It's no secret that Hatteras Island is at its peak in the warmer months. Everyone strives to come to the beach in the spring, summer and fall, and who can blame them? The sun is high in the sky and the salty breeze sets a tone for perfect memory making. The warmer waters are ideal for swimming, diving, fishing and a plethora of water sports. It's essentially paradise.
...But what about winter?
Well who wants to come to the beach in the winter, right? Wrong! Yes, yes, it's true the lines are shorter at the grocery store and the wait time at restaurants is virtually non-existent and yes, you're right, there is no traffic and the beaches are basically empty. I could see why most people would want to stay home...PSYCH!
Winter on Hatteras Island is where the magic happens. And especially these days where more people are working remotely and schooling over Zoom, a winter escape to Hatteras Island is the perfect way to change up the scenery and distance on the beach.
As a seasonal resort area, winter is the time when our local community takes a deep breath, plans and prepares for the next season. It's the incubation period that develops the people and culture of this island into a community that makes you want to call it your own. With the change of seasons, come changes to the island's atmosphere. There is a slower (believe it or not) pace, people visit their friends and neighbors, picking one another's brains, tweaking and creating a more perfect paradise. It's the time organizations and businesses use to regroup and fine-tune their operations. It's the time when togetherness, unity and caring for one another is in full force. There is no question that it's colder, but nature is still changing all around you and there is no shortage of beauty, no matter what time of year you come.
Still curious? Never fear, we've put together a list of the top 5 things to do on Hatteras Island in the winter.
1.) Take In a Winter Sunrise/Sunset:
Sunrise and sunset are both gorgeous times during any season, but during the winter in particular, it seems they become surreal, like they were hung in the sky by a painter who can't help but see the world in the brightest of colors. The intensity is so dramatic that you just want to stop whatever you're doing and soak in every second.
2.) Make That New Year's Fitness Resolution Come to Pass:
I know what you're probably thinking. Why would I come on my vacation to work out? Well, here's the thing, as I mentioned earlier, the island is basically empty during the winter months and that opens up a wide variety of options. There are long stretches of open highway for biking and running that are lined with sand dunes and sound that are both scenic and have sufficient room to move safely. A good portion of the island also offers bike paths in the busier areas that also allow a safe corridor to roam freely. Wide open beaches and sound shores are also great for running, yoga and a wide variety of fitness routines. We made the resolutions for a reason, so what better way to kick off the year than actually following through and what better motivation than the gorgeous Hatteras Island?
3.) Save a Sea Turtle
N.E.S.T. stands for the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles and is a phenomenal non-profit that consists of volunteers under NC law. One of the busiest times for N.E.S.T. is early winter when the water temperatures start to change and the sea turtles suffer from "cold-stunning", which is the equivalent of hypothermia in humans. Volunteers scour the coast in the winter months looking for stunned turtles and then call the hotline for transport, two of the many volunteer activities in addition to turtle rehabilitation, driving a N.E.S.T. ATV to monitor turtle crawls, responding to turtle strandings and sitting on turtle nests awaiting hatchlings. As Hatteras Island is one of the hotspots for cold-stunning, volunteers are always needed and welcome! How many people can say they literally saved a sea turtle?
4.) Shop With the Locals:
Much like the grocery lines, local shops and galleries are easier to browse in the winter months. As business owners are largely preparing for the next season during this time, they are usually in their shops chipping away at projects and are more available for a one-on-one shopping experience. It's a great way to interact with the local crowd and learn more about the businesses that make the island's economy go 'round.
5.) Winter Water Sports
There's no question that the water gets cold in the winter months. That being said, there is gear such as wetsuits, hoods and booties that are designed for such conditions and there is such a thing as a warm day in winter on Hatteras Island. Either way, there are cool ways to enjoy the water during the chilly days such as surfing, kite boarding and much more! It's a little more hardcore than learning to longboard in July, but it's definitely worth the adrenaline rush. Just channel your inner Winter olympian and you're all set! Who knows, maybe you'll even get to ride a tube through some rarely seen sea smoke!