Rusty's Restaurant Hungry for Hatteras - Cape Hatteras Motel

Hungry For Hatteras?

We have to smile when guests ask us if there are any good seafood restaurants on the island. After all, not only are we a sport fishing capital, but also the island’s history is all about the fish!  Commercial fishing was, and is, a way of life for many, many islanders and their families. The lives and stories of the watermen are a rich part of our culture here.

But back to the original question about where to go for seafood when on vacation. Here are some things we tell our guests to help them locate the restaurant that will serve the food they want at the right price point. Truly, on Hatteras Island, the restaurants all serve good seafood.  It’s what they do. So it really is a matter of what you are looking for. Is it a special occasion?  There are a few white table cloth restaurants with bars and wine lists that are perfect for a birthday, anniversary, proposal, or any other special event.

Are you interested in a sunset?  While we do not have oceanfront dining on the island, soundside choices are plentiful and every sunset is beautiful in its own way. Are you traveling with small children? Several restaurants have kid-friendly menus and early dining allows families to get in and out quickly before the later crowds settle in.  Do you want to eat where the locals eat? Some of our year-round establishments are favorites with those of us who do enjoy eating out on the off-season. Do you yearn for fried fish, French fries, hush puppies and slaw? There are places that cater to real down home southern cooking without frills.

Some places are experimenting a bit more with their menus and offer seafood with global twists and fusion cuisines.  Always ask for the fresh, local catch. Shrimp and scallops are usually plentiful and softshell crabs in season are awesome. Oysters from our waters are usually harvested in the cooler months but can be enjoyed at other times of the year and they are wonderful. From light and flaky flounder to more hearty blue fish or meaty tuna, there all sorts of fish to try. Be bold and taste something you haven’t tried before. Fresh fish are amazingly flavorful and healthy and with all the preparations that local chefs utilize, you can enjoy something different all the time.

And of course we do realize that many people do not enjoy seafood or have allergies, so rest assured there are plenty of meat choices, increasing vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options, to-die-for pizza places, and many, many restaurants serve homemade desserts.

One thing is for certain, you will not go hungry here on Hatteras Island. Bon apetit!


Photo from Rusty’s Surf & Turf

Locate Restaurants & Specials from Corolla to Hatteras on the Restaurant page of Outer Banks Events Calendar.


NC 12 Scenic Byway - Cape Hatteras Motel

Hwy NC 12 Designated National Scenic Byway

Just this weekend, new signs appeared along Highway 12 indicating that our highway is now a National Scenic By-way. We are proud of this designation and hope that when you drive down the island from Oregon Inlet heading south, you will really enjoy the drive.  All too often, the scenery and the atmosphere of the island are lost in the rush to get to the motel. It was a smart person indeed who noted that the journey often is more important than the destination. In this case, we would argue the journey is equally as important, because the highway helps you put life on the island in context. There is more to see than just a ribbon of highway sandwiched between dunes and the Sound.

A National Scenic By-way is a highway that has been recognized by the US Department of Transportation for one or more of six “intrinsic qualities” – archeological, cultural, historical, natural, recreational or scenic. Happily, areas of Hatteras Island can boast all of those. As you pass through the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, there is a chance to observe wildlife, especially birds, throughout the year. At the rest area, a quick walk over the dunes gives you a view of the wreck of the “Oriental” – its stack still can be seen just breaking through the surface of the water.  This year the Pea Island area is also the site of construction for the replacement bridge where Hurricane Irene broke through and created a new, temporary inlet a few years back.

While the construction zone may not be scenic, it is a reminder of the shifting nature of barrier islands and its vulnerability during all types of storms – hurricanes and nor’easters included. Coming into the Tri-Villages area of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo you can often see the colorful kite sails of kiteboarders in the Pamlico Sound. Kiteboarding and wind surfing have become more and more popular and these three which filled with shops catering to these sports. The Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station is well worth a visit for learning more about  the history of the lifesaving stations (which were the forerunners of today’s Coast Guard) as well as an insight into life on the island years ago. Needless to say it was a far cry from what we enjoy today. You can get a real appreciation for how brave and hardy these individuals were and how traditions like “Old Christmas” took hold.

As you head from the Tri-Villages to Avon, it is interesting to reflect on how narrow the island is in sections. There are a number of parking turn-outs in this section of highway and a quick peek over the top of a dune can often give you miles of seashore to take in all on your own.  Avon of course was historically known as “Kinnakeet.” The actual harbor town is off the highway and worth a quick side trip when you have a moment. Coming into Buxton, again the sound can be filled with kiters and windsurfers, but this area now also boasts several family beach areas. Not so many years ago the soundside was the forgotten step- sister of the ocean and only fishermen enjoyed its waters.

As you drive along through Buxton past the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and head on through Frisco and Hatteras, you can get a bit more of a feel of the role watermen once played, and continue to play, in the culture and economy of Hatteras Island. There are museums and docks and harbors that all show and tell these important stories.  We’ve heard many people complain that the hour drive from Whalebone Junction to Buxton is “boring.” We say, enjoy the National Scenic By-way for what it offers, and that hour will flash by very quickly. Before you know it you will be here at the Cape Hatteras Motel, a bit wiser for your journey!

Mother's Day - Cape Hatteras Motel

Happy Mother’s Day from Cape Hatteras Motel

This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day.

There is no doubt in our minds that there is something very special about a Beach Mom. Beach Moms magically appear during family vacation time. They morph out of the Moms we all know at home but they have a special glow about them when they get to the Outer Banks.

The stress of everyday life seems to melt away with those first views of sand, sun, and sea; and Mom is more than up to the task for the family vacation.  Perhaps we are reminiscing about our generation of Moms and our own beach memories, but every generation of Beach Moms has its own unique characteristics. Back in the day, coming off from the beach at Noon meant a great lunch of white bread, baloney, perhaps some fruit or homemade cookies and a big glass of milk. Then it was back to the beach for the kids while Mom cleaned up behind. Today perhaps it is fruit bars or veggie wraps on the  beach – but Mom’s insistence on a good lunch is still the same.  Beach Moms are also great at taking care of all of the little dramas a family vacation can bring – sunburn, a jellyfish sting, the wrong flavor in the ice cream cone – minor catastrophes which would be unnerving at home seem to shrink with Beach Mom’s love and care.  Beach Mom seems more flexible with bedtimes, more flexible with picky eaters, and well, just more flexible in general. Bathing suits are always rinsed, beach towels hung to dry overnight, and buying beach souvenirs is perfectly alright!

Some of our best Beach Mom memories are when we recall that after a day of looking after the family, there was time for her to relax with a favorite book, favorite beverage, and of course, time to regale the events of the day with Beach Dad. But Beach Dad is for another time.

Family vacations make amazing memories and no matter how your beach holidays come back to you (though black and white photos, movies, faded color snaps, polaroids, videos or digital albums), Beach Mom is no doubt the star of the show.

Here’s our wish for a wonderful Mother’s Day to all Moms – Beach Mom, Lake Mom, City Mom, Suburban Mom, Country Mom – we love you all!

Enjoy your special day!

Cape Hatteras - Coastal Living Gorgeous National Park

Cape Hatteras In “Top 25 Gorgeous Coastal National Parks”

“From sea to shining sea, these protected lands (national parks, seashores, lakeshores, and more!) are brimming with breathtaking scenery, amazing wildlife, and activities galore. Discover our nation’s most unspoiled getaways, from the rocky shores of Acadia National Park to the tree-covered ridges of Point Reyes National Seashore.”

See all of the Top 25 Gorgeous Coastal National Parks according to Coastal Living Magazine.

Angling Guests - Cape Hatteras Motel

Lessons from our Angling Guests

This past weekend we had a full house as we were one of the sponsors of the annual “4 Plus” Fishing Tournament. For many of you who vacation with us during the summer, you may not know how busy we can be in April, October and November for these large tournaments. The spring tournament has a special energy as the island is waking up from winter. Men and women who enjoy surf fishing come from central and northern Virginia to see what’s biting – and what they can catch. These events have gone on continuously for more than 30 years now and some very strong friendships have grown out of spending time together on the beach. The anglers generally come in on Friday (although some are able to sneak down a day before) and the fishing begins on Saturday morning after a meeting with all of the officials. This year Saturday began with some heavy rain, but the skies cleared quickly for a really pretty afternoon of fishing. Then the wind shifted and we had a stiff NE breeze and some cool temperatures for those hardy folks who decided to fish overnight! The catches this year were small – mostly sea mullet (or whiting as it is sometimes called), blow toads, and a few blues. On Sunday morning the fishing concluded, and winners were announced and prizes awarded at an early morning session at the Fesseden Center. But despite the fact that the catches were small, and few if any of the big drum made an appearance, all of the guests we served left with smiles on their faces and many have already booked for the fall tournament and even next April! The lesson here from behind the desk is that being at the beach can be anything you want it to be. For these folks, while they come to fish in a tournament, the fishing (and catching) is really secondary to the fun and fellowship they have at one of the most beautiful coastlines in America. Rain, wind, fish size, numbers of fish – they don’t let anything get in the way of their relaxation and enjoyment. We all want our beach vacations to be filled with blue skies, sunny days, and light breezes. But the joy of just being at the ocean, the smell of the salt, the crash of the waves, being with friends or family – those things all exist no matter what the weather and no matter what else is happening around us. Allow your vacation to be the break it was intended to be and don’t let outside circumstances interfere with your special time. The “4 Plus” fishermen and women have learned that lesson well!

PS: If you have never fished on your OBX vacation, why not give it a try this year? Many people do and get “hooked” for life!

Checking Out - Cape Hatteras Motel

Checking Out and Heading Home

If only vacations could last forever! But the days move along, and all too soon it is time to check out.  Here are a few suggestions to make checking out a bit easier, so you can keep that OBX feeling all the way home.

1.       If you are traveling on a Saturday or Sunday, it is wise to plan a very early morning departure. In the summer season weekend traffic coming and going is heavy. An early start helps you avoid those hassles.  On a weekday, you are less likely to run into construction delays at the new bridge sites.

2.       Check out time for any efficiency unit (a room with a full kitchen) is 10 am. For all other rooms the check-out time is 11 am. Remember how anxious you were to get into your room at check-in? The guests who follow you no doubt feel the same way. So please adhere to the check-out times. It assists us in coordinating the housekeeping and insures our incoming guests have an on-time check-in experience too.

3.       If you really require a later check-in, please contact the office the evening before, or early in the morning on your day of check-out. We can review the incoming guest list to determine if a later check-out is possible. Normally an hour or two from your check-out time is the latest we can allow.

4.       It is very helpful if you place all your loose trash in the trash cans in your room, and all your dirty towels in a pile in the bathroom. If you have smoked outside on the porch and had your butts in some sort of container, we ask that you dispose of those properly prior to departure.

5.       Please bring your keys to the office when you leave. If you are checking out before the office opens, we ask that you use the key drop outside the office door. Again, this assists us in coordinating housekeeping as we then know exactly when folks have gone and we can begin cleaning. Checking out in person also means we have one additional time to have a conversation with you about your stay to obtain feedback, answer any travel questions, and wish you a bon voyage! If you had issues or concerns, we would much rather hear about them from you in person so that we can respond directly to you and also make an immediate note of the problem for our review and action.

6.       Please remember your housekeepers. There is a tip envelope in every room.  If they have helped you during your stay, an little thank you is certainly appreciated!

7.       We have information on the ferry schedules in our office. If you are traveling south onto the mainland, be sure you have made your reservations ahead of time, and have allocated enough time for the Hatteras to Ocracoke Ferry transit to make your Ocracoke departure time.

8.       We love seeing the photo memories of our guests. Don’t forget to tag us in photos for Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram so that you can see what is happening at your heaven on earth all year long!

9.       We appreciate your business and in case we don’t get to see you before you depart, know you have our sincere thanks for staying with us and we will look forward to hosting you again soon!


Bonner Bridge Alerts - Cape Hatteras Motel

Important Bridge Updates For Hatteras Island Travelers

If you’re headed this way, these updates provide important travel information.

File this under “Know before you go!”.

See Video on YouTube

• Expect Daytime Lane Closures Monday – Friday until June 13*

One lane will remain open during these lane closures, but motorists are advised to allow extra travel time. From time to time, nighttime road closures may lasting up to 30 minutes.

Bridge Alerts - Cape Hatteras Motel

On the Beach - Cape Hatteras

On the Beach – Out and About

You’re all settled into your room and now the real vacation can begin! For first-time visitors to the ocean and the Outer Banks (and even for repeat visitors), the variety of things to do and places to visit can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to enjoy your visit to the fullest. Just please remember, the beach environment is unique and can bring you challenges you don’t deal with at home. Use a lot of common sense and heed all posted warnings of any kind related to beach access and use. We are surrounded by national park land and there are rules and guidelines to follow.

1.       No doubt you are anxious to see the beach and maybe you want to drive along the beach like you’ve seen them do in other places. First rule is: if you do not have a four-wheel drive vehicle, DON’T. Do not attempt to even pull off the side of the road as the shoulders are soft sand and you may very easily get stuck. A tow is not inexpensive, and we have seen this happen time and time again. You can rent a four wheel drive vehicle if you want to do some off-roading. Even if you have four wheel drive during the dryer summer months you will want to slack your tires. You do need an off-road permit which you can obtain at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor’s Center. Be careful of the tides – we always post the tide times outside the office along with the weather forecast. An incoming tide can catch you off guard if you have taken a long beach walk. Also, beach ramp access changes regularly and due to bird and turtle nesting, some areas are off limits. Check access information regularly.

2.       Speaking of driving, the posted speed limit signs in the villages are for real – yes, that includes 25 mph in Buxton. Don’t ruin your vacation with a ticket. It’s vacation time – relax and just go slowly. Nothing here is going anywhere!

3.       Let’s spend a moment on the beach itself. When the sun is shining brightly, you need sunscreen – a good high number. When the day is partly cloudy with nice, billowing clouds, you need sunscreen – a good high number. And when the day is overcast with no sun, you need sunscreen – a good high number. Especially in the summer, but actually all year, the sun is intense and a bad burn is no way to spend a vacation.  Protect yourself! A beach umbrella is a fine investment!

4.       The ocean is amazingly beautiful but it is the ocean. Currents can be strong, waves can be rough, and the water clarity and temperature can vary. Never, ever swim alone.  Watch your children. Knowing how to swim in a pool is not a indicator of swimming ability in the ocean.  On really rough days, stay along the water’s edge and enjoy the magnificence of mother nature. If you want to swim at a guarded beach, there is one provided by the Park Service near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Of course, you can also enjoy our pool but the same rules apply – watch your children and don’t swim alone!

5.       There are fish, jelly fish and other creatures in the sea. 99.9% of the time you will not encounter a jelly but if you do, over the counter remedies will help ease the sting. If you see a lot of jellies on a particular day, you may want to simply stay out of the water or go to a different stretch of beach. The north beach and the south beach can vary tremendously on any given day, and the sound side can be different still. More and more people like the sound side especially if they have small children. The water is calmer and very shallow and often warmer.

6.       Beach fires are a vacation tradition. There are rules to follow. We have copies of the guidelines from the NPS in the office.

7.       Shelling is a wonderful past time here. We have found great shells at all times of the tide, although low tide does give you some advantages. The biggest rule of thumb is to get up early and be the first one out. If we have a day of stormy conditions, often shelling improves a bit on the day following as interesting things get churned up from the bottom and tossed on the shore. We can help you identify your shells, and if you haven’t found anything by the time you leave, check out our shell buckets for a treat to take home. All are OBX shells we collected during the winter months.

8.       Many people love to spend a day shelling and sightseeing in Ocracoke. We have ferry schedules in the office. Tip:  if you want to spend your day on Ocracoke and not in a line for a ferry plan to leave as early in the morning as you can. You will get there ahead of the crowds, have time to enjoy the beaches, catch a bite to eat and head home easily. The ferry lines are not where you want to spend your time.

9.       We love fishing – it’s what we are famous for along with the beautiful beaches. A license is required for surf fishing, which includes the beach at our motel. There is no license required at a pier. The nearest pier to us at CHM is in Avon about 7 miles away. There are tackle shops galore and plenty of fishermen and women who can give you advice on what’s biting and how to catch them. Talking to locals is truly your best bet for fishing information as they fish all year and have been fishing for many years. You can also rent charters for inshore or off shore fishing for a half day or a full day. There are also head boats (party boats) where your whole family can enjoy an outing. Check in at the harbors in Hatteras Village for information on any of these options. You can keep your catch in our freezer. Some of the local restaurants will prepare your catch for you if you bring it along.

10.   Speaking of restaurants, there are some fine choices here on Hatteras Island. We have restaurants serving breakfast, lunch and dinner at every price point from family casual to special event evenings out. We keep many menus in the office for your review, and since we have eaten at all of them we can give you some firsthand information. During the summer months, most restaurants open at 5pm and close by 9 pm for dinner.  A few places stay open after 9 if it is really busy. During the non-peak season, hours and closings vary widely so check in the office for who’s open and when.

As always, if you have questions on anything covered here, or something we missed, just stop by the office or call us ahead of your travels. We want you to have the best OBX vacation ever here with us at Cape Hatteras Motel.

Next up:  Checking Out and Heading Home