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 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.

Three Outer Banks Parks for the Whole Family

Sandy Run Park in Kitty Hawk is an ideal place for a family to introduce children to nature.
Sandy Run Park in Kitty Hawk is an ideal place for a family to introduce children to nature.

The Outer Banks prides itself in being a family oriented place for a family to visit and there is a lot for the whole family to do while here.

There are the obvious things…going to the beach, checking out the Wright Brothers Memorial, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on Hatteras Island.

Sometimes though, it’s the small things that make a place special and the Outer Banks does that well too. Especially the town and county parks that often offer a break from the regular vacation things to do.

Here are three Outer Banks parks, all of them absolutely suitable for families

Whalehed Club, Corolla
The Whalehead Club seems to have something for the whole family.
The Whalehead Club seems to have something for the whole family.

The Whalehead Club, which is part of Currituck County Heritage Park, isn’t so much a park as it is a place to visit.

With a large, expansive lawn kids can run until they drop; the setting is exquisite so Mom and Dad can spend some time just enjoying the view.

Lots of activities here too, with a tour of the Whalehead Club available, the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education is a wonderful small museum and of course Currituck Beach Lighthouse begs to be climbed.

Sandy Run, Kitty Hawk

Located on the Woods Road in Kitty Hawk, Sandy Run Park is a beautiful example of

a maritime forest and wetlands.

A boardwalk circles the pond and wetlands and in the summer hundreds of turtles like to sun themselves on logs that are on the surface of the pond. Kids will love that.

There is also a catch and release area for fishermen.

Local families make this a regular spot to bring their children because of its beauty and the chance to talk to kids about the natural environment.

Dowdy Park, Nags Head
Dowdy Park--a great playground for kids.
Dowdy Park–a great playground for kids.

The newest edition to the Outer rBanks Park scene, seems like it has something for everyone.

There is a beautifully designed playground with some really innovative concepts—a swing designed for a child who is in a wheelchair is just one of the design features that make this a must see place.

For the adults , there is a fitness trail. For everyone, there are picnic pavilions, covered tables and grills.

Rogallo Kite Festival at Jockey’s Ridge Saturday & Sunday

Kites flying at Jockey's Ridge State Park during a Rogallo Festival.
Kites flying at Jockey’s Ridge State Park during a Rogallo Festival.

Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Something for the whole family?

If that’s the case, check out the Rogallo Kite Festival at Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head Saturday and Sunday.

Sponsored by Kitty Hawk Kites, the event is a wonderful celebration of a true American hero.

Francis Rogallo and His Invention

Francis Rogallo doesn’t show up in a lot of history book, but it was his invention of a “parawing” a frameless steerable went that made hang gliding possible. And more than hang gliding. Almost all modern stunt kites are patterned after his designs. Modern parachutes that can be directed to a landing zone; paraglider and more.

All of it because he and his wife Gertrude created a frames wing that would fly to the left when told to, or to the right, or up and down.

Rogallo spent almost his entire professional career at NASA, beginning with the agency before WWII when its acronym was NACA— National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

The Rogallo wing—as it is known—was just one of some 24 or 25 patents that he held, all of them related to flight.

Rogallo Festival

The Rogallo Festival is all about kites and flying. There are stunt kite demos all day. This is a great time to learn how to fly a two or four line kite.

We’re not sure just what kites Kitty Hawk Kites will have on the dune, but in the past there have been power kites as well as regular stunt kites. Flying a power kite is a thrilling, and depending on how strong the wind is, a bit exhausting, experiences.

There are also kites in the sky all day long. Huge kites, often in the form of various sea creatures, but also large deltas and box kites, their strings adorned with spinners and even some small kites.

The weather is looking close to perfect for Saturday and Sunday, so there’s really no excuse for not being there. Bring some water, sunscreen and keep the sandals on—the sand is getting hot.

Downtown Manteo Weekend Party Welcomes Summer

The 2017 Dare Days in Manteo may have been the best attended yet.
The 2017 Dare Days in Manteo may have been the best attended yet.

With a generous contribution from the weather, downtown Manteo was definitely the place to be this weekend.

On Friday the first First Friday of the summer kicked the season off in spectacular fashion followed by what may have been the best Dare Days celebration in some time.

First Friday

The June First Friday has traditionally featured musicians from area high schools and this year was no exception. The Jazz bands of First Flight High School, Manteo High School and First Flight Middle School were on hand to fill the air with music and they were good.

A small group of singers from the First Flight High School Advance Choir was also on hand. They, too, were excellent.

First Friday is a wonderful way to get ready for the month and with near perfect weather and great entertainment, it certainly achieved its goal.

Dare Days

The big event for the weekend, though, was the 42 Annual Dare Days.

This is an event that needs to be experienced to fully appreciate. Part street fair, part celebration of small town life and a way to bring in the summer season, this year’s event seemed bigger and better than ever.

There was a nice little touch with a map of the United States that the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau was displaying. People who stopped by their booth got a little sticker that they could place on the map showing their hometown. It was astonishing seeing how wide the geographic distribution of visitors was—and it’s not even peak season yet.

The music was fantastic. The original Rondells kicked things off at 11, but with two stages, there was always music happening.

This was truly a family friendly event with a real effort to make it fun for kids. There were rides and Kitty Hawk Kites brought their climbing wall. Island School of Dance was on hand with tap shoes for kids to try out. A little girl about three was on the floor holding the owner’s hand and the hand of a student, learning how to tap. Great stuff.

No one was starving on Saturday—four or five booths serving funnel cake; lots of lemonade; food trucks were on hand…the streets of Manteo seemed to be brimming with color and people.

Manteo Is the Place to Be This Weekend

With Dare Days and First Friday on tap, Manteo is the place to be this weekend. Making it even better, the Outer Banks weather is looking great for Friday and Saturday.

First Friday

First Friday is the Manteo celebration of small town life the first Friday of the month from April through October. What makes the June First Friday special is it’s the first one of the summer.

Centered around the Dare County Arts Council Gallery, that used to be the County Courthouse, First Friday includes live music on the steps and inside a featured artist every month.

First Friday, though spreads out across the downtown waterfront area of the town, with live music from two or three other venues, food prepared from carts on the street and shops open late.

Dare Days

Dare Days, though, is certainly the highlight of the weekend.

This is the 42nd Annual Dare Days and it has become a wonderful celebration of Dare County and its culture.

A family oriented day, there are street vendors out serving food, lots of game and great live music.

The games are imaginative and look to be fun.

There is the Blue Ribbon Competition, a cooking contest with contestants in age groups 6-12, 13-17 and adults. And what are they preparing: Cookies, Breads, Pies, Candy, Cakes, Pickles, Jelly, Jam and Preserves, and Salsa and Relish. In other words, a little bit of everything.

There is also an “Everything That Floats but a Boat Race,” a Kid’s zone and, more.

There are two stages set up for live music, and looking over the lineup…it’s pretty impressive. The Original Rondells bring amazing vocals to the stage; Jonny Waters will be on hand with his tight rocking country rock arrangements. Also a new band that’s getting a lot of recognition, The Ramble will be playing.

Arts and craft booths will line the streets, music always playing, lots for kids to do…it should be a great day.

Beach Nourishment Begins in Duck

Beach nourishment construction zone in Duck.
Beach nourishment construction zone in Duck.

The first 200’ of the Dare County Intra-Local Beach Nourishment project has been competed in Duck.

Crews been working last week and made good progress in spite of some thunderstorms that rolled through the area. The schedule is pretty aggressive so crews are working seven days a week.

A Construction Zone

Beach nourishment calls for an active construction zone, and Great Lades Dredge Company, who has the contract to place the sand on the beach, has a lot of experience in the field. As a consequence the area they are working in is clearly marked as a construction zone.

Plans call for minimizing the impact of the project for Outer Banks visitors. Construction zones, as an example, are limited to 500’, creating plenty of sandy space on both sides.

Planned Schedule

The first phase in Duck should take 45 days. Equipment will then be moved to Kitty Hawk and Southern Shores. Southern Shores is a bit late to the nourishment party, the decision to nourish about a half mile of shoreline came after Hurricane Matthew devastated the beach in front of Pelican Watch.

Southern Shores did not officially vote to participate until March of this year.

The Kitty Hawk portion of the project is the most involved and according to the design team from Coastal Planning and Engineering of North Carolina the work will take 74 days, beginning in early July and ending in September.

Included in that work is a one week window in June to complete the Southern Shores portion.

Work in Kill Devil Hills will being in August and plans call for it to take about 40 days.

The appearance of the Duck beach is typical of a newly nourished area. Much wider than it was before nourishment, by design a portion of that sand will be returning to the sea to create a protective sandbar.

Beach nourishment does take a long-term commitment. Typically a beach has to be renourished in five to seven years. The Nags Head beach, which was nourished in 2011, is due to for a touch next year, seven years after the first phase of their project ended.

Replenishing, however, is not as expensive as the first go around nor does it take as long.

80th Anniversary for The Lost Colony

Tony Award Winning Play Gears Up for 2017 Season
Native Americans dance a welcome as the first English colonists of the Lost Colony arrive.
Native Americans dance a welcome as the first English colonists of the Lost Colony arrive.

When Paul Green wrote the script for The Lost Colony in 1937 he probably didn’t expect the play to run for 80 years. But that is what has happened.

Last night, Friday, Many 26 when the lights went up at the Waterside Theatre on Roanoke Island it marked the 80th year for the play—a remarkable achievement by any standard.

Paul Green’s Script

Paul Green, was a North Carolina resident and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright when he was approached by a group of Manteo business men hoping to bring some measure of economic activity to the Outer Banks in the depths of the Great Depression.

The play succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest hopes and in August of the first year’s run, President Roosevelt made a trip to Manteo to see the play.

The play tells the story of Roanoke Colony…the Lost Colony. Attempting to establish a permanent English settlement in North America in 1585, the 120 colonists disappeared without a trace. The mystery of their fate endures until today.

A fairly accurate depiction of the forces at work that doomed the colony is contained in the play. The competing factions of the Native Americans living in the area are part of the plot; the wanton cruelty of some of the English decisions about the Indians is touched upon if not emphasized.

Perhaps most importantly the role the Spanish played in the New World and the Spanish Armada that attempted to invade England are important facets of the tale.

The 2017 Performance

The play has remained remarkably true to Green’s original script, although there have been some adjustments over the years.

The pacing of the play has been has been improved so that it moves a bit faster than the original.

William Ivey Long, who has won multiple theater awards is the production designer, and the staging of the play reflects his Broadway and movie experience.

An outdoor experience, the play, though has endured because of the power of its message and the beauty of its setting.

The play runs through the summer with the last performance Saturday, August 19.