Tag Archives: Outer Banks

Travel: Manteo, NC

No matter where you are on Roanoke Island, you're never far from beautiful water. And you're even within walking distance of the Atlantic Ocean. Uploaded by marsheslight.com.

Manteo is the primary town on Roanoke Island, nestled inside North Carolina’s Outer Banks. You may know about its history — Sir Walter Raleigh was granted a charter to settle the area by Queen Elizabeth I in 1584. Several groups of colonists tried to make it through the hardships, but when a supply ship returned after leaving the settlers for three years, it found no one alive on the island. Virginia Dare, the first child born to English colonists in the New World, had also disappeared.

Uploaded by city-data.com.

Today, that story is told in a seasonal outdoor drama called The Lost Colony (Great American Things, June 7, 2010). But that’s just one of the incredibly charming things about the little town of Manteo. I’ve done two posts on this site about the best small towns in America, and I won’t claim that Manteo is better than many other similar towns. I’m sure there are others with a restored lighthouse, Elizabethan garden, and a reproduction of a 16th century ship. But few have the Atlantic Ocean within walking distance, I’m fairly certain of that.

Naturally, Manteo is most alive in the summer, when tourists come to the famous beaches of Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, and Hatteras Island. But it’s probably more interesting during other seasons, when Manteo Booksellers (the prototype of a charming, independent bookstore) isn’t crowded, and you can get a specialty coffee across the street at the Coffeehouse on Roanoke Island. If everything breaks our way, it’s where I’d love to retire. It’s a beautiful, quiet, very special place.

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Travel: Ocracoke Island

Photo courtesy of Flickr, uploaded by MCanedy.

Photo courtesy of Flickr, uploaded by MCanedy.

Except for the village, Ocracoke Island is owned completely by the National Park Service as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It’s about 14 to 16 miles long, depending on who’s doing the telling, and a half mile wide. The only way in is by ferry, private boat, or small plane. You’ll find it on the map, down there at the tip of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

But Ocracoke Island is much more than a place. It’s a state of mind.

Maybe you’ll stay at the picturesque Ocracoke Harbor Inn, or one of the town’s several bed and breakfast inns. From the village you can walk, cycle or paddle almost anywhere you need to go. You can spend time on a long, wide expanse of sand and have it virtually to yourself. You’ll definitely want to visit the Ocracoke Lighthouse. Built in 1823, it’s the oldest lighthouse still in operation in North Carolina.

Maybe the idea of staying at such a remote location is too much for you. You need just a little more action. Okay, that’s understandable. But if you find yourself anywhere near the Outer Banks, you owe it to yourself to make your way down to at least experience Ocracoke.

You might soon find all that going and doing isn’t as satisfying as relaxing and being.