Anniversary trips are something that Johnny and I always look forward to ever since we got married. For our sixth year celebration, we preferred a beach destination that’s not overly commercialized. Having lived in South Carolina for a number years, we had always heard about the Outer Banks, which is a group of peninsulas and barrier islands that separate mainland North Carolina from the Atlantic Ocean. We thought the Outer Banks would be a good fit for the two of us, especially since the area is known for its fishing and unique lighthouses.
Where to Stay
The Oasis Suites Hotel in Nags Head is the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway. Located waterfront on Roanoke Sound, this boutique hotel consists of 16 elegantly decorated suites. The property is centrally located on the Outer Banks, and it is also a great spot to watch sunsets. Our first-floor one-bedroom suite, which was equipped with a full kitchen, was only steps away from the sound. Every morning and afternoon we enjoyed sitting on the lawn chairs looking out over the calm waters.
My favorite memory from our four-night stay at Oasis Suites was when the hotel manager, Miss Peggy Langley, let Johnny harvest the crabs from the hotels’s traps, allowing us to cook up a home-made crab boil for our dinner one night. We sat by the gazebo eating the freshest seafood meal we have ever had.
Sightseeing and Activities
In the town of Manteo, you will find the charming Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse. Roanoke Marshes Light is different in that it is not an imposing, towering structure like most other lighthouses. Instead, it is a cottage-like building that is a replica of one that used to stand further south offshore between Roanoke Island and mainland North Carolina.
To say that I L-O-V-E farms and farm animals is an understatement. I made visiting Island Farm a priority when I learned that visitors can ride around the farm on an ox-drawn wagon. In fact, the fun does not stop there, as the whole place is actually a living history where everyone can learn about life on Roanoke Island in the mid-1800s. While the land has been cultivated since 1757, the centerpiece of the property is a farmhouse built between 1845-1850 by Adam Etheridge, which has been restored to reflect its original condition.
When you are on the Outer Banks, try not to miss the Bodie Island Light. The exterior of the 156′ tower is painted with a motif of black and white horizontal stripes. Johnny and I really loved spending time on the grounds surrounding the lighthouse, which is a mixture of marshlands, maritime forest and saltwater ponds. You can get a good view of the scenery by climbing to the top of the lighthouse, or trekking the boardwalk towards a raised platform over the marshes.
The Outer Banks is famous for its natural sand dunes, and the ones you will find within the Jockey’s Ridge State Park are considered to be the tallest along the east coast of the United States. If you would like to know what it feels like to soar above these mountains of sand, try having a hang gliding session with Kitty Hawk Kites, the world’s largest hang gliding school.
For the fishing enthusiast, head to the 1000-foot-long newly reconstructed Jennette’s Pier. Red drum, mackerel, and trout are just to name a few of the fish that have been caught off this pier. Even if you have no interest in catching your own dinner, you can still have a good time at Jennette’s enjoying the ocean view. Additionally, the pier has so many things to offer throughout the year – from fishing classes to paddle tours, summer camps for kids to that unique wedding at the private reception area.
There’s no shortage of activities on the Outer Banks, but at some point you should just relax by the ocean and come to the pristine Coquina Beach. It is a quiet, slightly hidden beach located not too far from Bodie Island Lighthouse.
Kill Devil Hills
Johnny and I often talk about how lucky we are to live during a period of time that allows for easy air travel. It’s so amazing that in a century the world went from witnessing the first controlled flight by the Wright brothers to regularly crossing oceans with jumbo jets. Kill Devil Hills was where Orville and Wilbur Wright of Ohio experimented with their glider starting in the year 1900, and finally succeeded in maneuvering a powered flight on December 17, 1903.
At the park, visitors can see reproductions of the brothers’ 1903 camp buildings along with replicas of their glider and flyer. There are markers on the field indicating the distance and length of time that each flight lasted on that one winter day in 1903. Johnny and I also climbed up the big hill to get a closer look at the monument commemorating the Wright brothers’ accomplishment.
Green, green, green is how I would describe the Nags Head Woods Preserve. It’s the perfect place for a little escape and a leisurely walk among ponds, marshes, and wetlands. There are a few trails that you can choose from, varying in length and difficulty, and taking visitors through different landscapes.
We spent our last afternoon on the Outer Banks wandering around Corolla’s Currituck Heritage Park. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is a prominent feature of this site, characterized by its unpainted red brick tower. Heading towards the center of the park, you will find the Whalehead Club, which is bordered by ponds and canals. The Whalehead Club, a grand house easily recognized by its yellow facade, was originally the residence of a wealthy industrialist named Edward Collings Knight, Jr.
Take your time strolling along the trails at the park, and at the end of the day watch the sun set over the tranquil Currituck Sound.
Where to Eat
The Outer Banks is a fun place to try out various locally owned dining establishments.
For gorgeous views of Roanoke Sound, choose outdoor seating on Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant‘s patio. If you love lobster, order their generously portioned Traditional Maine Lobster Roll.
Have a craving for fish tacos? Mama Kwan’s Tiki Bar & Grill serves up The World Famous Fish Tacos, (get the fish blackened if you want that extra oomph). Other dishes worth trying include the appetizer Thai Money Bags and their Garbage Plate. Sounds interesting?
Food Dudes Kitchen is located in a strip mall in Kill Devil Hills. It is a small restaurant, but the food is definitely addicting. I came for their blackened salmon wrap twice during my stay on the Outer Banks.
Looking for somewhere to kick back and enjoy a relaxed, Caribbean atmosphere? Look no further than Goombays Grill & Raw Bar, where I had the unforgettable Jalapeno Crab Balls (described on their menu as “the hottest balls on the beach”).
Johnny and I had a lovely anniversary getaway surrounded by the natural beauty of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Indeed, we plan on taking our families along on a future trip to explore more of these barrier islands.