I have been fortunate enough to visit the Outer Banks many times – living in the Tidewater area makes it a quick and easy destination. Like many who go here, we have a fierce loyalty to certain islands and establishments. I personally prefer Hatteras island over Bodie (where Nags Head and Kitty Hawk are) because it is less developed and more remote. This year we stayed in the Buxton area – so the places I mention are close to Hatteras, Frisco, and Avon.
Pea Island – Rodanthe, NC 27968
The moment you cross the bridge over Oregon Inlet and see the white dunes, green grass and teal water you know you are onto something special. Every time I see the view, I feel uplifted, and hope that these sights remain for the years to come. Although it is protected land, hurricanes can easily shift the landscape. Pea Island was once actually a separate island from Hatteras but a hurricane in the 30’s joined them together.
This year we made a point to take a hike around the Wildlife refuge visitor center and saw yellow-bellied turtles, egrits, and pelicans on our brief walk. After 1/2 mile, there is a wooden platform that gives you a truly beautiful view of the ocean, dunes, and Albemarle sound.
This is the view back towards the Visitor’s center and ocean
The refuge is a common place for migratory waterfowl
A view of the sound beyond the dunes and wetlands.
Hatteras Lighthouse – 46368 Old Lighthouse Rd, Buxton, NC 27920
There seems to be some debate about how many steps are in the lighthouse. We counted 247 steps with 7 landings. The climb itself is not for people who are out of shape, and it gets quite hot and stuffy in the summer months so bring a bottle of water. The view, once you reach the top, is incredible and breathtaking. The lighthouse was actually moved from its original location in 1999 because of the water creeping closer and closer to the structure.
View of the stairs from the bottom
A view of the edge of Hatteras Island looking towards Okracoke. Gorgeous.
Uncle Eddy’s Custard and Mini golf – 46860 Highway 12, Buxton, NC
I have to admit we haven’t tried every ice cream place out there, and I do have to send some love to Fatty’s ice cream right down the street (their service is great); Uncle Eddy’s ice cream is thick, creamy and delicious – you have standard flavors with sprinkles for the kids, but also some inventive flavors, as well. I really enjoyed the caramel latte crunch. We also checked out their smoothies and found them to be really, really good.
Gingerbread House Bakery – 52715 N Carolina 12, Frisco, NC 27953
There are a few other bakeries and donut shops on the island, but hands down this is our favorite. We visited it multiple times this trip and will come back whenever we can. They have gigantic homeade breakfast pastries – donuts, bear claws and buns, but my favorite is the apple fritter. It is simply divine. They do serve breakfast, but I have to admit I have never tried it because we can’t get past the fritters and donuts – one doesn’t come to the Gingerbread house for nutrition:) They also have fresh squeezed orange juice and an espresso machine.
Along the length of the entire island are exquisite beaches. I am not an expert, but it seems to me that the beaches up on the north end seem more tranquil, and the ones towards the south, especially around Buxton have excellent surfing waves. The sound side of the island is perfect for fishing and paddleboarding – when the kids were small the sound seemed a safer bet, since you didn’t have to worry about riptides or undertow.
The water was a perfect shade of teal that day.
Kids have to haul their own boards in our crew.
I have earlier posts about the following, but I would be remiss to leave them out:
If you have time, take the ferry down to the next island, Ocracoke. It is a perfect day trip, and a very unique place.
Buxton Munch –
They only serve lunch, but it is worth it. Order the fish tacos!
Buxton Village Books –
This is the perfect visit for your inevitable rainy day. A great independent bookseller in Buxton.