If you just can’t decide what to do for adventure, let me recommend some summer thrills. My June visit to North Carolina’s Outer Banks was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken—bar none.
The only water I’m generally interested in is a frozen lake where I can fly like the wind with my snowmobile, so I was more than a little hesitant about Outer Banks wind surfing. I don’t swim, so the shallow water (3 – 4 feet) of Roanoke Sound was a perfect stress reducer. Mind you, I still put on a life jacket.
I got my equipment and lessons from Outer Banks Kitty Hawk Sports (Nags HeadMilepost 16 location): http://www.kittyhawk.com. The land lessons went fast—and before you knew it the instructor had us all headed to the water, telling us we’d be sailing away in no time. But what did he know? There it was: a flat surfboard with a plastic sail. One of the guys plunged in and climbed aboard with no difficulty. Up, up and away…he sailed off into the Bay followed by the rest of the group, until only I was left.
There was only one thing I could do, which was wade out into the water and try to climb on while our instructor held the board. It wasn’t as hard as I expected. Then I stood up. Also not too hard. I pulled the ropes, bringing the sail up from where it was flopped into the water, leaned forward and before I could stop myself I was wind surfing!
It was awesome sailing into the Bay, even the first time falling in! Much to my amazement it was easy to get back on and keep going and going and going. I had just one problem. There was virtually no wind, so it was impossible to sail back against the current (at least for a novice like me). I would have loved to just sail into the sunset, but opted out to walk back pulling the board. Oh well, maybe next time…
The next activity slated for the morning was riding Wave Runners—at least they had a motor so I wouldn’t have to tow it back by hand in the calm day. Kitty Hawk had a good selection of those too, so I jumped on one and headed out to the marked area to zip around a few obstacles. There’s nothing like imagining you’re back on the ranch running the poles with your horse, to give your Wave Runner some quick turns around buoys. Now that was a water sport that didn’t take any getting used to after snowmobiling.
My afternoon activity turned out to be my favorite of the trip—Outer Banks kayaking. I worried I wouldn’t have enough upper body strength to keep up with everyone in the group, but luckily, it didn’t turn out to be a problem. Our guide unloaded the kayaks and pushed them out into the waters around Roanoake and gave us a quick orientation. “Sit with your feet braced on the inside spots, hold the paddle like this, and let’s go…” Of course there were a few more instructions once we were in the water. However, after whitewater rafting, the whole theory behind steering with a paddle was already ingrained.
It didn’t take long until I relaxed into the gentle rhythm of dipping the paddle from side to side, and found my own best way of holding it. While I wasn’t ready for rapids, I certainly enjoyed the hours skirting the island.
But my adventure packed trip wasn’t over yet! The next day I set off with the Kitty Hawk Hang Gliding— www.kittyhawk.com—the largest hang gliding school in the world. The full class watched the video, stepped through getting into the harness, and took our lessons, then headed out to the dunes.
The dunes were incredible; mountains of sand stretched out to the sea. The walk was worth it, just for the opportunity to explore such a beautiful terrain. Once we arrived our trainers set up the hang-gliders and one did the trial run.
It was, unfortunately another calm day—so unless we could run 20 mph to get airborne as the Instructor had, we were doomed to spend our time hang-waiting instead of hang gliding…
The afternoon session also would have gone a little better with a breeze, but personally I figured I had all the wind I could handle when I got the 18 foot kite I was flying into the air. And I thought I needed arm strength for kayaking! The sport I was taking lessons for was kite boarding, although all I really had time for was the kite flying part, which was challenging enough on its own. I doubt there’s an instructor in the world talented enough to teach me how to fly a kite and use the wind power to propel either a surfboard or a skateboard. My coordination doesn’t even allow me to pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time, never mind fly a kite and ride a board! Oh well, flying the kite was fun on its own.
Another first for me as a vacationer was staying in at and Outer Banks Beach rental property right on the beach, instead of at an Outer Banks hotel. The beach rental house was great—three stories with seven bedrooms. It’s ideal for sharing between members of a family or a group of friends. We had our own swimming pool, hot tub, and pool table. What more could you need for relaxation? All of the beach rental facilities were supurb, from having two dishwashers to patio furniture with seating for twenty people! The property was rented through:
If you want to entertain in your home away from home I also highly recommend the services of Sonny’s Creative Kitchens who came in and prepared a delicious meal, then cleaned up afterwards, leaving us the leftovers.
Whether you’re a beginner like me, or a pro ready to take on even bigger challenges, there’s lots of adventure waiting for you in the Outer Banks!
Article first appeared in SnowRider Online Magazine in August, 2004, copyright Linda Aksomitis.