If you’re considering spending some time in The Outer Banks, here are five essential things you should know about these barrier islands off of North Carolina. I just learned all of these firsthand on my trip to Corolla last week. Number one is the most important: you will love The Outer Banks! So stop worrying and start planning your trip.
1. Don’t worry, you will love The Outer Banks. I wasted so much time deliberating about where we should spend the last week in the August. I knew we wanted to be at the beach, but I didn’t know where. Should we head north from New York City and go to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Maine or Prince Edward Island? Or should we head South to The Outer Banks, Bald Head Island or Hilton Head? All of those places are fantastic, but eventually The Outer Banks won out for us. The Outer Banks has gorgeous, unspoiled beaches and a family-friendly atmosphere. It manages to have that special sense of place that a destination either has, or it doesn’t.
2. You still have to figure out where to stay within The Outer Banks. Just deciding to go The Outer Banks isn’t enough – it’s 200 miles long so you need to decide which town is for you. We stayed in Corolla, which is on the northern end. It’s upscale, family-oriented and the beaches are particularly wide. It wasn’t too built up but there were plenty of shops and restaurants. If you want somewhere more remote, you can go to Carova, which is the northernmost town and it’s only accessible in a 4X4 because there are no paved roads. Duck is more centrally located and has more restaurants. Nag’s Head, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk are even more developed and attract more singles because they have much more to do. Corolla was pretty sleepy but that suited us because we were exhausted by the end of the day.
2. It’s warm and windy in The Outer Banks. You will notice several kite stores as you drive through the island. It can get very windy on the beach. It depends on the weather pattern, of course. But the Wright Brothers chose Kitty Hawk as their first flight for a reason: good winds. If you’re lucky, there will just be a nice ocean breeze. If you’re unlucky, you may not be able to open your beach umbrella. But those winds help keep you cool in The Outer Banks when it’s hot. And it feels hot even in the 70s, I learned last week. I often become obsessed with checking the weather for the days leading up to my travels, and this time was no exception. I was disappointed when I was that most days would only be a high of 80. Well, with the humidity and the strong sun, 75-80 feels hot in Corolla! Our weather was just perfect. I laugh when I was worried that it woudn’t feel hot enough. (Up north, mid-70s can feel chilly on the beach.) On the day we were leaving, we got a taste of true hot weather, and it would have been tough on the kids.
4. The people are so nice. I always defend New Yorkers as being nice, but then I go somewhere that actually has nice people and I see the difference. It must be that Southern Hospitality, and we weren’t even that far South! I’d say that we encountered the third nicest people here, the first being Costa Ricans and the second being Portuguese. Everywhere we went, we just felt so welcome. Especially at restaurants, even though we had a five-month-old and a three-year-old with us. Which brings me to…
5. The seafood is amazing. If you love shellfish, it’s hard to have a bad meal in The Outer Banks considering that fresh crabs and fresh shrimp are plentiful. I had a crabcake every day. We also had a few meals of California-Mex, which seemed to be a popular cuisine down there, although we couldn’t figure out why. But fish and shrimp tacos are delicious so that was good by us.