Emerald Isle or Hatteras Island Rodanthe/Avon/Buxton?

paigectMarch 4, 2006

So I've come for some expert advice (anyone ever notice we have experts on every topic?)

My family is planning our first ever trip to the Outer Banks. We want to rent a home in a less developed, quieter area. We don't need lots of attractions or things to do - - just really nice beach with waves and a couple of restaurants within reasonable driving distance. We are renting oceanfront, and from the pictures on the realtors' websites we note that many of the oceanfront houses are set pretty far back, so you can't see the beach from the house. We want to be closer up to the beach, which has limited our choices.

We have settled on a house in Rodanthe or one in Buxton, both on Hatteras Island. The other option I know of for more unspoiled beach is Emerald Isle. Any input on differences between the these areas? Or anywhere else we should consider? We will be mostly adults traveling, with my 10 yo son being the only child. I'm specifically looking for input on quality of beaches, what the surf is like (My ds likes decent waves, but he's more of a boogeyboarder than a surfer), traffic/congestion issues, and anything else that comes to mind!

Thanks for any help you can give!

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(I'm quoting myself from an earlier thread in which the OP asked for a beach recommendation).

"We have been going to Indian Beach/Salter Path/Emerald Isle, North Carolina for 20+ years. This area is part of the Outer Banks and is very family friendly, very low-key. Plenty of family restaurants and just the right amount of beach t-shirt places (not many). For the charming little town aspect and good restaurants, you drive across the bridge to Beaufort, NC (that's right, two towns in the Carolinas of the same name - but pronounced differently).
Ocean water in the summer is in the 84 to 86 range. Water is generally never too strong or overpowering, unless a storm is coming in/just passed. The people are just lovely.

Renting a single family home that will comfortably (everyone gets a bed, swimming pool attached to the house) accommodate a dozen people will probably run you $3,000 to $6,500 for the week. Three-bedroom condos with light housekeeping service will run $1,500 to $2,100 for the week."

I was last in Buxton seven or eight years ago, and unless it has ungone dramatic change, it is very very remote. I recall that there was very little activity on the beaches and that there's little to none of the condo build-up that most beaches have. I also recall very little surf-side houses in that area - most are in the Pamlico Sound side.

I think the waters in Buxton are little bigger than Emerald Isle, and that's due in part to the positioning of the land masses - Emerald Isle is situated a little cockeyed to the rest of the Outer Banks.

Since my experience is primarily with Emerald Isle, I would have to give it my recommendation. Our group is predominantly adults, but my sister has children (who always bring a friend or two along). Emerald Isle has a go-cart track, a couple of putt putt golf things, a water slide, a movie theater or two, and a grocery store or two - most of this stuff is located at the east or west end of the island. The middle of the island is primarily condos, full-time residents, and beach houses. It's certainly not remote like Buxton, but it's a nice middle ground when compared to Nags Head or Hilton Head. The beaches are very clean and the water is wonderful.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 11:25AM
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I used to live in DC and vacationed regularly in the Outer Banks. I was last there about 10 years ago, but I have friends who still go and I don't think a huge amount has changed. The main attraction for me was windsurfing -- Hatteras Island is a major mecca for windsurfers, as the strong winds and shallow protected waters of Pamlico Sound make for near ideal conditions. We typically went during spring or fall off-season, when winds are strongest and rental rates are 50% or less of high season rates. Even during the high season, this area is pretty remote and there is not much going on. If you're up for natural beauty, solitude, and having the beach to yourself, that could be a bonus, but if you're looking for a good restaurant you'll be disappointed -- the options are pretty slim. We generally cooked most meals ourselves. The waters on the ocean side can be mild or rough depending on the weather. The beach by Hatteras lighthouse has a point break, making it very popular surfing spot. If you do go I highly recommend a day trip to Okracoke.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 6:42PM
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thanks Tomme and Mr. Blandings for the great info. While I was out today my parents went ahead and booked a house in Rodanthe on Hatteras Island, so I guess the question is settled! It's a great house, right on the ocean beach with no dunes in front of it, which was apparently a hard thing to come by. The front deck is already calling my name. And it has a very up-to-date kitchen, which we all know I will enjoy!

I actually do prefer a more remote beach experience. I hate being in crowds on vacation, and I prefer natural beauty to lots of activities. When we head to the Cape (Cod), we always go to Truro. DS is actually the same way - - he would rather boogieboard in the waves and ride bikes than go mini-golfing or to the movies. Plus, the house has foosball and air hockey tables, so I foresee a foosball tournament. I guess we won't plan on eating out much. But maybe I'll give windsurfing a try! And I definitely plan on heading north for a day and going parasailing - - gotta love parasailing, and I want DS and my dad to experience it.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 7:52PM
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Paige -- you will have a wonderful time. I'm another OBX junkie, although not with the experience of the above posters. And I've ONLY ever been there off-season. My family and I are flying down for a long weekend in a couple of weeks to visit my son, who lives in Kill Devil Hills -- tourist central. But I can't wait to be at the beach.

You vacation sounds absolutely perfect. I hope you have a fabulous time.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2006 at 10:48AM
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DH and I spent our honeymoon in Rodanthe; I've been going there with my family since I was a kid. It's no longer the tiny remote fishing camp it was, but it's also not a huge strip mall of condos and fast food. I so hope you have a great time; there's a Food Lion down the road now, but you can still buy groceries at the local gas station (or you could two years ago when we went back for our anniversary).

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 1:05PM
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Thanks Molly and English. I think I will make the picture of the house on the beach my screensaver. :-) I'm getting pretty tired of winter about now . . .

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 2:29PM
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I stayed in Avon last summer and I loved it. It is really quiet and it was beautiful. We rented a house in Avon on the Pimleco sound (Sound Side) rather than beach side and it was super beautiful.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 2:08PM
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