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Learning the Hatteras Ropes Better For Next Time

Level Contributor
250 posts
38 reviews
29 helpful votes
Learning the Hatteras Ropes Better For Next Time

Thanks everyone for your contributions to the forum...your expertise...and your time. We were able to use so much of the information you provided in order to make our trip to Salvo so fun and memorable for our family.

I'd like to learn more about several local norms/customs/regulations and would really appreciate your input.

(Please understand that some of these items are seasonal/change and could be confusing to an out-of-towner not accustomed to a coastal area.)

A) From Nags Head down to Frisco, there are lots of areas where you can just "tell" that you cannot and/or may not pull your car off of NC-12 and walk up over the dune to see (presumably isolated) beaches.

We observed (in July) lots of vehicles, however, pulled off to one side of the highway or another (where there wasn't turtle or bird nesting roped off) where people appeared to have parked just off the highway, carried beach/fishing equipment up and over, and to the beach. Is this a "stay off the dunes" faux pas? Something that's acceptable if there's an existing foot path? People who "know the ropes" and are trying to get into a less crowded spot?

B) Next year, we're interested in doing one nice, small (responsible) campfire on the beach. This year, we observed lots of folks setting up to do so...but most of them appeared to be above the high-tide water line. I've read that you're supposed to be below that line, which actually puts you pretty close to the water. We did pass the remnants of some fires that were not 100% burnt down, but reasonably well gone. What's the real scoop regarding campfires? We'd like to do one, but not at the expense of regulations, the beach, and the ecosystem.

C) Our kids LOVED the Manteo aquarium. It was well worth the 45-minute or so trip up from Salvo. Is there anywhere else you'd recommend that's a similar distance from Salvo? (They would not like to see the pony "pens" on Ocracoke...we have entirely too many pens/cages/fences where we live and our kids would not delight in seeing that.)

D) I kind of felt "lost" regarding Pea Island. I did see the one visitor center on our right as we were headed down South-12, but the area seemed quite expansive. Is the "thing to do" to park at the visitor center and to walk the "loop"(s) available?

E) We ended up not using the "day use" area...it seemed more busy than the beach near our rental home, but perhaps that was because of the string of unfortunate shark encounters leading up to our trip? If we were to try out that area next time, does anyone fish there? Is it fruitless because of all the kiteboard activity?

F) Does anyone ever seem to get caught/fined for fireworks on the beach? It was upsetting to us to have numerous loud, lengthy shows going off close to 11 PM (the big, obnoxiously loud aerial stuff) about 2 weeks after the 4th when there were active "turtle" areas roped off nearby. Anything that folks can do about that to enable the authorities to help out...without getting into a "situation" on their vacation?

G) Does anyone in the Salvo area do the Bay-seasoned blue crabs? We did a partial bushel of them from a seafood place up in Corolla a few years back...but I didn't really see such an opportunity down our way. Lots of fried seafood...which was great...but we were hoping to find a place with the butcher paper on the table, mallets, corn, and crabs. Any local places?

Thanks so much for any info you can provide. We really enjoyed our time in Salvo and hope to keep learning more about Hatteras Island. :)

2 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
1,140 posts
58 reviews
21 helpful votes
1. Re: Learning the Hatteras Ropes Better For Next Time

I can tell you about the Pea Island visitor center. There are telescopes inside that you can use to view birds around the area. It's fun talking to the volunteers at the visitor center. Bird watchers come in the spring and fall to see the migratory birds.it's worth a stop.

4 posts
2. Re: Learning the Hatteras Ropes Better For Next Time

I'll do my best. I've been vacationing on Hatteras Island/Ocracoke Island for over 20 years. I'm mid 30s. I am not an expert, but I have learned quite a bit over the years. Locals can correct me if I'm wrong.

A. You are not supposed to walk on the dunes. There are numerous areas, however, where there are paths between the dunes. This, I believe is acceptable.

B. For fires you are supposed to be below the high tide line, but the biggest thing is to be away from the dunes. Some areas the beach erosion has gotten so advanced that that doesn't leave much room. This is especially true if high tide is at night when you wish to have the fire.

C. Have you checked out the attractions in Nags Head, KDH area? Wright Memorial Museum, Jockey's Ridge State Park among others.

D. I don't know much about Pea Island.

E. The Day Use area has always been a busy place because of the kiteboarding, windsurfing, and calm beach area for the kids, but I'm sure it was especially so because of the shark noise. I have fished there, but I've wading quite far out to areas where there were drop offs or holes.

F. I've never seen anyone get in trouble for fireworks or the beach fires for that matter. These clearly break all the rules I've read, but they've never seemed to bother me too much. There's always fireworks down there, but usually it dies down the further you get from the 4th.

G. The Mad Crabber in Avon is the only place on Hatteras Island that is close to what you described. They have plenty of steamed shellfish options along with blue crabs and other crab legs. They do the whole paper on the table thing too. It gets mixed reviews, as most places do, but I stop every year.

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