Outer Banks Water Sports
Natural Water Park
During the busiest months of our season, summer traffic on the beach can often turn a very short trip into one that’s, at least, twice as long. Luckily, there are plenty of sights, attractions, and amazing restaurants to turn to for an impromptu pit stop. One thing that you will never be far away from, at all, no matter where you are on the Outer Banks is…the water. Whether it’s the ocean to the east or the sound-side bays and waterways to the west, you’re always just a few steps away from a place to take a swim, take some pictures, or just take a break. That is unless you would rather race around on some jet skis or go wakeboarding. Or perhaps something more easygoing, like a dolphin-spotting tour, headboat fishing, or kayaking on the Alligator River. Surfing? Parasailing? The fact of the matter is that when it comes to enjoying yourself on (or in) the water, from Outer Banks water sports to relaxing on the beach, the possibilities are endless. The Outer Banks is basically one, big, natural-water park for everyone.
Whether it’s a family on vacation, a couple on their honeymoon, a group of seniors celebrating their recent graduation…or even, a slightly older group of seniors celebrating their recent transition into retirement; there are countless options from which to choose.
Hit the Beach!
One of the first things that so many visitors can’t wait to do as soon as they get here, is hit the beach. Many of the people that travel here have endured a long and traffic-filled journey to the Outer Banks. By the time they roll into town all they want to do is get to their favorite beach access, throw some towels down and jump in the water! Finally, that blissful moment of “arrival”, when that stress of hours of car horns, traffic jams, and anxious passengers melt away, and the cool waters of the Atlantic greet its guests, welcoming the newest visitors to our sandbar home. (For the best beaches check out obxbeachaccess.com)
For some people, a perfect day at the beach consists of sunbathing or napping in the sun, taking the occasional dip in the surf when it gets a bit too hot, and then repeating the process until sundown. Others like to enjoy a similarly relaxing day at the beach, by surf-fishing from the shore. Visitors can purchase fishing licenses online so that they don’t even need to make an extra stop when they get into town.
Beachgoers who enjoy staying a bit more active while enjoying the surf and sand, have plenty of options to have a great time and get some exercise while relaxing at the beach.
The Outer Banks is something of a mecca for east coast surfers. If you are just an occasional or even a beginner surfer, we got you covered. There are surf shops just about everywhere you look that would be more than happy to rent you some gear. You can purchase or rent boards, wet suits, or whatever you need. As an added bonus, surf shops offer lessons at varying skill-levels.
Skimboarding is another popular beach activity. Riders run in the sand along the edge of the water, waiting for the perfect moment to toss their board into the shallow water as they jump onto it, and skim (hydroplane) across the surface of the water. A skilled skimboarder can even ride out toward breaking waves and launch themselves off of a wave, or spin and carve through the water.
When the surf and wind conditions are just right, kitesurfers are sure to take advantage. Kitesurfers hold on to a control bar that is attached to a cord, which is then attached to a kite. The rider flies the kite against the wind, which pulls them through the water (much like a wakeboarder or water skier). Clearly this is not something that most people can easily pick up in a couple of days, but there are several people on the Outer Banks who give lessons to get you started.
Water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing are always a blast. Jetpacks and flyboards are devices that attach to your back, or that you can stand on, similar to a skateboard. Powerful jets of water are sent through the device, which allows the rider to burst into the air, hover 30ft above the water, and basically; fly around! Anyone can book a session at several different locations throughout the Outer Banks.
Off the beach there are just as many opportunities to turn it back a couple notches and relax. On sunny summer days, the waters of the sounds and bays are typically teeming with people enjoying some recreation time. Some are there to simply go for a swim and, some, to spend the day sailing. A leisurely paddle in a kayak or even on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) is an ideal way to tap into the tranquility of the sights and sounds of nature, on the water.
If you’d rather kick back and let someone else navigate the waters for you, there are many options when it comes to chartering boats, for fishing trips, sunset and dinner cruises, or dolphin spotting excursions…really, for just about anything you can imagine, including the Crystal Dawn.
Parasailing is a favorite activity that’s as thrilling as it is peaceful. Once the boat towing you is at speed on open water; the operator simply releases the tension and you are suddenly floating in the sky! It gives you the opportunity to gently soar hundreds of feet above the water, with a bird’s eye view of the beach below. Riders can choose how high they want to sail (typically between 200-400ft). The breathtaking view of the Outer Banks from your parachute 400ft. above the water, is sure to create long-lasting memories.
Summer is here, and we all have the ideal opportunity to unwind and take in the exhilarating beauty of the astounding coastal sanctuary, that is the Outer Banks. Be safe, have fun, and take it easy!
Nick Leinweber transplanted to the Outer Banks in 2016, from Allentown, PA. When he has free time to enjoy the water, he likes to hang out on the beach at Nag’s Head Pier.