All Seasons Beach - Cape Hatteras Motel

A Beach For All Seasons On Hatteras Island

We are often asked, “What’s it like at other times of the year?”

The majority of our guests visit with us during the peak season between Memorial Day and Labor Day when we have the most cars on the road, the most rooms booked, the most people on the beach, and the hottest days and warmest nights. It is what people want when they think about their summer vacation in all its glory! As we are now about to transition into the fall months with Labor Day just around the corner it’s a good time to let folks know what they might expect during the other seasons. We increasingly have “all seasons” visitors who want to give the fall, winter or spring a try.

The caveat for all of this is the weather. We do live on an island and we do have storms from time to time. But even then, unless it is a very significant storm which causes major damage, storms have their own beauty and power. They are especially magnificent when viewed from the island’s perspective. But let’s assume for the purposes of this blog post that weather, at least severe weather as in a major hurricane or nor’easter, is not a problem.

September is a lovely month. The water is still warm enough to swim in without a wetsuit, the days usually are very comfortable as the humidity begins to drop. For the most part the crowds, such as they are, are individuals without children as school is in session.  Most of the eateries and shops are still open, and have fairly regular hours.

Moving into October the temps are still mild, but the water begins to cool off. This is a big fishing month and there are some tournaments that take place on the weekends, so weekends stay pretty busy. If a restaurant stays open past Labor Day it is usually a good bet it will be open, at least part of the time, through Thanksgiving.  It’s always good to check in with the front desk and we can give you a pretty good idea of who is open and when.

Thanksgiving is really great on the beach. The air is crisp and clear, not usually terribly cold, and the shelling begins to improve as the ocean gets moving a bit more. When the winds are up, the kiteboarders and wind surfers are here, but by November, some sort of wetsuit is usually needed.  Fishing is still very popular through the month.

December brings some folks here for Christmas, more for the week following and into the New Year. Typically it is cooler, but last year we had temps in the 70s at the end of December, so you never know. Birding, shelling, fishing, and beach walking in general are extremely popular. There are fewer eateries and shops open, but our grocery stores are always open and there are a few restaurants that stay open until the New Year.

January and February are the quietest months. We can see snow (truly a beautiful scene) and you often have the beach all to yourself. Valentine’s Day Is becoming more and more popular for a romantic beach get-away. We add some wine and chocolate to make the stay even more enjoyable!

Depending on when Easter falls, the island slowly comes back to life during March and early April. The air temperatures can become quite warm, but the water is still too cold for swimming without a wetsuit of some type. Again, due to the winds, this is prime time for kiteboarding and wind surfing.

As April moves on into May, everything begins to pick up. Shops and restaurants reopen, some families bring their children here during the Easter holidays, and everyone and everything is getting geared up for the summer season. Then, before we all know it, it’s Memorial Day and the cycle begins anew.

We hope to see you sometime during the year – certainly there is a month that is best for you!

Hatteras Colors - Cape Hatteras Motel

All the Colors of a Cape Hatteras Summer

When you dream about your Hatteras vacation, whether it’s a daydream in the office or an actual nighttime version, in all likelihood it’s in color. That’s because the colors of the summer on the Outer Banks are vivid, varied, and truly unforgettable.

The sand is a great place to begin. Whether it’s a golden hue you see or a more reddish tinge near the tide line, the sunlight makes the sand shimmer and the brightness can be overwhelming. Couple that with a beautiful blue sky and the contrast is magical. Near the end of the summer, the sea oats tassel out, and their green and gold colors along the dunes create a waving buffer between sand and sky.

The ubiquitous JoBell flowers combine a dark yellow and deep red to add to the summer landscape. Beach umbrellas and tents provide the frivolity. Every color in the palette can be represented and again, when played up against the sand and sky, they stand out as if placed there like stickers in a child’s sticker book.

The lighthouse stands in stark contrast to everything else with it’s gleaming white and black-as-night stripes. The lighthouse is impressive no matter what the background, but on a day when the sky is bluer than blue and a few big puffy white clouds are around, it is just magnificent. In the early morning, those white stripes can take on a shade of pink and it’s a whole different look.

Which brings us to sunrises and sunsets. Talk about every color! Sometimes the sky is filled with various pastels and other times the sky is on fire. The scene can change from moment to moment on the same night, and especially with sunset, the colors linger long after the sun has actually set with purples and oranges streaking across the sky.

On a sunny day with a storm approaching the clouds can turn a deep, dark violet and the lightening streaks the sky. And of course after the storm, summer rainbows are our reward.

Lastly, there is the ocean. Every shade or blue or green can be seen there depending on the weather, the tide, and the prevailing wind. Sometimes the horizon is a dark navy blue and white ships dot the horizon. Other days the colors can almost be Caribbean and crystal clear. In the waves as they roll and break, there is a lovely seafoam green, one of the most relaxing colors we know.

So as you reflect on vacations past, or dream of future days in Hatteras, may all your dreams be in color, and may all your Hatteras dreams come true!

Big World On the Beach - Cape Hatteras

Small Island – Great Big World, On Hatteras Island

When you come to the Outer Banks, you might not expect to encounter the world. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of international visitors, and there are times at Cape Hatteras Motel when our registry looks like the United Nations! Visibility on the internet and a presence on external booking sites means all of OBX is now “out there” for the world to see, and the world is coming to our door step.

Our neighbors to the north, in Canada, perhaps really started this trend years ago with the strong interest in wind surfing which exploded a few decades back. But now, visitors can and do come from everywhere. This summer our motel has hosted visitors from Canada, England, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Argentina, China, Australia and Japan just to name a few. We have enjoyed sharing this part of our country with our visitors. For some of them, this is their first American experience, and we want to be sure they can appreciate not only the beauty of the Outer Banks, but the warmth and friendliness of our hospitality.

Additionally in the summer months you may encounter many internationals who are working in the service industries for the summer. You will meet them in the check-out lines at the grocery stores, serving your meals at local restaurants, assisting you at gift shops, and cleaning rooms and cottages across the island. This is an opportunity for them to not only see a beautiful part of our country, but also to earn money during the summer, and to improve on their English language skills. We have found most of these young people to be unbelievably open and friendly, anxious to learn more about our country and also anxious to share about their homelands.

Hatteras often feels like the end of the earth, people enjoy our remoteness as a great place to get away from it all. But in this age of computers, cell phones, travel websites and review pages, we are no longer a secret – even in the far-flung corners of our globe!

Hurricanes Dog Days - Cape Hatteras Motel

What A Difference A Day Makes On Hatteras Island

As this blog is being written, the calendar says July 31 which means tomorrow begins the dog days of August. It’s just one day, but there is a palpable change in atmosphere on Hatteras Island when we say farewell to July.

Believe it or not, many schools in the South begin their fall terms in August – some as early as August 1. So slowly, but surely, families must turn their attention away from vacation planning and onto books, backpacks and juggling sports and activity schedules. The number of young school-age people on the beach begins to decline. There are just a few fewer cars on the roads, the restaurants are just a bit less frantic (on most nights!) and the parking lots have a few more open spaces.

At Cape Hatteras High School the outdoor sign notes “that other Hurricane season” … that football practice begins on August 1 and cross-country practice is not far behind. An ad looking for school bus drivers was up not long ago. Shops are not purchasing any more summer items, so sales abound – especially for summer clothing and beach items. Entertainment schedules at the local venues are winding down, and “last whatever of the season” ads are popping up here and there.

At the motel, calls for reservations are now focusing on Labor Day weekend, the fall fishing season and bookings for next summer. For everyone working on the island, there is a realization that the busiest part of the season is now behind us and as quickly as it came upon us, Summer 2016 will soon be a memory.

While the days are still very hot, they are getting shorter. After two full months of summer, the ocean temperature is warm. The locusts are singing their songs in the trees and the sea oats are fully tasseled. It’s a lovely time on the beach – a slightly quieter time to enjoy what summer has left to offer!

Hatteras Island Weddings - Cape Hatteras Motel

Destination Hatteras Island for Romance & Ideal Weddings

Maybe it’s because we just had a big wedding take place in our Cape Hatteras Motel family recently, but our minds have been on the topic of romance quite a bit lately. More and more, the Outer Banks is becoming a wedding destination, and plenty of people first meet, date, get engaged, and spend anniversaries here as well. What is it about this area that is so conducive to love?

First and foremost has to be the feel of the island. Hatteras is laid back and even when we are the busiest, you can find a place to call your own. A spot on the beach, a long walk in the national seashore, a favorite table at a wonderful seafood restaurant with a view, or the sound of the ocean waves while you relax in your room – they all add up to a very special time and place. There are ferry rides to Ocracoke and stand-up paddling or kayaking adventures for two on the sound. Even fishing can become a romantic adventure when the moon is full and the tide is ebbing and flowing. You can’t leave out the lovely sunrises and spectacular sunsets either. We are fortunate to have both occur over water which makes for perfect beginnings and endings to the days. And what can compete with our dark skies for viewing the Milky Way? That will take your breath away for sure!

If you are thinking that this could be the place for your big event –proposal or marriage, vow renewal or anniversary –there are many businesses that can help you find just what you need to make your day special. Feel free to ask us at the motel for advice and suggestions. We especially want to give a shout out to Epic Shutter Photography, Floral Creations, Cake Hatteras, Hatteras Harbor Seafood, Right on 12 BBQ, Jewels by the Sea, Jessie Taylor Music, Studio 12, Lee Robinson’s General Store and Hatteras Wedding Ministries. They were all a part for our day and there are plenty more fine businesses that can assist you with your specific needs.

Also – if you are staying with us and need something special for your magic moment, let us know ahead of time and we will work to assist you.

Hatteras is magical for so many people, but for folks in love, it’s especially so. Let those wedding bells ring!

fishy - Cape Hatteras Motel

“Something’s Fishy” on Hatteras Island

In our office we have a sign that says “Fishing … if it was easy they’d call it catching!

The waters around Cape Hatteras have long been known for their bounty when it comes to fish. Some of the earliest writings about Hatteras Island make note of the “plentiful species” that abounded. Throughout the years, fishing has served as a livelihood for our watermen, and in recent history, sport fishing has become one of the big draws to the area. Fishing, more than beach going, has been the biggest reason the island has become more of a year-round destination. But no matter what time of year you come, there is always some kind of fishing going on. If you don’t see yourself as a fisherman (or lady) you might want to think again. Fishing is relaxing and challenging. It’s a great way to concentrate on something other than the weight of the world. Looking out over the ocean can be extremely calming. You meet a lot of like-minded people. And you have great fish stories to tell.

In the summer, charter boats do a big business. From Oregon Inlet to Hatteras to Ocracoke, boats and their captains head both inshore and off shore (to the Gulf Stream) on every good weather day. Parties of 4 to 6 anglers can spend a full day or a half day and it’s great to fun to watch the boats come in late in the afternoon and unload their catches. It does take a bit of savings to go out on a charter, but if you can afford it, it can be a great “bucket list” experience.

However, it doesn’t have to take a bucket load of money to fish.

The Avon Pier provides a great opportunity to try your hand at fishing and they can rent you everything you need. With Pier fishing your license is provided. Just recently a dolphin (mahi mahi) was caught off the Avon Pier so you never really know what the current will push in shore. For youngsters, pier fishing is a great introduction to the sport.

And last, but certainly not least, is the kind of fishing we’re famous for – surf fishing. The Cape Hatteras Anglers’ Club Tournament held in November is the largest surf fishing tournament in the country which speaks to the popularity of casting from our beaches into the surf. During the summer months, catches are typically smaller but very diverse. The big fishing times are generally in the fall and spring. But during the summer months it can be quite busy as well. Tackle shops provide rods, reels, lines, bait, lures, licenses and of course, tons of advice. A four wheel drive is not necessary – you can fish right in front of the motel and we’ve had some nice catches recorded here.

Fishing can be a “community” event or it can be a very solitary pursuit. Many folks will tell you it’s addictive. And who knows, you might even catch a fish!

Radio Hatteras - Cape Hatteras Motel

“Keeping It Local” – Meet the Press, Hatteras Style

For many visitors, being on vacation also means disconnecting from the outside world — no TV, no radio and sometimes even a break from social media. But for others, it’s fun to be able to tap into the local scene and on Hatteras Island we have two very fine island-specific media outlets to enjoy. Radio Hatteras (101.5 WHDZ FM in Buxton and just recently 99.9 WHDX in Waves) is a community-supported non-profit endeavor run by a group of committed volunteers. The station provides an eclectic mix of musical programming featuring nearly all genres and often provides nightly specials like “Electric Beach” or “Bluegrass.”  There are also slots for local musicians. But the station is especially important to islanders during times of bad weather, when reports from other parts of the state or even Dare County, don’t provide island-specific information.


The station’s mission is “to provide island-specific broadcast radio communications that enhance the safety and quality of life of Hatteras Island residents, visitors, and property owners.”  With live streaming capabilities on-line Radio Hatteras you can find out what is happening to your property or your favorite vacation get-away when travel to the island may be difficult or impossible. This is an especially valuable resource for monitoring current road conditions when highway NC 12 is impacted by weather, bridge construction and any other events. The station also provides important announcements for visitors during the summer season and special programs like “To the Point” provide an in-depth look into issues impacting the area. Hosted by Irene Nolan of the Island Free Press, this program gives everyone a better understanding of what it is like to live here all year – a question we are asked often.


Speaking of Irene Nolan, she is the editor of our on-line newspaper, Island Free Press. On this site you can find local news, commentary, beach access and park issues, classified ads, real estate and business updates, fishing reports and more. The site is supported by local businesses and is a great way to feel like a local (and be better informed) all during the year. You can subscribe to the Island Free Press through e-mail and have it dropped into your inbox once a week, or like Radio Hatteras, you can “friend” the Island Free Press on Facebook and get updated regularly as items are published.


Both of these ventures take a significant amount of effort to produce and we are fortunate to have something so local. While we love Raleigh and Norfolk, and even the upper reaches of  Bodie Island, nothing beats knowing what is really happening in your own backyard.


Irene Nolan, Island Free Press - Cape Hatteras Motel

Learn About Sea Turtles With A Real NPS Ranger - Cape Hatteras Motel

Learn About Sea Turtles Like A Ninja From A Real NPS Ranger On Hatteras Island

ATTENTION ALL KIDS … of all ages!!

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is offering a fun way to learn about sea turtles. Every Tuesday through Friday until September 5th, a kid-friendly park ranger activity will be conducted on the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse grounds. Meet at the Keepers of the Light Amphitheater at 11:30am.

Learn like a ninja and have a great time with a National Park Ranger!

Learn more about sea turtles and other great events, dining spots and activities at the official Outer Banks Events Calendar.

Learn About Sea Turtles Like A Ninja From A Real NPS Ranger - Cape Hatteras Motel

Fessendon Center - Cape Hatteras Motel

More To These Beaches Than Sand On Hatteras Island

Sometimes they are faded, and sometimes you drive right past them and they don’t really register with your consciousness. But along our Outer Banks you will find numerous historical placards along the highway denoting a special time or place related to the island’s history. They remind all of us that there is so much more to this area than meets the eye. It might be worth a few minutes to stop and read them, to learn a bit more about the rich history of this sandbar.

Just a few hundred yards from the motel in either direction you will find two of these signs – one commemorating the radio transmission of Fesseden (our local recreation center is the Fessenden Center – did you know that?) and the other relates to the location of the notorious Diamond Shoals after which the local restaurant is named. Further on down the island you will see mention of Billy Mitchell (the Frisco airstrip is named in his honor) and another commemorates the Monitor Sanctuary. From the earliest native American settlements, to the Civil War, to the World Wars, until recent times, the strategic location of Hatteras has been a part of many significant historical events. It’s fascinating to learn more about the people who helped shape Hatteras Island from the time of the Croatoan until today. There are several excellent places to visit, and it really is worth a bit of time to step off the beach and explore.

On our recommended list are: the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras Village, the old Weather Service Office in Hatteras, the Native American Museum in Frisco, the Lighthouse Keepers Museum in Buxton, the British Cemetery in Buxton and the Chicamacomico Rescue Station in Rodanthe. If you visit Ocracoke, the Waterman’s Museum at Silver Lake provides a captivating look at the fishing industry of old, and there is a British Cemetery there as well. For the very hearty adventurer, a day trip to Portsmouth Island is a once in a lifetime look at a once thriving maritime community now abandoned. There is also a wealth of books (both fiction and non-fiction) available at most gift shops and the bookstore, many of which are by local authors with generations-long connections to the Outer Banks.  We weren’t always a vacation destination. In fact, in terms of history, that’s a very recent development. People lived, worked, fished, farmed, and yes, even raised cattle on this island well into the 20th century. Their dogged determination through years of hurricanes, nor’easters, and true isolation have helped shape the island as it is today.

Make your vacation a bit deeper and richer this year by taking a moment to think back to what made Hatteras Island. It will be the best souvenir you can bring home!

Rocking Chair Mystique - Cape Hatteras Motel

Hatteras Island Rocking Chair Mystique

We are fortunate to be known for many things at our motel including great views and helpful, friendly service. But perhaps more than anything, our guests know us, and love us, for our rocking chairs.

Southern airports have long been known for their rockers (think Charlotte, NC) where weary travelers can rest for a moment between connections either looking ahead to a new adventure or reminiscing of the one just past.

For the Cape Hatteras Motel, rocking chairs represent the essence of an Outer Banks stay. A vacation’s worth of memories located in a piece of wooden furniture. Throughout the summer we notice our rockers being used for all sorts of memory-making:

1- First on the list would be beverages consumed in the rockers – steaming fresh coffee in the mornings as the sun rises, iced tea during a break on a hot afternoon, and of course the adult beverage of choice as the day winds down.

2- Rockers are also a great spot to catch up on reading – newspapers, best sellers, light summer fare, or brochures on interesting yet-to-be-tried OBX activities.

3- Rockers make great places to catch a nap. This is especially true on a day when a bit of light rain falls onto the beach and the sounds of the wind and rain are positively spell-binding.

4- Little ones love to nestle onto parents and grandparents laps for naps, or for important discussions that only young children can have about what they are seeing and learning at the beach.

5- Rockers make a safe place to watch off-shore thunderstorms when the thunder rolls along the sea and the lightening becomes the best fireworks show around.

6- But perhaps the most important function of the rocking chair is to rock cares away. When a visitor can leave the world behind and dream new dreams, find peace of mind, or just do absolutely nothing at all then we have achieved our goal of providing the perfect space for the perfect vacation.