Standing next to the Atlantic Ocean in the winter months is nothing less than exhilarating. The starkly barren land is in transition, a sensory gift wrapped in the white ribbons of winter. Sea birds flip in a steady wind. Clouds move restlessly in a brilliant blue sky, and at night, stars wink on a black velvet canvas, a perfect season for stargazing. Simply walking along this shoreline is a must when visiting the Outer Banks in winter. Keep an eye out for seashells, or cast a line into the surf to see what lurks in the cold froth.
The Currituck Sound also sees change in colder months, as untold numbers of migratory geese and ducks stop in their journeys to rest and replenish. Adjacent to the Sanderling, the wind-sheltered Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary is a 5,000-acre, three-mile long wildlife preserve that offers glimpses of birds, deer, rabbits and plant life in a diverse mix of habitats. Walking paths through the sanctuary are also open to the public year-round, ideal for a brisk stroll and bird-watching.
Winter is also a perfect time to see the Outer Banks sights, unhindered by summer traffic and crowds. The Outer Banks wild ponies reside close to the Sanderling, and the Resort arranges personal, year-round tours of the horses in their protected habitat. The tours are also a good excuse to go for a winter four-wheel drive along the pristine beaches of northern Corolla and Carova.
If a road trip is in your plans, head south to climb Jockey’s Ridge, visit the Wright Brothers National Monument, or hike through the Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve. Or cross over to Roanoke Island to visit the North Carolina Aquarium, the Roanoke Island Festival Park, the Island Farm or the Elizabethan Gardens. Or head even further south to see the Bodie Island and Cape Hatteras Lighthouses. No matter where you head, unlimited shopping and dining opportunities await you in Corolla, Duck, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head.
And at the end of a stimulating day, dining at the Sanderling’s Lifesaving Station or relaxing at No. 5 Bar or next to the Beach House fire pit with a glass of spirits, is a perfect way to settle into an Outer Banks winter evening.