Over the past week, I had the immense pleasure of enjoying a stay at Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. At $2000 ($500 per couple), my family was able to afford a luxurious four-bedroom house that was 100-feet away from beach access. Outfitted with a jacuzzi, the home was accented by two wrap-around decks, upon which inhabitants could enjoy spectacular ocean views that could be witnessed while swinging on a cozy rocking hammock (meticulously handcrafted by the local Nags Head Hammock industry). In year two of an annual tradition, I basked in the many wonderful facets of the Outer Banks, including my son's first ever vacation.
5. Kayaking Tours
Using Kitty Hawk Kites as our facilitator, my brother, wife, father in-law and I took a kayak tour of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, one of seven tours the company offers along the Outer Banks region. Kayaking proved to be a prime mode of transportation in exploring one of the most interesting portions of the Outer Banks. The tour itself was laced with historical tidbits provided by our guide Nate, a one-time zoologist from the state of Ohio. Riveting Roanoke fact #56: legend has it that Virginia Dare, the first English colonist born in America, was part of a love triangle between natives Manteo and Wanchese, whose names were used in designating two towns in the Outer Banks region. In having chosen Manteo as her lover, she was murdered brutally by Wanchese, who fatally maimed her using fifteen arrows. Devastated, Manteo prayed to have her spirit return to him in some form; he was answered by the visage of a white deer, who supposedly roams the isle of Roanoke every now and again. This informative nugget, amongst many others, was crucial in our delight of a highly memorable kayak trek in Abermarle Sound.
4. Restaurants Galore
Barefoot Bernie's. Awful Arthur's. Pigman's Barbeque. These are but a few establishments our family enjoyed over the past two years of vacationing in North Carolina. Should you not particularly enjoy seafood, cuisine a place like Awful Arthur's offers in abundance, you can readily enjoy a North Carolina treat: pulled pork sandwiches doused in a delicious barbecue sauce indigenous to the Tarheel region. And, to be quite honest, the food on the island is very reasonable, all the more reason our family gravitates to the Outer Banks every year.
3. The Town of Manteo
This port town of North Carolina is at the epicenter of Nicholas Sparks's literature, one of the greatest romance novelists of his time (see Message in a Bottle and The Notebook). The town even inspired the fictitious Mayberry, the back drop of the Andy Griffith show (Manteo, to this day, is home to the 50's sitcom legend). Furthermore, Manteo is offshore to the aforementioned Lost Colony and rather reminiscent of Long Island's Port Jefferson, where New Yorkers can take a ferry to Bridgeport, Connecticut and Boston, Massachusetts.
2. Experiencing what makes North Carolina 'The First in Flight'
Despite its maritime and tourist offerings, the Outer Banks are hallowed grounds for other reasons. Any major advancement made in the field of aeronautics can be traced back to December 14, 1903, the date upon which Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first controlled powered flight by man. As citizens of Dayton, Ohio, the Wright Brothers were rejected by the Arizona, which disallowed them from experimenting within state limits. The Wrights, who avidly flew kites and toiled with various bicycle parts, instead chose the Outer Banks of North Carolina for its solitude and high winds. After all, the area was home to two kinds of people: (1) those who caused shipwrecks in hopes of pillaging goods from ships and (2) those who attempted to save these marooned individuals from their unfortunate fates; therefore, isolation was readily available on these shores. Although the Wrights were said to have flown in Kitty Hawk (the brothers were able to glide on various contraptions from 1901 to 1902 there), the powered flight actually occurred in Kill Devil Hills, a region named for barrels of rum that washed up on shore and tasted so foul that it could 'kill the devil.' Various automobile companies rejected the Wright's request to have an engine built to their specifications, so they built one themselves. They even went so far as to put together their own (and the first) wind tunnel to test the type of foil they would use on their first flight. The Wright Brothers Memorial (a tall stone structure in the shape of a tail fin), erected in 1932, commemorates the first flight along with the centennial memorial, a series of bronze statues constructed in 2003 to recreate the first flight. The Wright's mark on history is a testament to the rich timeline that the Outer Banks offers.
1. The Beach!
Upon entering the waters of the Outer Banks, you will find finely packed sand under your feet, a far cry from the rocks one would endure in the Long Island Sound or the seaweed infested waters of the Jersey Shore. Furthermore, you can actually see your feet through pristine sea green waters, something you could only experience in the Caribbean or the sands of Mexico. The beaches of the Outer Banks, which stretch for some 40+ miles, are never packed--many beaches even offer private access. In addition to the peaceful locale, one can, much like on any beach, roll out a blanket, erect an umbrella, repose on a chair, and sit back to enjoy some fine reading, the ocean breeze, and wonderful views (ladies and gents, you know what I'm getting at here). A trip to the beach should be a mandatory summer excursion and the Outer Banks is the perfect choice.
Have another beach in mind? Post in a comment!