OBX Beyond the Tour Books

Now that everyone has gotten to the Outer Banks and the weather is great, the ocean is at the perfect temperature and the sun is shining, it’s time to decide what to do. Other than, of course, digging your toes into the sand and reading some trashy novel that you would never admit in public that you read.

There are tour books everywhere telling visitors about all the wonderful things to do on the Outer Banks–visit the lighthouses, tour the Whalehead Club, go shopping . . . all of which is a lot of fun and is part of the vacation experience. However, we thought it would be interesting to suggest some things that might make the time spent on vacation a little different, a little bit unique.

If you didn’t bring a bike, rent one. There are a series of interconnected bike trails running from the town of Duck to South Nags Head, almost to the grounds of Bodie Island Light. Much of the trail is paved multi-use path and even parts that are on the road feature a wide shoulder or very low traffic volumes.

Although the tourist industry is by far the largest employer on the Outer Banks, it is by no means the only one. The Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility in Duck, better known as the Duck Pier, is staffed by scientists who are some of the best in the world at studying near shore wave action. The pier, extending more than a third of a mile into the ocean is the oldest such research site in the world, and is considered the preeminent facility for studying wave action in the world. One tour a day is offered at 10:00 a.m. It’s interesting for the whole family, although it’s probably better for children seven or eight and older. It is a walking tour, so wear shoes and it may not be appropriate for physically challenged or handicapped people. Call 252-261-6840 ext.221 for reservations or more information.

Before the Outer Banks was a tourist destination, the largest employer in Dare County was the fishing industry, and there is still a viable and thriving seaport at Wanchese. Situated on Roanoke Island, where Manteo is located, the village has changed very little in the past 20 or 30 years. It is not a rustic and picturesque town–for the most part the people who live there work on the docks or are commercial fishermen and the homes reflect that.

There are a  couple of restaurants there and eating fresh seafood, sitting on a deck, overlooking the harbor is very nice way to spend an afternoon. The three largest companies on the docks are Moon Tillett Fish Company, Etheridge Seafood and Wanchese Seafood. They are working businesses and don’t offer tours, although you may be able to purchase some very fresh seafood directly from them.