I live in New York City, which means I don’t kite a lot in the summertime, not locally. The winds drop at the end of June and stay low until about mid-August. If you don’t foil, and I don’t yet, you sit on the beach, SUP, or get on a plane to Cabarete or Hood River to chase some summer wind.
This summer, I headed somewhere new — Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. When I say “someplace new,” I mean someplace I haven’t kited in the summertime. Hatteras is a great location for my summer shoulder seasons because 1) in April I can’t wait any longer for warm-ish water kiting after a brutal winter, or 2) in October the temps are dropping in NY and I want to extend my warm water kiting season. The wind is pretty amazing the entire year, as you can see below.
Although Hatteras is very well known by kiters all over the country, a lot of my friends in New York and New Jersey have never kited there. Most people know about the amazing conditions but they are put off by “the drive.”
The drive, if you have a car, is about nine hours each way. A lot of New Yorkers don’t have cars, so when they consider going to Hatteras for the first time, they mentally add the cost of the rental to the hours that they’ll be spending in the car, and that doesn’t equal the ease of getting on a plane and flying someplace with umbrellas in your drink. A kiter friend of mine recently said, “I have limited vacation days a year, and I don’t want to spend one of those days in a car.” It’s fair…but she’s definitely missing out. Hatteras is worth the drive. Period. I drove down with two other people in the car, and it wasn’t bad. Really. Driving in shifts and rest stops make it very tolerable if you’re not driving with annoying people.
I have flown to Hatteras in the past. I flew to Norfolk, VA and then rented a car for the three hour drive to Hatteras from the airport. It wasn’t ideal. I still had to pay for a rental car, and by the time I got to the airport two hours before my flight, flew down, picked up the rental car and drove from Norfolk, it was actually close to the same 9 hours.
The best thing about driving all the way is that you don’t have to worry about airline bag fees. And you can bring as many kites and boards as your heart desires!
You’re there. It is worth it?
100%. Cape Hatteras is a thin, broken strand of islands in North Carolina that arch out into the Atlantic Ocean away from the US mainland, then back toward the mainland, creating a series of sheltered islands between the Outer Banks and the mainland (Thanks Wikipedia!), so you can kite in almost any direction. The area offers kiters both flat, shallow bayside and a beautiful tocean that is literally across the two lane street. The location is ideal for beginners, but it is heaven for advanced kiters who want to kite the slicks, jump all day in the flat water, or kite the ocean waves.
Some good options in Cape Hatteras!
1. I have gone the guesthouse route and stayed at Kite Club Hatteras which offers lessons as well. Christo and Melissa are great, and you can drive from the house to kite different spots on the island or pay Christo a fee to go out on the boat bayside. It’s a good option because you can kite in any direction for miles.
2. I’ve also stayed a big house from Surf or Sound Realty with a bunch of other kiters from NY. I loved it, so much that I did it again on this last trip. We paid $315 per person (two people sharing one big bed or getting a bunk bed option) for the week. In October, a room in a large house can cost you about $150-200 for the week, and there’s nothing more fun that staying with people on the same schedule: wake, eat, kite, eat, kite, eat, sleep. Repeat. Houses typically rent from Saturday to Saturday, which is kind of a pain if you want to kite the entire weekend.
3. Finally, you can go the very inexpensive route and camp. I stayed at Frisco Woods Campground for a couple days after our Saturday check-out. The small cabins were about $90 a night and have one double mattress and a set of bunkbeds. There are also units that work for 6 people, and they’re not bad.
Note: Because houses typically rent from Saturday through Saturday, you will probably want to/have to do at least one night at a guesthouse or campground if you want to kite both weekend days.
Some extras for your trip:
1. If you have kite issues and need repair, make sure you call Charlie at OBX Kite Repair. I was told he is the guy that Real outsources jobs to, so if you need a repair, go straight to the source and save yourself some money. He’s also a really happy guy, and who doesn’t want to give their money to a happy kiter?
2. Stop by the Brew Thru on your way down. It’s a convenient way to stock up on your favorite local beers. The nice woman hands you a menu and you literally don’t have to get out of your car. There are several locations in Nags Head and Kitty Hawk.
3. For the best sushi in Hatteras, and possibly even NYC, eat at Diamond Shoals in Buxton. It’s like Denny’s by day and Nobu (minus all the beautiful people) by night. Truly fantastic sushi.
It was a great trip, but I have to say I can’t really recommend the summer months. We had 3 amazing days out of 10, whereas my fall and spring trips had a significantly higher percentage of kiteable days. The water is super warm in the summer, but when there’s no wind, it’s just too hot and buggy for me.