An island that can only be accessed by ferry ,,,,, 14 miles of National Seashore … a single, charming, quaint village surrounding a beautiful harbor …. very few tourists because high season is over …. This is a recipe for a fabulous beachy getaway. A few people encouraged us to go and to stay overnight.
We left right after the lunar eclipse in early October and had a perfect 2 day excursion. By 8:45 AM, we were packed and headed towards Hatteras Village which is at the southern end of Hatteras Island and the ferry port for Ocracoke Island. We had one stop on the way to try an “Ugly” at the Orange Blossom Bakery and Cafe in Buxton. An ugly is an apple fritter that is HUGE and is a favorite in this area of the world. We pulled in around 10:15 AM which was a perfect time to pick up a sweet to eat on the ferry ride. Confession: We didn’t really like them that much even though everyone raves about them – off day?
Got to the ferry dock and lined up for the free 40 minute ride to the island. Free! Unbelievable. The ferry carries any vehicle that can travel on a road – cars, BIG trucks, RVs, etc. It is first come, first served unless you are a resident or service person – these folks get priority boarding. As you sit in lines you try to determine if you’ll make the cutoff for the next ferry or have to wait for another one. It’s a mystery until the last-minute before boarding because all of a sudden a few huge trucks can arrive in the priority lane and totally change the dynamics. This was the case with the first ferry. A lot of trucks trumped regular cars, but it was a beautiful day and we were sitting in a lovely harbor with our Kindles so no problem. We squeaked onto the second ferry and were on our way. It was a perfect day – sunny, about 75 degrees with a gentle breeze blowing. We got out of the car and went upstairs to an observation deck to soak in the sights and sounds. The ferry ride was part of the fun.
When we arrived on the island, we decided we would drive into town first to briefly check it out, find the lighthouse that Michael wanted to shoot at either sunset or sunrise, grab a bite to eat and then head for the beach. We discovered that the lighthouse would have the best light at sunset so we planned to return just after 6PM to set up. We had lunch at a cute restaurant that had shaded patio seating so Mick could join us while we ate. This was great because it was hot out and we don’t really like leaving him in the car even with the air conditioning running. Mick loves being in vacation places because everyone misses their dog and he gets all their love and pets.
We then headed for the beach and chose the first parking lot outside of town because it had outdoor showers and we could rinse Mick off at the end of the day. The beach was absolutely stunning and there were less than 10 cars in the parking lot. The beach was wide and had a shallow entrance into the ocean. There were medium waves and a great breeze. We frolicked in the water with Mick for a bit and then settled in for some serious sun time. This was the prettiest beach we’ve seen at the Outer Banks and mostly they are all stunning beauties.
Late in the afternoon, we rinsed off and then headed towards the lighthouse. Mick and I strolled the grounds while Michael set up and waited for the light to turn soft. The brochures said this lighthouse was a photographer’s dream but I think the Bodie lighthouse with the grasses and marsh made a more idyllic shot. However, the Ocracoke lighthouse is no slouch either. This shot, with the fencing drawing your eye in, was wonderful.
After shooting the lighthouse, we headed to the hotel to check in. Pretty much all the hotels on the island are older motels but all well-kept. Ours, The Inn on Silver Lake, had lots of pet friendly rooms on the first floor, all with lovely sitting areas in front and facing the harbor – complete with rocking chairs. It was a lovely early evening so we sat outside rocking and reading while Mick enjoyed his dinner. Later, we headed over to The Flying Melon for dinner. Funky name but we liked the looks of the restaurant. I checked the internet and they didn’t have a website but they did have great reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp.
We had a fabulous server and dinner at The Flying Melon Cafe. Michael had a scallop, mushroom and cheese appetizer and I had a Mushroom Cheesecake which was really like a cheesy, mushroomy mousse – both were delicious. For entrée’s, Michael had a house smoked, bone-in Pork Chop with a Cherry Citrus glaze and I had a seafood platter that had Bluefish, Shrimp, Scallops and a Crabcake – what a delectable feast! We split a crème brulee and headed back to the Inn. It was a balmy evening and we sat outside on our deck rocking and reading books for about an hour before turning in.
The next morning I gathered up a respectable continental breakfast from the front desk, we sat on our porch and had a lovely meal and then headed off to the beach. The wind changed direction overnight so the waves were very gentle and rolling. The water was warm and Mick had a great time running into the water after Michael and then back to me. We had a few more hours of luxurious sun time.
It was one of those perfect beach days you dream about. Soft, east waves, lovely breezes, warm sun and I could feel myself melting into the chair with happiness. We’re at the time of year when each day is especially cherished because you know it’s going to turn cooler any day – early fall was already overdue. We finally dragged ourselves off the beach and reluctantly headed towards the ferry. We had one moment of indecision, maybe we should just stay over another day? … but decided to stick with our plan and potentially come back the next week.
The ferry ride was, once again, a treat all by itself and as we drove off the ferry and back onto Hatteras Island, I was on the lookout for a place to eat. It was 3:30, that weird time where places were finished serving lunch and not open yet for an early dinner. As we were driving through Buxton, I saw a sign for Buxton Munch with a sign that said they had 5 stars on Trip Advisor so we did a quick U-turn and drove in. What a find! As Michael gave Mick a quick walk, I approached the door. There was a sign saying they closed at 4:00. My phone said 3:57 so as I pulled open the door I wondered if we would be able to eat. The young woman behind the counter could not have been nicer. She said sure but we’d have to order for take-out. No problem there as there were picnic tables right outside.
I didn’t want to delay the gracious staff any longer so I ordered for both Michael and me – a Crabcake wrap with Avocado and Black Beans and a grilled Rockfish wrap. Both came with great corn chips and cole slaw. I ordered drinks and as the server was waiting on our order she started cleaning up – including the soda machine but she said no worries, she’d leave Michael’s selection for last in case he wanted a refill!
The interior was adorable and had lots of 60’s memorabilia and Far Side comic books around. They even had a Woodstock poster. How fun! Their tag line is – ‘A groovy little place with a whole lotta taste’ and this sums it up perfectly. I wish this special place was closer to Duck – I’d eat here often. The food was super fresh, spiced well and really great.
We headed home satisfied and happy. This was a perfect trip – so much so, we returned the following week. Michael had loved sitting outside of our hotel room so much that I rebooked there again and we pretty much did a repeat visit – beach, Inn on Silver Lake and Flying Melon again. YUM!
The first time we went, the dunes were covered in small yellow flowers that were incredibly vibrant and beautiful. When we returned with the intention of taking pictures of the flowers, we were disappointed that they were somewhat gone by. This was a gentle reminder to seize every moment and never wait! This getaway will be a highlight of an already wonderful segment of our travels and a not to miss recommendation for anyone coming to the Outer Banks.