Some Outer Banks Love

In the May/June 2012 issue of Budget Travel, this question was posed to the various editors and department directors:

What is your all-time favorite family vacation spot?

Responses were quite varied – Miami, San Francisco, Arches National Park, to name a few.  I was tickled to see that my home, Lancaster County, and the neighboring town of Hershey, Pennsylvania,  were mentioned as well.  I’d like to offer my two cents of a response to this question.  We do a fair amount of traveling together as a family and have certainly been to some marvelous places.  There is one place, however, that we return to again and again: Ocean Hills, a rather remote, non-commercialized section of the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  This destination has become a sanctuary for my whole family (my parents, sister, brother, and me, and our families), a place where we meet together to escape the world, to rest, and to reconnect with each other and our selves.  The bi-annual journey to Ocean Hills is an arduous one, testing the limits of patience and endurance as we suffer hours of creeping bumper-to-bumper traffic .  All the agony is forgotten, though, as soon as this familiar vista comes into view.

{ View from the front porch the beach house }

We’ve rented the same house for the last four trips.  “Sea the Light” perfectly suits our purposes for escape and walking through the front door feels like a reunion with an old friend.  It is situated at the bitter end of the paved road north of Corolla and is backed by a scrubby and wild nature preserve.  The privacy and isolation create a laid-back vibe that is almost intoxicating.  We wander between the ocean and the house at all hours of the day and night, eat really good food that we take turns making for one another, and indulge in a lot of general silliness.  We lounge on the beach and swim in the ocean all day,fish in the surf in the evening, chase ghost crabs and take long walks at night.  There are no agendas, no expectations, and no rules (except no kids in the pool without an adult on the premises).  By the end of the week, the sand and salt water have buffed the grime of life from our bodies, the sun  has warmed us to the marrow of our bones, and we are rested and restored.

 { Sea the Light, “our” beach house }

Most people probably don’t think of the beach as a place to get up close and personal with nature.  The Outer Banks is different.  There are many opportunities to experience the natural world in all it’s glory.  We don’t even have to leave the beach house for wildlife viewing.

 { A neighborly grey fox (?) who visited us regularly }

{ A family of wild horses }

{ A few shy deer }

{ The estuary at the end of a short trail not far from our house }

Of course the real reason we head to this corner of the world is for the gorgeous, empty beach.  We usually head down to the beach before lunch and stay there until supper.  We play in the ocean, dig in the sand, fly kites, read books, take walks, collect shells, nap.  Pods of porpoises swim up and down the coast, terrorizing fish and frolicking in the waves.  Pelicans dive bomb the water for a snack and seagulls scavenge the beach for food.  When the kids are rubbed raw from the sand and salt, they often head back to the pool for the rest of the afternoon.  Most of the “grown-ups” linger by the ocean until the late afternoon.

{ The only boardwalk around }

{ The crowds are a real issue but we manage to make the best of it }

I love the beach in the evening.  The light is soft and the sand is cool and there is a quiet peacefulness that is missing during the day.  We often head back to the water’s edge after supper to fish, take walks, and look for the tiny sand crabs that come out of hiding at dusk.

Ah, the joy and satisfaction of a bathing suit, comfy clothes, and flip-flop vacation.  This summer, unfortunately, is the off-year, so we won’t be heading to OBX in August.  I’m missing it fiercely already.


    • Thanks! I don’t consider myself a photographer at all – I have very little technical knowledge. But I love to take photographs to document my life. And It’s hard to take a bad photo of the Outer Banks. It’s a beautiful place.

  1. Can’t beat spending time on the beach, and the Outer Banks are pretty special. Love the photographs of the wildlife… who would have thought you could have seen such a variety of critters!

    • The fox was adorable. He and his buddy came for a visit every afternoon while the kids were in the pool. Generally speaking, the wild animals I normally see at the beach are of the human variety. 🙂

  2. Your pictures almost make me miss the East Coast. They bring backmany a memory of my life in the MidAtlantic States. I just could not take the humid summers, but I still had a lot of incredible memories of summers on the beaches. Thanks for the trip back in time!

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