Outer Banks Vacation Winter Beachcombing


If you spend any time on the Outer Banks during the winter months, you know that it is a very special place to be. There are just a few people, the surf and water are beautiful, and the air is crisp creating a perfect combination. For those who brave the winter weather during their Outer Banks vacation, the beaches are an ideal place for beachcombing. The surf brings in many "buried treasures" making winter beachcombing on the OBX a favorite pastime especially for locals.

What is Beachcombing?

While you may not use the word, you see this activity every day. Beachcombing is simply someone who walks, or "combs," the beach in search of one-of-a-kind treasures. And, during the winter months when the surf is up from the wind on the water, there is no telling what you might find.

On top of looking for special shells and whatever you uncover, beachcombing at this time of year is the perfect way to spend some quiet time on the beach. Imagine meandering along the beach wrapped up in your favorite wool sweater and comfortably worn jeans caught up in your thoughts and the task at hand. There is no better way to wipe away your worries.

What You Discover on the OBX Beaches

It is amazing what you discover on the OBX beaches. First of all, there are so many interesting shells. Sure, you find them during summer vacations but during the winter months, the beaches are virtually empty so it is much easier to uncover unique shells and sea life. One important tip we feel we must mention is that if what you find is alive, please leave it alone as it lives here. The same goes for shells that might have tiny inhabitants living in them.

Sea glass rolls in with the surf and is absolutely fascinating to find. It originates from glass like jars, bottles and even dishes broken during shipwrecks and rough sailing excursions. Because the surf is fairly rough much of the time, the sand and silt that comes in with the surf create a smooth surface on the glass not to mention beautiful color striations.

While walking along the beaches, another cool find is driftwood. This wood has been weathered by the salt water and the sun to create interesting pieces that add a unique characteristic to any home décor. But, make sure what you find is loose and not settled into the sand to the point that you have to dig it up. At this point, the driftwood helps prevent erosion and is vital to the beaches' ecosystem.

For a rare find, you may even stumble onto a relic of sorts. With all the shipwrecks that have taken place over the years in the "Graveyard of the Atlantic," beachcombers have come across relics like parts of a shipwreck. In fact, in the winter of 2010, a true beachcomber was out combing the beaches and came across part of the hull of a ship that dated back to the 1600s! It had been buried in the sand for years—heck, centuries—when it washed up on the shore. Now, why this is not a regular occurrence, looking for shipwrecks and other relics makes the hunt that much more fun especially for kids who get to go on a scavenger hunt.

A Fun Way to Spend Part of the Day

Beachcombing is definitely a fun way to spend part of the day on the OBX. No matter what time of year, you can find really neat shells and so much more. It is just that winter beachcombing is typically a success simply because the rocky sea churns up so many treasures.

Just make sure you bring a bag and anything else you need to find your buried treasures. But please have respect for our beaches and the sea life that calls the OBX home.

To make reservations at one of our oceanfront or other Outer Banks vacation rentals, contact us via email or call us at (252) 491-8787 or toll free at (866) 760-ELAN (3526).

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