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4 Things to Do While Vacationing in the Outer Banks, NC (and What to Wear!)

Learn what to pack for OBX and what to have on your itinerary while visiting one of the most relaxing beaches on the East Coast!

If you are looking for the ultimate beach vacation, look no further than the Outer Banks, NC, where there is an array of things to do to keep your vacation memories alive long after you’ve headed back home. I visited the Outer Banks in mid-August and stayed for a week. It was my first time staying there, and can I say, it was amazing

Specifically, we stayed in the Hatteras/Frisco area, where things are more spread out, and much less crowded. This allowed us to socially distance easier, and when we did need to go into a store or interact with the locals, we wore our masks. 

Being the outfit enthusiast that I am, of course I packed wayyyy too many clothes. I did my research for the weather, but I always like to expect the unexpected. When you’ve never been to a place before on vacation, you just never know, am I right? 

So, with that being said, I am going to go over the best things to do in the Outer Banks that I felt are worth experiencing, as well as what outfit would be best to wear for each endeavor. Let’s get started. 

1. Relax on the Beach 

I found out very quickly that the OBX (wide-known abbreviation for the Outer Banks, NC – in case you didn’t know) is an extremely chill atmosphere, despite all of the things available to do on the itinerary. It’s just, literally, a long island stretch with nothing but beach all along the edge. 

For me, this took some getting used to; I grew up going to New Jersey’s shore towns which are much more busy and loud, laden with endless boardwalks, ice cream stands, ferris wheels, and bars. 

In OBX though, you take a deep breath, plop your favorite beach chair down, stick your toes deep into the soaked sand, and relax – for hours.

Maybe you will read a book, watch the fishermen throw their hooks out from what seems like oversized insect antennas, see the wind pull the kites away to play, and ghost crabs scuttling in and out of their sand tunnels. You might get up to walk back to the rented shore home you are staying in to use the bathroom and eat a sandwich out of the fridge. Then, back to the beach again, which is just down the street.

Yup, that’s the majority of what the OBX is all about! Now, the sun is ALOT more harsh than where I am from, because OBX is closer to the equator. I did get sunburnt!

Also, the sand gets so hot it hurts to walk barefoot. Oh, and one more thing – in August, the ocean was clear of marine debris and warm, so I was able to swim and dance with the waves – and it was truly magical. 

WHAT TO WEAR: 

  • A beach hat for shade (I wore a sun hat by GAP)
  • A quality bathing suit that can withstand sand and salt water (some bikinis are only for tanning, if you know what I mean) 
  • A bathing suit cover up to go from the rental to the beach
  • Durable, rubber flip flops or sandals (I opted for snakeskin Crocs) 
  • Sunglasses
  • Subtle beach costume jewelry for embellishment (I suggest costume just in case you lose a piece – it won’t be a big deal) 

2. Visit Ocracoke Island 

My vacation crew and I dedicated one day for Ocracoke Island, in which we drove our vehicle onto the free North Carolina Ferry System to get across the bay. Depending on where you are staying in the Outer Banks, this can be a bit of a trip, but well worth it if you are looking for things to do. 

Why should you visit Ocracoke Island, NC? If you love quaint, historical towns with shopping, restaurants, and a laid back vibe, this is just that – but with a coastal twist. Once you drive off the ferry, (about a 45 minute trek on water) you take the road inland until you reach town. The first thing I recommend doing is parking your car and immediately renting a golf cart. (Trust me, you will need it). It’s hard to find parking, but if you don’t mind that, you could just drive to each location you want to hit.

We made the mistake of walking, thinking that the shops were close enough together for traveling on foot, and boy were we wrong. Our feet were aching and we ended up renting a golf cart anyways, which wasted some time. Once you have the golf cart, you can easily maneuver through town to enjoy shopping beachwear retail and artisanal items, tasting the catch of the day at one of the seafood restaurants, revel in delicious homemade ice cream, and visit the Ocracoke lighthouse.   

Other fun things to do in the Outer Banks while at Ocracoke Island include:

  • The British Cemetery
  • The Ocracoke Pony Pens
  • The Ocracoke Preservation Museum
  • Ocracoke Lighthouse  

Ocracoke is a must on the list of things to do in the Outer Banks, NC! Just keep in mind that this trip will likely take up an entire day, when accounting for the travel time to the ferry, then the ferry over to the island. 

WHAT TO WEAR:

  • Jean shorts 
  • Sneakers or walking shoes 
  • Jacket or hoodie (It gets chilly when crossing the water on the ferry at night) 
  • Shirt or tank top
  • Sunglasses
  • Sports bra (I wore this for comfort, being that I was walking all day) 
  • Accent jewelry 

3. Have a Beach Bonfire 

An awesome aspect about the Outer Banks beaches – you can have a campfire at night! It is one of the best summer things to do on the island! You can purchase wood right from a local seller for burning. The fire cannot be more than 3 feet in diameter, and must be put out by 10 PM. 

Another note – not all beaches allow bonfires. Where I stayed in Hatteras, NC, it is allowed. Technically you are supposed to have a beach fire permit, but it didn’t seem strictly enforced (if you know what I mean). For more information and planning, click here. 

There is nothing like hearing the fire crackle, the waves crashing, and cooking up some delicious, sticky S’mores! 

WHAT TO WEAR :

  • A covered shoe, like Keds or slip-ons (the ghost crabs are highly active at night, and if you aren’t looking, you could step on one or they might snip you)
  • Hoodie or Jacket (in case the evening is chilly)
  • Loose jeans or jean shorts (no one can resist putting their feet in the water at least once)
  • Tank top or T-shirt (whichever you prefer)

4. Try a Water Sport or Embark on a Land Activity

If you have an itch to do something more physical other than bake on the beach all day, the Outer Banks has plenty of action-packed things to do that will make your trip memorable. I unfortunately did not get a chance to do a water sport or land activity because I didn’t plan accordingly. 

Here’s just a few suggestions below:

  • Horseback riding 
  • Jet Skiing
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga
  • Kiteboarding
  • Paddleboarding
  • Sailing

For more information on these activities, as well as other things to do, visit OuterBanks.Org! I wish I had done a few of these, but I’ll admit, I was too relaxed and lazy during my stay (haha). 

WHAT TO WEAR :

  • Check the website of the company that is hosting the specific activity you plan to do. 

The Outer Banks is definitely a worthwhile stay! Do you plan on going there soon? Tell me in the comments below! For weekly outfit ideas and styling inspiration, be sure to subscribe to Her of the Moment

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