Kiteboarding, golfing and islanding–Outer Banks’ family travel fun

Despite my family’s premature evacuation due to Hurricane Earl, the Outer Banks was one of my all-time favorite family travel destinations. This long string of narrow barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina is pristine. Raw. And achingly beautiful.

The beach house my mom rented in the Southern Shores was one of hundreds of million-dollar mansions that dotted the Atlantic Ocean.

Despite its name, Southern Shores is actually in the northernmost part of the Outer Banks with a busy shopping hub. For our next trip, my goal is to stay on the southernmost tip, Okracoke Island. Accessible only be ferry, it boasts untouched beauty, whimsical lighthouses, a quaint village and me.

Gotta start planning now.

During our five days in the Outer Banks, we crammed in a whole lot of family travel fun. Some highlights:


The Outer Banks is renowned as the Kiteboarding Capital of the World. My brother Pat (an avid wakeboarder) has recently taken to this surface water sport that uses the wind to pull a rider through the water on a small kiteboard.

I have never been a water person, nor am I talented enough to fly a simple kite so this sport was beyond my ability level. Knowing my aversion to water sports, my sister-in-law Jane tried to convert me to “Dragging.” Basically, this is kiteboarding without a kiteboard. You are harnessed to the kite and let the kite guide you as your face is used as a skipping stone across the water.

I remained shore-bound.

Miniature golf

There are oodles of non-beach activities for children in the Outer Banks that include amusement parks, an Indy Kart racetrack, skate parks, horseback riding and so much more.

Our “more” was going miniature golfing at Lost Treasure Golf in Kill Devil Hills with cousins Jaxson and Connor.

To access the first hole, we rode on a mining train through caves, “ancient” ruins and under waterfalls.

And I confirmed that Bode and cousin Jaxson are actually long-lost twins.


Roanoke Island

One of my biggest disappointments was being unable to travel to Okracoke Island (tourists were evacuated a couple of days prior to Hurricane Earl). Roanoke Island, one of the Outer Banks’ primary visitor destinations, was The Next Best Thing.

What we could have done:

Pet the stingrays at the North Carolina Aquarium, strolled through the breathtaking Elizabethan Gardens, saw the popular outdoor drama, The Lost Colony and enlisted the kids in Pirate Adventures where they could seek out treasures aboard a pirate ship.

What we did do:

Time was short and the weather was hot so one morning, Jamie, Hadley, Bode and I drove to Manteo. This charming hamlet wraps around Shallowbag Bay on the eastern side of Roanoke Island.

We strolled the Manteo Waterfront and devoured coconut chicken salads at the Magnolia Grille. Next, we searched for fossils at the waterfront’s pirate-themed playground.

We explored the cottage-style Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse.

And climbed trees. The kids did, that is.

Though this activity did not involve liquid face-plants, I still deemed it best to remain on solid ground.



We started and ended each day playing in our house’s pool….

And hot tub.

(My niece Ashton’s darling girls.)

And reached for the sky.

(My toe has never looked better.)

The lowlight: When The Lord of the Gourds tossing me into the pool fully-clothed. My trespass? Mocking The Great Pumpkin, of course.

In my defense, who wouldn’t make fun of the GPC (Great Pumpkin Commonwealth)….

Stay tuned tomorrow for details on THE BEACH!

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