From sea to shining sea

Like many of you, I have spent a lot of time on North Carolina’s coast. Also like many of you, however, a significant proportion of that time has been spent in only a handful of places. Over the course of my 40+ year of travel to the coast, I have had the opportunity to visit every major segment — from the Outer Banks, to Ocracoke, to Bogue Sound, to Topsail Island, to the Wilmington-Wrightsville area, to the stretch of small beaches that terminate at the South Carolina line — but the vast majority of my time has been spent in only a fraction of that 300-mile expanse. I only feel like I really know one 30-mile stretch with anything approaching a coastal native’s level of familiarity, and there are still several places I have never seen. More importantly, I have no real sense of how the entire strand is linked together, and I suspect the same is true for most North Carolinians.

Some may argue that, in order for me to truly understand the coast, I need to go there when it is not covered with tourists, and I understand that rationale to a degree. But there is something appealing about a late-summer drive down the coast during the peak season for both tourists and temperature alike.

I leave August 7th and return August 15th. Internet access permitting, I plan to post a thought or two each day, along with a few pictures. My schedule is dictated only by where I have managed to find hotels and motels that will rent to me for one night only (a rarity in peak season); I plan to leave what happens in between largely up to chance.

My tentative itinerary follows; post suggestions for stops along the way in the comments section:

Day 1 – August 7

Raleigh to Corolla (by way of Kitty Hawk)


Day 2 – August 8

Corolla to Kill Devil Hills to Hatteras

Possible activity/-ies: Currituck Beach lighthouse; Hang gliding; Bodie Island lighthouse


Day 3 – August 9

Hatteras to Ocracoke

Possible activity/-ies: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse; Portsmouth Island; Ocracoke Lighthouse


Day 4 – August 10

Ocracoke to Harker’s Island to Beaufort

Possible activity/-ies: Core Sound Waterfowl Museum; Maritime Museum; Music at night on the Beaufort docks


Day 5 – August 11

Beaufort to Emerald Isle to Surf City

Possible activity/-ies: Rachel Carson Preserve; Fort Macon; Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center


Day 6 – August 12

Surf City to Shell Island

Possible activity/-ies: Airlie Gardens bird walk with Cape Fear Audubon Society; Music at night at the Oceanic


Day 7 – August 13

Shell Island to Kure Beach

Possible activity/-ies: Early morning beach time; Fort Fisher Aquarium; Music and fireworks on the boardwalk at Carolina Beach


Day 8 – August 14

Kure Beach to Oak Island to Ocean Isle to Sunset Beach

Possible activity/-ies: Fort Caswell; Oak Island lighthouse; Downtown Southport; Silver Coast winery


Day 9 – August 15

Sunset Beach to Raleigh

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