Last month we made our annual trek to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the regular vacation spot for Mrs. Breakfast With Nick’s family. It’s a special gift that we get to go every year; this year we visited old favorites and discovered a couple new angles on the trip.
Our trek down includes at least one stop at a Bojangle’s (mmmm Cajun Filet Biscuit), and we get in some solid beach time. The family is a group of early risers, so the beach camp is often set up by 8 a.m.
Of course, play hard, eat hard. (That’s a phrase, right?) We share a lot of good meals together. On our first day we were kept from the beach by blustery rain, so we made a hearty seafood chowder.
I always say you can add eggs to anything to make it breakfast, so eggs + leftover chowder + a biscuit = breakfast!
My brother-in-law Chip is getting handy with the smoker, so they bring pulled pork for one meal. It was nicely complemented by collard greens, mac and cheese, slaw, and elote corn.
This year my father-in-law took me and three of my brothers-in-law out charter fishing in the Gulf Stream. We lucked out with a perfectly beautiful day. We met the boat at the Hatteras marina at 5 in the morning, which offered us a sunrise view as we headed out through the sound and into the open sea.
Admittedly, I’m not much of a fisherman, and have never been deep sea fishing, so the whole process was fascinating to me. The first mate worked with such agility while the captain navigated out into open waters.
The fish weren’t biting much that day, and gathering from what we heard over the radio, most of the other boats were… well, in the same boat. We stopped trolling for a while and did some bottom fishing. Over the course of the day, we did catch a dolphin and some trigger fish.
And even despite the fishing, the view is unbeatable. The water out in the Gulf Stream is a stunning blue; your eye can’t decide if it’s deep and dark or bright and glassy.
We enjoyed the spoils of war that evening. My brother-in-law Jake cleaned and cooked the fish.
If you’re an early enough riser, you can catch some spectacular sunrise views.
Even though we have Duck Donuts in Columbus, we still enjoy a box at OBX (where the chain originated), as you can see from our totally-not-staged photo above.
When all of the extended is there, our beach setup becomes a small camp. All that’s missing is electricity and running water.
Restaurant turnover is high in the seasonal market that is the Outer Banks, so you quickly learn to love and support the really good places. This year we finally tried Bros Sandwich Shack, which has been in Avon in the Food Lion plaza for a couple years now.
High marks for the sandwiches, burgers, fries. Good use of seafood, too. We will be back to support this one.
We’ve climbed the iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse many times, but this year marked the first time climbing it at night. The National Park Service hosts monthly moonlight climbs, June through September.
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. three days before the climb; they host two climbs with 30 seats each, so the spots go quickly.
We landed in the 8:30 climb. They split each group into two. We did wish the park rangers had let us stay a little longer, as the strawberry moon was just cresting the horizon when they started rounding us up to head back down (or they should start the climbs 15 minutes later). Still, it’s amazing to see the lighthouse lit at night, to climb to the top and see the light turning, to see the bright full moon, and to watch the lighthouse beam sweep across the horizon.
We always take one day to visit neighboring Ocracoke Island. In late May they launched a new express passenger service to the island. Typically, the only way on or off the island is by vehicle ferry (or plane). It’s handy having a car on the island – and necessary if you want to hit the beaches – but the main village is small enough to navigate by foot, bicycle, or golf cart.
The passenger service takes you between newly constructed passenger terminals at Hatteras Village and Ocracoke Village. (By contrast, the car ferry drops you at the top of Ocracoke, and you drive 13 miles to the village.) It currently makes three departures daily from each terminal.
While the new boat is being built for the North Carolina ferry service, they’re borrowing one from Martha’s Vineyard. The ferry features mostly indoor seating, with a small concession stand. The AC wasn’t quite keeping up, so it was a little stuffy, but otherwise the ride is smooth, offers you tables to hang out and relax, and takes about an hour.
To deal with the influx of walking passengers, Ocracoke launched a free electric shuttle service that circulates the village. I think it’s brilliant. We appreciated the decreased automobile traffic through the village.
Our favorite quick lunch/dinner is SmacNally’s (don’t judge the name). It’s a solid spot with friendly service and seating that overlooks the harbor. Expect good sandwiches and fried seafood.
After our day’s wanderings and a late lunch, we hopped the passenger ferry back to Hatteras Island.
Another fun trip in the books! If you want to keep up with all of our OBX adventures and suggestions, visit the Outer Banks travel page.