We have had our share of the outer banks as kids, and here and there as adults, but neither of us had actually, intentionally, driven and visited the entire outer banks. Now that we live on the NC Coast, we are so close to the ferry to Ocracoke, that our goal has now become more tangible.
A few weeks ago, we set aside a few days to navigate this adventure- the first half of the NC Outer Banks. It had been a while since we camped, so we decided we would pack the tent and our camping goods, and be a little more rugged and adventurous with this adventure! Also, since this adventure is in the summer, we left Betty White at home since she wouldn’t fair well with the heat. 🙁 She was able to have some time with her Gamma though, so she was content with the idea.
The Cedar Island Ferry is just a short drive for us, but note, if you are planning to take the Cedar Island Ferry to Ocracoke, be sure to reserve your spot. We did so, but we had no idea how needed this was until we arrived to leave and some folks did not get on the ferry due to not having a reservation. Apparently, this is popular ferry to ride.
Once were were on the ferry, we felt at ease. We look at the 2.5 hour ferry ride as a joy in itself. We packed some food and so we had dinner on the hood of the car, watching the sunset over the ocean. Not a bad evening!
We arrived at Ocracoke Island around 9pm and got to our campground. Fortunately, Gerry comes super prepared and had a couple of uber-strength flashlights to lighten our area so that we could set-up our tent. Since it had been a few years, we were worried we wouldn’t get the tent up in a timely manner, but surprising to us, we pitched that tent in about 20 minutes with no prob!
Our first night of sleep, despite it being mid-summer, was a nice one. We slept well, even with a few rain showers, and woke to take on Ocracoke. Ocracoke, if you haven’t experienced it, is an adorable island town, quaint, but a lot of fun! You are literally in the middle of the ocean, with so much history that it is palpable. Of course, Ocracoke is where Blackbeard was killed (you know, where his head was cut off but his body swam around Captain Maynard’s boat three times), and is the beginning of the Atlantic graveyard where many ships sailed their last voyage. This little village on the Island of Ocracoke, makes us feel like we are in a tiny little Florida Key, which is always a nice feeling!
We walked all over the Island, then drove to the deserted beaches towards the other end of the Island, where the Hatteras Island ferry awaits. One afternoon, we parked and walked over the huge sand dune to the beach,
watching the ocean waves roll in. There wasn’t one single person in sight. So, what did we do? We took off our clothes and went skinny dipping! That’s right! It is the best feeling in the world, and probably the most exhilarating, especially during the day! Sorry, no photos shared here regarding that experience. 🙂
The Ocracoke lighthouse was…adorable. Adorable is the best word to describe it. Shorter than most lighthouses we’ve seen, it is all white, unique, yet watches over the little island with no problem. It seems fitting for such a little island.
Next up on our adventure: Hatteras
When we came up on Cape Hatteras from the ferry, we were surprised that we didn’t see the lighthouse. We had no idea that the Hatteras lighthouse wasn’t actually in Hatteras. Sort of confusing, but oh well. Hatteras was welcoming enough. You immediately feel a sense that you are not in NC anymore, though
technically, you are. We kept commenting on how far in the middle of the ocean we were, and how “skinny” the island is. I wouldn’t want to be on the Island during a storm, that’s for sure! We stopped for ice to fill our cooler, and began our drive to find the lighthouse.
Frisco & Buxton
Frisco is the little town that you go through (don’t blink) when leaving Hatteras to get to Buxton. Buxton is another little beach town that is home to the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. Buxton is a charming and quiet little area, and has a lot of campgrounds-mostly on the beach. We followed signs to find our main attraction. We found it! This lighthouse was large, and looked statuesque. It is not seen from the ferry arriving, so I would imagine that from the opposite side, where large ships come in, it is.
Leaving Buxton, we decided to continue on to Avon. In Avon, we stopped for lunch at Open Water Grill. We were one of two couples there. What attracted us was that it was on the water, and we thought it would be nice to have a beer and some grub. No surprise, there were hardly any vegetarian options, so we got a couple of apps, enjoyed our beer and the view, and away we went. That was all for the little town of Avon.
Salvo & Waves
These little towns were drive-through towns for us. We honestly were so excited to get to Rodanthe, mainly because of the house from “Nights in Rodanthe” and that would be our halfway point, so not a lot to comment on here, except for the fact that you better eat, potty, and do whatever you need to do before driving through Salvo and Waves, because there isn’t a whole lot in these areas.
Ahh! Rodanthe! When we arrived in Rodanthe, the sky started turning dark. A storm appeared to be brewing, so I knew we had to get to the house from the movie before we couldn’t. We parked at the Rodanthe beach access, and walked the beach for almost half a mile. The houses are super close to the water, so often, we were walking under houses just to get up the beach. There were also a ton of jellyfish, so that made it pretty interesting.
Once we reached the house, I pictured Diane Lane out front, and was stoked to see the house in person! Ger snapped a photo of me, with the house, and back up the beach, we traipsed through the surf, under beach houses, arriving to the car, just in time to beat the rain.
We spent more time in Rodanthe, than anywhere on Hatteras Island. It is, of course, like any beach town, but there seems to be tons of houses, places to stay, restaurants, and more! I think Rodanthe will definitely be on our “to visit again” list in the future.
Back to Ocracoke…
Once we got back to Ocracoke, we spent a few more days soaking up the little island. We ate or had drinks at almost every restaurant and bar, stayed out of shops because what would a minimalist buy to put in their tiny house from a tourist shop? Nothing. We also cooked at camp, which was fun, and reminded us of how far we’ve come, appreciating the things that nature has to offer, rather than the next thing to buy or do in a new place.
Other than the swimming naked in the ocean experience, the next attribute of camping on Ocracoke were the showers at the campground that had no ceiling. Gerry and I took our shower each night under the stars, and that…. is…. amazing!
We have the second half on the calendar for Fall, when we will be able to take Betty White, and create more Outer Bank adventures! Another Arner Adventure!