Friday, February 26, 2010

USA Today Article about the Outer Banks

Just saw this article fro the USA Today. It is a nice summation for the Outer Banks though it understates the 4WD area (which is probably good for those that love it to keep it a secret!) Couldn't keep them from using the photo below in the article:


Best for: Laid-back beach lovers who enjoy watching the sunset from their decks.

Claim to fame: The birthplace of powered flight, where the Wright Brothers took off at Kitty Hawk.

Don't miss: The Lost Colony by Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Green is the nation's longest-running outdoor drama and has been performed on Roanoke Island since 1937.

Getting there: The closest major airport is in Norfolk, Va., about 90 miles from the Northern beaches.

Tourism information:,

The Outer Banks have long attracted visitors who march to a slightly different drummer, from the pirate Blackbeard to pioneering aviators Orville and Wilbur Wright to modern-day second-home owners miles from the nearest road. You don't have to be a rebel to love these barrier islands off North Carolina, but a flair for escapism helps.
The East Coast is lined with beach resort communities that share such traits as thick condo and high-rise developments, amusement parks, souvenir shops and sometimes even strip bars. Not the Outer Banks, which are sleepy and underdeveloped.

"Planning has been very good, and compared to most beach towns, there is very limited development, with no high-rises," says Melanie Day, a broker for Brindley Beach Vacations and Sales in Duck, N.C. "There are some condos, but the vast majority are single-family homes."

Starting at the Virginia border, the Outer Banks span three counties and run south for about 130 miles. The most populated section is about 90 miles long, from the town of Corolla south through Nags Head. One reason for the limited development is that much of the Outer Banks is razor-thin, and many homes are waterfront or within walking distance of either the Atlantic Ocean or the Albemarle, Currituck, Pamlico and Roanoke sounds. Not coincidentally, the widest area, in Kill Devil Hills, is the most developed, with more year-round residents and what locals call "french fry alley" for its fast-food eateries.

The towns popular with second-home owners are small, and there is also a huge rental market. "Corolla has maybe 500 full-time residents, but in summer, there are thousands, between renters and second-home owners," Day says. "You can stay in towns like Duck and Corolla and never leave (because) they are self-contained, with restaurants and shops."

Besides the beach, inshore and offshore fishing and windsurfing are the biggest activities, and large portions of the Outer Banks, including the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, are protected for recreational uses. The region is also famous for its historic lighthouses and wild horses descended from shipwrecked Spanish mustangs.

A look at three Outer Banks neighborhoods

• Northern beaches: This area includes the towns of Duck, Corolla, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills. "Favorites include Duck and Corolla, and it's mostly single-family homes, though at the low end you can get a one-bedroom waterfront condo for under $200,000. Most homes are in the $400,000-$800,000 range, though Corolla is known for larger oceanfront homes up to $5 million," realtor Day says. North of Corolla, where Highway 12 ends, nearly 15 miles of dunes stretch to the Virginia border, dotted with vacation homes accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicles: "That's a whole different buyer seeking remote privacy."

• Southern beaches: "Hatteras Island is even less developed," Day says, and it's more known for its excellent fishing and windsurfing. It is also at least another 30 minutes farther from the mainland bridges and includes more protected lands. Avon, Hatteras Village and Rodanthe, where the Richard Gere romance Nights in Rodanthe was set, are the most popular towns, and prices are lower than farther north. "Low-end one-bedroom condos start around $100,000, and the high end would be a seven-bedroom oceanfront home for about $2.5 million," Day says.

• Mainland: The main bridge from the Outer Banks connects to a peninsula jutting into Albemarle Sound, including the town of Powell's Point 4 miles from the bridge. "We consider it part of the Outer Banks even though it's on the mainland," says Day, who notes that the Kilmarlic Club here is popular with second-home owners. A master planned golf community with amenities like tennis and health club "started less than 10 years ago. All are single-family homes, from the mid-$300,000s to the $600,000s."