A family enjoys the beach at Cape Hatteras, N.C., April 2002
With New Year's behind us, snow on the ground, and not much to look forward to except the frigid gray days of winter, many people wish they could vacation in a warmer climate. If you've been searching the internet for vacation bargains, here's a tip: The Outer Banks of North Carolina offer great deals during the April school vacation week.
April is still considered off-season on The Outer Banks, so vacation rentals can be had for anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 their peak season rates. Because The Outer Banks consist of a long, thin strip of barrier islands that stretch along the coast of North Carolina, there are oceanside, soundside, and even on-canal rental properties available. A three bedroom oceanfront cottage with a jacuzzi known as Sun Fun , for example, goes for $1850 during peak season can be but can be rented for only $750 during the April break. A top-of-the-line eight bedroom , six bath oceanfront cottage named Beach Music which rents for over $7000 in-season, rents for only $1450 in April. A deal like this is perfect for more than one family to share.
Although spring weather can be variable on The Outer Banks, expect the average air temperature to hover around 70 degrees in April while the water temperatures will average in the high 50's to low 60's. April vacation is toward the end of the month, so the temperatures should be reaching their warmer range. Marie S. of Quincy, who visited the area with her family in 2002, says, "we wore shorts every day, but definitely take some warmer clothes for the evenings". As for the water, "Some people will tell you it is too cold," Marie remembers, "but hey, we're from New England! We're lucky if it hits 68 degrees in the middle of the summer at Duxbury beach. But here's a tip if you go: The further south you get, the warmer the water is because the Gulf Stream swings in near the southern end of Cape Hatteras. Ocracoke Island has the warmest water though, so be sure to take the ferry over for some nice beaches." The island is also home to the famous "wild horses" of Ocracoke, which are no longer so wild, but still may be an interesting sight for your animal lovers.
The only problem with visiting the Outer Banks during the off-season is that not everything is open yet, but at least it won't be crowded. If you enjoy water sports, know that Pamlico Sound is the windsurfing and kitesailing Mecca of the East Coast. If this is where your interests lay, there will be plenty of action for you here. Otherwise, expect a quiet vacation at the beach, enjoying nature, watching dolphins, maybe swimming or maybe not . There are also differences from the northern end to the southern end of this barrier island chain so do some homework to find the best spot for your family. If you see a place to visit or an activity you would like to take part in, ask if it is available in April. If you want to bounce quickly between the ocean (think waves but cold) and the Sound (think warm and shallow for younger children) then choose a town in a narrow middle section where you can watch the sun rise over the ocean and set over the Sound without leaving your deck. Don't count on swimming pools though, as most owners won't have opened their's yet, but feel free to ask. Try to find a rental that includes things like bikes or kayaks for some family fun instead.
The drive from Massachusetts to the Outer Banks takes about 15 hours straight, or you can easily plan a side trip for your family to cities like New York or Washington D.C. The closest major airport is Norfolk International located about 90 miles north in Virginia.