Some More Tips, Ideas, Suggestions and Requests
First of all, we are glad you are here or will be here on the Outer Banks soon. And I mean that. Now, on to the good stuff...
The Beach. Love it, fun, kids, sun, waves, water, fun. Please keep an eye on your little ones. Do not let them get too far into the ocean unless you are with them. Swim near the lifeguarded areas.
Please do not dig deep holes in the sand, please. This can be very dangerous...sand shifts...collapses on top of the diggers. Not good. Also not good when holes are left and someone walking on the beach at night falls into one. That is how broken ankes and twisted knees happen. If you have to dig, make it shallow and then fill the holes back in before you leave the beach.
Please pick up all trash and throw away. Try to leave the beach cleaner than you found it if possible. Clean up after your pets. Enough said about that! One more thing, remove those cigarette butts too.
If you are renting or using a tent or canopy, beach chairs, etc...check on the town ordinances regarding use and set-up/take down. Some companies will do this for you...so ask. If you have your own tent or canopy, make sure that you can leave it up overnight. Rules are changing regarding this...too many tents were left up all week and it was causing problems.
Off the Road. On the Beach. If you are headed down south to Hatteras Island...good for you! For some Tips, Hints and Rules for Driving on the Beach; please Click HERE. Rememebr to obey speed limits on the beach, usualy 25mph or 15mph or slower, especially when you are in an area where wild creatures live like the wild horses. About those wild horses in Corolla, stay at least 50 feet away. For your safety and for the safety of the horse.
Please obey all the posted signs and do not drive on the dunes. You should have a spare tire, jack and jack board, shovel, tow straps. And you need a current driver's license.
Where can you drive on the beach? Here is some informattion from OuterBanks.com.
- Corolla - 4x4 vehicles can access the beach at the Northern end of NC 12 where the paved road ends. 4x4 access North of this point is permitted year round. 4x4 access South of this point is permitted between October 1 and April 30. Driving at night is allowed. Overnight parking is allowed if the occupant is actively fishing. ATV's allowed for residents with permit.
- Duck - No public 4x4 access. Private access allows vehicles vehicles on the beach between October 1 - April 30.
- Southern Shores - Driving on the beach is prohibited.
- Kitty Hawk - Driving on the beach is prohibited.
- Kill Devil Hills - Driving on the beach is permitted October 1 - April 30 through designated access points. Vehicles must have current safety inspection, registration, insurance and license plate.
- Nags Head - Driving on the beach is permitted October 1 - April 30. A permit is required, and may be purchased at the Nags Head town hall, Jennette's Pier and many local tackle shops during business hours.
- Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras, and Ocracoke - The beaches ofHatteras Island and Ocracoke Island are managed by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Permits are required, and can be purchased online and sent via mail, or in person at one of the following locations: Coquina Beach office, Cape Hatteras Light Station, and the Ocracoke Visitor Center. Each vehicle must have its own permit. Vehicles must be registered, licensed, insured, and have a current safety inspection if required in home state/country. Vehicles must have low-pressure tire gauge, shovel, jack and jack support board. A spare tire, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, trash bags, flashlight and tow straps are recommended. ATV's are not permitted. Night driving is generally allowed from November 16 through April 30. See current access ramps and beach closings by visiting this page and clicking on the "daily beach access map". Obey all posted signs.
Carova - One of the most notable locations to drive on the beach on the Outer Banks is the small village of Carova, and the neighboring beach communities of Seagull, Penny's Hill, Swan Beach, and North Swan Beach. (Although visitors will find that generally the majority of locals simply refer to the entire area as "Carova.")
To access the 4WD beaches of the Carova coastline, visitors simply take the sand ramp located at the very northern end of Corolla. From there, they can enjoy miles of beach driving, scenic ocean views, and if they're lucky, a glimpse of the wild horses, the area's first and most treasured local residents.
Nags Head, Kills Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk - The central Outer Banks beaches of Nags Head, Kills Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk generally also allow beach driving, during certain conditions. Beach driving in these popular areas is restricted to the off-season winter months, for the safety of beach-goers, and a town driving permit may be required depending on the location. Virtually hidden ramps are located along the beach road, next to public access, and winter vacationers will find they have miles of open shoreline to explore. Even if you're exploring the central Outer Banks beaches on foot, the wintertime is an exceptionally attractive time to go, as the area is not quite a ghost town, with plenty of restaurants and shops still open, but the beaches offer ample elbow room for fishing, shelling, or just enjoying a long secluded stroll.
Hatteras Island and Ocracoke - The Cape Hatteras National Seashore which comprises the beaches of Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands also offers miles of shoreline for beach drivers to explore, all marked by brown, National Park Service managed "ramp markers" that indicate the mile and entrance point of every beach ramp along these islands.
These beach access ramps begin with Coquina Beach, located just a few miles north of Nags Head, and extend all the way to the Ocracoke Inlet ramp, which literally borders the town of Ocracoke's city limits.
In between, vacationers will find a dozen seasonally open beach access ramps, including 4 in between the tri-villages of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo and the town of Avon, one in between Avon and Buxton, one in the heart of Frisco, and one on the very southern edge of Hatteras Village that leads out to Hatteras Inlet.
On Ocracoke Island, visitors will find a handful of beach access ramps that begin just 100 yards or so from the ferry docks, and are located throughout the island all the way to the Ocracoke Inlet ramp. Because of Ocracoke's unique geographic location, the time it takes to get from the edge of the entrance of the beach access ramp to the oceanfront itself can vary greatly. For example, near the ferry docks, it's just a quick drive across the dunes to access the beach, but on the ramp closest to the village, drivers can expect to travel a long sandy road, (easily travelling a good mile), before arriving to the oceanfront.
All of the beach driving areas and ramps on Hatteras and Ocracoke Island are open seasonally, meaning that during certain times of year, (specifically in the summer months), some areas may be closed for threatened species that are breeding, or sea turtles that are nesting. The National Park Service has a weekly updated map on their website, which outlines the areas of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore that are open to pedestrians, vehicles, or both, and summer visitors are encouraged to check out their website to confirm which beach driving areas are open during their vacation.
Beach drivers on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore will need to obtain a Beach Driving Permit before hitting the shore, and can be purchased online and sent via mail, or in person at one of the following locations: Coquina Beach office, Cape Hatteras Light Station, and the Ocracoke Visitor Center. Each vehicle must have its own permit. Vehicles must be registered, licensed, insured, and have a current safety inspection if required in home state/country. Vehicles must have low-pressure tire gauge, shovel, jack and jack support board. A spare tire, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, trash bags, flashlight and tow straps are recommended. ATV's are not permitted. Night driving is generally allowed from November 16 through April 30. See current access ramps and beach closings by visiting this page and clicking on the "daily beach access map". Obey all posted signs. To acquire a permit, a prospective beach driver must watch a 10 minute video regarding beach driving rules and regulations, and pay a weekly or annual fee, depending on the beach driver's preference.
Once a beach driving permit is secured, drivers are encouraged to pay close attention to the NPS rules and regulations which are posted at the entrance point of every beach ramp on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The rules are easy to follow, and include such guidelines such as maintaining (or not exceeding) a certain speed, keeping pets on a leash, tire pressure recommendations, or other general NPS rules.
The reward for jumping through the local hoops is access to some of the islands' best beaches, which are sparsely travelled and offer unparalleled shelling, fishing, and gorgeous oceanfront, sound, or inlet views. And remember to wash down your vehicle whe you get home. Spray the undercarriage right away. Salt water is not good for cars!
Important! Air down before you get on the beach. A lower PSI is better for driving in soft sand. Experts suggest decreasing the tire air pressure to 15-22 pi depending on the condition of the beach. Air back up when you get to the pavement. Head to a local gas station or convenience store close by.
Pets on the Beach. We love our dogs (and cats) here on the Outer Banks and many vacation homes and even some hotels are pet friendly. Each town has its own pet policy:
Kill Devil Hills: Dogs are not allowed on the beach from May 15 - September 15 during the hourse of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. unless they are aiding the handicapped. All pet waste must be gathered in appropriate containers. Year-round leash law. kdhnc.com
Nags Head: Dogs are allowed on the beach year-round. They must be restrained by a leash not exceeding 10 feet.townofnagshead.net
Duck: Dogs are allowed on the beach unleashed, but as a matter of public safety and courtesy, they should be under the watchful eye and contact of their owner. townofduck.com
Southern Shores: Dogs are allowed on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. from May 15 - September 15. Year-round leash law. Dogs must be on leashes no longer than 10 feet. All pet waste must be collected immediately and deposited in appropriate containers. The same rules apply during all hours in the off-season. southernshores-nc.gov
Kitty Hawk: Dogs are allowed on beach and must display a current rabies tag. Owner/handler must remove feces and possess a bag/container for waste removal at all times. From the Friday before Memorial Day until the day after Labor Day between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., dogs must be on a leash not exceeding 12 feet. Dogs may be taken off the leash only if they will not disturb other people on the beach and must be controlled by the handler, who must remain within 30 feet of the dog at all times. Leash must be with owner/handler at all times. townofkittyhawk.org
Thanks to OuterBanks.org for the info on pets on the beach.
Seafood; When you want fresh seafood, that you will be cooking at home, please go to one of the Seafood Markets here on the OBX. And, please go to one that is a member of Outer Banks Catch, a local organization dedicated to promoting and educating people about the advantages of requesting and buying seafood that is in season and locally caught.
Austins Fish Market is across from Jockey's Ridge in Nags Head. https://www.austinseafoodco.com/. Take out available, have lunch on the porch or buy some seafood to take back to your vacation home. I stop here a lot on my way home from work. Good. Very good.
O'Neals Sea Harvest, Inc. Located in the Wanchese Seafood Industrial Complex. Family owned and operated. My son-in-law manages a popular restaurant here and swears by this place. Website. Fishermen and crabbers unload their locally caught product directly from their boats to O'Neal's docks. Does not get much fresher.
Billy's Seafood is also locally owned and has been here for a long time...at least 40+ years because I have been here that long and remember going there. It is on Colington Road in KDH.
To see the complete list of Seafood Markets, go HERE.
Bikes on the OBX
There are many bike paths and paved shoulders here, good for the casual bike riders and the more serious ones. With the exception of a few bridges, the OBX is pretty much flat, so that makes bike riding a natural. You can find the yellow "Bicycles-Share the Road" signs all over and there are even some NCDOT market routes too. Keep in mind that summer traffic is heavy, very heavy and many drivers may not know where they are going. It is really not the best timen for on-highway cycling. So, be careful. Wear helmets, watch the little ones.
Day trips. I encourage you to explore the Outer Banks. Manteo, Wanchese, Waves, Corolla, Rodanthe, Ocraocke. Each town or village has a charm all its own. If you have never ridden a ferry, here is your chance because Ocracoke Island is only accessible by ferry or private boat..or private plane. A visit here is a truly unque experience.