Shark safety tips


Shark safety tipsMany OBX visitors would agree that relaxing days at the beach are the best part of an Outer Banks vacation. Our beautiful beaches draw millions of tourists every year, but some vacationers stay out of the water due to their fear of sharks. Take a look at the shark attack statistics I am sharing below – it’s not as bad as you might think. In general, if you follow simple shark safety tips, you will have little to worry about.

It may be comforting to know that shark attacks on the Outer Banks, and in the world in general, are very rare. According to International Shark attack file, in 2012, there were a total of 80 unprovoked attacks in the entire world (78 in 2011, 82 in 2010) with a total of 7 fatal outcomes. About half of the unprovoked attacks happened in the North American waters (42), with the majority of them in Florida, Hawaii, and California. North Carolina had 2 recorded shark bites in 2012. According to the same source, the majority of shark attacks involve surfers and others participating in board sports, and only about 22% of recreational swimmers.

If you look at accident statistics for the Outer Banks, the chances of getting severely hurt by a shark are very slim when compared to the danger of riding a bicycle along the side of the highway 158 or crossing the road in unmarked crosswalks. Don’t let the fear of sharks stop you from enjoying the water, but do follow shark safety tips below.

    1. Sharks feed at dawn and at dusk, so swimming in the Ocean early in the morning or late in the afternoon is not recommended. I suggest the swimming time-frame of 10 am to 4 pm, to be on the safe side. 
    2. Some types of sharks are more aggressive than others, but, generally, they are not very interested in humans. However, sharks can mistaken shiny jewelry and swimming suit buckles for fish scales, especially in cloudy or murky water, so, it’s a good idea to leave all jewelry (including rings, bracelets, ear rings, necklaces, and watches) at home and save the shiny and reflective bathing suits for a pool. Same goes for bright colored swimwear as sharks are drawn to bright and contrasting colors, especially yellow.

3. Sharks are very attracted to bodily fluids, especially blood, so menstruating women and everyone with an open wound should avoid swimming in the Ocean. Urinating in the water may also be a bad idea.

4. Steer clear of fishermen fishing at the beach – you never know what might be after the smaller fish they are trying to catch. I also would suggest that you don’t swim too close to Fishing piers - sharks may be attracted to bait and discarded fish.

5. Splashing resembles the behavior of wounded prey, so swim smoothly and avoid erratic movements to avoid drawing shark’s attention.

6. Avoid sandbars and steep drop-offs.

7. Never swim alone. Although shark attacks are extremely rare, it’s always a good idea to swim with a group, just in case.


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Things to do on the Outer Banks on the 4th of July


things to do on Outer Banks 4th of JulyAre you visiting the Outer Banks this week and looking for things to do on the Outer Banks on the 4th of July? Here, on the OBX, Independence Day is one of our favorite holidays. Children and adults alike love to watch the spectacular fireworks over water. Unfortunately, personal fireworks are illegal on the Outer Banks (more information on specific town rules and regulations can be found here), but there are great public fireworks in approved locations, such as Nags Head Fishing pier, Avon pier, Manteo Waterfront, and Currituck Heritage park.

Things to do on the Outer Banks on the 4th of July:

Start your Independence Day celebration at Duck‘s 4th of July parade. The parade starts at 9 am. Be sure to arrive early to find a parking spot. More information on the parade route and community celebration following the parade can be found on Town of Duck website.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Island Farm in Manteo, 4th of July is a great day to pay them a visit. Independence Day celebration at the Island Farm starts at 10 am. On Island Farm website, they suggest that you bring a picnic to enjoy and  join Island Farm staff in commemorating our nation’s birth with musket-fire, games, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Watermelon will be served in front of the farmhouse. Musket firing is scheduled for 1pm and 3pm. Also, don’t miss the Ox-wagon rides offered from 10:30 until 12:30 – much fun for the kids! Reading of Declaration of Independence will begin at 2pm. Admission cost: $6 for adults and children ages 6 and up.

Are you vacationing in Duck or Corolla area? Currituck Herritage Park in Corolla is one of the best places to celebrate 4th of July on the Outer Banks, with food, fun activities, music, and one of the best fireworks shows to enjoy! Admission and parking is free. Festivities start at 5 pm. Please visit the Whalehead club website for more information.

Hatteras vacationers, don’t miss Hatteras Village 4th Annual celebration that will take place in Hatteras village, in front of the post office, from 2 to 7 pm: golf cart parade, live local music, art,  food, ice cream, games, and more. Also, be sure to check out 4th of July Fireworks on Hatteras Island Facebook event to join in, see who else is going, or ask any questions you may have.

July 4th 2013 at Roanoke Island Festival park in Manteo is another event you don’t want to miss. The patriotic event is free and open to the public. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy the performance by Blue Aces, US Air Force band. The gates open at 6pm, and the performance starts at 8pm. The parking lot fills up fast, so be sure to arrive early to get your parking spot. Roanoke Island Festival park is also a great place to enjoy the Manteo waterfront Fireworks, scheduled for 9:30.

Finally, my personal favorite - fireworks at Nags Head fishing pier, at Milepost 11.5. The Fireworks Spectacular starts at 9:25 on July 4th, with July 5th being the rain date. Parking at the Fishing pier is usually reserved for emergency vehicles and event staff, so I suggest that you park at a beach access or on a side of one of the roads, off the Beach road. Bring a blanket or beach chairs and enjoy one of the most amazing Fireworks shows, right at the beach. The fireworks show is usually pretty long (15-20 minutes) and very much worth seeing! Here’s a video of Nags Head Fishing Pier fireworks Finale we took last year:

Happy 4th of July! Enjoy your Independence Day Celebration and be safe!

American flag


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Fun activity for kids on Outer Banks

fun activity for kids on Outer Banks

Fun things to do with kids in Nags Head, NC

Looking for a fun activity for kids on Outer Banks? When children need a short break for the heat at the beach or on a rainy day, we suggest that you take them to the “Outer Banks Gearworks” in Nags Head at Milepost 10.5 for a few games of laser tag and then help them cool down with some frozen yogurt at “Sweet Frog” next door.

Laser tag is a relatively new fun activity for kids on Outer Banks. ”Outer Banks Gearworks” opened for business a few years ago, and, since then, they have become a popular party destination for OBX kids. In case you are not familiar with laser tag, let me explain how it works. After you listen to a short presentation about laser tag equipment and game rules, you will be asked to pick a team to join – red or blue. You will then will be directed to pick out a vest and laser gun with flashing lights in your team color. The game host will then invite one of the teams to go inside the two-story game room and ask the team members to spread out. Once the second team enters the game room, the game is on. The objective of the game is to beat the other team by getting the most points. You will accumulate points by tagging the members of the rival team and shooting at their “home base.” The game room has ramps and permanent wall dividers and the entire game is played in a dark room with dimmed lights. The laser tag game is pretty fun and intense – you can get tagged at any point and from any direction. 

I would recommend Laser Tag for kids ages 5 and up, but I have seen some kids as young as 3 take on the laser tag game challenge. Younger children will definitely need to be supervised, so it’s a good idea for parents to join in the fun. If there are younger kids in your group who are not ready to participate in the laser tag game, “Outer Banks Gearworks” also has a room with two small bounce houses where kids can play all day for only $5.

I also suggest that you check out the Outer Banks Gearworks website for special offers like unlimited play deals, all day passes, or discounted rates for certain times of the day.

Once kids are done playing laser tag and are ready to cool down, take them to “Sweet Frog” directly in front of OBX Gearworks building – the absolute favorite frozen yogurt shop on the Outer Banks where you can pick your own frozen yogurt flavors and mix and match toppings to your taste.

fun things to do with kids on the Outer Banks


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Outer Banks Mileposts


Outer Banks MilepostsIf you ask an Outer Banks local for directions, you are likely to hear a reference to Outer Banks Mileposts. Since the OBX consists of narrow islands that stretch for miles and miles, milepost system is very convenient, when it comes to giving directions. At the same time, mileposts can be somewhat confusing, if you are not familiar with the mile-tracking system. Here is how it works.

In Dare County, milepost (MP) count starts at Dare County/ Currituck County border line (on Wright Memorial Bridge) and runs south, along Hwy 158 and then along Highway 12 towards Cape Hatteras. Ocracoke also has milepost markers, but they are part of Hyde county mile-tracking system. Wright Memorial Bridge connects the Currituck mainland to Kitty Hawk and Southern Shores, and shortly after you get off the bridge coming into the Outer Banks from Currituck and Virginia, you will see the MILE 1 green and white sign.

Here is a list of approximate locations of Outer Banks Mileposts, from Kitty Hawk to Hatteras:

Milepost 1: Wal-Mart, ABC store, Starbucks Coffee shop, Food Lion

Milepost 2: Outer Banks Welcome Center, Highway 158 and Highway 12 intersection (that’s the road leading to Southern Shores, Corolla, and Duck)

Milepost 3: Brew Thru drive-through shop, Bank of America

Milepost 4: Kitty Hawk post office, Seven Eleven

Milepost 5: Henry’s Restaurant, right before the Outer Banks Paradise Fun Park

Milepost 6: Milepost 6 Shopping Center (look for Chip’s Wine & Beer Market and Chip’s Tasting lounge signs), less than 1/2 mile past Wells Fargo bank

Milepost 7: Kmart, R/C Movie theater, Belk, Food Lion

Milepost 8: Wright Brothers National Memorial and Kill Devil Hills Airport

Milepost 9: Burger King, Wendy’s, McDonalds, Pizza Hut – area also known as “French Fry Alley”

Milepost 10: Harris Teeter, Ben Franklin, Rite Aid

Milepost 11: Outer Banks YMCA

Milepost 12: Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Milepost 13: Surf Side Plaza, Nags Head Post office

Milepost 14: OBX Hospital, Applebee’s, Outback

Milepost 15: Nags Head Links golf course, Salt Water Taffy Store “Forbes Candies, Inc” (closer to MP 15.5)

Milepost 16: Tanger Outlet, The Dunes Restaurant, Owens Restaurant, Jennette’s Pier

Milepost 17: go on to causeway towards Pirates Cove Marina and Manteo attractions or go South towards Rodanthe (approx. MP 45), Waves (approx. MP 47), Salvo (approx. MP 49), Avon (approx. MP 63), Buxton(approx. MP 70), and Hatteras (approx. MP 79).

Next time, when you ask an OBX local for directions, you should be well prepared to hear: “It’s at Milepost _, next to _.” The Outer Banks Mileposts system has been working well for us, and we hope it will make it a little easier for you to find your way around the Outer Banks.

As always, please feel free to ask any questions about Outer Banks, we would love to hear back from you :) Enjoy your Outer Banks visit!



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Outer Banks Kids Museum


Outer Banks kids museumIf you are visiting the Outer Banks with young children and are looking for things to do with kids on Outer Banks, you will love one of the OBX newest attractions for kids – Outer Banks Kids Museum “Children at Play.” The museum was founded a couple years ago and began as a collection of cardboard boxes and pretend play toys turned into pretend play exhibits. Alyssa, a creative young woman with a vision of bringing a fun place for learning and play to the Outer Banks, and a group of volunteers worked hard arranging for temporary exhibit locations at Outer Banks churches, YMCA, and other places that offered to host the museum start-up for a few days. In 2010, Outer Banks Kids Museum ”Children at Play” opened up at a storefront in a shopping center in Kitty Hawk. In 2012, flooding from Hurricane Sandy destroyed most of the exhibits donated by local businesses or built by the museum founders from scratch. In a way, Sandy was a curse and a blessing. The damaged caused by the flooding was devastating. But in early 2013, the museum reopened at a new location (almost directly across the street from the old location) in a larger space at Buccaneer’s Walk Shopping Center in Kitty Hawk, at Milepost 4.5. Here’s the link to more information about the location, fees, and hours of operation for Outer Banks Kids Museum “Children at Play.” For Outer Banks locals, it’s been amazing to watch the Children’s Museum transform from temporarily exhibits into a small storefront operation and then into this great place for kids to engage in creative play and put imagination to work. A visit to “Children at Play” is a great rainy day activity. The museum’s popular exhibits, including “OBX Wellness Center”, “Open Air Market Exhibit”, “Gone Fishing”, and “Wonder Wall”, will keep a toddler or a preschooler busy for hours. If you visit the museum on a Wednesday or Thursday afternoon, be sure to check the museum’s calendar for activities scheduled for Art Wednesdays and Science Thursdays. And if you are up for watching a movie outdoors on the sound,  ”Children at Play” offers the family-friendly activity off-site, in Nags Head, at a very affordable cost: Movies on the Sound. Outdoor movies kids museum “Children at Play” is a member of the Association of Children’s Museums, so if you are already a member of the association, your will be eligible for discounted admission. You can view the details of the ACM Reciprocal Program here: Family Reciprocal Membership. Need more ideas for things to do on the Outer Banks with kids? Visit Outer Banks Aquarium, the Island Farm in Manteo, Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills NC, or Outer Banks Paradise Fun Park. Go strawberry picking in April and May or take a  hay ride to a pumpkin patch in late September and October. Enjoy your OBX visit and please feel free to comment on the post if you have any questions or would like to leave feedback. Your comments are greatly appreciated.


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Strawberry picking Outer Banks NC


strawberry picking Outer Banks

The long anticipated strawberry picking season is upon us. If you are an Outer Banks local or are visiting the area, don’t miss the opportunity for strawberry picking on the Outer Banks, NC. The strawberry patch is in Point Harbor, NC which is mainland and is not considered part of the Outer Banks, but it’s right across the bridge from Kitty Hawk and Southern Shores, within a short 5-minute drive from the Beach. As soon as you cross the bridge (coming from the Outer Banks in northbound direction), look for the “Pick your own strawberries” sign on the right hand side. Point Harbor Pick-Your-Own strawberry patch is open:

Monday-Saturday 9:00am to 6:00pm, Sunday 12:00pm to 4:00pm.

Occasionally, the strawberry patch will close for inclement weather, after several days of heavy rainfall, or to allow new strawberries to grow and ripen after busy days and big crowds at the patch. It is a good idea to call ahead at 252-491-8266 to make sure they are open before driving out to Point Harbor. Also, Point Harbor Pick-Your-own operates on cash only basis – they do not accept checks or credit cards.

Strawberry picking is a great family-friendly activity. Children enjoy picking their own strawberries and are more likely to eat the fresh flavorful berries vs store bought produce. Remember to bring sunscreen, hats, and a container to carry picked strawberries home.

Enjoy Strawberry picking at the Outer Banks, NC! Once again, don’t forget to call ahead and check on hours of operation. Bring cash, sunscreen, hats, and a container to carry strawberries home. Want to be among the first ones to know when the strawberry patch re-opens next year? Be sure to fill out a card and include your mailing address before you leave the strawberry patch.

strawberry picking Outer Banks NC

You may also like these ideas on how to stretch strawberry season by preserving strawberries and these strawberry recipes.
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Best Happy Hour on Outer Banks, NC


best happy hour Outer Banks NCIf you are visiting from a different state, you may be surprised to find out that North Carolina state regulations prohibit happy hours drink specials. ABC Rule 2S.0232 (b) states “An on premise permittee or his agent shall not give away a drink or sell the drink for any period of time less than one full business day.” “Buy one drink, get one free” specials are not allowed, and neither are specials offered for one segment of population only (like “ladies night” specials). You can find answers to frequently asked questions about NC happy hour rules here: Happy Hour FAQs.

But the good news is that Happy hour specials on food are not regulated. Therefore, you are very likely to find a great deal on food between 3pm and 5pm. 25 cent wings, 10-25 cent shrimp, $1 tacos, specially priced oysters, and 15-25 cent crawfish are some of the Happy hour food specials you are likely to run into on the Outer Banks. Restaurants will sometimes ask you to sit at the bar, in order to take advantage of the food special – they do want you to buy a drink or two. 

So where is the best happy hour on Outer Banks, NC? Many locals would agree that Hurricane Mo’s at milepost 4.5, right by the Kitty Hawk Post office offers the best happy hour on the beach. Between the hours of 3 and 6 pm, you can buy 10 cent shrimp, 25 cent wings, and $1 tacos. The shrimp is huge, and a 100-120 shrimp ($10-$12) is often enough to feed 3 adults. What’s the catch? Drinks are a little on the pricey side – almost $2 for a soda, $3.50-$4.00 for beer, but hey, where else can you indulge a seafood craving for such a low price? Hurricane Mo’s is very popular with locals and visitors alike, so come early to be sure you get in before the happy hour is over.

best happy hour Outer Banks

Steamed shrimp

And since restaurants and bars can’t offer drink specials for any period of time less than one full business day, many establishments will offer daily drink specials, so be sure to check with your waiter or bartender on that.