Destinations Kitesurfing Travel

East coast beach vibes in Cape Hatteras, USA // TRAVEL GUIDE

There are a few places in the world that just kind of reel you in, and before you know it… you’ve been lapping up those tasty east coast beach vibes for weeks! It’s not hard to get lost in the layback lifestyle on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Sand dunes, warm wind, friendy folk, and miles and miles of pretty coastline are hard to resist. What’s not to love about Cape Hatteras?!

My time in Hatteras has been a lot of highs and lows, without a doubt. The first time I went was with kiteboarding progression in mind. Unfortunately, the wind was so hit and miss that I pushed it a bit too hard on one windy day and broke my foot. I left with new friendships and connections, but also with some fear.

I don’t think I’m an accident prone person, but I also happened to break my leg this year. This latest trip to Hatteras would be my first session back on the water in five months. On the first day of wind, I stood at the launch spot with my gear in hand and felt the panic building to an overwhelming level. I walked off the beach in tears. It took a while to compose myself, and I couldn’t get it together that day to kite. But this whole thing is a journey, and it’s a long one… with the support of friends and loved ones, I was able to get back on the water first thing the next morning!

Whether you’re kiteboarding or not, this is about as good as it gets for an east coast beach holiday! Here’s some travel tips and stories to get you started on your trip.

Life in the slow lane // Travel

The best things in life don’t come easy, and traveling to Hatteras is proof of that! In addition to bikinis and board shorts, you’ll want to pack a healthy dose of patience. When the weather isn’t perfect, delayed and canceled flights are very common here.

Once you’ve arrived, picking up a rental car should be your first move. Getting to and around the quiet beach towns of Waves, Avon, and Buxton definitely takes a vehicle. Remember to drive the speed limit!! Traffic laws are strictly enforced in these areas. Yes, I speak from experience! Embrace life in the slow lane.

  • Closest Airports:
    • Norfolk (ORF) – 2.5 hours
    • Richmond (RIC) – 3.5 hours
    • Raleigh (RDU) – 3.5 hours
  • Rental Car:  Kayak or Hotwire
    • Note: You’ll often find deals on longer term rentals picked up from off airport locations. 

Sunsets in Hatteras… Photo by Crystal Veness.

Home is where the heart is // Accommodation

Hatteras Island isn’t exactly solo travel friendly… the best way to come is with your own crew! If you’re kiteboarding, chances are you’ll want to stay in one of the kiting friendly communities like Rodanthe Salvo, Waves, Avon, Buxton, or Frisco.

My first trip to Hatteras was alone, though I was able to make some new friends in the kiteboarding community. I lucked out with a great room at Kite Club Hatteras – one of the only hostel/guesthouse style accommodations on the island –  and the owners and guests of that property down in Avon quickly became my crew! On my second trip, I was in a vacation rental in Waves full of fellow kiteboarders, and we made our own adventures!

Vacation rentals are really the way to go in this spot. When you’re off the beach, chances are you’ll be at your home base. To really make the most of the trip, fill that home base with people that make you smile.

Photo by Toby Bromwich.

Fuel for the fire // Food & Bev

Chances are, you’ll find yourself eating a lot of your meals at home. For those traveling on a budget, this is by far the best way to save money. Not to mention… home cooked meals with the crew are a nice way to start and end what will inevitably be another beautiful beach day! Shopping for fresh food is a challenge in some of the towns on the island, so do a big shop on your way in at the Harris Teeter grocery store in Nags Head. The next fully stocked shop is the Food Lion all the way in Avon!

Let’s be real, though… if you’re on a beach holiday you’ll definitely want to go out once in a while. The best thing about this part of the US is the fresh seafood! You can’t go wrong with the catch of the day here.

Sadly, Hatteras nightlife is pretty much nonexistant unless you’re in town for the Triple S Invitational or one of the other events on the island. Most nights, the most you’ll get is a live band at Waterman’s or a few late night drinks at Pangea, but this is much more a family spot than a fiesta spot!

Photo by Luke McGillewie.

Surf & Sound // Activities

Kiteboarding: When I’m in Hatteras, it’s all about kiteboarding. The windy beaches of the Outer Banks bring kiters from all over to session in this popular spot. For more information on the kite beaches on Hatteras Island, check out MACkite for the video spot guide and a detailed spot guide blog.

Surfing is the other claim to fame for Hatteras. Some might say that this spot has some of the best waves on America’s east coast, but watch the swell… fall is the best season for waves. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to spend some time on the water if you bring or rent a board.

Kayak, SUP, and float on the surf or sound side. You should be able to get on the water any day you want in Hatteras, and you can pick up some floaties from the Dollar General or Food Lion, or rent kayaks, SUPs, or surfboards at Ride Hatteras in Avon. There’s a lot to see from the water here in Hatty, and if the flatwater is boring you, you can go get pummelled in the waves!

Photo by Luke McGillewie.

I went to Hatteras with kiteboarding in mind, but unfortunately on both trips the conditions were not optimal. So I spent most of my time staying busy with friends or getting creative to stay entertained. From wakeboarding behind a jetski to paddlesurfing in small swell to just sitting on the beach enjoying a cold beverage…

It’s really all about the people you’re with! The moments you’ll remember are the ones you share with the people you care about.

If you have any questions about your trip or want to share any favourite stories or spots, get in touch on Facebook or Instagram!

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