When Beach Treasures Become Fashionable Keepsakes

Just walking along the beach on the Outer Banks can feel like opening a treasure trove. There are so many beautiful shells and rocks, and if you look carefully, you’ll find sea glass in many colors. Collecting these treasures while walking the beach is a wonderful and relaxing way to spend your time. But you can also enjoy these natural treasures through local artisan jewelry!

Many stores and boutiques in the Outer Banks sell locally made shell and sea glass necklaces, earrings and more. Mother of pearl, sea glass and wampum shells make beautiful fashion pieces for any occasion, and you will enjoy wearing your own very special connection to the Outer Banks!

Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl is the smooth, shiny, iridescent material inside of shells, particularly the shell lining of mollusks, oysters and abalones.  Also called nacre, this inner lining of shells is created much in the same way pearls are formed.

Sea Glass
Sea glass is formed naturally when broken bottles and glass find their way into the ocean. The broken glass pieces are tumbled in the ocean for years, breaking down into soft worn edges and a frosted finish. Some of this glass comes from the shipwrecks off the coast of the Outer Banks! Wire wrapped sea glass is a very trendy fashion on the Outer Banks, each piece being unique and special.

Wampum shells
Wampum beads have an important history on the east coast. These polished shells once were used by Native Americans and colonists as gifts, decoration and currency. The shells come from whelk (sea snails) and clams and are white and vibrant purple in color.

Jewelry made from these treasures of the Atlantic offer a precious nostalgic keepsake while also supporting many local artists who create them. You will find plenty of options popping into the local shops!

Where To Find The Perfect Swimwear on the OBX

When you’re visiting the Outer Banks in summer, chances are most of your time will be spent in swimwear, enjoying the beautiful beaches or a refreshing poolside. You might be surprised just how many more swimwear options are out there beyond what you find at your local malls and retailers. There’s no need to stress out and shop for the perfect suit before you make your way across the Wright Memorial bridge. You can find swimwear for the whole family in stores up and down the beach. Leave it to the experts, the managers and owners of these swimwear retailers to help you find just what you are looking for.

For men, find boardshorts and swim trunks suitable for all of your favorite activities, including surfing, fishing or just kicking back on the beach. For kids, you can find the perfect suits to let your little ones enjoy the beach and bring back home all the sand.

For women, it’s a little trickier. We know it’s hard trying to figure out what suit fits best with each body type. And the options are plentiful: one-pieces, two-pieces, string bikinis, tankinis, brazilians and itty bitty bottoms, high-waisted retro and pinup styles, athletic styles, full support, more coverage, less coverage. Let’s face it, the options are as exhaustive as they can be exhausting to try on. Let the swimwear experts help you make the right choice and find you a suit that you are comfortable with and love!

Here are some top places to shop for stylish swimwear and beach attire on the Outer Banks:

Birthday Suits (locations in Corolla, Duck and Nags Head)
Birthday Suits has been voted “Best Place To Buy A Swimsuit” for over 30 years, offering swim and beach attire for the entire family. For women, Birthday Suits offers the largest selection of swim separates on the Outer Banks, including bra sizes B through G.

Gray’s Outer Banks Lifestyle and Clothing Company (2 locations in Corolla, 2 locations in Duck and 1 location in Kitty Hawk)
Gray’s offers fashions and beach accessories for the entire family by top brands you’ll recognize as well as a selection of Outer Banks hats and t-shirts. Gray’s has five locations in the Outer Banks, with its flagship store in Kitty Hawk.

Shore-Fit Sunwear (Kill Devil Hills)
Shore-Fit Sunwear is a specialty boutique offering fashions for women sizes 8 to 32 and offers customer service to help you find the right size and fit. The store offers options for women with special swimwear needs as well, including cup-size, maternity and post-mastectomy swimsuits.

Trust your swimwear needs to the shops on the Outer Banks. Enjoy a day shopping while on vacation and you’ll find unique offerings for the whole family and everything you need to enjoy island life.

2017 Outer Banks Taste of the Beach

Explore the Outer Banks through Food and Drink with “Taste of the Beach”

If you are a foodie, a wannabe foodie, or you just enjoy a good meal, there’s no better time to be on the beach than March 23-26 for Taste of the Beach 2017, presented by the Outer Banks Restaurant Association. Restaurants all over the Outer Banks prepare their most exquisite cuisine — your chance to enjoy fresh, local ingredients and seafood and the best the food and drink Outer Banks chefs have to offer.

With 60 events over the four days, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at Taste of the Beach, such as cooking lessons, cook-offs, brewery tours, wine tastings, multi-course meals and more. Whatever your taste or interest, Taste of the Beach is about having fun and exploring the Outer Banks through food. Try a little bit of everything and nurture your inner foodie, from casual BBQ and wings, fancy wine and meal pairings, to champagne cocktails and delectable desserts.

Awards are presented each year, including Best-In-Show and the People’s Choice, where you get to vote and show your appreciation for your favorite experience.

Taste of the Beach offers a fun way to get acquainted with the best restaurants on the Outer Banks and indulge in carefully prepared, unique offerings. Plan early, this is not an event to miss, and it’s going to be hard to choose which events to attend with such a broad range of variety offered. Whatever you choose, you are sure to enjoy this exceptional time to be in the Outer Banks.

Taste of the Beach Rental Specials!

Southern Shores Realty offers a special discount during your stay for Taste of the Beach. Rent three nights during Taste of the Beach and get one night free! Click here to view our participating homes.

 

 

 

The Best Places for Coffee on the Outer Banks

http://www.morningviewcoffee.com/

 

Vacation is a time to step away from the routine of everyday life and enjoy a more relaxed pace. But there’s no need to take a vacation from your morning coffee habit. The Outer Banks offers many locally-owned coffee shops so you can enjoy that coffee goodness each morning with a unique OBX style!

 

Front Porch Cafe

http://www.frontporchcafeonline.com/

With locations in Kill Devil Hills at Milepost 6, Nags Head at Milepost 10.5 and in Manteo, Front Porch Cafe offers a full coffee menu, bagels, and pastries. The Nags Head and Manteo locations are perfect for productivity, offering high-speed wifi and plug-in stations. There also are cozy couches and tables to meet and catch up with friends. The Kill Devil Hills location is shared with Glazin’ GoNuts paint-your-own pottery studio and Garden of Beadn’ retail bead store. Front Porch Cafe specializes in artisan “micro” small-batch roasting, which can be seen during roasting hours in the Nags Head location. Order a cup in-house or buy a half or full pound of coffee to brew in your rental cottage or home.

 

 

 

Morning View Coffee House and Roastery

http://www.morningviewcoffee.com/

Just blocks from the beach in Nags Head, Morning View offers an eclectic and cozy indoor and outdoor garden setting to enjoy relaxing with coffee or tea or spending time online with free wifi. The coffee shop is dog friendly, and offers a limited selection of snacks and fresh-baked pastries. You will often see and smell the coffee beans roasting as you enter the shop. In addition to ordering espresso drinks and fresh brew, you can purchase a variety of fair-trade, sustainable, farm-to-cup coffee bean varieties to brew back at your rental cottage or home.

 

 

Outer Bean Juice and Java

http://outerbean.com/

Outer Bean in Kitty Hawk offers fresh coffee along with a full breakfast menu, and juice and smoothie bar. This is where the health conscious start their day. You can enjoy a creative variety of espresso drinks all day long, as well as healthy lunch and dinner options as the day progresses. The Outer Bean offers fair-trade and organic coffee as well as a large selection of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free menu options and beer and wine.

 

 

Waveriders Coffee, Deli and Pub

http://waveridersobx.com/

Waveriders in Nags Head offers coffee and espresso drinks with just about any syrup flavor you can think of, fresh bakery items and a breakfast and lunch/dinner panini menu. The deli prides itself on offering a healthier alternative to fast food, featuring Boar’s Head meats and cheeses. Waveriders also sells beer and wine, and you’re likely to find live music entertainment at this casual hangout in the evenings.

Each of these coffee shops showcases local art and offers a unique OBX community experience! Dine-in for a full coffee house experience, or take that coffee to go and sip it at the beach watching the sun come up and the waves roll in. Either way, coffee is a delicious way to start your day on the OBX!

Local Eats: Rich and Creamy Crab Bisque

There’s no shortage of fresh, local seafood on the Outer Banks. And one of the best culinary experiences on the beach is a smooth and creamy bowl of crab bisque. Crab bisque is made with lump crab meat, cream and seasonings, with sherry being a key ingredient. Luckily, crabs are easy to come by in the Outer Banks, available just about anywhere throughout the year. So a delightful cup or bowl of crab bisque is easy to enjoy in many local restaurants.

The crabs caught here in North Carolina are Atlantic blue crabs that crawl along the soft sandy bottom of the ocean and Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. In fact, according to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, North Carolina harvests about 30 million pounds of blue crab annually! The blue crab shells change to a bright red color when cooked, and their meat is sweet and succulent.

Commercially, fisherman head out of Wanchese to the sound waters to round up bushels and supply restaurants and seafood markets. But visitors can do their own recreational crabbing either by joining a crabbing charter or by using crab pots or handlining along the soundfront. Crabbing is a family friendly activity that kids really enjoy. If you are interested in crabbing, consider renting a soundfront or canalfront home with a private dock or bulkhead. There are also many public areas throughout the Outer Banks where families can go crabbing. Recreational crabbers do not need a NC Fishing License, though you can check with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission on regulations.

If you’re not crabbing while on the Outer Banks, you can still enjoy delicious crab bisque at many area restaurants. The options are endless, but here are a few standouts:

 

Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe, Nags Head – Voted “Best of the Beach Seafood Restaurant” in 2016, Lone Cedar specializes in local seafood. They are located at the Nags Head/Manteo Causeway.

 

 

 

I Got Your Crabs Shellfish Market and Oyster Barhttps://www.facebook.com/IGotYourCrabs/photos/, Kitty Hawk – Enjoy the crab bisque on the menu, or buy their crabs at the Border Station on your drive down to the Outer Banks. They are located at milepost 4.25 on the beachside of the bypass.

 

 

 

Henry’s Restaurant, Kill Devil Hills – This no frills restaurant focuses on all-American style food and friendly service. They are located at milepost 4.5 on the soundside of the bypass.

 

 

 

The Sugar Creek Seafood Restaurant, Nags Head-Manteo Causeway – Enjoy crab bisque on the menu and buy fresh seafood to prepare in your rental cottage. They are located at milepost 16.5 just beyond the curve on your right.

 

 

 

Mulligans Raw Bar & Grille, Nags Head – Experience the crab bisque and other southern coastal cuisine while enjoying live music on the outdoor deck. They are located at milepost 13 on the beachside of the bypass.

 

 

 

With so many local seafood options on the Outer Banks, you’re sure to satisfy your craving for rich and creamy crab bisque while in town.

7 Reasons to Visit the Outer Banks in Winter

This week on the Outer Banks, all focus was on the tubes. But not the gnarly waves as you would think, the water pipes! More precisely, how to keep them from freezing as temperatures dipped into the 20s and snowfall cast a frozen sheen on the beaches. Locals know all too well how to make the most of the Outer Banks any time of year. Even at its frostiest, the Outer Banks offers a peaceful getaway for tourists.

The wintertime offers visitors an opportunity to explore the quieter side of the Outer Banks. If you are considering a winter escape, here are a few benefits you can enjoy:

1. Saving money. Most rentals and restaurants offer lower off season prices. This means you could rent a much larger oceanfront home (with a hot tub!) than you ever expected. $1 slices of pizza? Half-price wine? Yes, please! The off season pricing also extends to local restaurants as well as spas and other activities.

2. No waits. There’s no patience needed in the wintertime! With no traffic on the highway, you pretty much have the road to yourself. And you can walk into just about any restaurant and be seated for your meal right away! You’ll enjoy a quieter, calmer atmosphere as well.

3. Sea shells. The best seashore treasures, including large unbroken conch shells and colorful seaglass, are found on the beaches during the off season.

4. Fishing. Charter a boat off shore and look for tuna, stay inshore for rockfish, fish from the piers for rockfish, bluefish or striper, and try the surf in milder temperatures for puppy drum, speckled trout and sea mullet, to name a few options. Remember to check with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission on licensing and regulations.

5. Unobstructed views. Enjoy the beach all to yourself! Take sunrise and beach photos without anyone photobombing!

6. Freedom. The beach rules are more relaxed in the wintertime. Most towns allow driving on the beach from October 1 to April 30 with a permit. Dogs also enjoy more freedom on the beach during these months! Be sure to check the web sites for each town for updated regulations.

7. Calm. Bring a project you are working on – writing, art, music, a business plan – with you to the Outer Banks and work in a beautiful location without distraction.

While undoubtedly the summertime makes the Outer Banks the hot spot place to be, the wintertime offers a uniquely different experience still to be enjoyed. Leave your flip flops behind, and show your boots a sandy good time!

6 OBX Vacation Homes with INSANELY AWESOME Features

Check out these homes!  If you’re looking for some Outer Banks inspiration, look no further.  All of these SWEET vacation homes are available to rent with Southern Shores Realty.

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QUIZ: Where to Stay on an Outer Banks Vacation?

Southern Shores Realty offers hundreds of vacation rental home options all along the Outer Banks, spanning Corolla to South Nags Head. Take this fun quiz to determine the best location for your needs!

where-to-stay-obx_0

 

[playbuzz-item url=”//www.playbuzz.com/robk10/where-to-stay-on-your-outer-banks-vacation”]

 

 

5 Reasons to Rent Through a Professional Property Manager

rent-local-outer-banks

Welcome to our blog and thanks for stopping by. You’re probably here to read about the pros and cons of renting your vacation rental home through a professional property manager vs. big online marketplaces. If that’s your intention – you’re in for a treat! If it’s not, you may want to stick around for a quick refresher course on how adding a middleman means adding extra costs and potential frustration.

Let me preface this list by telling you I’m not here to bash monstrous vacation rental marketplace websites with a combined net worth greater than the government of a well-developed country.  That is neither my intention nor a wise decision in any regard.  This list is simply here to outline the many benefits to consumers when they make the well informed and educated decision to rent directly through the service provider located in their vacation destination.

Make sense?  Cool.  Let’s jump right in!

1) #RentLocal

Oh boy, there it is.  Starting off the list with a tug of the heart strings and a side order of reality.  Let’s face it, when you are renting a vacation home in a particular destination (say the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina) there are inherent benefits when you transact with a company located there.  The first thing that jumps to my mind is “local” knowledge and a deep understanding of the area.  Anyone can sit on a computer 2,000 miles away from your destination and read the bullet points off a Wikipedia page…. but that’s neither satisfying nor enriching on any level.  The online concierge or customer care representative at XYZ online-vacation-mega-deals website can tell you about the highly rated restaurants on TripAdvisor, but I’d prefer getting the inside scoop from locals on the “must trys” at the local taco bar or steakhouse, and hear about what my vacation would be incomplete without!  

You are also (undoubtedly) providing greater impact to the local economy when you deal directly with the managing company.  Thanks to the advent of the internet and reservation software, booking your vacation directly through the local provider is very simple.  There’s also the extremely satisfying feeling you get with real world business relationships you’d be missing out on by shopping the big vacation resellers’ websites.  We love our guests here at Southern Shores Realty, and it’s a pleasure to show them how much they are valued and to see returning faces each year.

2) Ease of Use

These numbers don't look right

 

Booking your vacation is supposed to be stress-free and easy!  One of the main selling points online vacation rental marketplaces use in their advertising is the “ease of use” their websites offer.  They tout their “exclusive homes”, “accurate information”, etc.  All aboard the rebuttal express!  Allow me to let you in on a secret that’s not so secret.  Our industry is not using a white board and dry erase marker to write down your reservations anymore.  Many professional property management companies invest tens of thousands of dollars into their websites and physical operations each year to ensure continual improvement and user-friendliness.  For highly competitive destinations like the Outer Banks, it’s not unreasonable for that figure to be much higher.  What does this mean?  Basically, you’re going to have a very easy time booking your vacation rental with the property managers so you shouldn’t think that it’s going to be a hassle.

In regards to accurate information and exclusivity, these marketplace websites will accept most properties from any company whose check clears… and the “accurate information” is, in most cases, outdated and scraped right off the management company’s webpage.  There are some marketplaces that interface with reservation software to provide more up-to-date data, but there are still dozens of ways for data inaccuracies to occur, causing frustrations for both the consumer and the management company.

3) Price

saving-money

 

You knew we’d arrive here!  Before we go any further, you should be aware that there are some vacation rental marketplaces that are built on a “price discovery” model.  What does this mean?  In essence it means you, the consumer, sort by price to book your deal and then walk away with a smile.  Sounds pretty nice, right?  Tell me how this tastes: the price discovery modeled marketplaces we’ve been approached by want to tack on an additional 10% to our advertised rate and charge you that extra for their profit.  Besides that whack on the wallet, they sometimes charge fees that the property management company normally does not… often billed as “concierge fees” or “add-on fees.”   Tastes a little bit sour compared to first go…. kind of like a Lemonhead candy.

Last but not least, by the nature of the beast, increased advertising costs threaten to increase rental rates. Nearly all of the major online vacation rental marketplaces are comprised of professionally managed properties.  These are all (in a sense) paid advertisements.  When these marketplaces grow in popularity, the demand to be represented there grows and it ends up as a burden to the property management company.  While you’d think property managers are advertising here out of choice, often times it’s out of force.  Let me paint the picture: if 40% of the property managers in a particular destination pay to be on a marketplace website, the actual homeowners in the remaining 60% of the rental programs are going to start demanding their property manager pay for the same service.  It creates a snowballing dependency on these paid services and ultimately stresses the relationship between homeowner and manager.  Advertising costs then rise significantly for the property managers and this turns into rates increases for you, the guest.  Are you still thinking about shopping the big websites?

In the news:

Renting a vacation home online? 3 players add fees
Lawsuit: New fees from Austin-based HomeAway are ‘bait and switch’
New HomeAway, VRBO fee sends irate customers through the roof
Consumer Affairs Newest VRBO complaints

4) Maintenance & Housekeeping

Maid making bed in hotel room smiling

 

An alternative to a professionally managed vacation rental property is one that is offered, maintained, and marketed by the actual homeowner.  Booking a vacation rental directly from the owner has many perceived benefits, including but not limited to: price haggling.  Long list indeed!  I won’t question the method, madness, or success rates of attempting to negotiate vacation rental rates with a homeowner.  I’m a die hard deal shopper myself, but there’s a time and place for everything. One thing I’d rather not skimp on to save a few bucks is a stress-free vacation.

Let’s reflect back to our headline.  Do you know if your rental will be cleaned properly before your arrival?  Will it be cleaned at all?  Who should you call in case of maintenance emergency?  Who’s going to handle that maintenance emergency?  How trustworthy, helpful, and timely is the sole person you can call for any of these needs?  Sound appealing?  I’ll pass on price haggling and sleep well on my vacation.

When you book your vacation through a property management company you are purchasing a worry-free experience with a dedicated housekeeping and maintenance staff who are at your service.  Southern Shores Realty for example, offers a 24/7 maintenance hotline so you always have someone to talk to should an emergency occur.

5) Communication

Stressful work

 

Last but not least is communication.  Communication is vital in anything, especially a family vacation that is miles and miles away from home.  Sometimes when you book through a mega marketplace, you correspond with their representatives who then in-turn, get ahold of the property management company and then get back to you.  This is an unnecessary chain of events and it only adds time until you get assistance.

A second point to speak on about communication is electronic communication… namely email.  When you submit a request for information on most marketplace websites you are all but guaranteed a plethora of marketing emails from them.  This is in addition to the responses you’ll receive from the actual property management company.  You’ll get emails until your computer starts emitting smoke and won’t load your inbox anymore.  The volume is insane, but the more traffic they can drive equates to more money they can charge the management company.


Hopefully by now you’ll have a basic understanding of how online vacation marketplaces where professional property managers compete against each other is bad for everyone involved except for the marketplace itself.  You’ll end up paying more money than you should, to people who don’t even live there, only to stress yourself out in the process, have limited assistance during your trip, and get walloped with emails before/during/after your stay…. sounds horrifying to me.

Do yourself a favor, when you search for your next vacation rental home for your upcoming trip, take a look at rental companies in the area you’re staying.  They all should have websites.  They all should be knowledgeable.  They all should go above and beyond to exceed your expectations and provide you an affordable price for a quality vacation stay.  If they don’t, visit www.SouthernShores.com because we do!  Thanks for reading, sharing is always welcome.