By Megan Vick
Even with the rocky economy, tourists are still flocking to the beaches of the Outer Banks. Locals both love and hate the summer. Summer brings people (and by people, I mean money), which is loved, but summer also brings people (and by people, I mean idiots), which is not so loved. As a native “OBXer,” here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a “touron,” an affectionate name given to tourists by locals when they are acting like morons (tourist + moron = touron- we are a clever bunch).
1. Let’s talk about driving
Driving is the biggest issue OBX locals have with tourists. We understand you are in unfamiliar territory and, let’s face it; you can’t exactly go around the block on a strip of sand if you miss your turn. That being said, there is so much traffic in the summer, the only way to get anywhere is to use that center turn lane as much as you can (just don’t drive in it). When you need to make a left turn onto Highway 158 without a traffic light, pull into the center turn lane to make your move into traffic. Otherwise, you’ll be hard pressed to get anywhere.
Also, it’s 2012. With GPS built into your car, your phone, and your tablet, locals have very little tolerance for those who don’t know where they’re going. You can always print directions from Google Maps.
2. We live here year-round
Yes, we live here year-round. Yes, we think it’s pretty cool. But when summer is over, winter is impressively boring on the Outer Banks. Very few restaurants are open and going to the beach is out of the question. We have jobs (sometimes 2 or 3) and take the kids to dance class – just like your life.
3. The beach is not a trash bin
While it is difficult to keep trash bins on the beach due to wind, all we ask is that you plan ahead. Bring an extra baggie for the family to dispose of lunch waste, cigarette butts, and beer bottles/cans. We know you drink on the beach (we do too!), just please help keep the beaches clean. No one wants their toddler to pick up your empty beer bottle to put on a sand castle.
4. Love the locals and we’ll love you
It’s that easy. If you ask a question, listen to the answer. If you like the service, leave a tip. If someone smiles at you, smile back. We’re here to help you, and we are far more likely to comp your appetizer, or tell you that cool little local place where they have the best peel-and-eat shrimp on the OBX. A little love goes a long way.
5. Don’t eat seafood from a buffet
What? Don’t eat seafood from a buffet? That’s right- it’s nasty. Seafood can be found at nearly every restaurant on the OBX and it is super fresh. Why would you want to waste a lot of money on a breeding ground for bacteria? Seafood was never meant to mixed with those awful heating lamps and I can’t tell you how many vacations have been ruined because of shrimp on a buffet. Save yourself (and your family) the trouble and have your seafood cooked to order.
6. That’s not how you say it
Ah, pronunciation. We will rarely correct a tourist who mispronounces a word, mainly because it’s always funny to hear it. Here are some commonly mispronounced words along the Outer Banks:
Corolla– It’s not like the car. It is said “Cah-rahl-ah.”
Rodanthe– Luckily, Nicholas Sparks helped us here and it is not nearly as butchered now. It is said “Ro-danth-ee.”
Wanchese– Named for the Native American chief. It is said, “Wan-cheez.”
Manteo– Another Native American chief. It is said “Man-tee-oh.” Locals say, “Man-ee-oh”
Chicamacomico– This one isn’t too bad, just intimidating. It is said, “Chick-ah-ma-com-eh-co.” Tell the kids to say that five times fast.
7. Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes.
Weather really does change that quickly on the OBX. Although, to avoid an afternoon shower, we always recommend hitting the beach in the morning and early afternoon. When it rains, go shopping!
8. No, acting like a pirate never gets old.
Seriously. We think it’s pretty awesome.
Check out our upcoming series of posts on the Outer Banks, including Best Restaurants, Favorite Attractions, and Best Shopping!