Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cape Hatteras National Seashore - and why you should go. Forever.

It's summertime.

This is about when i start to freak out.
I obsess actually.
{about a beach}

 Its not Hawaii or Fiji. Its not Tahiti or The Seychelles. I'm sure they are all wonderful in all their paradise status and glory. 
But this beach is different. There is something primal and spiritual about it. It is a raw, untamed sanctuary. Fragile and perfect & all alone. 

Bridge that takes you from the main island of the Outer Banks over to the Cape.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a barrier reef off the coast of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. If you have never been, i highly suggest you do whatever you can to make it there because once you go.......... you go forever.
The first and most awesomely wonderful part of Hatteras, is being able to drive your 
on the beach. 
There is a sense of absolute freedom that comes with driving along the ocean, with the doors and roof off, blasting your favorite song and splashing the ocean waves with your tires. Its the edge of the world. Where land meets water and you can practically touch the edge of the planet.

 There are no hotels. 
There are no boardwalks. 
You have the ocean on one side, massive dunes protecting it, a 2 lane road and the Pamlico Sound on the other.

There isn't a lot to do, which is why it's so great. If you are the kind of beach goer that needs entertainment, dining, shopping and all those other extracurricular activities, then Nags Head and all the beaches north are the places for you. But if you are the outdoorsy, camp friendly, pepperoni on a stick kind of person, then Cape Hatteras is more your style. 
Don't get me wrong, there is plenty to do, but it is much more "country" down here. 
4x4 recreation, bonfires, fishing, surfing, beer drinking and other general beach activities are the speed at which Cape Hatteras folk operate.
Whether with family & friends for a camping weekend or a vacation in a true beach house, it is the perfect getaway that is actually "away" from everything. 
And it makes for some of life's best memories.

There are 7 towns on the island: Rodanthe ,Waves, Salvo , Avon, Buxton, Frisco & Hatteras                                                                        At the end of Hatteras is the Ferry that takes you to Ocracoke.
When you first cross the Oregon Inlet bridge, you will arrive on Pea Island.  Pea Island is 13-mile long wildlife refuge on the north end of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Great for fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing - it is a beautiful stop on your way down the coast.

The first 3 towns are situated together at the north end - {Rodanthe, Waves & Salvo}. Great towns, perfect for families. They have big campgrounds, a small adventure park, great surf shops, beach DuneBuggy rentals, the Rodanthe Pier and my favorite - Lisa's Pizza.

Once through these towns, you will find yourself on a very thin stretch of land for about 10 miles to the middle and most populated part of the island - {Avon}. Avon has the most houses for rent, the movie theater, big restaurants and the only major grocery store.

Down another long, remote stretch of island is the hot surf spot of Buxton. This is the actual CAPE, where the eastern most point of land hits the ocean. The Cape Hatteras lighthouse is situated here as well as campgrounds, a small grocery store, restaurants, surf shops etc.

 I camp in Buxton at a small campground off the main road called Island Hide-A-Way Campground. If you don't want to be around a lot of people, this is THE best campground on the whole island. 

The best, of course, is saved for last. Down the last big stretch of the entire island, you will find Frisco and Hatteras. This is where most of the fishing takes place, which for someone like me, can be rather dangerous, as i prefer to actually swim in the ocean. Do not swim when the beach is filled with fishermen. You will be considered bait to the enormous ocean beasts. Frisco is where i prefer to rent a house. The soundside part of the island is quite large in Frisco. And i prefer to rent Soundfront properties.

The Pamlico Sound is a breathtaking experience. Not only are the house rental prices cheaper on this side of the island, but honestly, its better over here. Almost every time i go to the beach, i spend the whole afternoon on the ocean and come back to the house for dinner, where at that point, the sun is setting and everyone is chilling on the deck.

Mornings with a cup of coffee and this view. Not to mention the outdoor shower. Pelicans will fly by, diving into the water. Fish will be jumping. Dogs can play on the private soundfront beach. 

There are 4 MAJOR real estate companies for the island
I have personally stayed with Hatteras Realty and Surf Or Sound. Both companies were wonderful and i highly recommend them. 

The place to go, though, is the actual town of Hatteras. Hatteras has the biggest houses and a marina. But that's not why you should go. You should go because of Ramp 55.
Ramp 55 is the last 4x4 ramp to the beach on the entire island. 

It is where everything changes. The water, the air, the vibe.  It is an absolutely perfect place on earth.

But if you really want to see paradise, then get your vehicle on the ferry to Ocracoke Island. Prior to Ramp 55, there is a Ferry, where you can drive your car onto the boat and hop over to the Island - home of Blackbeard the Pirate. The Ferry ride is FREE and breathtaking. 

Once on Ocracoke Island, you will drive about 10 miles or so to the downtown area of Ocracoke Village. Teeming with a plethora of restaurants, lodging, shopping and more, it is a perfect vacation spot. But the best part of Ocracoke is the BEACH - and not all beaches are created equal. The beach itself is 16 miles of undeveloped seashore. Some areas span a half mile wide, where you can literally stand in the middle - seeing the ocean on your left and the sound on your right. 
The beach is so large, that you can actually ride your mountain bike along the shore.

If shelling is more your style, Ocracoke has the most amazing seashells! They are EVERYWHERE! Including crabs! Take a stroll at night and you will find them scurrying about all over the place. I named him Meeper.

Whether you are a 4x4 enthusiast, adventuring wildlife lover, or just want to go somewhere away from the norm, Cape Hatteras is one of, if not the most beautiful sanctuaries on the east coast. Now do yourself a favor, pack up the car/jeep/truck/whatever and GO. 
You will thank me later. 


  1. Yes yes and more yes. We go back in September. This place feeds my soul, no kidding. We stayed in Rondanthe last year and drove out 10 minutes to the National seashore and found an uninhabited spot and claimed it as our beach. We also did the day trip into Ocracoke. This year we are going North because my parents rented a place up there. Boo. We are looking forward to returning to Hatteras next year. We are planning on vacationing there for the rest of our lives!

  2. Yes Laura! When I am down or stressed, ill put on songs that make me think of hatteras, close my eyes and imagine myself there - and all is good in the world. <3

  3. I do the same thing Rania! Seriously, when the kids are acting crazy, you'll see Jesse and I just sort of space out. We are picturing ourselves on our little private beach. I guess it's goofy but it helps us calm down! lol!

  4. Laura I couldn't take it anymore! I packed up my Jeep and went to Hatteras last night with Tanner! It's beautiful!

  5. Rania - This is so beautiful. It's so nice to hear how others are so affected by this peaceful place. When friends come to visit, they ask "Why would you buy a home in a place so far away (home is PA) and so difficult to get to?" Of course, you know that's EXACTY why it remains so special. I saw your post about music that reminds you of Hatteras. You should have a listen to Coastal Rise - www.coastalrise.com. This is our son's band and his music is definitely inspired by the little miracle island in the middle of the sea! Thank you again for the photo!

  6. Thank you Coastal Mama! I will definitely check out coastal rise! I can also send you that photo in high res so you can print it or edit or whatever! I just need an email to send it to. :)