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Enjoying the quiet of winter on the Outer Banks

At first glance, while taking a drive down Route 12 and the Bypass during the months of January and February, one may assume that the Outer Banks is closed for winter. Restaurant billboards read different variations of “Thanks for a great season” or “See you in the spring!” and the rows of vacation homes normally bustling with visitors during the summer sit vacant and dark. If you look closer, however, you’ll find that even when most visitors are waiting for warmer weather to visit the beach, the winter months can be some of the most peaceful and relaxing months to explore all of the beauty that the OBX has to offer. Your suitcase might look a bit different this time of the year, as you trade your swim suit and flip flops for your winter jacket and boots, however wintertime on the beach is anything but boring!

While the ocean is usually out of the picture during the winter (except for you, Polar-Plungers!), now is a fantastic time to bundle up and take a stroll along the beach in search of treasures washed up on shore during recent storms. Often times, you can find a variety of different types of shells in different colors and shapes to make the search fun for everyone. One of the more elusive treasures that can be found in the sand is sea glass. Sea glass is made up of remnants of old bottles that were taken by the sea and washed around in the surf and sand. Over time, this process creates an opaque and smooth piece of glass that can be found in just about every color. Clear, brown and green are often the most commonly found, where blue, purple and reds are harder to find, as they come from older glass bottles and jars no longer used today. While it may take some searching and a sharp eye, once you find a piece, it will become your new favorite beach combing treasure!

Have you had the opportunity to visit Carova and view the wild horses that are native to the beach on the northern-most part of the OBX? Believe it or not, these horses are out and about even during the quieter winter months. As they have the beach to themselves, it is common to see them strolling along the water’s edge or laying out in the sun to get warm on the chilly days. You’ll notice something different about the horses in the winter too- they wear winter coats just like we do! Each year, due to a change in their diets due to the plants available in the area, their coats grow thicker, allowing them to withstand the winter cold and nor’easters that frequent the area during the winter months. 4×4 SUVs are still recommended for navigating the beach, due to the ever shifting sands and tides, but it is well worth a visit to see some of the oldest residents of the area in their natural habitat.

If you’ve never headed to the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to witness the bird migrations during the off-season, we recommend a visit during your next winter trip to the Outer Banks. With birds and water fowl of all types taking residence in the calm waters of the sound, often times by the thousands each winter, it is a sight to see! While visiting the Refuge, visitors can hike along the .6 mile (each way) North Pond Wildlife Trail to get views of the birds, but also turtles and other types of wildlife native to the area. The Wildlife Refuge is open year round and is fun for all ages.

Need help finding a house to stay at while you’re in town exploring? Here at Coastal Carolina Vacations, we offer rentals that range from one-bedroom condos that overlook the island’s sunsets, to large, 16-bedroom oceanfront homes that can accommodate the entire family. Stay as little as three nights or for a full week. Looking to spread out but still bring everyone together? We also offer OBX rentals that are side-by-side or near one another. Give us a call at 866-938-7497 to learn more!


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