From Where You’d Rather Be: The World’s Best Beachbreaks – Outer Banks
Words by Tom Freed | All photos by Daniel Pullen ( Facebook / Instagram ) Whenever someone utters the phrase “from where you’d rather be,” Stab’s collective mind’s eye immediately focuses on a sand-bottomed setup beneath a smiling sun. We’re talking beachbreaks. Trunks. Bath water. All the finer things! And, since we so adore such things, we’ve decided to team […]
Whenever someone utters the phrase “from where you’d rather be,” Stab’s collective mind’s eye immediately focuses on a sand-bottomed setup beneath a smiling sun. We’re talking beachbreaks. Trunks. Bath water. All the finer things! And, since we so adore such things, we’ve decided to team up with our like-minded pals at Coronaextra.com.au to deliver you a new series: The World’s Best Beachbreaks.
We’ll be detailing, visually but also through written text, all our favourite sand setups from around the world. The requirements? Nothing but golden grains beneath, nothing but a warm orb above, trunk temperatures only, and a perfect setup to end the day with a Corona and lime.
No. 9: Outer Banks, North Carolina
The notorious and formidable pirate known as Captain Blackbeard used to hide his stash and base out of the 100-mile, thin strip of barrier islands called the Outer Banks in North Carolina. It was much-removed from the mainland, far away from authority and laws, with waters and coastline just as wild and dangerous as he. These days, while most of Blackbeard’s treasure from days of old has been discovered, this detached ribbon cups the plump booty it’s always had: 100-miles of hollow, thumping, empty(ish) beach breaks. Indeed, the continental shelf drops quickly, the swells hit from a handful of directions and some of the biggest tubes in the contiguous US of A are found — usually by Brett Barley and Jesse Hines — in the good ‘ole Outer Banks. Sure, the following guide is a bit easier to interpret than a waterlogged, half-burnt treasure map, regardless, the sand moves constantly, so a little exploration of your own is necessary to find those hidden gems.
What a dream! Live it now!
Lemme break it down for ya:
Land in: Norfolk International Airport, Virginia (that’s as close as it gets).
Then: Rent a car and drive south 2 hours to the Outer Banks.
Stay: At Cape Hatteras Motel in Buxton, for starters. The place has varying rooms, from small, cheap ones to larger suites with kitchenettes that sleep over 6 people. Or if you’ve got a few mates and babes, treat yo’ self and rent a house for a week (tons of those out there to chose from).
Bring a: Few shortboards with a little more volume — not necessarily for paddling into waves, but for paddling up current when the swell is big. Also something shorter and playful for airs when the surf’s below three foot. The Outer Banks snaps boards like toothpicks, by the way.
Jesse Hines burns through a hot tub. There’s definitely opportunities for trunks to be found.
What’s she like? Remember that movie Nights in Rodanthe that your chick made you watch with her by the same schmuck that wrote The Notebook? Didn’t think so. Anyway, the Outer Banks are just like that movie you refused to watch. Miles of beautifully bleak, hurricane-kissed Atlantic sand dunes. Century-old stilted beach houses perched at the sea. Ninety-damn-miles of surfable, unpredictable shoreline. Depending on the swell direction and wind, backless, roping dirty-green rights and lefts to playful, rampy azure A-frames. Thick-lipped, wide, board-breaking tubes at her most magnificent. Still boardies in September, not really by October and the carpet’s nothing but sand, mate.
What really makes her tick? Oh, she’s a manic one. Most locals will admit that you truly can’t predict which exact piece of coastline will blow her sandy, green kisses at what particular month or time of the year. It just keeps changin’ because sand just keeps movin’. You might have stumbled upon a perfect sandbar that served up draining rights one week, then a new swell hit and the following week — that bar’s completely gone. Still, September is a good month to catch a hurricane swell, the Buxton Lighthouse working on straight north-northeast swells with northwest winds. Rodanthe likes its south and east swells, or mozy on over to Frisco on a south swell when the wind is north. Again, the sand is moving all the time, so if you wanna score, so should you. Be vigilant and walk over a few dunes. The degrees are on your side, though, as the Outer Banks picks up swell from over 180 of ‘em.
Other options in the area… Wellll, nope. Virginia Beach to the north…actually, forget about Virginia Beach. Then the next stop for some consistent beachies south is Wrightsville and that’s hours away. Listen, with like 100 miles of coastline to wander, you won’t need other options. Unless ya want reefs, but you’re on the wrong coastline for that, kiddo.
Solitude magnifique. Hard to believe it’s on sand.
For a good time: The Outer Banks are the definition of “sleepy.” And rightfully so. Plus, you should be too surfed-out from triple-sesh days, anyways. But if you reeeally gotta send it, Virginia Beach (an hour north) is kinda like a redneck Huntington Beach. Yeah, I said it. But back to OB… for good eats in Buxton, Lighthouse Sports Bar and Grill is the one. In Rodanthe, it’s Waves Market and Deli. Couple fun bars in Nags Head, come to think of it.
At all costs, don’t pass on the right, while driving. EVER. No matter what they do where you’re from, out there, there’s no sidewalk and people can die.
Also, don’t follow the herd. Just ‘cause you see some cars parked on the side of the road, doesn’t mean you have to surf with them.
OK, I hear ya, but what’s an expert say? Brett Barley says, “Sometimes you can surf sooo much in September it’s crazy. To score a little harder, but not surf as much, it’s October. Then, if you don’t care about the cold, but you wanna score just as hard, keep your eye on the weather forecast between November and March. Northeasters are pretty much our bread and butter for big tubes at that time. But if you book in advance, your odds of scoring are pretty much 50-50. You could either get really big barrels…or completely skunked. There’s nothing consistent about what happens here. But we do get swell from over 180 degrees. Because there isn’t any certainty to why certain sandbars set up or go away, that’s why this place is awesome. You gotta be here and on it to find it. But if you do, you can get a sandbar, and maybe some big tubes, to yourself. You just gotta hide your car (laughs). My buddy and I decoyed our car the other day and it worked. You have to — just checking a wave, a group will see you pulled over and you’ll come back to find a line of other guys that saw your car!”
Brett Barley drags through a perfectly-paced right, with just the right amounts of ease and poke.
Get at beachbreak number 12, Ehukai Beach Park, right here.
Get at beachbreak number 11, Bocas del Toro, right here.
Get at beachbreak number 10, Fernando De Noronha, right here.
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