Outer Banks & Northern Coast
Family Fun On Pamlico Sound
To the east of the Outer Banks, is Pamlico Sound, a shallow 2,000 square mile estuary stretching 90 miles from north to south and 25 miles across at its widest point, second in size only to the Chesapeake Bay. (More square miles than the state of Rhode Island.) The sound not only supports vast recreational fisheries but is also an important nursery for 90 percent of all the commercial seafood species caught in North Carolina.
Because Pamlico Sound is protected from the ocean tides and gets no deeper than about 20 feet, it is a paradise for windsurfing as well as for small sailboats.
As you might expect, it’s also a fisherman’s dream. Fly-fishing has become very popular in these parts, and anglers have been known to land some pretty hefty stripers, speckled trout, puppy drum and even tarpon. And in the eastern-most part of the sound, where the narrow barrier islands tenuously protect the sound from the Atlantic, you can enjoy a rare fishing treat: fishing from the shore on the sound side of the island, then, if the fish aren’t biting there, simply walking a few steps over to the ocean side for surf-casting.
Among locals, Hatteras is touted as the "surf fishing capital of the world." And it more than lives up to its name. Around here, the fishing sometimes gets so intense, dozens of anglers can be seen elbow to elbow slugging it out with their catches. If that kind of scene is a little too crowded for you, simply get on Highway 12 and head north to places like Buxton, Avon and Rodanthe. Chances are you’ll be able to find a spot you and the family can enjoy all to yourselves.
Find more charter boat and fishing information here.
If you and the kids love looking at waterfowl, there aren’t many better places than the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge (just off of Highway 12, stretching between Oregon Inlet and Rodanthe).
State wildlife agencies plant large areas here to provide food for migrating and native waterfowl. The refuge also happens to be very friendly to humans – complete with a two-story observation tower.
South and west across the sound near the town of Swan Quarter, you’ll find the Swan Quarter Wildlife Refuge which contains more than 8,800 acres of wilderness area and an 1,100-foot fishing pier. Large flocks of canvasback ducks are often seen here, and many bird species nest in the refuge, including egrets, osprey and other raptors.
The best way to get here – as well as to other places on our Coast – is via North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) superb ferry system.
added: June 29, 2009
updated: April 15, 2013