11 Local Tips and Secrets For Visitors

Let the air out of your tires. Head to the beach at night for a campfire. Try the local seafood straight from the source. We've hand-selected a few fun, funny, and helpful tips and secrets to help you get through your next vacation here on the Southern Outer Banks.

11. You really ought to let some air out of your tires if you’re going to drive on the beach

Even if you think you have the biggest truck on earth, you’re going to look like a chump if you get stuck on the beach.There’s nothing more deflating than getting stuck in front of your friends or ending up on a Facebook page like Oregon Inlet Idiots.

source: giphy.com

Save yourself any troubles and let your tires down to around 18 PSI and you’ll glide over the sand like butter. Don’t forget your beach driving permit and your fishing license before heading out.


10. It’s completely legal to enjoy your "cold snacks" on the beach

margarita quote

The Outer Banks is known for being a family friendly place, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a beer when you want one. After all, you deserve one! Bring some water along so you don’t dehydrate and a trash bag so your cooler doesn’t get icky. We recommend staying oceanfront so you can enjoy precious margaritas on your dune deck. Make sure to avoid glass and follow the local laws recommended on the seashore. Take your empties with you, please!


9. Take a moment to get to know the locals


Visitors and locals can agree on one thing: southern hospitality is abundant on the Outer Banks. If you want to get a lay of the land, take a second and get to know the people who work here.

Meet the locals

Who knows, you could get your drink a little faster (or stiffer) or inside info on a secret spot from the bait shop. Think of the other vacations you’ve been on. Making connections always makes your vacation more memorable.



8. Seriously, Apple Uglies are the best pastries on the planet

OK, this might not be a secret, but we had to mention it. Anyone who visits Hatteras Island should make it a point to stop by the Orange Blossom Bakery and try a famous Apple Ugly. They’re about the size of your head, and it takes an army to take one down. The only downside is they’re not too photogenic – hence the name. Get there early. There will be a line!


7. We have two bodies of water here: the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean

Soundside view - Hatteras Island, NC

The big body of water you will see when you come into Hatteras Island is called a sound. If the waves are too big in the ocean and you want to float around, the Sound is perfect for you. Plus, the sunsets. Ahh. Believe it or not, we’ve had soundside Guests tell us they never hit the beach the entire time they were here!


6. There’s no reason to buy seafood at a chain supermarket

Our local seafood markets get the goods right here in town. Skip the middle-man and get your seafood straight from the source. Did you know we have the third largest distribution center in the nation?

Bubba Gump - source: giphy.com

It’s fresher, safer, more cost-effective, and best of all, tastier than buying from the average supermarket. Try some of our local tuna or shrimp on the grill for an amazing dinner on your vacation. No matter what anyone tells you, king crab and lobster are not from here!


5. Make plans on check-in day or you may regret it

Any OBX regular will agree on this. If you get here too early, your family will go absolutely nuts. Worse, you may end up watching your family blow through your vacation budget if you don’t plan it correctly.

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It never hurts to try to check-in early, but if you can’t get the keys, have a back-up plan ready. There’s no reason to waste a day – weekends are the perfect time to visit a lighthouse, get a massage, or relax at a cool restaurant before they get packed. Have a pet? Take them for a walk in a cool, shaded place like Buxton Woods or head to one of the many restaurants with some outdoor seating. Find some good ideas on our area guide.



4. You can watch the sunset from the beach.

Watching the sky on the beach from Jeep - Hatteras Island, NC

Waking up for the sunrise is one of those near-impossible feats only superheroes attempt. Instead, check out the sunset. Due to the way Hatteras Island is shaped, you can head to a southern town like Frisco or Hatteras and watch the sunset over the ocean.If you can't get down here,take an evening walk along the ocean. You’ll get surreal pink clouds over the Atlantic that will make your pics look like watercolor portraits.


3. Want seashells? Get out there frequently like the rest of us.

Hatteras Island seashell chart in palm of hand

On any given day, you can find some rather unusual shells on the beach, but there are a few days a year where the shells just come in like crazy. We follow a “3 days after the storm” mantra to get the big boys. Regardless of the time of year, shelling is always best at low tide, so plan your beach walks accordingly.

You might have better luck during a full moon or new moon. Learn more about North Carolina shells in our previous post, "Guide to Identifying Sea Shells in the Outer Banks."


2. Our beaches are open at night

We’re 30+ miles from any city here on Hatteras Island, effectively making us one of the best spots to stargaze on the east coast. You won’t find any other beach like it.

Time your trip around a full moon to see the moonrise over the ocean, or a new moon in the off-season when no one is around. It’s mesmerizing. Additionally, campfires are legal here with a permit.



1. We’re all huge fans of Jim Cantore

Just kidding! Jim, we’ll never let this one go.


Have any more local secrets and tips for us? Get in on the conversation on our Facebook Page.Don’t forget to shop on our website for the best vacation rental deals around town and sign up for our email list to see more posts like this.