Outer Banks Spotlight on the Village of Avon
Our Outer Banks road trip has taken us down the beautiful coastline of North Carolina starting in the northern beaches of Carova all the way to Hatteras Island. Our next stop along the way is the rustic and vibrant village of Avon. With pristine beaches and a close-knit community steeped in maritime heritage, this OBX vacation destination is known affectionately as the "Center of Hatteras Island" with the island's only chain grocery store, a couple of fast food restaurants, several locally-loved dining favorites, and a fishing pier. There are just enough amenities and conveniences in Avon to complement its quaint and quiet coastal charm—making it the perfect balance of both.
Let's step inside Avon to learn more about this Outer Banks village and what gives this village its one-of-a-kind coastal character. Put it on your OBX vacation itinerary next time you're here and explore it for yourself.
The History of Avon
Originally named Kinnakeet after the local Algonquin tribe of Native Americans that first settled and thrived in this region of the Outer Banks for centuries, you'll both hear and see this name still present today and used by some of the local residents. The area was occupied by European settlers looking to fish the local waters and harvest the regional maritime forest in the late 1800s, and that's when the moniker Kinnakeet began being used.
The focal point of the original Kinnakeet Village was the harbor. Though not a large port by any means, the Avon Harbor still remained busy, and served as a gateway for commercial and local fishermen, as well as the small but bountiful lumber trade that was a popular means of income for several centuries on Hatteras Island.
Two lifesaving stations located only about 5 miles apart in this area were also named Kinnakeet and Little Kinnakeet. Kinnakeet Livesaving Station is no longer in existence and hasn't been for a long time, but the National Park Service is in the process of ongoing restoration of the Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station, which is located about three miles north of town and only recognizable by a stack of wooden pilings along the soundside portion of NC Highway 12.
During Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station's operation from 1871-1915, this area became home to an entire community of lifesaving station employees and their families, as the journey from the larger "Big Kinnakeet" station in town was too far and too long for the servicemen to make on a daily basis. As a result, the soundside region of Little Kinnakeet Station became home to a number of families who lived adjacent to the station.
Today, the small secondary village of Little Kinnakeet has been wiped out, with only a few remaining hints that there had ever been a village there. Adventurous visitors and vacationers who travel the soundside beaches can find remnants of brick foundations, along with a hidden and deserted graveyard. As Little Kinnakeet dwindled, Big Kinnakeet exploded with an ever-expanding community of locals, as well as visiting hunters and fishermen. At that time no one was living near the ocean but rather settled in Kinnakeet Village near the soundfront. There they established their homes, shops and school. In 1883, the U.S. Postal Service renamed the village Avon, like they did with most of the Hatteras Island communities—but it took a while for that name to actually stick (like decades).
The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge opened in 1962, and the rest is history. It didn't take long for the oceanfront property to be claimed and for the beach houses to begin popping up along the shoreline offering grandstand views of beautiful, wide open beaches.
The Beaches of Avon
Just two miles south of Avon, on the western side of North Carolina’s Highway 12, you can expect to see kiteboarders perfecting their craft and windsurfers moving across the Pamlico Sound. Did you know that this area in the Outer Banks is affectionately known as the Canadian Hole? The popularity of this public access with visitors and vacationers from the north has made it so. In the early spring, watersports enthusiasts flock here from Canada and other points north for a little fun on the water, because back home theirs is still iced over!
The oceanfront beaches of Avon are managed by Cape Hatteras National Seashore, as are the other Hatteras Island beaches. You can find everything you need to know about their beach guidelines on their site and on the FAQ page, but it's pretty laid-back. Pets are allowed as long as they're leashed, beaching driving is allowed with a permit, and bonfires on the beach are acceptable as long as you get the proper permit (it's free).
The dynamic barrier island, with its diverse habitats is a nature- and beach-lover’s paradise. Surf-fishing, kiteboarding, surfing, swimming, windsurfing, crabbing, nature experiencing and exploring abound here. Don't forget that some of the best shelling is found here, too. Or, you can just find your spot in the sand and immerse yourself in complete coastal bliss where the sun is on your face, the waves are crashing around you, and the smell of the salt air relaxes you as you just breathe in and breathe out.
Attractions & Things To Do in Avon
- Avon Fishing Pier: Built by two local brothers from the village of Kinnakeet (presently known as Avon Village), the pier took two years to construct. It opened its doors in the summer of 1963 and has been in continuous operation since then. The pier stretches 665 feet out into the Atlantic Ocean. Its visible crooked bends are testament to the forces of Mother Nature over the many years. Today the Avon Fishing Pier is the only pier remaining in operation in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The pier is world famous for its many records, especially with giant Red Drum that frequently school just off the end of the pier.
- Avon Harbor: Located at the edge of historic Avon Village, Avon Harbor is known for it breathtaking scenery coupled with its historic fish houses and newly constructed replicas of this proud fishing village. This distinctive landmark in Avon Village gives open-water views for miles with historic homes that dot the maritime landscape. For fresh, local seafood straight from the boats to the docks with prices that can't be beat, there's no better place than Avon Harbor.
- Kinnakeet Village: Located on the soundside of one of the town's two stoplights is the lesser known attraction of Kinnakeet Village. This area is primarily residential homes filled with coastal gardens, picturesque landscaping and unique maritime scenery. Some of the village's oldest homes date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, and feature foundations and flooring made entirely from shipwrecked pieces that were dragged for hundreds of yards off the beach.
- Shopping & Restaurants: Avon is home to an eclectic range of dining experiences from budget-friendly to fine dining and offers something for every palate. Some of the restaurants offer bars that feature live music, karaoke and other nightlife. Avon is also home to the island's only shopping plaza which offers a grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants, boutiques and a movie theater.
- Watersports: Watersports abound here in Avon Village with opportunities to sail, surf, kite surf, wind surf and paddle your way along our soundside waters and ocean waves. Try your favorite or try something new!
We hope you've enjoyed your time in Avon, North Carolina. If you missed any of our Outer Banks Spotlight series, you can catch up by checking out our blog menu on the righthand side of the page.
Now is the perfect time to plan your next Outer Banks beach vacation. Check out all of our OBX vacation rentals and find the one just for you. Let us know if we can help!