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Monday, May 5, 2014

Travel Flashback: The Outer Banks

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Too bad it's Monday and we're back to work today. Maybe I'll have a margarita later to celebrate? Anyway, I've been sharing all of the places we got to visit on our East Coast vacation in June of 2012. This weekend, I shared our experiences in Washington D.C., and Virginia Beach. Today is all about The Outer Banks, NC. (Warning: It's long, but there's lots of photos!)

I think it's safe to say that the Outer Banks was one of the coolest places I have ever seen, and one of my favorite places on the trip. We spent a full day driving through it, and exploring along the way. We drove from Virginia Beach, VA, through the Outer Banks, and all the way down until we got to our hotel in Wilmington, NC late that night. Here's a map of the Outer Banks to help visualize where we were:

We actually started in Virginia on 158, and went through Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and all the way down to Hatteras. From there we boarded the ferry to Ocracoke, and then took a second ferry back toward Wilmington, North Carolina. A full day of driving and exploring the amazing sandy islands and the Atlantic Ocean!

Our first stop in the Outer Banks was in Kill Devil Hills (near Kitty Hawk). This is where the famous Wright Brothers made the first successful flight.

We're not total history buffs, but we thought it was kind of necessary while we were there, to stop at the First in Flight Memorial in Kill Devil Hills and check out the monument dedicated to Wilbur and Orville Wright and the famous first flights they made.

The monument was on top of a hill, kind of in the middle of nowhere. We first went into this building where they had a few exhibits, and then started the hike up the hill to see the monument up close and personal.

It was pretty cool, and the view from up on the hill was amazing.

It was really hot that day though, and making that trek up to the top of the hill, and all the way back, felt like running a marathon. My knee also started bothering me in Virginia Beach (I think from so much walking), and whenever I had to walk up and down steps it especially hurt. My legs were still sunburnt as well so I remember stopping a few times this day to apply more Aloe! Nonetheless, it was still an amazing day.

One of the coolest parts about the Outer Banks was just driving. And you have to do it with the windows down, at least for a little while.

There were sand dunes on each side of the road, and the sand was so white and so abundant. There were times when the island would get so narrow that you could see the ocean on both sides of the road, almost like an island bridge. 

There are several light houses in the Outer Banks, and we made sure to stop at a couple of them. This one is the Bodie Island Lighthouse in Nags Head, NC. It was in repair when we were there, so there was scaffolding surrounding it, unfortunately!

At a couple of points while driving down the island, we decided to stop and walk down to the beach. We had to walk over the sand dunes, which wasn't fun when you have a sore knee and sunburnt legs! I made it though!

Some of my favorite photos from the entire trip are from the Outer Banks. The sky was clear and blue, the ocean was clear, the sand was so pure...everything was just so pure and serene on these islands.

I collected a few shells, and it was nice to put our feet in the sand again.

When we got down to Hatteras, we took a ferry down to the island of Ocracoke. It was our first ever ferry ride, and it was very cool.

This was the shorter of the two ferries we took in the Outer Banks. (I think it was like 20 or 30 minutes) But I could not believe we were on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean!

Ocracoke was such a cool island. It almost felt tropical, but it was full of people, and lots of little shops. We drove from end to end, and may have even gotten lost a time or two. :) For dinner, we ate at a cool, laid-back bar and restaurant called Howard's Pub.

Trent had to have a taste of the local beer, Carolina Blonde.


We had a little time before we had to board the ferry (we couldn't get a ticket for the earlier ferry ride, so we had to board the later one). So we explored, went in some gift shops, and checked out the Ocracoke Lighthouse.

Then we went down by the pier and waited to board the ferry. 

Considering this was the view, we didn't mind waiting...

The sunset got even more beautiful when we were on the ferry. Leaving Ocracoke and heading out into the Ocean, really made it feel like we were in the middle of the ocean. The land behind us got smaller and smaller, and soon we were on a boat watching the sunset. It was one of the best endings to an amazing day.

It was windy on top of the ferry, so I didn't stay up there the entire time. It got darker, and the breeze got chillier, so I went back into the car and read for the rest of the trip. But Trent stayed out there enjoying the ferry ride.

It was late when we got back to the "mainland," and had to drive to our hotel in Wilmington. I still feel like this was one of the coolest experiences we've ever had together, and North Carolina was definitely the highlight of our East Coast vacation for me. The beaches, the light houses, the ocean, the sunsets... It was amazing! I know there was a lot of pictures in this post, but it was hard to eliminate photos when there were so many great ones!

My next East Coast vacation post will be about our time in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. We loved North Carolina, so I can't wait to share more about our time there. Happy Cinco de Mayo, all!


  1. Great travel blog post! You have to come back if you haven't already! The Bodie Island Light is all finished and you can head up to the top during the warmer seasons!

    1. I've heard it's all finished! I would LOVE to go back again. We just loved it there.


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