Sandboarding Fun at Jockey’s Ridge State Park

sandboarding-jockeys-ridge-state-parkA lesser-known activity that’s available at Jockey’s Ridge State Park during certain times of the year is sandboarding. The dunes are recognized as being one of the best spots to fly a kite on North Carolina’s Outer Banks and considered by many to be the number one place to learn how to dune hang glide in the country.

Although the Wright brothers chose to fly their homemade gliders off Kill Devil Hill to the south, Jockey’s Ridge’s soft sand and smooth winds make the dune system a premier location for aviation recreation.

Apart from the incredibly ideal kite flying and hang gliding conditions, Jockey’s Ridge State Park is considered to be the very best spot for sandboarding on the East Coast – a designation that is rarely touted by the state park. The area doesn’t receive much snow on a regular basis – maybe 1 to 2 inches a year – so board riding locals have gravitated to the dune for sandboarding fun for decades.


Sandboarding is essentially the same thing as snowboarding, except you’re riding on sand instead of snow. One of the best advantages of choosing sandboarding is that all you need is a good board and enough endurance to scale up and down the dunes after riding down because unlike snowboarding, there are no ski lifts!

In addition to sandboarding, the younger audience typically enjoys sand dune sledding, which is a casual affair here on the Outer Banks… which fits into the laid-back lifestyle you’ll find elsewhere on the thin strip of barrier islands. On any given day, you’ll be able to easily spot kids of all ages sliding on cardboard boxes and body boards at Jockey’s Ridge. Sand sledding does not require a permit, however sandboarding does and is only permitted on the dunes from October through March.

Permits must be obtained from the park office and parents will be required to sign for anyone under 18. Please visit Jockey’s Ridge State Park’s website for additional information about the park and other recreation activities available.

Wacky Watermelon Fun

Face painted and competing in last year's watermelon seed spitting contest.

Face painted and competing in last year’s watermelon seed spitting contest.

Bigger and better than ever. That’s the only way to describe the 2015 Kitty Hawk Kites Watermelon Festival coming up this Thursday from 10:00 – 4:00. Held at our Jockey’s Ridge Crossing store in Nags Head, the festival has always been a day wacky fun, a great day for the whole family and lots of watermelons.

This year, though, it’s getting kicked up a notch with a waterslide—bring your bathing suit—and Mulligans is sending their food truck so they’ll be great eats for everyone.

Of course the usual suspects will still be there—face painting, toy demos, corn hole fun, a watermelon ice cream eating contest, watermelon eating contest and of course the highlight of the day—the watermelon seed spitting contest.

There is no cost to attend; however there is a fee to participate in the contests, with the proceeds going to Outer Banks Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Coalition.

The weather is looking just about perfect for Thursday, temperatures mid to upper 80s wit a light breeze off the ocean. The event is sure to be a lot of fun, so make be sure to make the Kitty Hawk Kites Watermelon festival part of this week’s vacation plans.


10:30 AM – Watermelon Bowling

11:30 AM – Watermelon Ice Cream Eating Contest

12:30 PM – Watermelon Tower

1:30 PM – Watermelon Eating Contest

2:30 PM  – Watermelon Relay Race

3:30 PM – Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest

Crossing Sound for Wine & History

Captain Christine and passengers crossing the Currituck Sound.

Captain Christine and passengers crossing the Currituck Sound.

If there is a better way to cross the Currituck Sound than in a pontoon boat, it hasn’t been invented. Yes, it rolls with the waves a little, but there is none of the bone jarring beating that goes with a speedboat skimming the water, and it’s a heck of a lot faster than paddling a kayak.

There are three of us on the Kitty Hawk Kites Sanctuary Vineyards and Historic Cruise and Captain Christine.We’re heading out from Duck to sip some wine at at the vineyard tasting room just across the waters from dock. Christine, who was raised in Wanchese, has spent almost her entire life on the water and her skill in smoothing out the inevitable chop in the middle of the Sound is apparent.

Heads down! There's just enough head room for the boat to pass under the bridge, but no room to stand.

Heads down! There’s just enough head room for the boat to pass under the bridge, but no room to stand.

The trip is beautiful, especially the last part that winds slowly through the creeks and back waters of Dews Island—a hunt club on the soundside of the Cotton Gin where Sanctuary Vineyards is located.

Of course the trip is all about trying wine, and after 14 or 15 years of cultivation, the vines are getting some age, the wine maker is learning how to use what the local conditions are creating, and Sanctuary Vineyard wines are worth sipping—and certainly buying.

Pouring wine.

Pouring wine.

Elton who has been pouring wine in the tasting room since they opened it four years ago, is funny, informative and a master at keeping things informal yet professional.

Doing any kind of wine rating is dangerous because tastes vary so much—instead here’s a thumbnail review. The excursion trio agreed that the dry wines were best, and all of use seemed to prefer the reds. However there were a few of the dry whites that were also really enjoyed. Elton was also pouring some muscadine wines that people with a preference for sweeter wines will enjoy.

The cruise leaves Duck on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 3:00 p.m. from the dock by the Kitty Hawk Kites store. The Thursday cruise includes the Sanctuary Vineyards Acoustic Thursday live music and takes an hour longer getting back about 7:30.


Kites Fly at Wright Kite Fest

Decorating the sky at the 37th Annual Kitty Hawk Kites Wright Kite Festival.

Decorating the sky at the 37th Annual Kitty Hawk Kites Wright Kite Festival.

Mother Nature threw us a curve on Sunday for the second day of the 37th Annual Kitty Hawk Kites Wright Kite Festival—there was no wind, which on the Outer Banks has got to be considered an anomaly.

That’s actually a bit of an exaggeration—there were occasional puffs of winds, but the nice constant southwest breeze we’re so use to on the Outer Banks in the summer was sporadic.

That didn’t stop kite flyers for putting kites in the air.

Sled kite in flight.

Sled kite in flight.

Some of the larger kites that help decorate the sky had a tough time staying aloft but there were almost always a parafoil, large delta and assorted other kites flying to let people know something special was happening.

The sled kites the kids were making in the kite making workshop were flying great. The sled kite is a perfect beginner kite—run fast and the kite soars into the air.  Easy to make, easier to fly and customized with each child’s own decorations, it’s no wonder they’re always a hit at every festival.

The stunt kite flyers got in some flight time. In the demo field quad line flyers had their kites dancing to music a flitting across the sky.

Chris Shulz doing a 360 with a power kite.

Chris Shulz doing a 360 with a power kite.

One of the most impressive demonstrations came from Chris Shultz from HQ Kites who brought a quad line power kite with him. For about five minutes Chris had the kite flying with no wind, making a 360 degree turn around the field keeping the kite in the sky with just his movement.

Next up on the Kitty Hawk Kites entertainment agenda will be the Watermelon Festival at the Jockey’s Ridge Store in Nags Head. Face painting, watermelon seed spitting contest, games, lots of watermelon to consume  . . . a great day on the Outer Banks. Friday, July 30. Be there if you can.

Clamming with the Captain

Clamming in Pamlico Sound as ferries go by.

Clamming in Pamlico Sound as ferries go by.

An afternoon on the water clamming with Captain Lee is an afternoon that is as close to a perfect vacation memory as could be created.

Maybe it’s being in Pamlico Sound by Hatteras Inlet; perhaps it’s watching the Ocracoke ferries go by from a perspective only the lucky get to see. It could be the eight of nine dozen clams that were harvested—certainly enough to feed a family of four with plenty left over to take home. It could be Captain Lee himself, his extraordinary knowledge of the ecology and waters of the sound coming out in easily understood snippets.

Or maybe it’s all of that . . . probably is all of that.

Leaving from Oden’s Marina in Hatteras, the cruise is billed as a clamming and eco tour, but it’s so much more. Yes there is education. At one point he stops himself and looks at the teenager seated in the stern of the boat. “This is like school,” he tells her. “You don’t mind do you?”

“No, no,” she tell him. “I like learning things.”

And it’s about clams—lots of clams, hiding in the sea grass in a knee deep shoal about a mile west of the inlet. It’s also about crab pots and pulling some up and understanding what a fisherman goes through to bring that catch home.

But mostly it’s about creating an amazing moment in time that becomes the type of memory that reminds families of how precious and special their time together can be.

In addition to the Clamming and Ecotour, Captain Lee offers Sunset Cruises and fishing tours.

For more information check out the Kitty Hawk Kites Adventure page.