Guide To The Southern Outer Banks

In the summertime, there’s nothing our guests love more than a day at the beach! The beauty of the Outer Banks is tied to our storied beaches. The miles of golden brown sand kissed by emerald waves are the perfect additions to a beautiful day on the North Carolina coast. For our guests here at First Flight Rentals, the secluded beaches of the Southern Outer Banks are ideal for a summertime (or anytime!) getaway.

From north to south, the Outer Banks of North Carolina consists of more than a dozen communities that form one expansive barrier island paradise. The Outer Banks cover most of the North Carolina coast, providing a narrow barrier between the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound, Albemarle Sound, and Pamlico Sound. Carova and Corolla begin the island chain in Currituck County near the Virginia border, but where the southern end of the Outer Banks technically end is an area of debate. While some feel that Hatteras Island is the last in the chain, Ocracoke Island has gained popularity as an OBX inclusion.

As you make your way down the chain, from the top beyond Carova and Corolla, you pass Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head – or the northern beaches. Manteo and Wanchese on Roanoke Island represent the middle Outer Banks towns. Hatteras Island is home to Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras, with Ocracoke Island forming the southernmost tip of the chain. If you were to travel from one end of the chain to the other, with both driving and ferry travel involved, it would take more than three hours.

The southern end of the Outer Banks, from Rodanthe to Hatteras, is a nod to the classic beach vacation and the simple pleasures of tranquil coastal life frozen in time, unspoiled. The area is known for unrivaled water sports, iconic history, epic adventures, and pristine shores stretching across seven unique village communities.

Rodanthe

Photo Credit: Steven Christenson via Flickr CC2.0

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Rodanthe marks the beginning of the southern Outer Banks on Hatteras Island, and part of the “tri-villages” region, together with Waves and Salvo. As the site of the first U.S. Lifesaving Station on the North Carolina coast, Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station, the village holds claim to the roots of today’s U.S. Coast Guard. Rodanthe was also the setting for the Nichols Sparks’ novel and major motion picture Nights in Rodanthe.

Rodanthe is an ideal choice to remain central to the entire Outer Banks chain, including the swanky northern strand. The village is home to gift shops and local eateries, as well as numerous water launch points for kayaking and kiteboarding. Rodanthe is also the starting point of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, managed by the National Park Service.

  • Pea Island Wildlife Refuge is a 30,000-acre preserve and wetlands serving as home to hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife. Site of the annual Wings Over Water Festival.
  • Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station provides tour of the museum and several outbuildings on the site of the original Lifesaving Station.
  • Rodanthe Fishing Pier is a famed spot of Outer Banks fishing for generations. Known for mullet, pompano, cobia, and drum.

Waves

Photo Credit: outerbanks.com

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Tucked between Rodanthe and Salvo, the village of Waves occupies a narrow stretch of land separating the Atlantic Ocean from the Pamlico Sound. This land barrier and its unique off-shore winds create ideal conditions for water sports enthusiasts, making Waves Village one of the world’s top destinations for windsurfing and kiteboarding. Beach lovers will appreciate the relaxing white sand beaches, blanketed with an array of treasures like starfish, sand dollars, and seashells – especially in the wake of a storm.

There are a number of public launch areas to the Pamlico Sound in Waves. The village offers a fresh local seafood and other culinary favorites in several locally-owned restaurants and cafes, but larger grocery stores and nightlife are not things you will find here.

  • Beach fishing is a successful endeavor in Waves, especially during the Red Drum runs during the spring and fall seasons
  • Kitty Hawk Kites are nationally renowned providers of tours, water sport lessons, and equipment rental, covering all on-the-water adventures, including hang gliding, kiteboarding, parasailing, kayaking, and more.
  • Enjoy easy acces to both oceanfront and soundfront beach experiences.

Salvo

Photo Credit: outerbanks.com

With no real commercialization to speak of, Salvo is the picture of tradition in the Outer Banks – from the stacked crab pots to the colorful kiteboarders against an equally vibrant sunset horizon. Salvo combines the exhilarating shores of the tri-village communities and maritime forests characteristic of the lower portion of the Hatteras Island chain. The village offers a “best of both worlds’ vibe in the middle of it all – great for those seeking prime fishing, water sports, and beach-filled days with no distractions.

Seek adventure on the Pamlico Sound via kayak, stand-up paddle board, or kiteboard, or lounge upon the miles of secluded white sand beaches. Salvo is home to a few small local stores for general staples and fishing necessities. Salvo is said to be one of the best soundside recreation areas on the East Coast.

  • Salvo Day Use area is a public recreation area with gradually sloping, family-friendly soundfront beaches, picnic tables, and parking.
  • Access the beach driving ramp across the street from the Salvo Day Use area.
  • Discover unmarked nature trails through maritime forests just south of Salvo.
  • The original Salvo Post Office was the smallest operating Post Office in the United States, at less than 100′ sq. ft. in size. A replica now stands on NC Highway 12, after the original was destroyed in a fire.

Avon

Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenlund/14451240591

Avon was originally named Kinnakeet by the local Algonkian Indian tribe who originally inhabited the village. Later on, it was renamed by the United States Postal Service; although, it is still sometimes referred to as Kinnakeet by locals in respect to the village’s history. It is an old village that has become the popular home to the sport of recreational surf fishing. For those looking for big game fish like the Red Drum, Avon’s beaches are an excellent choice. Avon is a short drive north from Buxton, making the village a great choice for beach-hopping routes.

Avon’s beaches are quiet and clean – perfect for a calm day out on the water. Vacationing families love Avon for this reason. They are also perfect for fishing and shelling, thanks to their natural seclusion. Fantastic local restaurants serve up the island’s freshest seafood. It is also home to Hatteras Island’s only chain grocery store and a taste of the nightlife.

  • Avon pier is the hub of the village’s legendary surf fishing culture, yielding big game fish like Red Drum.
  • Many local restaurants host live entertainment and late-night hours.
  • Secluded beaches define Avon, but it is also home to the island’s only major shopping plaza, and seasonal movie theater.

Buxton

Photo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BuxtonSign.JPG

Located just off Cape Hatteras, Buxton is a popular beach destination during the warmer seasons, especially for those looking to fish. The popularity lingers until colder weather arrives and the fish leave for warmth. Until then, however, the beaches of Buxton are perfect for your summer paradise. If you find yourself in the area, be sure to visit the iconic Cape Point beach and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse – America’s tallest brick lighthouse.

The beautiful Buxton beaches are perfect for you and your pets. Your furry friends are required to be kept on a leash of no longer than six feet at all times, unless you are at a specially-designated swimming beach. Although no fireworks or metal detecting is allowed on these beaches, there are still plenty of opportunities for fun. Buxton is also home to quirky, casual dining, unique boutiques, art galleries, and the Eastern Surfing Association’s annual competition.

  • The National Park Service opens the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse for climbing every spring, and closes during the winter. The grounds and museum are accessible year round.
  • Cape Point is a nationally popular fishing spot for large drum, pompano, sharks, mullets, bluefish, and more, This large sandbar stretches out into the Atlantic Ocean farther than any other point on the Outer Banks. A 4WD beach access ramp is available.
  • The “Graveyard of the Atlantic” off the Cape is a popular dive site due to the thousands of sunken ships that lay off the coast of the Outer Banks.
  • Buxton Woods offers miles of natural self-guided trails that wind through maritime forests that are home to white-tail deer and other wildlife.
  • Canadian Hole, located on the soundside of Hatteras Island, is a popular spot for water sports enthusiasts year round due to its strong winds. Sunsets at Canadian Hole are not to be missed.

Frisco

Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenlund/14454881585

Frisco is said to have the best beaches in the Southern Outer Banks. The beaches face the south with ocean floors that gradually slope, meaning swimmers can easily walk a long distance without ever falling into a deep trench. This makes these beaches great for families with small children. The gradually sloping floors and small waves also make for fantastic fishing and shelling conditions. Kiteboarders, kayakers, and windsurfers will find miles of calm, open water on the soundside.

The small town of Frisco provides just enough resources for vacationers to comfortably enjoy the many miles of pristine beach coastline. Any family, couple, or individual looking for a quiet vacation on a beautiful beach would be more than satisfied by visiting Frisco. Nestled along the maritime forests of Buxton Woods on the soundside, Frisco is also a prime site for horseback riding, and historical discovery.

  • Frsico’s Native American Museum contains genuine Native American artifacts and educational displays.
  • On the southern end of Frisco, you can catch both an ocean sunrise and a sound sunset.
  • Frisco is home to the island’s only go-kart track and 18-hole mini golf course.

Hatteras

Photo Credit: mickieobx via Instagram

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Hatteras Island is one of the longest islands in the United States, with approximately fifty miles of coastline, accessible by ferry or the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge. Hatteras Village is the southernmost village on Hatteras Island, and the indisputable home of the best surf fishing in the OBX. earning the village the title of “blue marlin capital of he world.” This is also where you will find The Ocracoke Ferry Docks where you can catch a scenic ride to Ocracoke Island.

Hatteras Village offers a range of shops, galleries, boutiques, and restaurants – all locally owned and operated. Coastal culture and tradition are at the heart of the community, which hosts the annual Day at the Dock event featuring a boat parade and ceremonial “Blessing of the Fleets.”

  • On the west side of Hatteras Village, the Pamlico Sound offers access to diverse water activities for the whole family, including swimming, windsurfing, kiteboarding, and kayaking.
  • Hatteras Landing is a soundfront entertainment complex featuring shops, restaurants, live music, and a self-service marina.
  • The Ocracoke Ferry Docks to Ocracoke Island provide access to the island’s famous wild horses, nature trails, and the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse, which is North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse in operation and the smallest lighthouse on the Outer Banks.

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