A May 2001 trip
to Outer Banks by TennisManu
Quote: We delivered a sailboat from Florida to Philadelphia. Driving back south we decided to leave I-95 for some out-of-the-way places. The Outer Banks looked very much out of the way. Wondering what life would be like in such a remote place we steered towards it to find out.
2. If you plan to fool your clients (or your boss!) by pretending to work from your office, when in reality you are making all your business calls from your cellular phone on the beach, I have bad news for you. As soon as we had crossed the bridge from Point Harbor to Kitty Hawk my cell phone was "out of area" (Sprint PCS)!!! Be prepared to make your business calls in very unusual places (see photo) and bring lots of change or a phone card.
Here are a few websites that helped me plan this trip:
OuterBanks.org Ocracoke Ferry Service
We compared four different places, all in the same area:
1. Cape Hatteras Motel
2. Lighthouse View Motel & Cottages
3. Outer Banks Motel
4. Comfort Inn Hatteras Island
I wanted to find a nice, clean oceanfront room for the best price possible (isn''t that what we all want?). It may be slightly extreme to compare four different motels just to stay for one night, but at least I saved you the tourble!
The worst deal was Number 4 : The rate was $89 plus tax (mind you, including their free continental breakfast worth 50 cents!). Besides, this motel neither had oceanfront nor ocean view rooms. "Well, that wouldn''t be very safe , would it?", was the receptionist''s reason for it. Strange, huh?
Number 3 had the best price at $54 plus tax (which is 10% by the way), but they only had ocean side rooms and I wasn''t ready to settle for that yet.
Number 2 and Number 1 both had ocean front rooms at almost the same rate: $72 (2) and $69 (1) plus tax. The only way to decide between the two was to actually look at the rooms (I really go to extremes, don''t I?). Number 2''s room was on the first floor right above the pool. It was clean and had nice furniture, but the air conditioning was turned down to 59 F and I didn''t bring my winter coat! Also, the view of the ocean was not too good from the first floor. Number 1''s room was on the third floor, the whole building is closer to the beach and no high dunes obstruct the view. The room was equipped with full kitchen, large refrigerator, breakfast table, a little living room area and king sized bed. Bingo ! The search was over! We got an efficiency for the price of a regular room. Each room also has two rocking chairs on the balcony. So bring some beer and rock the night away! It was a shame that we only had time to rock for one night!
The Cape Hatteras Motel is easy to find: It is the first motel as you drive into Buxton (coming from the north - Nags Head). Turn right into a parking lot to go to the rental office. The oceanfront rooms are across the street (or to the left as you drive on SR 12). The motel also has a website where you can get a lot more information: Cape Hatteras Motel .
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 5, 2001
Cape Hatteras Motel
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Restaurant | "Weeping Radish"
After extensive testing and repeated sampling I issued the following report card:
The waitress’ German: F (but she was cute)
If you would like more information on this restaurant, just click on The Weeping Radish .
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 29, 2001
Weeping Radish Brewery
623 Main Highway 64
Manteo, North Carolina 27954
Now we were sufficiently geared up to start exploring…
For a map of the area click here:
Outer Banks Map
To download and view the ferry schedule click here:
Every respectable attraction should have a gift shop. I found the most beautiful post cards of the Outer Banks in this one! They are photographs taken by Mike and Sue Hogan of Kill Devil Hills, NC. Surprisingly they were only 25 cents each!
The Roanoke Island Aquarium is open year-round, 9 AM - 7 PM, daily. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year''s Days.
If you'd like more information just click on this link:
North Carolina Aquariums
After an hour’s drive we arrived in Buxton and decided to find a motel room for the night. We compared four different places and finally moved into an efficiency at the Cape Hatteras Motel (you can read more about it in my accommodation entry). We sat in the rocking chairs on the balcony in front of our room and enjoyed the view and the sound of the ocean until the sun went down. Then our stomachs reminded us that it was dinnertime, so we drove into town to see what we could find to eat. Now I have never had ice cream for dinner, but when we saw the Cool Wave Ice Cream Shoppe on Hwy 12 with its outdoor dining area (wooden tables and benches) and a front porch swing we both agreed that we should give it a try. The huge banana split turned out to be an excellent dinner and since this was my vacation I decided to gracefully accept the fact that I must have just consumed at least 1000 calories.
On the way back to the motel we noticed a road leading to the lighthouse (the one that can be seen on all Outer Banks post cards). So to round off a perfect evening we decided to take a look at the lighthouse by night. It was of course closed, but we sat on the bench in front of it in the warm evening air, watched the big beam of light revolve around and listened to the sound of the Whippoorwills.
With reservation in hand we left the car in a large parking lot next to the Ferry Office and started our walking tour .
First we just went along the main road looking at anchored sailboats on the right and motels with ‘hammocked’ porches on the left. We also saw lots of bicycle rental stores and souvenir shops . Then we turned around and started to venture into the small unpaved streets looking at private homes and gardens to get a feel of what life is actually like on the island (don’t worry, you won’t get lost in this tiny town). We noticed a lot of "no trespassing" signs and thought that tourism must be quite an invasion on a town of 800 inhabitants.
We passed an old man painting a fence and while Jeff took pictures of ducks nearby I turned to the man to see if he wanted a chat . When he first looked at me I didn’t expect to get two words out of him. Either that or I wouldn’t understand a word he was saying. He was just what I imagined a typical ‘Ococker’ to look like (hairy face and missing teeth). I had read about the strange dialect (‘brogue’) that the natives speak and was very curious about it. And besides I had a million questions about life on the island, so I dared to start with a "good morning, nice day today". From that moment on the man started to talk, and talk, and talk as if he had been waiting for years to speak with another human being (lucky me!!). We talked about Florida, Germany, hurricanes, his family, fig trees in his garden and fig pies that his wife bakes, about tourists and how crowded it gets in the summer... It was a great conversation and if I hadn’t had a ferry to catch I would probably still be standing there chatting.
We walked past the British Cemetery (I thought my British husband would like to see that). Next to it was another small cemetery where we spent a few minutes reading the names and dates on the tombstones. You can learn a lot about a town from its cemetery! It seems that if you are a native in this town your name will either be Howard , Wahab or possibly O’Neal .
It was getting close to 11:30 am and we found our way back to the parking lot. We had to be at the ferry half an hour before departure and we didn’t dare to be late! Having paid our $10 fare (per vehicle) at the tollbooth after showing our reservation, we were at the end of our Outer Banks adventure. The ferry departed at noon, right on time, and I wondered if I would ever be back to visit my new buddy on Howard Street...maybe I should write him a postcard from Florida – it wouldn’t be difficult to guess his name!
Here are some useful numbers and links:
Ocracoke Civic & Business Association , Tel: 252-928-6711
Ocracoke (History, British Cemetery, Lighthouse, etc…)
Ocracoke Island Photography (beautiful photographs, live cam, maps, dialect sample, great stuff)
Island Artworks by Kathleen O’Neal
Ferry Information : 800-BY FERRY (I will write a separate entry with much more information about the ferry system).
We wanted to catch the ferry to Ocracoke at 8:30 am, so that we could have enough time to walk around the village and then get the other ferry at noon to Cedar Island (the mainland). Although the first ferry leaves every 30 minutes, everything had to be timed right (in my opinion anyway). The ride takes 40 minutes and has a capacity of 30 cars. It is not possible to make a reservation for this free ferry ride, so I figured that we should get there 10 minutes early to be guaranteed a space (you never know at rush-hour (!), or don’t they have that here?).
All this planning meant that I had to sacrifice my day-time visit of the famous lighthouse , which didn’t open until 10 am. We did stop there briefly though to take some touristy pictures (see below). I think I would have had a spectacular view of the island from the top of this 208 foot-high tower and I wish I could have climbed it, but maybe I would have been too tired anyway after all this beach walking! If you would like more information about the lighthouse, call 252-995-4474 .
So we made it on the 8:30 am ferry to Ocracoke Island in plenty of time. There was no problem in getting space this time of year (May 22) and I enjoyed my first American ferry ride parked right at the front of the ship between some local fishermen and the ORKIN man starting his workday with a pleasant ride in the sunshine and plenty of time to read the paper. Island life is just amazing!!!