Jan, our controller here at Eillu, shares why she loves the Outer Banks and has made this special place her home.
1. The beach. Really, does that require any further explanation?!
2. Amazing sunsets and sunrises. Local social media is abuzz with pictures daily of the always magical sunrises. You’d think we’re obsessed. And maybe you’ll understand why when you experience an Outer Banks sunrise over the Atlantic or a sunset over the sound.
3. The Wright Brothers National Memorial. I remember a jingle from a North Carolina tourism campaign when I was growing up, “…face to face with history…” it’s never truer than here on the Outer Banks.
4. Lighthouses. These are not only fun to climb and see amazing vistas, but they are still used as navigational aids today. If you are fortunate to be staying in a cottage where the light shines in your room at night, please do not call the police department and ask if they can be turned off!
5. The Lost Colony and Waterside Theater. Old Tom and Agona from this performance have always been some of my favorite characters. Although it is entertainment for the whole family, warn the kiddies, the show portrays some realistic looking fighting. But it’s ok, they’re professionals. Did you know the late Andy Griffith acted in this very drama here in Manteo early in his career?
6. The Elizabethan Gardens. Enjoy the formal English gardens, statuary, sculptures, native plants and giant live oaks. Along with nearby sound side views, they even sell some of the plants to grow in your own garden.
7. Roanoke Island Festival Park -The Elizabeth II. With costumed interpreters to answer questions, explore a faithful replica of the ships the colonists sailed to the New World. Bet you cannot stump them with a question of the time-period. They even speak with an Elizabethan brogue.
8. The Settlement Site at Roanoke Island Festival Park- Here’s a place where you can experience a taste of life in the 16th Century, play Elizabethan games or try on period armor.
9. American Indian Town in Roanoke Island Festival Park- complete with a replica of a typical Coastal Algonquian native longhouse and dance circle. Experience a taste of how the original Outer Banks locals lived!
10. The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island- Meet my fishy friends that I help care for every Tuesday. Did you know that a Sheepshead (black & white striped fish that hang out around pier pilings) are actually very sociable to us humans as well as to one another? I was blown away to learn that! Fish recognize us as individuals and some like to play with us. This summer the aquarium will also have live-action dinosaurs lurking in the woods…be very careful.
11. Watersports-R-Us- Any sport you can imagine that involves water is available here on the Outer Banks. Swimming, surfing, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, kite boarding, SUP riding, snorkeling, SCUBA and much more. Whether you’re a veteran to a sport or want to try something for the first time, this is the place for you.
12. The Fall- I almost want to keep this secret to myself and so am hesitant to list it! The fishermen have known how fabulous the fall is on the Outer Banks for hundreds of years. The ocean is still warm enough to swim. There are plenty of beautiful sunny days and there are less crowds.
13. Restaurants. Even big-city dwellers who have almost unlimited dining options are amazed with the almost countless number of restaurants from quick eats to fine dining experiences. We may be small, but our restaurant selections rival anywhere!
14. Maritime forest and nature trails. No lions, tigers or bears to be concerned about here! There are trails all over but be sure to visit the Nature Conservatory at Nags Head Woods for some of the best trails around.
15. Bird watching. Our area is a stopover for some on their migration route, and permanent residence for others, with approximately 400 species of birds. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge located just over Oregon Inlet on Hatteras Island is a must-visit for the birders, and anyone who enjoys unspoiled nature spots!
16. Wild Horses. We are very fortunate to have wild Colonial Spanish mustang ponies left by explores over 500 years ago roaming the northern Outer Banks. If you decide to seek them out, remember, they are wild so keep your distance and keep your camera ready.
17. Fishing. Whether surf, pier, deep sea, bridge or boat fishing on the sound, the Outer Banks is a world class fishing destination. Personally, I prefer that you release any Sheepshead you may catch, see #7 above, they may be relatives of my aquarium fish friends.
18. Climbing Jockey’s Ridge. This has been a family pastime since I was a child when my brothers, sister, and I would hike over to the dune with our fiberglass bread tray. We’d slide down the sand hills for hours, sometimes running down with giant strides or rolling down. Hint: do not shout for joy while doing this unless you are partial to a mouth full of sand. Stay for the sunset and a beautiful panoramic view from the top.
20. Breathing the salt air. When I have been away for a few days, returning to the smell of the salt air lets me know I am where I am supposed to be.
21. Art Galleries. We have a lively community full of very gifted artists. Treat yourself to the best from your visit with a one-of-a-kind handcrafted piece of local art work.
22. Community events and festivals. You name it we probably have it. From the Dare Day Festival, seafood, music, arts, wine, kite flying to the Festival of Trees, fully decorated amazing Christmas trees that are auctioned off to benefit the Outer Banks Hotline. There’s always something happening on the weekends to keep active.
23. Beach combing. This age old favorite pastime is a chance for you to find your own gifts from the sea such as shells and beach glass or even shark teeth.
24. Make your own beach glass jewelry. There are a number of places that teach you the basic art in just a few hours. Bring your own found treasures our use theirs.
25. The plaque at my aunt’s Outer Banks retreat home really says it all, “If you are lucky enough to be at the beach, you are lucky enough!”
Whether you’re visiting on vacation or you’re interested in purchasing an investment property that doubles as a vacation getaway, the Outer Banks is a beautiful place that keep people coming back for decades and stuck here on purpose.