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Thursday, July 8, 2010

America's 2010 Top Beach #4: Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Hatteras Island is the perfect combination of natural world and vacation world.
If you love being outdoors and in the natural world, you will love it on Hatteras Island. It feels like a real island retreat. Its vibe is much different from the northern Outer Banks even though it has many of the same vacation offerings. Hatteras has everything you need for a comfortable vacation: restaurants, grocery stores, shops, outfitters, rental homes and hotels. But Cape Hatteras on the whole has a much more laid-back attitude, probably due to its popularity with outdoorsy types and the water sports crowd. It’s more relaxed, a little simpler and definitely slower paced.
Cape Hatteras offers a simple lifestyle in tune with nature and connected to the roots of its history. It is a magnet for those who love surfing, kite boarding, wind surfing, fishing, birding, paddling, camping, scuba diving and the beach, for many reasons — mild temperatures for about nine months of the year, abundant and accessible ocean and sound beaches and numerous outfitters.
About 75 percent of Hatteras Island is in its nearly natural barrier island state thanks to Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, impressive sand dunes, wide beaches, thick maritime forest and vast marshlands. Much of this land is accessible to the public for activities like fishing, water sports and observing nature. The National Seashore offers undeveloped ocean and sound beaches where eco-friendly outdoor recreation is encouraged and wildlife can be seen in its natural habitat. Hatteras Island’s seven villages cater to visitors with hotels and motels, rental homes from the luxurious to the simple, restaurants from family style to upscale contemporary, locally owned shops offering just about everything you could need and outdoor activities for everyone. Whether you’re staying on the island for the duration of your vacation or just visiting for a day, you’ll be astounded by the natural, cultural and recreational opportunities here.
Hatteras Island has changed a lot in the four decades since it was connected by bridge to the northern Outer Banks. In that time, visitation has steadily increased so that the island economy is now almost entirely centered on tourism dollars. But the most dramatic changes on Hatteras Island have really occurred in the last five or so years as developers have scooped up the last remaining island properties and built thousands of new, luxury rental homes, luring more tourists who in turn require more amenities like shopping centers, restaurants and things to do. You’ll find everything you need on Hatteras for a great vacation, whether you want a quiet vacation or an active one.

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