What is the Sound? FAQs about that “other” body of water

The Outer Banks is surrounded by water. Many people are familiar with the Atlantic Ocean to the east, but what about the Sound to the west?  Below are some frequently asked questions we get from Outer Banks visitors about the Sound. 

What Is A Sound?

The easiest way to explain it, is that a sound is like a bay. It’s a protected body of shallow water sandwiched between land. In our case, the Sound is between the mainland and the west side of the Outer Banks. Since it is fed by both inland tributaries and the ocean, it’s made up of brackish waters which is a mixture of fresh and saltwater. These waters serve as nurseries for smaller fish who later make their way to the ocean once they are large enough.

Can You Fish In A Sound?

Many people ask if sounds are good for fishing. They are, but not in the same way that the ocean is good for fishing. To fish in the sound, you need a license, just like the ocean. You also have to be more conscious of fish size limits. Since the water is used as a nursery, your odds of catching a fish too small to keep increase in the sound.

Inshore charters are boats that that fish only in the sound. Not only are these less expensive than ocean charters, inshore charters also are not subject to large waves or very rough water. This kind of charter is perfect for anyone who wants to fish without spending their entire day on a boat. Minnow fishing, cast net fishing, and crabbing are other ways to enjoy fishing in the sound.

Does A Sound Have A Beach?

Only a few places have a sandy sound beach. In most cases, the sound is bordered by marsh grass. The best way to access the sound is through a dock or sandy beach that takes you away from the marsh grass. Just like tall grass on land, animals make their homes in that grass. By accessing the sound through a designated access, you won’t bother them and they won’t bother you.

Can You Swim In A Sound?

Sounds are great places to swim, especially if you have little ones or pets. There are no rip tides, undertows or unpredictable currents in a sound. In fact it’s like a big lake. Young children and pets love splashing around in all that water. It’s also a great place to play with inflatable beach toys like rafts or balls.

What Does A Sound Bottom Feel Like?

Sounds have their own unique bottom feel.  The bottom is not sandy, pebbly or shelly like a beach. Instead, it’s squishy and mucky. Fortunately, most of the time, it’s also clear enough to see the bottom when you’re in shallow water. Kids love the feel of the sand squishing between their toes.

Are Sounds Safe?

Even more so than the ocean, except for the fact that sounds don’t have lifeguards. A sound is protected body of water which is home to smaller animals. It has gentile currents, no large waves and no rip tides or undertows.  With that said, it does lead out into open water eventually. It’s important to remember that many animals make their home in the marsh grass. Being aware of your surroundings and avoiding marsh grass is always a good idea.

Can Pets Play In The Sound?

As long as you’re in an area that allows your pet off leash, they can. Sounds are just as safe for pets as they are for people. Dogs love splashing in the water, going out deep (for them) then coming back with no current to impede them. Just like at the beach, keep an eye on your dog to ensure they don’t go in the marsh grass, play with animals that bite or pinch, drink the water or go out too far.

What Else Can You Do In A Sound?

The sound is considered a big playground by watersport enthusiasts. Not only can you enjoy inshore fishing or swimming, you can also go waterskiing, kayaking, jet skiing, parasailing, jet packing, boat rentals, stand up paddle baording, and a myriad of other fun things.

Sounds are great places to have fun, but are easily overlooked by people with their heart set on the beach. However, if you have little ones, pets or it’s just a red flag day, consider visiting a sound. You’ll be glad you did. And if you’re lucky enough to be at the sound around sunset, bring the camera. Sound sunsets are spectacular!

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