location since 1939, but Hurricane Isabelle ripped the remnants of a once grand part of the Outer Banks and sent it out to sea in 2003. The North Carolina Aquarium Society had already purchased the site, and an apparent disaster opened everyone’s eyes to possibilities. In 2011 the new pier opened and the possibilities had become reality.

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Outer Banks Golf Courses

We are world famous for our pristine beaches, but the Outer Banks is also home to several notable courses for visiting golf enthusiasts. OBX vacation rental guests enjoy friendly competition at championship courses from Corolla to Nags Head and beyond to Currituck Mainland.

• Seascape Golf Links, Kitty Hawk
The Seascapes Golf Links flows through natural sand dunes and lush maritime forests while providing horizon ocean views. Open to the public year round, this is a Par 70 course with 6,131 yards of championship tees. Seascape has perfectly manicured fairways and greens that provide a challenging round of golf while enjoying the natural beauty of the Outer Banks. Equipment rentals are available for players.

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Outer Banks Baseball Takes the Field

Here’s something fun, unexpected and reasonably priced for families looking for something a little different to do during their Outer Banks vacation. After taking a year off, Outer Banks Daredevils baseball is back and all is right in the summertime world again.

The Daredevils play in the Tidewater League–a six team league with most teams based in the Hampton Roads area. This is a wooden bat league, one of many similar leagues throughout the United States that is designed for college ballplayers. For some, this is their first step into professional baseball.

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What’s New on the Outer Banks?

Josephines restaurant outer banksThere’s a saying, “What’s old is new.” And that’s certainly true with Outer Banks restaurants. What’s old news for locals, is often surprisingly new to those arriving at their Outer Banks vacation rental. While I can’t note everything that’s new or different, I want to reference a few notable changes for visitors. Restaurants seem to change names, shift ownership and move around more than other types of businesses, and this past year was no exception.

There were many small changes to note. Baldie’s Burgers moved from the Wee Winks Plaza in Duck to its new location in The Marketplace in Southern Shores. Still serving burgers the way they’re supposed to be, fries and milkshakes. The Wee Winks Plaza was raised and expanded, a noticeable change as you travel north. Another new burger place in Kill Devil Hills (almost to the Nags Head town line) is Beach Bum Burgers. They opened in the building that used to house Arby’s. The burger and fries are tasty and worth a try.

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Outer Banks Musicians

Outer Banks MusiciansIn the summer, many venues on the Outer Banks offer live music and chances are really good it’s going to be quality music. The problem is trying to isolate a favorite musician, or two, or three, or four, or five–so here goes–my list of “don’t miss” Outer Banks musicians.

Ruth Wyand, has a powerful folksy voice, plays a killer guitar and is comfortable in just about any form of music from rock to folk to jazz. Laura Martier, a great local jazz singer, will sit in with her from time to time and these two create a sound that rivals any professional musicians anywhere.

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The Quiet Side of the Outer Banks

kayak_9One issue with living in a beach community–especially a resort area like the Outer Banks–is the sand and the surf are so wonderful that visitors may miss a whole range of experiences on the other side of the sandbar. The sounds that form the western border of the Outer Banks are beautiful ecological wonders just waiting to be explored. Shallow and generally fairly calm, they are ideal bodies of water to be explored in a kayak.

For people who have not been kayaking, the basics are fairly easy to learn and the kayaks used on the flat waters of the sounds are stable–so stable that you actually have to work to tip one over. There are so many options for exploring the Outer Banks by kayak, that it’s not possible to list all the choices, so I’ll just reference a couple of personal favorites.

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Outer Banks Mountain Bike Trails

Nags Head Woods PreserveGently rolling hills . . . yes, there are some on the Outer Banks. Combined with shady multi-use paths and well-marked trails, it all comes together to make the Outer Banks a cyclist’s dream.

It is possible to ride from the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla to Bodie Island Light in Nags Head. This is a car distance of 36 miles. You’ll only be on the main road for about five or six miles, and there’s a wide shoulder along the highway.

There are more than 50 miles of interconnected bike paths in Dare County and they make for a great morning or afternoon excursion with family or friends. There are a few trails that leave the pavement for dirt roads and cycling trails, so I think it’s interesting to discuss these paths.

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