Outer Banks Oyster Season

Oyster from Outer BanksGood news for oyster lovers—after years languishing near death, the North Carolina oyster is back. Sometimes salty, sometimes slightly sweet and almost buttery, the range of flavors is as varied as the places from which they are harvested.

The oysters are almost all farm raised now; at one time North Carolina was one of the leading states in oyster production, primarily landing wild oysters, but over-harvesting and loss of habitat devastated the industry. However, over the past 10 years, oyster production has more than doubled in the state.

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Outer Banks Thanksgiving Meals

Thanksgiving on the Outer BanksThe family is gathered, there’s kids and maybe some grandkids, perhaps even an uncle or brother or sister. A gathering of the clan is very much a part of holiday traditions. And it’s wonderful, because the truth is, family is what makes holiday memories.

Of course, that comes with a certain price to be paid—some of it financial, but there is also a very real feeling that with 12 people wandering through a house that normally holds four or five, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done—or to relax and just enjoy family.

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Outer Banks Graveyards

outer banks graveyardsWith modern vacation homes lining the shoreline and the beauty of near perfect vacation getaway, the Outer Banks almost seems to be a place that came into existence 30 or perhaps 40 years ago. Sure, the Wright Brothers came to what was then Kitty Hawk—now Kill Devil Hills—to fly kites and then an airplane, but beyond that there does not seem to be much to the history of the area.

Actually, the Outer Banks was one of the first places European settlers put down roots. Leaving the Lost Colony out of the mix since that was a failed attempt, there have been settlers here—mostly from the British Isles—since the mid 1600s.

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Outer Banks Sea Turtle Nesting – Turtle Sense

sea turtle outer banksOuter Banks beaches are a thriving ecosystem. If you watch the damp sand quietly in late afternoons or early evenings, ghost crabs will pop out of air holes, scuttle along the beach and rebury themselves in the sand to avoid seabirds that feast on them.

Our beaches are also the nesting home to a number of sea turtles. Loggerheads and Greens are the most common and Kemp’s Ridleys show up occasionally. Three species, Olive Ridleys, Hawksbills and Leatherbacks, are exceedingly rare. For all sea turtles that visit the Outer Banks, North Carolina is the northern end of their nesting area, and all six species are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

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Navigating the Outer Banks

Navigating the OBXTravelling through the Outer Banks is remarkably easy since there are only two directions one can go, north or south. The two exceptions to this rule are Colington Island and the town of Manteo (located on Roanoke Island), which are both situated to the west.

In the heart of the Outer Banks, there are two main roads for travel through the towns of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head: US 158 and NC 12. These highways each have two reference names, US 158 or Croatan Highway and NC 12 or Virginia Dare Trail. When using GPS or SIRI for directions, it’s important to use the street names for both road systems.

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Military Planes Along the Outer Banks

Ah, yes. A perfect Outer Banks beach day. Not a cloud in the sky, and there’s just enough of a breeze from the southwest to keep the heat from being oppressive. The ocean water temperature is somewhere around 73 or 74 degrees—cool and refreshing.

One of the ubiquitous biplanes of the Outer Banks flies by, towing a banner for a local restaurant, flying from south to north.

Then the sound of jet engines can be heard . . . faintly at first, then louder, coming from the north. Looking out to sea, three jets stand out against the deep blue sky, holding formation.

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Navigating Outer Banks Terminology Part II

Navigating on the Outer Banks is simple; everything is either north or south. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east and extensive bays, estuaries and sounds are to the west. Even at it’s widest point, the Outer Banks is barely two miles across.

Nonetheless, when asking directions and a resident casually replies, “Oh, yeah, that’s in Colington,” your confusion will likely continue. We hope this helps to understand our region and assuming terminology.

Colington
On the south side of the Wright Brothers Monument, a westbound turn onto Ocean Bay Boulevard leads back to the community of Colington. As an unincorporated part of Dare County, Colington is not actually a part of Kill Devil Hills, but since the only road to the island is through Kill Devil Hills, one would assume it is a part of the town.

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Navigating Outer Banks Terminology Part 1

Every area has its own phrasing to describe how to get around their community. First time travelers to New York City likely won’t know references to the “Village” mean Greenwich Village. The same logic applies to San Francisco’s Nob Hill or Kensington in London. Those new to the Outer Banks will find local lingo is quite similar.

Corolla Village Outer BanksIn the spirit of easing visitors through Outer Banks exploration from Carova to Kitty Hawk, here is some terminology you may come across during your stay:

Corolla Village
Everything located north of the town of Duck and between the Dare and Currituck County line is considered Corolla . . . until you reach the four-wheel drive area.

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Outer Banks and WWII

When the War was at Our Doorstep

OBX WWII Submarine
Photo courtesy of the OBX History Center

The history of the Outer Banks is filled with the tales of pirates and sea battles. But not all the battles fought off the coast of North Carolina were shrouded in the mists of history and legend. One of the most horrific battles of WWII was the Battle of the Atlantic, and North Carolina was on the front lines of that struggle.

What was held at stake was the very survival of Great Britain and quite possibly, the outcome of the war. In 1942 German U-Boats roamed at will along the Eastern seaboard, and North Carolina was one of their most fertile hunting grounds. That year, almost 80 allied ships went to a watery grave between Corolla and Cape Lookout.

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Outer Banks Research Facilities

Throughout the years the Outer Banks has attracted more than its fair share of visitors, interlopers and those who choose to become permanent residents. Most arrive for the beauty of our beaches and relaxed lifestyle, others for water sports and recreation, fishing and hunting. More recently we’ve seen those relocating to cultivate business opportunities. Lately, an interesting new trend has developed and that is the arrival of scientists.

Duck Research PierOften overlooked, and not yet a major employment category, we’ve seen an influx of scientists and their staff arriving to support the steady growth of scientific research in our coastal region. It began in 1977 with the Field Research Facility in Duck. Boasting a concrete pier that juts 1,840 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, the Duck Pier is an ideal location for study. An Army Corps of Engineers station, its primary purpose is to investigate nearshore wave action.

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