Board Sports, Learning, and Fun
One of the best ways to enjoy the North Carolina beaches is by board, and the best way to introduce yourself to the board sports is by buying or renting a body board or skim board. A flat body board, usually made of styrofoam with a plastic base, will let you ride the waves into shore, while a skinny wooden skim board lets you skid along the waves just as they crash into the surf.
Once you've got the wave riding technique down, you might want to try surfing or even , one of the newest water sports to hit the East Coast. The waves off of North Carolina's coast are legendary to the surfer set, and many local shops offer surf board rentals and lessons. For kiteboarding beginners, the easy going sounds off the Outer Banks, like the Pamlico Sound and the Albemarle Sound, are the perfect playground for learning how to ride the wind. Many local shops offer lessons and rentals as well, although it's best to call ahead as lessons for this popular sport often book fast.
Whether you're paddling out a long board or simply splashing around, it's important to be careful in the water. Never go swimming without an adult nearby, and look for beaches that have "sandbars," shallow sandy bottoms that gradually get deeper. You should also make sure you keep an eye on the weather for rip current warnings. A rip current can appear during windy days and is a current that can pull you away from shore. If you get caught in a rip current, the most important thing is not to panic, and don't try to swim against the current back towards the shore. Instead, swim parallel to the beach until you are out of the current and can get back to the sand safely. Of course, to play it extra safe, many of North Carolina's beaches have lifeguards, and you can find a list of area lifeguarded beaches through local visitors' bureaus or the National Park Service.
In or out of the water, sun safety is also important to ensure a great time at the beach, as the sun reflects off the clear blue water, making the chances of a sunburn at the beach more likely than at home. Be sure you bring along sunscreen and apply it every few hours, or after every dip in the ocean. A hat, t-shirt and a beach umbrella are also easy ways to protect yourself from the sun's rays while staying cool on the shore.
Learning Can Be Fun
Need a break from the sand and surf? Believe it or not, learning can be a lot of fun, especially in the North Carolina museums that are cluttered with shipwreck artifacts, rare shells, pirate lore, and all sorts of treasures gathered from the Atlantic Ocean.
There are all sorts of museums along the coast of North Carolina, perfect for an array of fun and educational adventures.
On the Outer Banks, learn about the first flight at the Wright Brothers National Memorial or learn about sea creatures at the North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoke Island. Next, you can explore the world of the Native Americans who first walked the beaches of Hatteras Island at the Frisco Native American Museum & Natural History Center, or discover hundreds of shipwrecks at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras Village.
Farther South in the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, head to Beaufort and the NC Maritime Museum, where you can see an amazing display of rare shells from all over the world, and Beaufort's own beach backyard. There are also special seasonal programs, like sessions on Blackbeard the Pirate, venomous snakes in North Carolina, and even "Cinema by the Sea," featuring outdoor movies.
On Harkers Island, have an outdoor adventure at a the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and take an in-depth tour of the decoys and wildlife that makes this area of the Carolina coast so special. Spend time with local carvers on Thursdays through Sundays to learn more about their trade.
While you are in the area, you can also take a trip to Pine Knoll Shores to visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.
In Wilmington, the Children's Museum is a perfect place to spend a fun-filled afternoon. This hands-on "learning through play" center for children and their families with interactive play stations including a science room, dress-up room, sand room, art room, grocery store, "gravity wall," and pirate ship. Also in the < A HREF="New Hanover Beaches, you can take a trip to Kure Beach to visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher to learn more about the creatures of the sea.
Along the Brunswick Beaches, the Museum of Coastal Carolina and Bald Head Island Lighthouse and Smith Island Museum offer plenty of opportunities to learn and explore on a cloudy beach day.