Hilton the Shark Heads North from Outer Banks

The track of Hilton the Great White Shark since he was tagged in March of this year.
The track of Hilton the Great White Shark since he was tagged in March of this year.

Hilton the Great White Shark seems to have passed the Outer Banks by. Around 2:00 p.m. he pinged about 15 or 20 miles off Kill Devil Hills.

Hilton was tagged earlier this year off Hilton Head. He’s a 1250 pound shark. It’s difficult to say how old he is, but at that size, he’s probably just passing his teenage years as sharks go.

Shark Migration

He seems to be heading north, which would be consistent with studies of Atlantic Great White Sharks that have been done.

They tend to summer between Massachusetts and New Jersey then head to Florida for the winter. It would appear he is a little behind schedule for what is typically seen for Great Whites, but the Atlantic species have not been studied as extensively as their Pacific counterparts.

The Other Pinger

By comparison, Katherine the Great White Shark has been tracked since she was tagged off Cape Cod in 2013 and she has shown herself to be a world traveler. She has traveled from the Caribbean to the Grand Banks of Canada.

Katherine is much larger shark than Hilton—about 2300 pounds and measures a little over 14’.

This year she toured the waters of Bermuda before heading west. Her most recent ping was just off the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula.

Katherine has been a visitor to Outer Banks waters, usually in the winter. If that is the case, she is probably heading back to the warmer waters of Florida and the Caribbean.

The pings are created when the shark breaks the surface for 90 seconds, allowing three pings that will fix the location.

The sharks are tagged by OCEARCH, an international organization who has been studying tiger and great white sharks, hoping to help with conservation efforts.

Toasting Sunday Brunch-10 a.m. Liquor Sales Come to OBX

Mimosas with a morning Sunday brunch are now part of the Outer Banks scene.
Mimosas with a morning Sunday brunch are now part of the Outer Banks scene.

We can now raise a morning Sunday Brunch class of wine, beer or even a mixed drink at most locations on the Outer Banks.

Not all—but most.

The Brunch Bill

On June 30 SB155, often referred to as the Brunch Bill was signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper. The bill allows alcohol sales before noon on Sundays. Before it was signed, sales of alcohol were prohibited before noon—a legal requirement that frankly left many Outer Banks visitors scratching their heads.

The new bill allow sales at begin at 10 a.m. on Sundays.

There is a catch though. Local jurisdictions have to approve the measure.

Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores and Manteo moved quickly to approve an ordinance allowing the earlier sales. In a head scratcher, Nags Head town council postponed their vote to allow citizens to give their input. The rescheduled vote will occur next Wednesday, July 19.

A Little Controversy

Actually Nags Head Commissioners were not the o

nly one’s who wanted to give their residents a chance for public comment. Although the Kitty Hawk Town Council passed the resolution unanimously, Councilman Jeff Pruitt raised the same issue, saying:

‘I personally don’t know what the people of Kitty Hawk feel about this.…I kind of wish that there had been some way for some kind of a public hearing so we could hear from the residents of Kitty Hawk before we take a vote.”

Dare and Currituck Counties will take up the measure on Monday, July 17.

The bill enjoys wide support from Outer Bank businesses. Restaurants owners especially felt the prohibition against selling mixed drinks, wine or beer was hurting their Sunday sales.

The upshot, though, of the votes by the towns that did vote to approve is that wine and beer will be available in retail stores beginning at 10 a.m. Wine, beer and mixed drinks will be available at restaurants beginning at the same time on Sundays.

A Fantastic Independence Day Week on the Outer Banks

Fireworks at Kill Devil Hills, Friday July 7, 2017.
Fireworks at Kill Devil Hills, Friday July 7, 2017.

What a great Independence Day week we just had here on the Outer Banks–parades, fireworks and small town feel made it ideal. Everything just seemed to fall into place to create a memorable time.

July 4th, the official holiday, sure was fun. Yes, there were some weather issues—the Whalehead Club had to cancel their fireworks because of storms—but there were enough celebrations elsewhere to make up for that.

The Celebrations

We always start at the town of Duck’s Independence Day parade because it is such a perfect reminder of what Outer Banks life is all about. Then it was off to Manteo with its small town feel and a wonderful evening of music from the 208th Army Band at Roanoke Island Festival Park.

Yes, it was raining just a bit, but it never rained hard at all and the umbrellas were out. Off in the distance we could see the Nags Head fireworks going off, and then it was Manteo’s turn, and the town truly seemed to outdo themselves this year.

Extending Independence Day Celebrations

What really seemed to mark the 2017 celebrations as different was a classic example of making lemons from lemonade.

It seems licensed fireworks companies were in short supply this year, and the town of Kill Devil Hills couldn’t find anyone who could qualify to put on a show on the Fourth. They were able, though, to schedule their display on Friday.

A bit of a delay but it seemed to change the feel for the week. Somewhat like stretching Christmas out to three or four days.

The beach was packed on both sides of Avalon Pier where the fireworks were lit, and no matter what the location on the beach, the show was spectacular.

It was a nice way to celebrate our nation’s birth and a great way to remember there is far more that binds us as Americans than it may appear at times.

Kill Devil Hills 4th of July Fireworks Friday Night

Extending the 4th of July celebration. Fireworks on the beach at Kill Devil Hills this Friday.
Extending the 4th of July celebration. Fireworks on the beach at Kill Devil Hills this Friday.
The Celebrations

We had a spectacular 4th of July for most of the Outer Banks. The Duck Parade was every bit as whacky and wonderful as ever, and the watermelon at the end of it was perfect.

Manteo really came through this year with a wonderful outdoor concert from the 208th Army Band at Roanoke Island Festival Park followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

And Nags Head…there is something beautiful and powerful about celebrating the birth of our nation with fireworks on the edge of a continent. Looking east, there is only the vast darkness of the sea, and the lights of the fireworks are like a beacon of freedom in the darkness.

Kill Devil Hills Fireworks

There’s still a chance to catch some Independence Day fireworks, even if the event isn’s quite on Independence Day.

Kill Devil Hills will be holding their pyrotechnics show tomorrow night—that’s Friday June 7. Evidently the demand for fireworks was so great this year that it could not be scheduled earlier.

But in this case it seems to have worked out well.

Tuesday, which was July 4th this year, was an iffy day for weather;  there were threats of rain and rain showers all day. At RIFP there was a light occasional rain throughout the performance of the Army Band, but that didn’t keep what looked like 1500 people away.

But the weather did put the Whalehead Club plans on hold and at last check we didn’t see anything about rescheduling, so it looks as though Corolla may not have fireworks this year.

Admittedly it’s a bit of a trek from Corolla Kill Devil Hills—about 25-30 miles. In the winter it’s about a 45 minute trip. In the summer? Figure an hour to an hour and ten minutes. But if fireworks are part of the July 4th week itinerary, there is an option for visitors staying in Corolla.

Grab a beach towel and maybe a beach chair and put some time aside to enjoy fireworks on the beach in Kill Devil Hills.

Children’s Theatre a Must See on Roanoke Island

Offering the glass slipper to Cinderella in the Columbia Marionette Theatre production.
Offering the glass slipper to Cinderella in the Columbia Marionette Theatre production.

One of our favorite things about summer is the Children’s theatre at Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo.

The productions are fun, funny and very professional. The indoor theater where they are held, is perfect for audience interaction with the performers—a regular feature of the plays. This week, Wednesday through Friday, Cinderella takes the stage.

Presented by the Columbia Marionette Theatre, from Columbia, SC, the puppets are almost life size, some even a little over 5’ tall.

From past experience, we can say the RIFP Children’s theatre never disappoints—fast paced, colorful with lots of audience participation, it’s a must see for parents with kids…and maybe parents who still feel like kids.

RIFP Schedule of Events

Cinderella Presented by Columbia Marionette Theatre

July 5 & 7–10:30 a.m.

July 6–10:30 a.m. & 6 p.m.

A peppy marionette interpretation of the classic story in which Cinderella is helped by her fairy godmother, her sidekick stylist Magic Juan, and even the clock at the top of the castle tower to outwit her evil stepmother and win Prince Charming’s heart. The theatre features puppets from a few inches tall to over five feet.

Haydini: Rare Magic Well Done

July 12 & 14–10:30 a.m.

July 13–10:30 a.m. & 6 p.m.

Haydini’s magic and sleight of hand is something you need to see to believe! He is a cool and pretty down to earth magician, so audiences feel very comfortable watching him vomit cards and levitate Tables!

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Presented by University of NC- Pembroke Drama Department

July 19 & 21–10:30 a.m.

July 20–10:30 a.m. & 6 p.m.

Alexander is having a bad day. A terrible day. A horrible day. To be quite honest, it’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. In this delightful adaptation of her popular book, Judith Viorst sets Alexander’s rather trying life to music and brings to the stage one of America’s feistiest characters.

Storybook Tales: Pinocchio and Robin Hood Presented by Bright Star Theatre

July 26 & 28–10:30 a.m.

July 27–10:30 a.m. & 6 p.m.

These Hilarious actors will have the audience laughing in the aisles with this production of Pinocchio and Robin Hood. Packed with audience interaction, this adventure is brimming with character education lessons, audience participation and plenty of puns to bring these literary classics to life in an unforgettable fashion.

Outer Banks Independence Day Celebrations

4th of July, 2016. Fireworks over the Atlantic Ocean.
4th of July, 2016. Fireworks over the Atlantic Ocean.

It looks as though the annual Independence Day celebrations on the Outer Banks are going to be extended a bit this year. According to reports in local media, Kill Devil Hills had to move their fireworks celebration to Friday evening because of a shortage of fireworks.

Regardless, that’s not a completely bad situation since it gives everyone a chance to see the night sky painted with fireworks.

We always recommend starting at the Duck Independence Day Parade. Beginning at 9:00 a.m., the parade is the first event of the day, and it is a great way to get in the mood for a day of fun and celebration. A whacky tribute to the American spirit, its worth the effort getting there. Parking can be a bit of an issue so get there early or expect to walk.

We haven’t heard of anything special being planned for the Whalehead Club but this is their 25th Anniversary of Fireworks. It’s always a daylong event at Currituck Heritage Park, the location of the Whalehead Club, and a day that’s wonderfully geared toward families.

Ditto on that for Manteo which is another of those quintessentially American celebrations of Independence. The Army Band will be on hand at Roanoke Island Festival Park to provide live music. And that will be followed by fireworks.

Nags Head will be holding their fireworks at 9:25 and that may be the place to be. There is something magical about sitting on a beach towel, on a summer’s night at the edge of a continent of freedom. As the night sky is lit with exploding colors it’s a reminder of how precious our freedoms are.

Independence Day Schedule of Events

(Events arranged by time)

9:00 a.m.

Duck Parade
Scarborough Lane to Pamela Court
Live music by Just Playn’ Dixieland and awards ceremony, Duck Town Park, after parade

25th Annual Independence Day Celebration

Festival of Fireworks, Whalehead Club

Historic Corolla Park

3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Independence Day celebration, Manteo

208th Army Band concert, Roanoke Island Festival Park, 8 p.m.

Fireworks, downtown waterfront


Nags Head Fireworks, Nags Head Pier

All Day: Statewide
Free fishing on any body of water in North Carolina, no license required.

Friday, July 7

Kill Devil Hills
Fireworks, Avalon Pier, 9:15 p.m.

(All Fireworks begin between 9:15 and 9:30)

H2OBX Water Park-A Family Adventure

The Endless Flow Wave Rider.
The Endless Flow Wave Rider at H2OBX.

The H2OBX Water Park in Powells Point is finally open. A bit behind schedule, but by all accounts, it was worth the wait.

The rides are outstanding and the staff well-trained and very pleasant, but what really stands out is how family oriented the experience is.

H2OBX is designed is meant to be an all day experience. There are a couple of places in the park to get something to eat, there are plenty of places to sit and relax and there are enough rides and enough variety to keep everyone happy.

There are some very nice touches—some concepts or ideas that show someone was thinking about how to make the H2OBX experience great for the whole family.

The Rides

The kid’s area, as an example, has somewhere between 12-15 slides—baby slides, tube slides, twisting and turning slides. What that does is allow little kids to do is experience some of the thrills an older brother or sister is experiencing and keep them a little more engaged.

There are some very nice family rides that group up to six in a tube that goes shooting down a slide. There’s a river of sorts—Teach’s Ride Adventure River—that is a leisurely tube ride around the park.

Also for the whole family there are a number of pools with different features.

The thrill rides are, of course, how water parks are evaluated and H2OBX comes through on that as well.

There are two high speed water slides that drop from 90’… The Plank and Paradise Plunge. Both are fun, fast and thrilling.

On the same tower that houses the water slides there are four tube rides that are a blast.

There is also the Endless Flow Wave Rider shoots water down and slope, creating ideal conditions for boogie boarders.

Park management has made the decision to limit visitation to 5000 per day to make sure  visitors have the best experience possible. It’s probably a good idea to arrive earlier in the day.

Park hours are 10-8.

New Island Forms off Cape Hatteras Point

Shelly Island, a new island that has formed off the Point at Cape Hatteras.
Shelly Island, a new island that has formed off the Point at Cape Hatteras. Photo Virginian Pilot.

Barrier islands are pretty dynamic places and today’s evidence of that is Shelly Island, an islet that has formed just off the Cape Hatteras Point.

At this time the island is at most a mile long and varies in width, although all of that is constantly changing. Reports put the new land about 50 yards offshore with a very fast moving channel separating the Outer Banks from the island.

How Shelly Island Formed

What has happened is rare but not unheard of.

The amount of sand that moves past the Outer Banks may be the largest in the world. The shoreline retreats as it loses sand, but the sand generally comes to rest, usually farther south where a beach may widen or accrete.

The Point juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, breaking up the north to south movement of sand. Usually the sand falls to the ocean bottom forming shoals and sandbars, but if conditions are right, enough sand could gather in one place and form an island.

It’s anyone’s guess how long Shelly Island will be there. It may become a permanent or semi-permanent part of the map or a powerful nor’easter might come along and take it out in a day.

Getting to the island is not easy. There have been reports of 5’ sharks and large stingrays  in the channel. National Park Service officials have issued warnings about trying to swim or walk across the channel.

According to visitors to the island, the effort is worth it. Seashell collectors report great shelling and fishermen have been heading out to the island hoping to get a bit farther into the waters of the Atlantic.

The story behind the name? According to the tales that have been told, a grandmother took her son to the island and he named it Shelly Island because of all the shells they found.

2nd Annual Fun Fair a Great Time for Families

Every carnival has to have one--the Ferris Wheel at the 2nd Annual Fun Fair.
Every carnival has to have one–the Ferris Wheel at the 2nd Annual Fun Fair.

Sometimes there are so many things happening on the Outer Banks that we don’t quite get to mention everything until the event is past.

We’ll rack up the 2nd Annual Soundside Fun Fair to that explanation.

Fun Fair sounds great, but Carnival is what it really is.

A Great Time by Roanoke Sound

By no means is this a huge event, but the fun factor is off the charts with some great rides, fried dough, funnel cakes, arcade games…in short, everything expected in a traveling carnival.

And Outer Banks visitors and local families responded. Held Thursday through Thursday through Friday at the Nags Head Event Site, it was packed every night and every day.

Especially at night, with a breeze coming off Roanoke Sound, and the lights and sounds of rides and children laughing, it was magic. A step back in time perhaps, when the actual event eclipsed any vicarious experience.

Rides and Food

Favorite ride? That’s a tough one. The lines were long at the Fireball where cars drop along a circular track, faster and faster until everything goes all the way around the circle.

Then there was the Scooter—bumper cars. It doesn’t matter that they have probably been around for 60 or 70 years at least. Adults, kids, anyone driving them is smiling an laughing the whole time they are bumping into cars and being bumped into.

There were also the arcade games—and these are all of the classics. Trying to put a basketball through a very non regulation hoop; squirting water into the mouth of a clown figure to see who gets to the top first.

The funnel cakes, fresh out of the fryer—amazing. There was also a red velvet funnel cake, but the consensus was, go for the original.

The Soundside Fun Fair is a major fundraising event for Children & Youth Partnership for Dare County (CYP)—a local nonprofit that has worked wonders in reaching out to families with children.

Given how important the CYP mission is and the success of the fair, we’re certain it will be back next year.

Excitement Builds as H2OBX Water Park Set to Open

H2OBX opening June 21.
H2OBX opening June 21.

Sometimes there is something new under the sun, and for the Outer Banks that’s what the H2OBX Water Park in Powells Point is.

In terms of entertainment, there hasn’t been anything like this on the Outer Banks for some time. Certainly no one has made this kind of an investment in just making people happy and setting aside a place to go and have some fun.

H2OBX—which will be opening this Wednesday June 21—is going to be spectacular.

Some of the Rides

There is the Paradise Plunge—a nine story high water slide. There is the Endless Flow Rider, a wave machine that cranks out perfect waves for boogie boarders. And that’s just a few of the “Thrill Rides” as H2OBX calls them.

There are family rides as well—Queen Anne’s Revenge, a huge tube like float that the whole family can fit into. Teach’s Tides Adventure River is a wonderful tubing drift down a river of adventure. There are swimming areas and other rids as well.

And of course, there is a whole area set aside just for little kids.

About H2OBX

There are 80 acres of water rides at the site. The theme is distinctly Outer Banks—something Aquatic Development Group (ADG), the developer, was very conscious of when they designed the site.

The theme for the park is distinctly Outer Banks, with local and beach names for many of the rides and a decidedly Outer Banks look.

ADG is one of the largest developers of waterparks and indoor pools in the nation and their experience shows in the design.

As an example, although the park uses incredible amounts of water, almost all of it is recycled throughout the day. After bringing the water into the park, very little additional water is taken from local resources. There is some backwash water that is treated and released back into the aquifer, but the actual impact of H2OBX on the environment will be relatively minor.

Plans call for restricting the number of guests each day. The number has not been confirmed yet, but it will be between 5000-6000. Water Park management feels that will enhance the experience for families.