We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

OBX veterans...looking for an alternative

Salt Lake City, UT
Level Contributor
908 posts
7 reviews
Save Topic
OBX veterans...looking for an alternative

OK, NC Coast experts. Just returning from the umpteenth family vacation to the OBX. For our next coastal getaway, we wanted to branch out to a beach south of the Outer Banks. We have zero experience with anywhere south of Ocracoke. On the map, anything from Atlantic Beach to Sunset Beach looks like a possibility.

We are looking for a quiet, family experience. All we really need is a nice rental house walking distance to a clean, not overcrowded beach. I’ll always have a soft spot for the OBX, but the traffic is getting very bad there. We have always stayed in Southern Shores or Duck. Access is nightlife is meaningless. Even restaurants aren’t important…we just went the whole week in Duck without eating out once. We would like a few shops and maybe an ice cream place, though. And a supermarket within half an hour max. A place we could easily and safely navigate by bike would be ideal also. An interesting day trip or two within two hours would be a plus as well.

Thanks for any suggestions. We would be going the first half of August, most likely, with an outside chance of early June.

Mentioned in this post
OBX Campground
OBX Campground
50 Reviews
Kill Devil Hills, NC
Outer Banks
Outer Banks
North Carolina Coast, NC
Ocracoke
Ocracoke
Outer Banks, NC
Atlantic Beach
Atlantic Beach
North Carolina Coast, NC
Southern Shores
Southern Shores
Outer Banks, NC
Chapel Hill, North...
Level Contributor
9,491 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: OBX veterans...looking for an alternative

I think all the NC beaches are nice. What are your favorite things about the OBX? I think that area probably has the most traffic issues of all the NC beaches.

Some beaches have a more extensive dune system that means the ocean front houses are farther back from the ocean and some have houses right on the sand.

There are NC Aquariums at Pine Knoll Shores (the Crystal Coast area) and Ft Fisher near Wilmington. Wilmington and the battleship and aquarium make a nice day trip from much of the southern beaches. The Crystal Coast area offers several good day trips too w/ Beaufort, Shackleford Banks (wild ponies) Cape Lookout lighthouse, Ft Mason.

Mentioned in this post
OBX Campground
OBX Campground
50 Reviews
Kill Devil Hills, NC
Pine Knoll Shores
Pine Knoll Shores
North Carolina Coast, NC
Wilmington
Wilmington
North Carolina Coast, NC
Beaufort
Beaufort
North Carolina Coast, NC
Shackleford Banks
Shackleford Banks
195 Reviews
Harkers Island, NC
Cape Lookout Lighthouse
Cape Lookout Lighthouse
159 Reviews
Harkers Island, NC
Mason
Mason
Warren County, OH
Western Ireland...
Level Contributor
291 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: OBX veterans...looking for an alternative

Check out Ocean Isle Beach. We have been to many of the NC beaches and OIB is our favorite. Nice wide flat beach with lots of shells. You will not find any high rise hotels, just one tall condo unit at the end of the island which is a gated community. OIB is only about 22 minutes from North Myrtle Beach, so if you are looking for nightlife or shopping it's an easy drive.

Mentioned in this post
Ocean Isle Beach
Ocean Isle Beach
North Carolina
North Myrtle Beach
North Myrtle Beach
Coastal South Carolina, SC
North Carolina
Level Contributor
1,079 posts
79 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: OBX veterans...looking for an alternative

In addition to the great suggestions you've already gotten, Sunset Beach would be another good choice. Great location for riding bikes - residential streets, very little traffic off the main road. Very serene. Not far from Ocean Isle Beach.

Mentioned in this post
Ocean Isle Beach
Ocean Isle Beach
North Carolina
NC
Level Contributor
1,197 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: OBX veterans...looking for an alternative

Have you ever tried Hatteras (the village of)...still OBX but much different than Duck and different than Beaufort, Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll or Indian Beach, Topsail, Wrightsville, Carolina, Sunset or Ocean Isle. All have their good points and bad. If you own a boat and want an easy trip to the ocean (normally), Beaufort/Morehead City is as easy as any! Most any beach will be fairly crowded in August...and of course, late Aug. is a little less crowded than early Aug. I've been to them all many times....I think Hatteras is the most peaceful and Hatteras, Beaufort and Avon have supermarkets...Frisco has a semi-one.

Mentioned in this post
Hatteras Island
Hatteras Island
Outer Banks, NC
OBX Campground
OBX Campground
50 Reviews
Kill Devil Hills, NC
Beaufort
Beaufort
North Carolina Coast, NC
Atlantic Beach
Atlantic Beach
North Carolina Coast, NC
Topsail Island
Topsail Island
North Carolina Coast, NC
Wrightsville Beach
Wrightsville Beach
North Carolina
The Carolina Inn
The Carolina Inn
1,578 Reviews
Chapel Hill, NC
Ocean Isle Beach
Ocean Isle Beach
North Carolina
Morehead City
Morehead City
North Carolina Coast, NC
Avon
Avon
Hatteras Island, NC
Frisco
Frisco
Hatteras Island, NC
Salt Lake City, UT
Level Contributor
908 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: OBX veterans...looking for an alternative

Thanks for the guidance, folks. Lots of good ideas. I've been leaning towards one of beaches furthest south and west in NC, such as Sunset, Holden or Ocean Isle. They seem to be like the Outer Banks used to be. Proximity to an airport is also an important factor. The beaches further south are accessible from ILM, MYR, OAJ or EWN, or RDU if we want something bigger.

Any more opinions are welcome.

Mentioned in this post
Holden Beach
Holden Beach
North Carolina Coast, NC
Ocean Isle Beach
Ocean Isle Beach
North Carolina
Outer Banks
Outer Banks
North Carolina Coast, NC
Chapel Hill, North...
Level Contributor
9,491 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: OBX veterans...looking for an alternative

I don't think I'd really say that the Brunswick county beaches (Holden, Ocean Isle, Sunset) are like the OBX used to be. I'd probably give the Crystal Coast (Emerald Isle, Pine Knoll Shores, Atlantic Beach, etc) and maybe the nod on that one. The Brunswick Co beaches are great. I frequently go to Sunset and Ocean Isle, but I don't think they're a whole lot like the OBX.

Edited: 18 August 2013, 10:49
Mentioned in this post
Holden Beach
Holden Beach
North Carolina Coast, NC
Ocean Isle Beach
Ocean Isle Beach
North Carolina
OBX Campground
OBX Campground
50 Reviews
Kill Devil Hills, NC
Emerald Isle
Emerald Isle
North Carolina Coast, NC
Pine Knoll Shores
Pine Knoll Shores
North Carolina Coast, NC
Atlantic Beach
Atlantic Beach
North Carolina Coast, NC
Salt Lake City, UT
Level Contributor
908 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: OBX veterans...looking for an alternative

Interesting...in what way do the Brunswick beaches differ from the Banks?

Chapel Hill, North...
Level Contributor
9,491 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: OBX veterans...looking for an alternative

Well, they were developed much, much later. Sunset was developed in the 1960s and 70s. By contrast Nag's Head was a tourist destination in the 1830s. The Brunswick beaches are very family oriented and great places to visit, but they don't have the history that the OBX does.

Ocean Isle is the most commercial of the Brunswick beaches, with several restaurants, shops, mini-golf and a small museum. Sunset has a few shops, a couple of t-shirt shops and a small island grocery, but no restaurants on the island. There's another regular poster here who can give you the inside scoop on Holden Beach.

The OBX has a lot more "other stuff" than the Brunswick beaches. No lighthouses, no wild ponies on the Brunswick beaches, but great sand and great water, though. Sunset has an extensive dune system so the ocean front homes are not right on the beach, but have lengthy boardwalks that go through a small amount of maritime forest and over the dunes to the beach. You can zoom in on google maps satellite view and see.

I think the Crystal Coast area around Beaufort and Morehead City offers more of the "other stuff" and history that the OBX has historically had, but are much less newly built up — not as many multi-million dollar homes as are now on the OBX — more average joe places on the Crystal Coast. Beaufort has a lot of history (pirates!) and a nice little maritime museum. You can catch a ferry from Beaufort to Shackleford Banks where there are wild ponies or go over to Cape Lookout to see the light house. Lots of history in the area — Ft Macon is an old fort used in the Civil War. atlanticbeachrealty.net/area-information.htm .

To me the Crystal Coast area has more in common with how the OBX used to be. The Brunswick beaches are great and might be just what you're looking for, but I don't think they're very much like the Outer Banks. I think they're probably the beaches in NC least like the Outer Banks, in fact, but all the beaches in NC are great, so they might be just what you want.

Edited: 18 August 2013, 23:05
Mentioned in this post
OBX Campground
OBX Campground
50 Reviews
Kill Devil Hills, NC
Ocean Isle Beach
Ocean Isle Beach
North Carolina
Holden Beach
Holden Beach
276 Reviews
Holden Beach, NC
Beaufort
Beaufort
North Carolina Coast, NC
Morehead City
Morehead City
North Carolina Coast, NC
Fort Macon
Fort Macon
493 Reviews
Atlantic Beach, NC
Outer Banks
Outer Banks
North Carolina Coast, NC
Charlotte, North...
Level Contributor
68 posts
1 review
Save Reply
9. Re: OBX veterans...looking for an alternative

You might try Long Beach on oak island. There is a grocery store on the island as well as an ice cream store and mini putt It's quite close to the historic town of South Port and the ferry you can take to fort fisher and Wilmington

Mentioned in this post
Long Beach Island
Long Beach Island
Jersey Shore, NJ
Wilmington
Wilmington
North Carolina Coast, NC
Charlotte, North...
Level Contributor
68 posts
1 review
Save Reply
10. Re: OBX veterans...looking for an alternative

You might try Long Beach on oak island. There is a grocery store on the island as well as an ice cream store and mini putt It's quite close to the historic town of South Port and the ferry you can take to fort fisher and Wilmington

Mentioned in this post
Long Beach Island
Long Beach Island
Jersey Shore, NJ
Wilmington
Wilmington
North Carolina Coast, NC