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Just the Two of Us – in the OBX

I don’t know about you, but I’m worn out. As a teacher, the past several months were incredibly challenging, on top of an already challenging year for my eighth graders. My mental health was suffering, which always triggers problems with my physical health.

I needed a vacation. Jeff needed a vacation. So we did our research and off we went to Corolla, North Carolina for a stay at an amazing Airbnb just off the beach.

The Sand Dollar is run by Margaret and Randy Dyer, and boasts three floors, the top one overlooking the ocean. It’s a great place for early morning coffee as the waves crash along the shore.

We tend to go with Airbnb, as many of you know, because of the value. Here, we had our own room with a private bath, plus access to a kitchen, gas grill and a sunroom.

We also had a private entrance, which helped keep us distanced from any other guests.

Beach gear was also provided – towels, chairs, umbrellas. Toss in a hot breakfast every morning and we couldn’t have asked for more.

The backyard was perfect for a dinner of freshly grilled local Mahi-mahi and sea scallops. And the $50 we spent (including the cannoli and double chocolate chip cookie for dessert) was far and away less expensive than any dinner you’ll get on the beach.

Jeff grilled while I sipped a glass of wine by the pool. It took about 15 minutes, and I didn’t even have to change out of my bathing suit.

Sunrise

If you’ve ever been to the beach, you know there’s nothing more beautiful than sunrise over the ocean.

On our second morning, after a 4:30a.m. wakeup call, we took our coffee and drove 40 minutes south to Avalon Pier in Kitty Hawk.

There were others who had the same brilliant idea, but we were each in our own peaceful moments, watching the sun peek over the horizon. The clouds transformed into a blaze of gold and red and purple as we breathed in the quiet.

Exploring the Maritime Forest – from the Water!

After a quick breakfast, we headed to Kitty Hawk Kites, located just before the bridge to the mainland. For $5, we were able to launch our iSUPs -fitted with the kayak seats – from their kayak launch. Kayak rentals are available, too, as are tours, but we did not want to feel pressured by a clock, and we preferred to stay away from other people.

Of course, we prefer to be on our own on the water even under normal circumstances.

Here, too, we were surrounded by the peaceful sounds of the water.

A trip through the canals of one of the east coasts few maritime forests is akin to stepping back in time. No people, no traffic, no signs of tourism.

In fact, the only sign of humanity at all was an old bridge we came across nearly 45 minutes into our paddle.

The water was like glass, too. Perfect for a little stand up time to break up the kayaking.

Eventually, we made our way back to the dock. In less than 20 minutes, our boards were dried off, deflated, and packed up. We even made it back to the house by lunchtime for a nap, and still had some time by the pool!

Hiking

Thursday dawned overcast, with rain expected throughout the day. We planned on a day on the deck, reading and relaxing.

But we both have trouble sitting still. Corolla boasts its own maritime forest, so we decided to take a short walk.

Ummm…. Well. 3 miles later, we had covered 3 totally different types of trails.

Just before the pavement ends at the 4×4 beach, there is a small parking lot where drivers deflate their tires before hitting the sand. There are 3 trails based out of that parking lot.

The first, a short trail to the estuary, was a boardwalk suitable for all ages.

The trail through the forest was barely a path in places, however, looping through a completely wooded area with twisted tree trunks and coyote scat. There are frequent reports of both snakes and coyote, but we did not see any.

The route was clearly marked by blue-tipped posts, which did make it easy to follow. Tip: Bring your bug spray, and use it!

The third trail lined the road for a short distance until it hit the beach. From there, it’s a hike over the dunes to the 4×4 beach access for the wild horse tours.

Vehicles are not allowed on the ‘people’ side of the beach to avoid accidents, which would be likely given that some drivers do not belong on the sand.

FYI- if you’re thinking you want to take your own car out on that beach, think twice. All wheel drive may not cut it, as a certain amount of clearance is required to navigate the ruts in the sand on the way back.

If you do find yourself stuck in the sand, it’s a $700 bill for the tow, and 4-5 drivers each day end up hauled off the beach because they overestimated both themselves and their vehicles.

Final Sunrise

We had to hit one more sunrise before we left, and were joined by dozens of ghost crabs. Some of them were huge and all were busy scooping out sand from their holes in the beach. So cool to watch!

Special Shout Out

Lighthouse Bagels (@lighthousebagels was the only eatery we hit more than once. Open from 7-2pm daily, the place is packed first thing in the morning. No wonder, as the bagels are made in house and are off the chain.

This chocolate crumb cake is what happens when a brownie meets a coffee cake. It was so good that we bought it twice AND picked up a 4-pack to take home!

We’ll Be Back!

There is no doubt that we will visit the Outer Banks again, as there is so much we have yet to explore.

Don’t hesitate to check Airbnb as well as VRBO for rentals. There is a perfect beach getaway just waiting for you!

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