The Outer Banks of North Carolina are a relatively remote, and very seasonal band of barrier islands along the Atlantic Coast. Heavily reliant on tourism, many of the hotels, restaurants and shops close up for the winter when visitors are few and far-between. On my last visit in January, these seagulls at the Avalon Pier were just about the only signs of life on the beach! As the signs of spring start to show and more visitors begin venturing back into town, the sleepy little towns of the Outer Banks start to come alive, and by now are back in full swing. With beautiful weather this time of year, it’s a great time to visit and enjoy the beaches and local flavor before the summer rush brings oodles of tourists!
This sunrise was captured at the Kitty Hawk Pier on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It is one of many wooden piers that dot the coast of the Outer Banks and like all of the weathered piers along that section of the coast, it has a story to tell. Built in the 1950’s, the Kitty Hawk Pier was once the northernmost public fishing pier in the Outer Banks. While the wooden pilings have withstood many storms over the years, the force of Hurricane Isabel proved to be too much.
On September 18, 2003, Hurricane Isabel made landfall near Drum Inlet along the Outer Banks as a category 2 hurricane with top winds of 105 mph. Once a category 5 hurricane, Isabel had thankfully weakened but still caused unprecedented damage to the Outer Banks. Hatteras Island was cut off from the mainland for two months when Isabel created a new inlet, dubbed “Isabel Inlet” before it was closed and the missing portion of highway 12 was restored. Thousands of homes were lost, roads were destroyed and countless feet of fishing piers were lost to the Atlantic. The Kitty Hawk Pier lost approximately 300 feet from it’s end, but the pier house remained intact. Old pilings can still be seen where the pier used to extend further into the ocean. The owners were not able to make the repairs needed at the time and sold the pier with the adjacent land to a national hotel chain. The developers chose to repair the remaining portion of the pier and refurbish the pier house to use it for events at the hotel. The brand new hotel debuted in the spring of 2006 with it’s very own pier, offering fabulous views of the beach at Kitty Hawk.