Fishing on the Outer Banks — Part 2

In the second installment of our article on fishing the Outer Banks, were going to take a closer look at charter fishing. To be considered ‘a charter’ it means the boat comes with a captain. Boats you can rent and drive yourself is not included in this installment, but you can learn more in our previous blog article. 

Charters generally require a group of people and the number depends on the size of the boat.  There is usually a flat cost for the day so whether you have 2 or 10 people in your fishing party, the amounts per person will vary.  Charters include a blanket fishing license for all on board, so there’s no need to bring your own. The Captain/mate will also let you know if your fish is within legal limits to keep, so there are no worries about breaking the rules there.

When on a fishing charter, surrounded by reflective water, the sun is intense!  Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen as well as sun protective clothing such as hats, sunglasses, and even a light jacket or long sleeve shirt. Some charters provide the option of purchasing drinks and snacks from them, while others let you bring your own. Ask about which one your charter does before boarding. Be sure to remember if you pack your own that boats have a ‘no glass bottle’ policy. Aluminum bottles, cans, and plastic bottles are fine.

Keep in mind that the approximate prices given below only inlclude the price of the charter. It’s customary to tip the Captain/mate the same as you would a restaurant server for their service.   

 

Gulf Stream Charters

This 8 hour charter is what most people think of when they thing ‘charter’. It’s a deep sea fishing expedition that goes after either trophy fish like Marlin, or eating fish like Tuna. It goes all the way out to the Gulf Stream where the largest fish hang out. It’s important to note that while you can bring home eating fish (as long as you stay in a certain limits) trophy fish are strictly catch and release.  

This is a great charter for the experienced fisher, and makes memories for a lifetime. However, young children and the elderly donâ??t find it nearly as fun because 8 hours on a moving boat is exhausting.

Best For:  Experienced fishers 

Average Price: $1500

Holds: 6 people

What You’ll Catch:  marlin, tuna, mackerel, dolphin, cobia

Be sure to tell your captain what you’re hoping to catch before you go. This helps them plan where they take you, as well as the type of bait and poles used.

 

Half Day Ocean Charters

Half day charters are much shorter in duration than their full day counterparts. They only run about 4 hours. Because of this, they donâ??t go out as far, so that means no marlin.  However there are still plenty of other fish you can catch, from giant flounder to trout and more.  This is a perfect charter for a slightly less experienced angler who isn’t sure they want to spend all day on a boat. It’s also a great charter for families. Since you don’t go out as far, the waves are much smaller and you arrive at your destination faster so you can start fishing sooner.

Best For:  Families with older children; semi experienced fishers. Stripers, drum,

Average Price: $500

Holds: 6

What You’ll Catch: Flounder, speckled trout, bluefish, cobia

 

Makeup Ocean Charters

If you feel that the cost of a charter is prohibitive for only one or two people, then consider a makeup charter. It’s a type ocean charter where one or two people combine with other singles to go out on a charter together and split the cost. Be sure you call the marina ahead of time to let them know you’re interested in one. Then, when they have enough people interested for the same week, they’ll give you a call. Make up charters, like regular charters, can either be full or half days.

 

Inshore Charters

If you have a younger family, are traveling with your parents, are prone to seasickness or really just want a day on the water, then an inshore charter is probably a better fit for your group. Inshore charters go on the much gentler waters of the Sound. The waves are small, so there is less chance of seasickness or of a child getting scared because they lost sight of land. (Inshore charters very rarely lose sight of land, and if you talk to the captain first, they can make sure land is always in sight.) 

An inshore charter can be a full or a half day, the same as their ocean counterparts. Unlike the ocean, may different types of boats can go in the sound, including ocean boats. The numbers of people this boat can take vary between 4-6 people.

Best For: Families with younger/older members.

Average Price: $450-$950

Holds: 4-6 depending

What You’ll Catch: smaller flounder, trout, spot, croaker

 

Pontoon Boat Charter 

A Pontoon Boat Charter, such as the kind you get from our Explore the Shore Partner, obxpontoonman.com is the type of charter you get when spending a day on the water with the family is more important than fishing. A Pontoon boat gives you the smoothest ride on the water with very little chance of seasickness. Additionally, Pontoon boats are able to go into the shallower waters that boat with sharp keels cannot.

A Pontoon boat charters can accommodate Sound fishing, (you’ll catch smaller fish) and crabbing. Of course, if you just want to spend the day exploring the surrounding islands, looking for dolphin and playing in the water instead of fishing, that’s fine too. 

Best For:  The entire family, including small children and the elderly

Average Price: $485-$950

Holds: Up to 12 

What You’ll Catch: small flounder, croaker, spot, trout, large crabs

 

Headboats

A headboat is a unique experience. It’s a large boat that holds dozens of families. You all go out together for a half day and have fun fishing.  This is perfect for the beginning fisher or the kids.  You can bring your own drinks or concessions are available on the boat.   Rods, reels, bait, fish bags and licenses are included. It’s the best way to explore the idea of a charter before you invest in the big one.  A normal headboat charter runs a half day.  And if you’re coming with an extra big family, it would be easy enough to rent the entire boat for your party.

Best For: Families with young children or the elderly

Average Price: $48 per person.

Holds: 97

What You’ll Catch: spot, croaker, trout, flounder

 

No matter how you choose to fish, the Outer Banks is the place to do it. There are enough different types of charters out there to make everyone happy from the most experienced angler to the first timer. And no matter which charter you choose, you’re going keep those memories a lot longer than the fish it provides.

Fishing on the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks has been a favorite vacation spot since the 1950’s and one of the things that made it so famous is the fishing. From surf fishing to charters, our fishing experience is second to none!  Part of the reason that our fishing is so great is that we are surrounded by water.  Another reason is that the Gulf Stream and Labrador currents run very close to the Outer Banks, providing warm water and a wide variety of large game fish. 

Below is part one of our 2-part article on Outer Banks Fishing with a focus on fishing from the land.  Our next article will cover Charter Boat Fishing on the Outer Banks. 

Please Note:  Fishing in North Carolina from the land requires a license. 

Surf Fishing

Surf fishing is the most common fishing on the Outer Banks. It’s also the best way to introduce children to fishing. You simply get a pole, some bait, a fishing license, and cast into the water from shore.  You can catch some nice sized fish this way, some even large enough to eat.  Of course, what you’ll catch depends largely on the season, and whatever’s passing by. It’s all a matter of luck when you’re shore fishing.

The best idea for beginners is to stop someplace like Bob’s Bait and Tackle to pick up bait, tackle, advice, and a list of size limits for fish.

Best For: Family Fishing

Average Price: The cost of a license for each fishing family member

What You’ll Catch: drum, mackerel, spot, croaker, flounder, bluefish, trout

Pier Fishing   

There’s a little less luck involved in pier fishing and more skill. This is because fish love hanging around piers to eat the stuff that grows along the pilings. Larger fish come to eat the smaller fish that like to eat the growth on the pier. Also, because a pier can get you out at least a hundred feet further than the shore, you’ll be able to catch bigger fish that don’t come close to shore.

There are many piers on the Outer Banks. However, the Outer Banks Pier in South Nags Head is our Fun N Sun partner. This means one member of your crew can enjoy a whole day fishing on the pier for free. And you can even do it again tomorrow.  Piers do not require licenses as they have a blanket license to cover everyone. They also sell bait and rent tackle so you don’t have to buy your own.

Best For: people who have fished before (But kids are also welcome)

Average Price: Circa $12 per person, (or one person free on the Outer Banks Pier with Fun N Sun Pass)

What You’ll Catch: Much larger drum, mackerel, spot, croaker, flounder, bluefish, trout

Renting Your Own Boat

Renting your own boat is different from chartering one, because area charters feature Captains, while boat rental companies will simply rent you the boat.  Rental boats are geared mainly for the calm, shallow waters of the Sound.  It’s relatively difficult for people unfamiliar with the area to take a boat out in the ocean.   The changing sandbars and unpredictable currents are not for the casual boater.  

On the other hand, the Sound has small waves and is easy for even novices to maneuver.  Most often, there are two types of boats to rent; an outboard motor type, (think dingy with a motor) and a pontoon boat.

Pontoon boats are best for shallow waters, exploration of the surrounding islands and for those who care more about the smoothness of the ride than the speed of the boat.   They are also better for large families. An outboard motor type boat can go faster and go out further in less time than a pontoon boat. It also holds fewer people. It’s the equivalent of the type of high powered car when you can feel the road under you, only with this boat, you can feel the waves under you. Depending on how much you love waves, that may or may not be your type of boat.

In either case, you’ll catch the same kind of fish you’ll catch on shore, only smaller ones. Many fish use the gentle sound as a nursery for their babies. It’s rare to catch a truly large fishing the sound, but it does happen. You’ll want to make sure you bring your license and a fish size guide. 

Places such as The Outer Banks Fishing Pier also do boat rentals.   Check out their website for details.  http://fishingunlimited.net/boating-center.html 

Best For: families who want to fish and explore the area

Average Price: $99-$499 depending on size and length of time (bring your own license)

What You’ll Catch: smaller drum, mackerel, spot, croaker, flounder, bluefish, trout, pigfish, pinfish

 

 

9 Tips for H2OBX Waterpark

H2OBX Waterpark has almost completed it’s first OBX Summer Season and we (and our guests) have certainly enjoyed it!  It’s the perfect place to spend the day with the family and adds to the Outer Banks beach vacation experience. 

Here’s our 9 tips for making the most out of the area’s newest attraction.  

 

Buy Your Tickets Early (and Save!) 

In order to keep the lines short and give you the best possible experience, attendance at H2OBX is limited to 4,000 people a day. In order to avoid disappointment at the door, it’s best to buy your tickets in advance through our link. Also, when you buy though our link as opposed to at the gate, you get $5 off per ticket for your entire party. After all, the only thing better than a fun filled day of waterpark fun, is saving on one!

 

 

Plan Your Trip

10am to 2pm is the hottest part of the day. It’s also the most popular. However, if you’re already certain that you’re not going to spend all day there, consider going after two, the less hot, less crowded part of the day. The park doesn’t close until 7, so that still gives you five hours to play. 

Of course, if you want to spend all day there, you can. The park has some great eatery options for lunch, snacks, and even adult beverages.

 

Bring Sun Protection 

Even if your body is underwater most of the time, you can still get sunburned. Bring appropriate protection, sun screen, and cover-ups to wear out of the water when you go. This way a nasty sunburn doesn’t ruin your day. If you forgot the sun protection, donâ??t’ worry. The waterpark’s gift shop sells cover-ups, towels, sunscreen and more.

 

 

Eat Lunch At The Park

Though the Outer Banks has many excellent dining options, they are a little too far from the park. Fortunately, the food is here is more than typical amusement park food. In fact, it rivals some of the casual places on the Outer Banks. They have all the kid’s favorites like burgers, chicken tenders and fries, as well as amusement park favorites like funnel cakes, pretzels, shakes and ice-cream. They even have adult frozen beverages to help you beat that the heat.

 

 

Bring Towels

It’s easy to overlook towels when you visit a waterpark, after all, you might be too busy to need them. There certainly is enough to do. However the best use for towels isn’t to dry off, it’s to save your seats. The waterpark has tons of chairs and huge umbrellas that provide shade. Depending on how may people are visiting the park that day, the best shaded spots fill up fast. However, most people mark their spots by leaving towels on the chairs. This is the best way ‘reserve’ a spot, aside from leaving a person on the chairs. This way, everyone can have fun.

 

Rent A Cabana

Of course, if you don’t want to bother with towels and saving seats, you can always rent a cabana. H2OBX offers 2 sizes of cabanas, small (that fits 8 people) and large (that fits 12 people). Not only do the cabanas provide great shade and remain yours for the entire day, they also provide wait service for food and drinks and a complimentary fruits, water, and snacks.  Cabana rentals also come with complimentary lockers, so that your valuables are safe and secure all day. 

 

Wear Water Shoes

The park is an easy walk, but we do recommend water shoes.  The concrete can get hot in the middle of the day and many of the wave pools have rough texture at the entrances to prevent slips and falls.  Water shoes have rubber soles to protect your feet and fit completely over your foot so they won’t come off even during the most extreme rides. Flip flops are great for walking around, but are not allowed on any rides. 

 

Rent A Locker

Lockers are a great way to securely store your valuables, bags, clothes, and towels while you enjoy the park.  There are 3 sizes available.  You can purchase your rental with a credit card and they open and lock with a keyless code, so no keys to lose and the entire family can access it when they need it.  Super convenient! 

 

 

 

Complimentary Life Jackets

If you or your little one needs a life jacket, the park has them for free. All you have to do is go up to the life jacket rack, pick your size, cinch it up and you’re good to go. You can wear this jacket all day and on rides like the lazy river and the wave pool. Younger kids can wear theirs on the younger kid slides. This ensures a fun and safe time for everyone.

 

The waterpark is lots of fun for everyone. With a little advanced planning, discounted tickets and an idea of what to expect when you get there, you can add lots of fun to your vacation and memories that will last a lifetime.  We hope you’ll check out H2OBX Waterpark on your next Outer Banks visit! 

 

Alternate Vehicles for OBX Fun

There’s no better feeling then the wind in your hair, and the slightly salty mist coming off the ocean.  You want to experience it, but your car won’t let you. After all, you can’t stick your head out the window like Fido. Still, the dream remains. Enter Fun Alternative Vehicles on the Outer Banks. These are fun vehicles for you to rent and drive while you’re down here. You can rent them for a full week, or maybe just for a few hours. Here, we’ll take a look at your fun vehicle options.

Golf Carts (LSV) 

The most familiar of the bunch would be the golf cart. However, just like everything else on the Outer Banks, we do golf carts a little differently. Our golf carts are actually Low Speed Vehicles. (LSV). This means they are street legal, and met the safety requirements for low speed cars (complete with seat belts). They have overhead soft canopies, open sides and can go on any public road with a speed limit of 35 or less. This makes them perfect for driving the beach road or through Duck.

Low speed vehicles come in two ‘flavors’ 4 person and 6 person, which is referred to as the limo of golf carts. Several places offer delivery and pick up of your golf cart. Most golf carts rent for the week.

Ocean Atlantic Rentals is a great place to get golf carts, along with beach chairs, umbrellas and anything else you need for the beach.

https://www.oceanatlanticrentals.com/

 

Dune Buggies 

If you’ve ever wanted to ride a car on the beach, this is your chance. Buggin Out provides cars they actually expect you to take to the Corova beach. Their ‘buggies’ are really vintage cars and have been seen in car shows prior to making a new home on the Outer Banks. 2, 4 and 5 person buggies are available, so you can bring the family, your sweetheart, or just go solo. Since they are cars, they are able to go any road, anywhere.

Unlike most rental places, which give you whatever vehicle they have in stock, Buggn Out lets you choose your vehicle online when you place the order. Each car has it’s own unique personality and history, so you can get one that fits with your family. Be aware though, since they are vintage, most have manual transmissions. 

Beach buggies are rented by the day or by the hour. They have special rates if you’d like to take them out for a sunset ride on the beach.

http://bugginoutobx.com/

 

Scoot Coupes 

 Referred to as a “three-wheeled car”, Scoot Coupes are a great way to see the Outer Banks in style. They are technically considered a scooter, but they look like a car. Unlike a traditional scooter, you don’t have to worry about balancing, and you can take an extra person with you. They are street legal and gas powered, so they are just like a car, if a car had only three wheels and no roof.

They can be rented hourly, daily or weekly from Scooter s N Spokes.  The most popular color is red.

http://obxbeachtoyrentals.com/

 

Stella, the Outer Banks Trolley  

So far, we’ve seen alternative vehicles made for a small family. But what about if you’re traveling with  a large family?  Well, if you have a ton of people, you can rent Stella, the Outer Banks Premiere Wedding and Event Trolley. She comes with a driver and enough room to sit 35 people, and have 10 stand. The seats are carved wood and go perfectly with the wood look interior.  It’s just the thing for large family gatherings.

http://obxtrolley.com/

 

The Outer Banks is a fun and unique place, and it deserves fun and unique transportation. With these options, you can scoot around town, explore new places, or even make traveling down the beach road fun.

 

 

Corolla’s Wildlife Education Center

If you’ve been to Corolla before, you’ve undoubtedly visited the historic triangle made up of the Currituck Lighthouse, the Whalehead Club and its historic grounds and the Corolla Historic Shopping Village.  But did you notice the large gray building to the right overlooking the water?  Itâ??s non-descript architecture hides the gem of a museum inside. 

Most people don’t even stop to look at it because it’s so official looking. However, inside is the Corolla Wildlife Education Center.  A fun place for adults and kids alike, this museum offers a great overview of the wildlife in the area.

The History

The history lesson starts with a movie about the Sound,  it’s resources, and duck hunting. There are many exhibits that focus on the areaâ??s rich history in hunting, trapping, fishing, and living life along the Outer Banks coast.  Taxidermied animals throughout the exhibit help bring the region to life. One of the most popular exhibits for adults is the display of homemade duck hunting decoys. You’ll see everything from the basic canvas back to the elaborate carved.  And, don’t forget to take your picture with the life sized stuffed bear.

The Wildlife

Most wildlife education centers do not feature live animal indoor exhibits. However, this one is the exception to the rule. They have an exhibit depicting both the life above and below water in the Sound.  While the exhibits above the water (including a fisherman in a boat)  are stuffed in classic museum style, the bottom part is made up of live fish.  Small children love looking at the fish as they are right at their eye level.  Outside, there is a nature trail where you can see all sort of wild animals, like birds, nutria, and more in their natural habitat.

The Programs

The Wildlife Education Center offers a variety of programs for kids and adults of all ages. They have kayak tours, fishing and crabbing classes, plein air painting, archery and much more. These programs range from low cost to free. However, they do fill up early so it’s best to make a reservation in advance.

 

So, the next time you visit Corolla, you’ll want to check out the Wildlife Education Center. It’s a great activity for a rainy day or when it’s too hot to go to the beach. There are plenty of photo ops, clean bathrooms, and even a smashed penny machine so you can take home a small souvenir of your Corolla wildlife adventure. 

Activities Beyond the Beach — Part 3

As we conclude the final part of our Activities Beyond the Beach Series, we touch on more of the indoor activities — perfect for the occasional rainy day!  Explore all the Outer Banks has to offer “Beyond the Beach”!

Museums

NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island

Recently renovated, the Roanoke Island aquarium was rated one of Trip Advisor’s top ten small aquariums. It features a shipwreck exhibit, a huge shark tank and touch tank with all kind of fun animals. Dive shows, feed that animal shows, and fun activities are offered daily. There’s also the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rescue (STAR) exhibit where you get to see real turtles get rehabilitated. Did I mention, you get a free ticket to the aquarium with every stay through our Fun N Sun Pass Program? 

Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum

This little known museum is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Its home to the Nellie Myrtle Collection, which is a collection of items found on the beach over a lifetime of beachcombing. If you’ve ever wondered what you can find on the beach, wonder no more. You’ll be amazed at what washes up. 

Children’s Museum

There are many museums on the Outer Banks, but only one interactive museum that caters to children under five.  The Children at Play museum features exhibits such as a dress up corner, grocery store, toy doctor, lighthouse keeper and more. There is even a busy wall for the youngest members. Video games are upstairs so the older siblings can have fun while the younger ones play downstairs. 

Wildlife Education Center

There are two wildlife education centers, both run by the National Park Service. The first is in Manteo. It features a simulated flight over the barrier islands and ‘scavenger hunt’ inside the forest exhibit. The second is in Corolla. Adults love looking at the antique Duck decoys while kids are entranced by the large aquarium filled with sound fish. Both centers offer activities and their own nature walks.

Maritime Museum

This museum is easily overlooked in Downtown Manteo, but it’s worth seeing. The Maritime Museum shows you life on the island as told through the stories of the boat that came from here. The Museum also offers classes, such knot tying and their ever popular build a boat in a day workshop.

Frisco Native American Museum

If you’re up for a day trip, then check out the Frisco Native American Museum. This private museum features Native American artifacts from all over the country, not just the Outer Banks. Though the museum is tiny, the collection is expansive. Related items are even for sale in the gift shop.

Entertainment

Lost Colony   Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre

America’s longest running outdoor drama, this play retells the story of the doomed first settlement of England. Each year, they feature a different director, so if you’ve seen the show last year, you might not have seen the same show as this year. It’s worth going back again and again. Especially when we give you one free ticket.

Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre

Sometimes vacation can be murder. If you go to the Murder Mystery Dinner Theater, that is. This entertainment venue is a lighthearted romp through a mock murder and some truly unforgettable characters. The audience even gets to play. Dinner is provided and photo ops are available.

Movies

Every place has a movie theater and the Outer Banks is no exception. In the main part of the Outer Banks, we have RC Theaters, showing the latest movies, including 3d movies. In Corolla they have a ‘dinner and a movie’ theatre where you can watch the movie and eat dinner at the same time. Manteo is home to the Pioneer Theater, the oldest family run theater in the country. It shows one movie a week and the popcorn is always fresh.

The Comedy Club Of The Outer Banks

The Comedy Club is the country’s oldest seasonal comedy club. It’s featured comics such as Ray Romano, Sinbad, and Drew Carey back before they became famous. This is your chance to see the next great “up and comer”. Dinner, appetizers and drinks are available. They have one location in Kill Devil Hills and one in Corolla.

Ghost Tours

Do you believe in ghosts? Well, you donâ??t need to with these ghost tours. There are several too choose from; both are in Manteo. The first kind is a more traditional ghost tour with legends of the Outer Banks and pirate lore. The second is a more playful ghost tour where they bring out ghost detectors and really ham it up. Donâ??t worry, the legends are in that one too, somewhere. The Whalehead Club in Corolla also has a ghost tour featuring just legends about the club and surrounding areas. 

Art Related

Galleries

It’s been said that the Outer Banks has more artists per capita then anywhere else in North Carolina. If that’s true, it makes sense that we have so many galleries. Most of the galleries are in a place knowns as ‘Gallery Row’ between the roads around milepost 10.5 in Nags Head. Seaside Gallery has been here so long, it’s PO Box number is 1. And, Manteo is home to dozens of galleries all in walking distance to each other.

Arts Council

The Arts Council is a gallery so special it needs its own section. This is where individual artists without their own galleries display their work. It has everything from handcrafts to fine art to fabric arts. It’s a great way to see a lot of local Outer Banks art without going all over the Outer Banks to find it.

Make Your Ownâ?¦

There is a wide variety of things you can make your own at the Outer Banks. We offer classes from everything from ‘distressed’ furniture, to jewelry to stepping stones and paint your own pottery. It’s perfect for a rainy day or a day when it’s too hot to go to the beach. Whichever you choose you’ll be making crafts and memories.

Shopping

There are plenty of places to shop on the Outer Banks. So many in fact, that it would do them a disservice to try to mention them all here. Mostly, the Outer Banks has boutique type shops. We still have a good number of independent bookstores and coffee shops. Belk’s and TJ Maxx are the more well-known department stores. Outlet shopping can be found in Nags Head.   All kinds of kinds of things can be purchased through local shops from clothing to trinkets. Strip malls are the dominant form of shopping down here. Manteo provides dozens of stores located in historic buildings in easy walking distance to each other. Corolla also boasts a Historic Shopping Village near the lighthouse. Scarborough Faire is an open air mall incorporating the surrounding trees.

 

We hope you explore the activities and sites “Beyond the Beach” during your next Outer Banks visit.  As always, if you need help planning your trip, our Vacation Planners are available 7 days a week to assist you. 

Activities Beyond the Beach — Part 2

This article is a continuation of our “Beyond the Beach” series where we explore all the Outer Banks has to offer that is not necessarily ocean related.  Whether you have visited here numerous times or this is your first trip, there is always something for everyone to discover!

 

Parks

Nags Head Skate Park

Surfing is a big part of the Outer Banks culture and with surfing comes skating. After all, surfers need something to do to keep in practice in-between waves.  The Nags Head Skate Park is recently renovated and taken over from the YMCA. Best of all, it’s a free park for anyone who loves to skateboard.

Playgrounds

Many communities such as Duck, Southern Shores and Kill Devil Hills have playgrounds built into their communities. The new Dowdy’s Park is also coming soon, which will provide fun for families of all ages.

Kitty Hawk Dog Park

Kitty Hawk is home to the area’s only official dog park. Though dogs are pretty much welcome in any national and town run park, this is the only park where they are allowed to be off leash. Dogs of all sizes are welcome here.  And, with 2 separate fenced areas to roam, there is plenty of room for everyone.  The Kitty Hawk park also features a playground and skate park for public use.  

Nature Walks

Pea Island

This famed bird and wildlife preserve is home to all kinds of birds. You can walk on the trails any time the park is open. Or you can sign up for a nature walk with a ranger. These scheduled walks take you through all the best places where you can see all the best birds. And, they’re free.

Duck

Duck’s nature trail consists of a wooden boardwalk connecting all the sound front shops and restaurants. On the landside you have a verity of choices of places to shop and things to eat. On the water side, you can see herons, Ducks, birds, snow geese, otters, nutria, crabs fish and even an occasional turtle.

Corolla

Corolla’s nature walk is right by the lighthouse and takes you along the outbacks of Corolla. This wooden walkway is a must for all nature lovers. Some visitors even report seeing wild horses while walking this trail.

Manteo

Festival Park is home to Manteo’s nature walk. This wooden walkway runs along the sound with the water on one side and a small maritime forest on the on the other. The main wildlife here are birds and aquatic mammals, though occasionally a stray dolphin does show up.

Nags Head Woods

The Nags Head Woods is home to some great running paths and nature trails. The woods is older than the town itself and has all kinds of legends surrounding it. There’s even supposedly a ruined town in there, but that’s not something you see on the path. The woods are so deep and so beautiful; you’ll feel like you’re in a fairy tale. Just remember to stay on the path.

Elizabethan Gardens

Being a monument to Tudor gardens of the 15th century, it’s not terribly ‘natural’ but it is worth seeing. A formal English garden is recreated with plants native to the Outer Banks. Statues, of the kind popular in during the Elizabethan times but with a distinctively Outer Banks feel, dot the gardens. If you love flowers, it’s one the best places to go. You can even stop in and buy a native plant to take home with you.

Golf

Golf Courses

Award winning golf courses with breathtaking greens and views line the Outer Banks. There are actually three golf courses in our Fun N Sun program, so you can play golf for free. The Nags Head Golf Links, which overlooks the sound and Carolina Club and The Pointe for those who love a challenge and don’t mind going a little inland.

Mini Golf

If you’re looking for mini golf, you’ve come to the right place. The Outer Banks features a plethora of mini golf courses; from prate themed, to one where you ride a train to the first hole, to one that’s a shrunken Outer Banks to one that’s a replica real golf course in miniature. (That last one is perfect for putting or someone who wants to teach their kids the fine art of golf.)

3D Indoor Mini Golf

Though technically a miniature golf course, this place is so unique, it deserves its own section. It’s entirely indoors, making it the perfect activity for rainy days. Special paint enhanced by black lights brings the sci-fi world to life making the course both challenging and unique. 

History

Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station

If you’re up for a day trip, then head on down to Rodanthe to check out the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station, one of our partners.  Lifesavers patrolled the beaches, rescuing ships in trouble. They were forerunner to today’s modern coast guard. Today, The Lifesaving station has been turned into a museum. In season, volunteers reenact a rescue using 19th century equipment. It’s a great way to learn more about this little piece of forgotten history.

Lighthouses   Currituck Lighthouse

The Outer Banks is home to the most famous lighthouse in the world, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. However, that’s not the only lighthouse there is to see. There’s also Bodie Island in South Nags Head and the Currituck Lighthouse in Corolla. Manteo has Marshes’ Light, the last surviving soundside lighthouses on the Outer Banks. And if you’re up for a day trip with the ferry, you could go see Ocracoke, the smallest ocean side lighthouse in the country. (Unfortunately, you can’t climb that one though.)

Visible Shipwrecks

Ok, so this one’s cheating a little because technically, a visible shipwreck is ON the beach. (Unless of course, you’re looking at the wreck in front of the Nags Head Town Hall) With our shifting sands, the beach sometimes reveals shipwrecks. After all, we’re not known as the Graveyard Of The Atlantic for nothing. The Laura A. Barnes in South Nags Head and the Metropolis in Corolla are two such wrecks. They are easily visible and sit right on the beach. If you dive, there are many more to explore right under the surface.

Wright Memorial

In 1903, two brothers forever changed the world and gave us flight. Today, we honor them with the Wright Memorial. One part museum, one part monument, this national park takes you through he history of flight from 1903, to the space shuttle and beyond. The climb to the top is a favorite of kids, but the museum is mostly geared towards adults and older children. (Though they will be renovating it soon.) Everyone agrees that the ranger talk is a highlight, so don’t miss it.

Living History

Festival Park

Home to the Elizabeth II, Festival Park brings England’s first colony to life. It hosts a life sized composite ship of the one that brought the settlers over, a military settlement and a Native American village. Visitors can interact with historic interpreters and get a feel for life back then. There are also a variety of activities to do. Inside, there’s a small museum that takes you through the rest of Outer Banks History, including its pirate days, its civil war days and it’s duck hunting days. (Kids love ‘shooting’ the fake ducks with lasers form the duck blind.)

Island Farm

One of the newest attractions to our historical Outer Banks, the Island Farm is like Colonial Williamsburg in miniature, if Williamsburg was set in the 19th century. The Island Farm recreates a typical 19th century farm, with details such as a windmill and the last yoke trained ox in the country. Horses, sheep and free roaming chickens are just a few of the animals you’ll encounter. Demonstrations of daily life are performed and kids can be drafted’ into doing ‘farm chores.’ And, one of the best things about Island Farm is that it is truly a “hands on” experience. 

Whalehead Club

Love art nouveau and historic architecture? Then you’ll love the Whalehead Club. A restored 1920’s hunt club, this building is a testament to one mans’ love for his wife. It’s filled with historical artifacts of the period, and while the docents aren’t in costumes, there are many tours that take you ‘inside’ the world of Mr. & Mrs. Knight, the original owners.  

Pirate Adventures

Ok, there’s nothing very ‘historic’ about this one, but it is a lot of fun for kids. It’s more like the pirate life they seen in movies. Kids climb aboard a real boat, go into the sound and search for the sunken treasure (already placed there) Then they get to ‘shoot’ a bad pirate with water cannons and bring home some ‘loot’ (fake coins and costume jewelry.) A good time is had by all.

 

Come back next week as we conclude the “Beyond the Beach” activities series.  We’ll explore 2 of my favorite subjects . . . . .Entertainment and Shopping and places you can enjoy both on the Outer Banks. 

Activities Beyond the Beach — Part 1

The Outer Banks is known for its miles of free, unspoiled beaches. But, there is more to the Outer Banks than just the beach and the oceanâ??there are plenty of things to do and sites to see â??Beyond the Beach!â??

Adventures

Harnessed Adventure Park

The newest addition to the Outer Banks, the ropes amusement park will keep you suspended and happy for hours. Plus, you canâ??t beat the view from this unique perspective!

Laser Tag

The Outer Banks is home to not one, but two laser tag locations. Each one has their own theme and even feature bounce houses for the youngest members. Destination Fun even has an arcade where you can win prizes and play 3D mini-golf.

Jockey’s Ridge

Do your kids want to climb the dunes? Most do, but the beach dunes usually have a ‘please keep off the dunes sign. Well, don’t worry, Jockey’s Ridge is one dune you CAN climb. It’s the largest all natural sand dune not located in a desert. Kids and adults love climbing up it then coming back down. Kids often have their own ways of getting down, like ‘sledding’ on a boogie board or just rolling down the hill. On the other side of the ridge is a sound side beach, just perfect for the youngest family members and pets. Plus, the hidden castle makes a great photo op. 

Go Carts|Bumper Boats

Go carts and bumper boats have been part of the Outer Banks experience forever. Now, you can introduce your kids to the more modern version you enjoyed as a child. After all, bumper boats and go carts are the next best thing to driving to a young child.

Horseback Riding on the Beach

If you’re willing to take a day trip, you can ride horses on the Hatteras Beaches. This is for experienced riders only, but riding on the beach is an experience not to be missed. Plus, they’re one of our Explore the Shore partners.

Boats

Airboat Tours

They were a long time coming, but the Outer Banks now has airboat tours. Airboats can get into places normal boats can’t for a truly unique experience. You can take a scheduled tour or rent it out for a few hours. No need to know how to drive one, it comes with a captain.

Charter Fishing

If you love to fish, then a charter is great way to do it. Most boats offer full or half day charters. There are also inshore charters that take place in the calm and shallow waters of the Sound.   Not sure if your group would like a private charter? Then a head boat, a large boat with other families, might be the way to go. This way, if you don’t catch anything, there will be other people to talk to. 

Kayak Tours

If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll want to take advantage of the kayak eco tours. These follow-the-leader type tours take you through the serene canals of the Outer Banks wetlands where you can see a wide variety of birds, dolphins, foxes, otters and maybe even a wild pig. If you take your kayak tour in Corolla, horse sightings are very common. 

Dolphin Tours

Everyone loves dolphins and one of the best way to see them is with a Dolphin Tour (like Captain Johnny, one of our Fun N Sun Partners) Dolphin tours take you out into the Sound so you can see wild dolphins playing in their natural habitat. It’s a great way to make a memory that will last a lifetime.

Private Boats

Have you ever been to Manteo and seen those big fancy boats lining the docks? Did you know some of them are available to rent? Those boats are the perfect place to have a special party, (like an engagement or anniversary) or you can rent one just for the heck of it.

Eco Tours

Red Wolf Howlings

Ready to get wild?  North Carolina is home to the endangered Red Wolves. The Alligator River refuge hosts ‘howlings’ where you can hear and possibly even see a red wolf. Who knows, it might be your only chance to ever see one.

Alligator River

The Alligator River Refuge is home to more than just red wolves. Bears, dear, wild pigs, bobcats, coyotes, and yes, even alligators have been spotted out that way. The park offers a tram tour to see all the animals in their natural state. It’s important to note that these are wild animals, not captives, so what you’ll see varies from day to day or even hour to hour.

Horse Tours

Corolla is one of the few places on the East Coast that is still home to a herd of wild horses. Descended from the Spanish Mustangs shipwrecked off our coast in the 1500’s, the wild horses roam the beaches and backwoods loving life and looking beautiful for tourists. They are a must see for any horse loving child or adult. The best way to see them is with a horse tour, like the one from our Fun N Sun partner; Back Country Safari Tours

Segway Tours

Here’s a tour you don’t see every day. Ride Big wheeled Segways through either the historic shopping village of Corolla or into the outback where the wild horses live. At certain times of year, they even hold a haunted a Segway tour, showing you sites like the old graveyards, and missing town of Seagull.

Fishing Adventures

Over 70 years ago, Aycock Brown was responsible for making the Outer Banks famous by attracting tourists with fishing adventures. He promised marlin, and other large fish off the coast, along with other interesting fishing experiences. Fast forward to present time and you’ll see very little has changed People still flock to the Outer banks for fishing adventures. So if you’re looking for a fishing adventure, look no further than the Outer banks. Here are some of our favorites.

Pier Fishing

It’s been said you can catch just about anything off a pier; and that’s certainly true.  Among the things known to be caught are flounder, puppy drum, croaker, spot, bluefish, baby sharks, and even a baby marlin.  One of the best things about fishing from a pier is that you don’t have to buy a personal fishing license, the pier’s blanket license covers you.  Many piers which feature restaurants also feature a ‘clean and cook’ option.  After you catch the fish, give it to the restaurant, and they will clean, cook, and serve it to you right there in the restaurant.  What could be better than that?

Surf Fishing

If you would prefer fishing with fewer people around, then surf fishing might be the best place for you.  To surf fish you’ll need your own fishing license. Fortunately, they’re available at any tackle store.  Once you have it, you can go anywhere on the beach to fish. On the Outer banks, you can have as many poles as you want and use whatever bait you choose.  You can catch just as many fish from the shore as you can from a pier.  Many people have caught flounders, spot, stripers, croaker and bluefish.

Gulf Fishing

If you’re more into catching big fish, such as wahoo, dolphin and giant tuna, then gulf fishing is an adventure you should try.  These all day charters with experienced crews take you to the heart of the Gulfstream and provide all you need to enjoy sport fishing.  The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center is the place to book your off-shore fishing adventure.

Wreck Fishing

If all day on the water is a little too much for you, or you don’t feel like going out as far as the Gulfstream, then wreck fishing might be the thing for you.  Wreck fishing involves going out to one of our many Outer Banks shipwrecks and fishing around that area.  Shipwrecks actually draw all types of fish such as flounder, croaker, stripers, and puppy drum. Though the fish will not be as big as the ones you catch in the gulf they are usually larger than the ones caught from the surf.  After all, the deeper the water, the bigger the fish.

Inshore Fishing

If you’re new to boat fishing, or have young children or senior family members traveling with you, then you might want to consider an inshore charter fishing adventure.  This type of boat takes you out into the sound, where you can fish closer to shore. Because the waves are small, chances of seasickness is minimal.  Also, you never get too far away from shore which puts most people more at ease. These charters are much shorter than off-shore charters, so it’s a great way to introduce fishing to new anglers.

Crabbing

Though crabbing is not complicated, and some would say it’s not a true fishing adventure, it’s far too popular to be left off this list entirely.  In order to crab one needs a sound side dock, a piece of twine, a chicken neck, a minnow net, and a bucket full of water to put your grabs in.  Just tie the chicken necks onto the twine and lower it into the water.  When you feel a slight tug pull up gently and scoop up the emerging crab with your net and plop it into the bucket.  The Outer Banks offers many docks where one can actually go crabbing at no cost. Children love crabbing, it provides hours of fun, supplies are inexpensive and â??the catchâ?? is delicious.

Watching Them Bring In â??The Catchâ??

If angling just isnâ??t your thing you can still experience the thrill of seeing the fish brought in. Head down to Oregon Inlet around 3:00 pm and watch the returning boats bring in their catch – it’s really worth seeing.  For the most part, fish such as dolphin and tuna are featured. Marlins are caught and released, and the boats that caught those fly flags of victory.  Watching the catch being brought in is an experience not to be missed and fun for the entire family.

Fish Markets

If you love eating fish more than you love catching them, you can have your own food themed fish adventure by going to our local fish markets.  Our fish markets feature fish fresh caught by local fishermen from local boats. They also feature some delicacies available from other areas, such as salmon or snow crab legs.  Check out all of the local fish markets in the area â?? one is bound to be close to you.

Fishing is one of the great Outer Banks pastimes.  Whether you’re new to fishing, or a seasoned expert, we highly recommend the Outer Banks fishing experience to you.  It’s a great opportunity to introduce younger family members to the art of fishing, and bond with the entire family.  A few hours of fishing today will make memories that last a lifetime.

 

Outer Banks Flight Adventures

Over 100 years ago, the Outer Banks taught the world to fly.  So it seems fitting that there’s so many flying adventures you can have here.  Seeing the Outer Banks from the sky gives you a perspective like never before. Here are some of our favorite flying adventures.

Helicopter Tours

Helicopter tours are a great way to go up and explore if you’re planning to take small children.  They  take you all over the Outer Banks, so you can see things such as light houses, schools of dolphins, and more.  Because you’re in a helicopter, you can get to places quickly that you just can’t with a car.  For example some helicopter tours go all the way down to Hatteras or up to Corova.  There are tours to accommodate every type of attention span, and every type of budget.

Biplane Tour

If you’ve always wanted to relive the romance of the golden age of flight, here’s your chance.  A 1930’s biplane replica is waiting for you to climb aboard.  Since this is a biplane, a really just big enough to hold  you and the pilot.  But if you’ve always wanted to take an overhead peak at the Outer Banks, and get some great pictures, OBX biplanes are the best way to do it.

Parasailing

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of the wind catching your parachute, and being whisked off the boat and into the air.  This is the magic of Parasailing.  High above the sound, you can see all sorts of things.  Sometimes, parasailers even see dolphins leaping from the water.  One of the best things about Parasailing is that it can accommodate up to three people.  So you can to Parasailing with your children, spouse or your parents.

Jet Packs

All children wanted a jet pack when they were growing up.  It looks like so much fun in movies and on TV.  Fortunately, jet packs have come to the Outer Banks.  Our jet packs are specially designed for use over water, so you will get wet.  Hint: wear a swimsuit.  Imagine jet packing several feet above the water, flying in a way not possible with any other technology.  Most jet pack rides last between 15 to 30 minutes.  And training is included.

Hang-Gliding

Would you believe that at the Outer Banks is home to the largest Hang-Gliding school in the world?  It’s not that surprising when you consider that not only did the Wrights give humans the ability to fly planes, they also pretty much invented the glider too.  Their early experiments with all kinds of gliders are what give us the perfected hang glider.  Today, you can actually go tandem Hang-Gliding off of jockey’s ridge.  Because its tandem, you don’t have to worry about actually knowing how to fly, you can just enjoy the experience.

Wright Glider Experience

If you’ve ever wondered about what the Wright Brothers felt like when they took off for the first time, here’s your chance to relive it.  The Wright Glider Experience lets you take off in a Smithsonian quality replica of the original Wright glider.  This is the chance of a lifetime, and it will give you a perspective you’ve never had before.  This is only for the truly adventurous.  Are you brave enough?

Wright Memorial

Of course, what visit to the Outer Banks would be complete without a visit to Wright Memorial itself? It’s got a lot of history and the rangers are interesting.  For parents, it’s a great way to show your children that if you work hard enough that crazy dream really can come true and change the world.  Besides, you’ll get a great view of the Outer Banks from the top of the Wright Memorial hill.

So the next time you visit the Outer Banks, don’t think just fish and beach, think flight.  There are plenty of air based adventures for the entire family.  You’ll have the time of your life, and enough memories to last a lifetime.