Some families spend two weeks, year after year, at the same rental beach house overlooking the ocean. Others invest in condominiums or cottages, renting them out in season, and enjoying their getaways in early spring and fall. And then there are those who ultimately decide that the coast is where they want to live, year-round.
No matter where you and yours fit in the above scenarios, you’ll enjoy vicariously sharing the coastal move through others who’ve done just that. And, here and online, we’ve got insider info on platinum pastimes while on the Carolinas coast. Pull out your flip-flops, put Jimmy Buffett or the Tams on your iPod, and settle in for a fun read.
Maybe Best-of-the-Best is a better description of the wide, sandy beaches along the 500 miles of shoreline. We talked with friends, scoured the guide books and travel channels and read blogs and message boards. Some are accessible by ferry, while others are within well-known resort areas. Here are the standouts:
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks
Hilton Head Island
Huntington Beach State Park
Learn more about where they are and what makes them so desirable.
You’ve probably seen these dishes on menus. Perhaps you’ve even tried to duplicate them at home. They’re certainly worth the effort. Here are just a few dishes which claim the Carolinas as their birthplace.
Frogmore Stew. Or Beaufort Stew, Lowcountry Boil, or Beaufort Boil. Attributed to Richard Gay, whose family owns Gay Fish Company on St. Helena Island, the dish consists of shrimp, corn on the cob, sausage, and red potatoes with a bit of seasoning. Casual, crowd-pleasing and easy to perfect!
She-crab Soup. Rich and not for the faint of stomach. Think cream, Atlantic blue crab meat, crab roe and a healthy splash of sherry. Delicious.
Oyster Roasts. May River oysters, in Bluffton, are some of the best. Get a crowd together, provide crackers, cocktail sauce and horseradish, and ask your guests to bring oyster knives and gloves. Everybody loves the get-your-hands-dirty fun of shucking your own supper.
Calabash-style Seafood. It is fried, but the batter is light and if the peanut oil is perfectly heated, there’s not a trace of grease to be found. Families have their favorite restaurants in the small community of Calabash. None of them are fancy, but all of them are tasty.
(There are other dishes, of course, including chicken bog and Southern- fried chicken, plus three kinds of barbeque. But, this is all about coastal living, so we’ll save those conversations for later.)
Want to learn more about Carolina Cuisine? Visit us online for a select – and growing – list of Carolina Recipes. (INSERT URL TO RECIPES)
Whether you like to catch your own supper, or simply enjoy walking out on the pier to watch others cast their reels, the fishing is good in the Carolinas. What’s out there? Flounder of course, but also mackerel, trigger fish, and a host of others. If fishing’s your thing, we recommend Coastal Fishing in the Carolinas: From Surf, Pier and Jetty. It’s a gem of a book by Robert J. Goldstein.
Unique to coastal settings, the Carolinas have a number of historically significant (not to mention strikingly beautiful) lighthouses along the coast. Some are still in use, while others exist merely to offer a bird’s eye view of the sand and waves. Not all are open to the public for climbing, but with the right map, you can find them down roads, across dunes and via ferry rides. Find maps and directions at Lighthousefriends.com.
Think of this as a type of fractional boat ownership. You pay a fee to join, then a monthly fee, like club dues. You have a range of boats to choose from, available for pick up after making reservations. The boats are serviced, clean, full of gas and ready for your water-borne adventure. Sounds great and it is. For those who love to be on the water, but hate dealing with endless details, motors that won’t start, hassles and repairs and moving your vehicle from dock to ramp – this may be a dream come true. (There’s a reason people say a boat is like a hole in the water into which you throw money.)
You can change all that through a membership in a boat club.
For many folks who’ve made the move to coastal living, they seek out the best of all worlds by moving slightly inland, or choosing a community that offers its own social life, enjoying the great restaurants and entertainment, fabulous shopping and endless resources on their own terms.
Our advice? Talk with others who’ve made the move. Visit during a variety of seasons and plan to get involved with others who are full-time or part-time residents. You can have it all.
Tommy and Anita Davis are excited about Scotch Hall Preserve. The Arnold Palmer Signature golf course is a favorite, as is the location. "It's on the water, where Albemarle Sound meets the Chowan River and Salmon Creek,” Mr. Davis says.
Bill and Kathy DeLeo are originally from Pittsburgh, PA. "When I retired, we decided we'd like to head south, but ruled out Florida as too hot and over-settled," he explains. "We saw St. James Plantation, and were sold."
Tony and Holly O’Brien never meant to move to Bluffton. From New Jersey, they had decided to purchase a condominium on Hilton Head Island as an investment. After visiting several properties, they took a look at Hampton Lake. “We don’t play golf and we loved the idea of a community centered around lake and water activities.
Marlene and Ray Schatz enjoy their life at Crow Creek, in Calabash, NC. “We’re from Baltimore and five years ago we both retired,” Mrs. Schatz explained. They wanted to live in a golf community, no more than eight hours from family in Maryland. Crow Creek has everything they want.