Avalon Pier is one of the oldest and best-loved fishing piers, by locals and visitors alike. Open March through November, you can try your skill at bringing in flounder, trout, pompano, stripers, blues or whatever else is out there. The pierhouse offers a bait and tackle shop, as well as rod and reel rentals, a snack bar and a large arcade with pool and foosball tables for the whole family. From Labor Day through Memorial Day, they are open from 5am to 2am, while off-season they are open from 6am to about 10pm. Visitors can purchase daily, weekly or annual passes, and children under 12 are half price.
Driving south from Kitty Hawk on the beach road, you will come into Kill Devil Hills and find the Avalon Fishing Pier. Built in 1962, it was the last wooden fishing pier built on the Outer Banks and is now owned by Dare Resorts, Inc. Easy to see from the road, the long, green pier house has a wide boardwalk entrance with deck and benches. A collection of newspapers, magazine racks and ice machines line the short ramp into the pier house. When you step inside the maze-like game arcade you’ll be excited to see over 70 games, foosball and four pool tables. Past the arcade is the bait and tackle shop, snack bar and pier gate where the posted fishing report says, “You should have been here yesterday!” Here you purchase pier passes, rent or buy rods and reels, bait and tackle and whatever else you might need, as well as retrieve game prizes. The snack bar has a limited but inexpensive selection such as hot dogs, pizza, chips, crackers, candy, water, soft drinks and beer. Nearby, under the “Whale Watching” sign and a big picture window overlooking the ocean, stools are provided so you can sit and enjoy your snack. You might even catch a glimpse of dolphins or whales swimming by!
Howard, the pier manager of 20 years, and Betty, a fellow fisher “woman” and employee of 16 years, add to the unique ambiance of Avalon Pier and give expert fishing advice. You can count on hearing about the biggest catch of the week, pier life or maybe how the area lifeguards jump off the end of the pier during their spring training. Proud of their pier community, they say it is the friendliest on the beach. Thousands of people must agree as the gate handles are worn smooth as silk right down to the bare wood!
Outside the pier house at Avalon Pier, the American flag and a POW flag fly above the two fish cleaning stations and weighing station, inviting you to walk or fish the 696 ft. pier. Constant ocean motion has made the pier uneven from side to side and up and down and the wooden pier planks weave like a ribbon out to the end. Here you see a large trapezoidal space that is reserved for fishermen who cast for big fish, use big gear and have dreams of “landing a big one”! This is a no-nonsense, serious fishing area that doesn’t allow bystanders, coolers or beach chairs. Marked clearly for king rigs and jigging and with only a few backless benches, the deep water here is where you catch the larger fish.
Looking back to the pier house, it is evident that pier boards and railings have been replaced as the pier has shifted with the tides and storms of the years. This view is dotted with randomly placed, backless benches that are weathered and also stained from where people use them to cut bait. Anglers of all ages sit and stand as they fish and many people are just walking the pier enjoying this colorful and peaceful scene.
If it was fishing, a romantic stroll or just plain curiosity that brought you here, you will want a tangible memory of your day. So before you leave, find the old-fashioned picture board near the fish weighing station and have a photo taken. You’ll laugh at the photo of yourself being attacked by a painted shark with the caption: “The fish are biting at Avalon Pier, Kill Devil Hills, NC” and, this will remind you of the sounds of the arcade, the feel of the pier swaying over the ocean and the sweet smell of sun, salt air and fish!