Top 10 Planning Tips: Outer Banks Beach Vacation

Top 10 Planning Tips for your Outer Banks beach vacation

Planning for your vacation sets the stage for getting the most out of your vacation, even if your plan is to be as lazy as you can be.

When my family vacations we tend to plan in two stages. The first stage is all about thinking ahead to: what will we need for the trip and what will we need when we get there. The second stage is all about what are we going to do when we get there (activities). READ MORE

Christmas Celebrations in the Outer Banks

poulos outer banks christmas
If you’re looking for a special way to spend Christmas this year, the Outer Banks is a magical place to make Christmas memories. The weather is temperate, with average highs of 55 degrees and lows of 37 degrees, so there’s just enough chill in the air to let you know the holidays have arrived. Beach rentals are a great value, and there are no crowds or traffic to interrupt your tranquility.

The Outer Banks offer a variety of Christmas activities throughout the month of December. Events range from nostalgic to whimsical, and are fun for the whole family. One of the best parts of spending Christmas in the Outer Banks is the ability to become a temporary local. Join in the holiday fun at traditional seaside celebrations, and you’ll truly feel that you’re part of the community.

Ready to head for the islands at Christmas? Here are some annual favorite holiday events the locals love:

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Holiday Climb

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in the United States. Climbing the lighthouse when it’s open has become a rite of passage for Outer Banks guests. This year the lighthouse will be open for a self-guided winter climb from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, December 9. The lighthouse has 268 steps that span the 208 feet from foundation to light, but the panoramic views from the top of the lighthouse are unforgettable and well worth the effort. The climb is free, but climbers must be at least 42 inches tall, able to climb all steps on their own, and must be 16 or older or accompanied by an adult.

Make an Elizabethan Ornament

Stop over at the Roanoke Island Festival Park any Friday in December at 11 a.m. and learn to make a 16th century Elizabethan-style Christmas ornament. Roanoke Island settlers in period costume will help kids (and adults) of all ages make a lovely Christmas keepsake. This family-friendly activity is included in the price of park admission.


Manteo Christmas Tree Lighting

Take part in a long-standing family tradition as Manteo residents and visitors get together on the first Friday night in December for the Lighting of the Town Tree. This event takes place downtown on the Manteo Waterfront on Queen Elizabeth Street in front of the courthouse. The evening is festive and convivial, and the lighting is topped off with traditional Christmas carols and free hot chocolate for everyone.

Dare County Annual Holiday Small Works Show

From December 1 through January 10, the Dare County Arts Council hosts the Annual Holiday Small Works Show at the DCAC Gallery in downtown Manteo. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the art lover in your life, or for yourself, this event offers small original works of art created by local Outer Banks artists.

Winter Lights at Elizabeth Gardens READ MORE

What You Need to Know About Outer Banks Surf Fishing in the Fall

Outer Banks Fishing
The fall in the Outer Banks is the best time to go surf fishing. At the end of the summer, the weather is cooler, and there are fewer people. Of course, you don’t have to fish in the fall. Surf fishing is fun any time of the year. It can be a relatively inexpensive hobby compared to other activities such as windsurfing or kiteboarding. Here are the things you need to know about surf fishing in the fall in the Outer Banks.


You don’t need much in the way of equipment — a rod and reel. The tackle shops in the Outer Banks sell rod and reel combinations so you don’t have to figure out the rod and reel separately. These combinations are sold in different weights and lengths. An eight to nine foot rod is the best size to buy.

When you’re surf fishing, make sure you have a sand pipe so you can put the end of the rod in it. This sand pipe can be a piece of PVC pipe stuck in the sand. You won’t want to put the rod in the sand because a reel can get ruined.


Depending upon the season, the bait will vary. The local tackle shops can help you figure out which bait you need. Whatever bait you buy, make sure you keep it in a cooler so it stays fresh. The fish bite better when the bait smells good and is fresh.

You might also want to have artificial lures to attract the fish. Some fish like a lure better than bait. Just make sure the lure is shiny and pick one that is heavy enough to cast out into the ocean and also make sure you have extras in case the fishing line breaks.

North Carolina Fishing License

A fishing license is required to surf fish. You can get that license through any of the tackle shops in the Outer Banks or through the N.C. Marine Fisheries and Wildlife website.

Beach Driving Permit

During the off-season, you can drive your four-wheel drive vehicle on the beach in a few places, such as Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, and Hatteras Island. You may need a permit to drive on the beach in some of these areas.

Best Place to Fish

The best place to surf fish in the Outer Banks is Cape Point. This point is where the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current come together. The Diamond Shoals are located off of Cape Hatteras and are sandbars that shift with the currents. You can find plenty of fish between the two currents and the Diamond Shoals.

Cape Point can be crowded with fishermen from all over. The most popular times are the months of September and October. You can catch such fish as sea mullets, trouts, mackerels, bluefish, and croakers.

Surf fishing is done at any time of the year in the Outer Banks. However, the best time is in the fall when the hot temperatures are gone and some of the fish are migrating during the off-season, providing plenty of fish to catch.

Top 5 Best Vacation Tips Ever!

Top 5 Best Vacation Tips Ever
If you Google vacation tips you will find more lists than you will ever want to read. Some are very informative, some a very vague, and some just don’t seem to apply to your needs and family. You need the best vacation tips.

What I have put together is a list of what I believe to be the 5 most important tips you’ll ever need.  With all the other tips out there, which can still be useful, I believe these are the core of a great vacation; the best vacation tips ever!

1. Turn Off The Devices!

Vacation is a great time for families to bond, but you can’t if everyone is glued to their smart phone, TV, tablets, and video games.  Everyone is looking to escape on their vacation and sometimes these devices help, but make sure you set aside time every day to unplug.

Vacations are not made wonderful just by places you went.  They’re made wonderful by the time spent with others.  The laughs that were shared, the sand castles that were built together, the experiences that were shared (like someone catching their first fish), and the conversations that shared life.

One night you could have a board game night and pull out the old favorites.  If your group is large have multiple games going at the same time. You could go to the beach, leaving your devices at the vacation rental. Try to spend at least 2 hours spending time together without the interruption of devices and you may walk away with a vacation with a family that feels more connected to each other.

2. Take Lots Of Photos.

While it may be fun to take photos to show off to your Facebook friend and Instagram followers don’t forget the take photos just for you.  Vacations are an incredible time for making memories and one day you’ll enjoy looking back over these photos.  They are the ultimate souvenir.

I’m not saying always have camera or phone out, ready to grab a shot. You want to create memories, but you don’t want to be a constant observer of your family’s memories without ever being a participant. Know when to be behind the camera and to put the camera down. While photos may be the ultimate souvenir, time spend together is more important.

  • Take photos when you know you won’t be involved in what is happening, such as when the children are playing without the adults,
  • Don’t pose too many of your pictures (although there’s nothing wrong with recreating a moment you barely missed).
  • We you do pose be sure to get everyone tightly together.  It looks more loving and it can be fun getting everyone to get closer to “look like you love each other.”
  • Avoid using a flash.  Just because it is dark doesn’t mean you can’t get great pictures that capture the moment.  In low light situations a flash often breaks the mood and ends a moment.

Hire a pro for your family photos.  While the cost may be $300-$700 it is well worth it to have professional photos of the family.

Don’t forget to share your vacation photos with us.

3. Compare Pricing. READ MORE

Top 10 Outer Banks Activities for the Adventurous Vacationer

tandem hang gliding
If adventure is something you crave then the Outer Banks has a lot to offer you. With the Outer Banks being the site for the first flight it is no surprise that we have become a destination for those who love an adrenaline rush. There’s nothing like combining the beauty of the Outer Banks with a heart racing activity to create the perfect Outer Banks adventure.

#1 Mile High Hang Gliding

Kitty Hawk Kites has been providing hang gliding on the Outer Banks since 1974.  They provide lessons for adults and children off the dunes of Jockey’s Ridge, but they also provide Tandem Hang Gliding on this Currituck mainland that tows you up to 1 mile in the sky (5,280 feet) giving you a bird’s eye view of the coastline above the Currituck Sound as you drift back down to the ground over a roughly 20 minute descent. This is certainly not for those with a fear of heights but it is the perfect unique experience for the adventurer at heart.  The best part is this is also a “no experience needed” activities since you are strapped in with an expert to guides the glider for you.

#2 First Flight Adventure Park

First Flight Adventure Park is an aerial obstacle course that goes up to 50 feet high.  The course is shaped to resemble outer bands of a hurricane, branching out from the central tower which resembles the eye of the Hurricane.

There are 6 courses total and each course consist of 7 obstacles, and it looks like more challenges are coming this year. The obstacles are designed around a maritime theme using ropes, cables, wood, barrels, stir-ups, a hammock and more. The higher up the central spiral staircase you go, the more difficult the obstacles become. At the end of each course there is a short zip back to the central tower. Have no fear, climbers will be in a harness and attached to a safety device while completing each obstacle, at all times. Climbers take the action into their own hands by choosing to go on easy, intermediate, or advanced courses.

Read about Bill Koebernick’s experience when the park first opened.

#3 Kiteboarding

The most exciting and thrilling new water sport, kiteboarding, is guaranteed to get your heart pounding, yet it is easy enough for almost anyone to learn! Kiteboarding, or kite-surfing, a synergy of wind and water forces, takes harnessing the wind to the extreme! Learn to kiteboard at Kitty Hawk Kites under the guidance of an expert and certified instructors that have been leading the sport since its conception! It is the hottest new kite sport to sweep the world, and it thrives on pure adrenaline!

#4 Jetpak

This is an aquatic jet pack provided by Kitty Hawk Kites. The rumor is most people can’t handle more than a 30 minute ride at a time due to feeling like you just went on a 30 minute sprint.  While that may seem a little intimating, it is also a unique experience that’s hard for the adventurer-at-heart to pass up.

#5 Airplane Tour

To truly appreciate the Outer Banks it takes a unique perspective to this unique place. The Outer Banks is made up of some of the most diverse landscape found anywhere. From the air you can see this incredible area featuring shipwrecks, sand dunes, endless beaches, maritime forests, lighthouses and much, much more.

We highly recommend booking your tour through Above the Coast.

#6 Parasailing

Soar above the water for breath taking views. Parasailing, also known as parakiting, has been around since the mid 80’s.  On the Outer Banks you are attached to a parachute that is being towed by a boat anywhere from 600 ft. to 1,200 ft., for approximately 10 minutes.

If you’re staying in the more northern part of the Outer Banks (Corolla, Duck, Southern Shores, etc.) you can use Nor’Banks Sailing or Kitty Hawk Kites. If you’re closer to Nags Head/Manteo then

Kitty Hawk Kites READ MORE

Plan Some Memorable Girls’ Time in the Outer Banks

A Girl Time Escape to the Outer Banks

Whether it’s you and your daughters, multiple generations, or multiple families sharing a vacation property for the week, the Outer Banks is the perfect spot for the girls to relax and create memories together. Here are a few ideas to help you plan your special “girls-only” time.=&0=&=&1=&

Top 10 Must-Do Activities for Outer Banks First Time Visitors

First Time in the Outer Banks? Here Are the Top 10 Things You Must Do

If you are planning your first trip to the Outer Banks, you undoubtedly plan to spend some time on the beach soaking up the sun and enjoying the waves. But the Outer Banks has many other attractions and points of interest you will not want to miss, including fascinating historical sites, diverse wildlife, and delicious local cuisine. As you plan your trip, be sure to make room on your itinerary for these top 10 most popular attractions that hard-core OBXers recommend.=&0=&=&1=&

What They’re Not Telling You About The Shark Incidents on The Outer Banks

Because of my job I am focused on watching what is happening on the Outer Banks. Part of my monitoring of what’s going on is I have a Google alert set up to let me know if anything shows up on the internet with “Outer Banks” in it. Over the past month alerts with articles about the shark incidents have been pouring in. On some days I have received over 40 notices of news reports. That’s astounding.For those of us who live here and know that our tourism industry is dependent on our beaches, how do we respond?Let me first be clear that 8incidents from sharks did indeed happen on the coast of North Carolina and I do not want to make light of anyone’s tragedy.With that said, most of the media is sensationalizing these incidents. Facts presented on reports are not entirely true thanks to exaggerations and omissions. Most of the mistakes are minor, such as some reporters seem to think the entire North Carolina coast is the Outer Banks, which if you didn’t know, this it is not true. Some of the worst mistakes are the exaggerations that include reporters reporting that “the beaches may close” when three of these incidents in fact took place more than 250 miles away in Ocean Isle Beach and Oak Island, North Carolina (286 miles from Kitty Hawk). Do you know what other beach lies, roughly, 286 miles from Kitty Hawk? Atlantic City, New Jersey. Are they reporting this because they fear for public safety? I would like to think so, but I doubt it. In fact, I believe there is another motive.It comes down to answering one question, “How is a news story viewed as successful?” The answer: how viral is the story? Reporters are measured by how their story spreads. If it doesn’t spread then it is not a success. Their success is dependent on your reaction. They have learned over time that nothing spreads more than fear. Why do you think the media reports on more bad news than good news? Bad news has a far greater probability to go viral than good news. And of course they are going to word their article in a way that amplifies your reaction, therefore increasing how viral the story will be.Am I accusing the media of stretching the truth and exaggerating in order to enhance a story? Absolutely. And in the home I grew up we called that a lie. (Thanks mom and dad.)Fear and panic equals ratings. It’s that simple.Do you know you’re more likely to die by a falling coconut than sharks? You may be thinking, “but I don’t live near coconuts.” Okay. Here some other things you’re more likely to die from (just in the United States): playing high school football, a champagne cork, cows, ants, dog, tornadoes, bees, horses, falling off a ladder, icicle, struck by lightning, etc. The list is rather huge because shark incidents are that small of a number compared to other things.If they were reporting based on facts the shark incidents wouldn’t be in the news, because compared to other events it’s not in the top 100 of tragedies happening right now. In fact, shark encounters are one of the rarest form of injury to humans and even rarer for deaths.Let’s look at it this way. Did you know that, on average, 92 people die from car accident in the U.S. every day? That means that depending on where you live you will have anywhere from 1 death per week (Alaska) to 60 deaths per week (Texas). But why isn’t this the major news instead of a shark incident? Because we don’t care. We’ve been conditioned to believe car accidents happening on the regular basis is normal. We have also been conditioned to believe that when we are the ones driving we are in control and therefore less susceptible to these statistics; we honestly believe we can bend the odds in our favor. On the other hand, Shark attacks scare us because it isn’t something that happens often and we know we have zero control (other than not getting in the water at all).So what are the real facts? What should the media be telling people? Some media has actually done a good job of reporting the truth, but because their message isn’t fear and panic their stories are not going viral. Just like this one probably will not go viral.

  • The coast of North Carolina is 301 miles long. The Outer Banks is roughly 100 miles of that and is the most northern portion of North Carolina’s coast. Roughly 40 of those miles, in Ocracoke Island and Hatteras Island, is where 3 of these incidents occurred. The most northern part of the Outer Banks has not had any of these shark encounters. The northern 60 miles of coast also happens to be where the vast majority of Outer Banks visitors will come visit. This isn’t to point out that one portion of the Outer Banks might be safer than another, but it should be noted that not all of the Outer Banks is being impacted. 
  • These attacks are extremely rare. The North Carolina coast usually sees 1-2 shark incidents per year, which is considered normal. The Outer Banks’ last shark attack was in 2011. 
  • Did you notice the difference between the deaths per week for car accidents in Alaska vs Texas? Did you also notice the state with the smallest amount of deaths was also the state with the smallest population and the state with the greatest amount had the largest population? The Outer Banks hosts as many as 5 million guests annually. That is on top of those who already live here year around. Where there are more people the statistics increase. 
  • I believe most importantly, the news should be focusing on beach safety, telling people to make sure they’re swimming near a life guard. This isn’t because of shark incidents. You’re more likely to die of a rip current than a shark incident. All beach safety should be observed and it always helpful to draw attention to this. Consult the beach safety guide provided by the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
  • Lastly, our waters are available to be enjoyed, but if you can’t get past the fear Lee Nettles, the Executive Director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, said it best, “Although our area is perhaps best known for its award-winning beaches, as you know, we have an incredibly wide range of attractions, activities and sites. . .Three National Park Service sites, four lighthouses in close proximity, the Outer Banks Scenic Byway, the 78th season of The Lost Colony outdoor drama, museums, parks and galleries, and more than 100 locally-owned restaurants and shops, to name just a few…and, of course, a beach chair at the water’s edge is still a pretty great way to spend the day.”

    Fun Activities That Made The Outer Banks Famous

    Must-Do Activities The Outer Banks Is Famous For

    An Outer Banks vacation offers plenty of opportunities to take it easy as you explore the beach and settle into your relaxing rental home. As you soak in the gorgeous ocean vistas, you will also want to take advantage of the many activities the Outer Banks is famous for so you can create new memories with your family. Whether you crave historical exploration, a day of shopping, or some challenging outdoor adventures, the Outer Banks has something for everyone.=&0=&=&1=&

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