If you have been following us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter you know we recently spent an awesome week camping in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and we will be putting together a family fun guide to the OBX (much like we did for the Black Hills and Charleston) so be looking for that next week. But first, here’s our full review of our base camp in the OBX: Camp Hatteras in Rodanthe, N.C.
Campground: Camp Hatteras was a great base camp for us while we were touring the Outer Banks. It is in Rodanthe, which is on Hatteras Island and centrally located along the string of barrier islands. This means that you are about 40 minutes away from all the major shopping and attractions in Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, etc., to the north and about 30 minutes away from the southern areas like Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras. In addition to its ideal location it also has many great features as a campground. One of the unique attributes of Camp Hatteras is that it is the only campground in the OBX (that we know of) that owns both ocean and soundfront property. It’s pretty cool that from one location you can get up early to watch sunrises over the ocean but then at the end of the day, head over to the sound side and watch the sun set.
Although Kristin and I are the type of campers that prefer more private, wooded campsites, we would stay at Camp Hatteras again in the off season. We liked our site (No. 133) because it was just a short walk to the beach, but it also had a large open grassy area behind it where the kids could run around and play. (All of the sites located along this row appeared to have similar green space.) Because of the location of our slide-out and the location of the electric/water/sewer hookups, it was a bit tricky getting the camper positioned just right. As an aside, in the event a camper were to hit the water riser or electric pedestal, the campground charges $100 and $300, respectively, for the damages.
The campground is very large (over 400 campsites) and the sites are close together. As one would expect in a prime vacation destination, between Memorial Day and Labor Day it is a hopping place. We talked to a family who has been coming to Camp Hatteras for many years and they shared that in the off season it is a quiet place to camp. But during peak vacation season (and especially holiday weekends) they said the campground fills up and can feel crowded. They said many campers bring golf-carts with them and in the summer they are buzzing all over the place. We noticed a county sheriff drive through the campground the one night, and it was good to know that the local law enforcement was keeping a watchful eye on the area.
We were disappointed that we could not connect to the Wi-Fi from our site. When we were near the bathrooms or the clubhouse we could connect with no problems, so it appears the campground’s Wi-Fi range was just not strong enough to reach all areas of the campground. If Wi-Fi access is important for your visit, consider asking for a site near the Wi-Fi routers.
We were also a little surprised by how windy–or breezy, as the locals say–it was during our stay. Two nights during our stay, the camper shook throughout the night from the powerful gusts. Since there were very few other campers in the early part of the week, and none in either site next to us, there was nothing to break the wind. We had to be very careful opening our camper and van doors because it was powerful enough to knock our kiddos over. (On a 90 degree day in the summer, I’m sure that “breeze” feels fantastic since there is no shade in the campground–and it’s probably risky business putting out an awning!)
Another thing to note about the wind: To get to the barrier islands, you have to cross at least one long (and tall!) bridge. On our way into the Outer Banks, our drive across the Wright Memorial Bridge was a bit of a white-knuckle affair because the winds were strong that day. On the way home, though, the crossing was no problem.
Bathrooms: Camp Hatteras is a large facility and has four bathhouses as well as some restrooms in the clubhouse. The bathrooms on the oceanside are older but they were clean during our stay. The bathhouse on the soundside was newer and nicer. While the sites have full hook-up, in peak season I imagine the bathrooms would be used a great deal.
Amenities: The campground also offers numerous recreational amenities on-site, including:
- A clubhouse with a small camp store, arcade, pool tables, full kitchen, and activity room.
- Conference center (not open during our stay)
- Dog park
- 9-hole miniature golf
- Tennis court
- Basketball court
- Shuffle board
- Fishing ponds
- Indoor pool and hot tub
- Outdoor pool (not open during our stay)
- Oceanside picnic pavilion
- Laundry facilities
- A watersport center that rents jet skis (not open during our stay)
- And 1,000 feet of oceanfront beach access with dune crossovers.
Touring: We will have a full Family Fun Guide to the Outer Banks going up on the website soon, but in the meantime, here is a sampling of things you can do while staying at Camp Hatteras–this region is overflowing with recreational opportunities:
- Wright Brothers National Memorial
- Jockey’s Ridge State Park
- Jennette’s Pier
- Roanoke Island Festival Park
- Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
- National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center
- North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore (including Bodie Island & Cape Hatteras Lighthouses)
- Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
- Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
Date of stay: March 20-26, 2016
Rates: The rates at Camp Hatteras vary depending on type of site and season. As of spring 2016, the campground charges additional per night fees as follows: $3 for each pet; $4 for each child between the ages of 6-18; $8 for each additional adult; $3 for cable. Visit the website to learn more.
Many thanks to the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, which sponsored our visit.