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.
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!
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!
“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.
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!
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!