Kid-Friendly Activities on Hatteras Island, OBX
Memorial Day Weekend on Hatteras Island is the official kick-off to our summer vacation rental season. As you plan and pack for your week at the beach, we wanted to share some inexpensive or free ideas for those vacationing with kids. These suggestions are fun, kid-friendly activities for families to enjoy during your Hatteras Island vacation.
UFO House in Frisco
After the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, the UFO House in Frisco is the second most visited structure on Hatteras Island. Located just south of the Milepost 66 marker on the ocean side of Highway 12, a shiny silver flying saucer welcomes visitors and geo cashers year after year. This Futuro House, designed in 1968, by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, is one of 61 structures left in the world from nearly 100 that were constructed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It’s current owner, LeRoy Reynolds, sometimes dresses in a green alien suit to greet visitors! The UFO House in Frisco is a landmark on Google Maps. Even though the door appears open, the inside of the house is not open to the public. Feel free to park and take pictures of the spaceship and the stuffed alien in the window. Leave a treasure in the chest for the next visitor and help yourself to a treasure. Kids and adults will enjoy visiting this special Hatteras Island landmark where one can dream to infinity… and beyond.
Ghost Crab Hunting
There is nothing scary about this free event that happens nightly on the Outer Banks NC. Ghost crabs are the small, iridescent creatures that scamper the beaches by the light of the moon in search of a late night snack. All you need is a flashlight, a camera… really just a cell phone will do, since most of them have both a flashlight and camera features. By hunting we don’t mean catching or killing the ghost crabs. All of the time spent on our beaches, as in other areas of nature, it is better to take only pictures and leave only footprints.
Ghost crabs are on average about 2″ wide across. They feature long legs with one dominant claw, perfect for throwing sand as they burrow tunnels in the shoreline. Their eyes that are perched on stalks and can rotate a full 360 degrees. Their name derives from their pale, sandy color, which makes them almost invisible against the shoreline until they start moving. The ghost crabs that inhabit the Outer Banks is the Atlantic Ghost Crab, one species of over 20 species of ghost crabs worldwide.
Ghost crabs are not big fans of the sunshine. They spend most of their beach days tucked well inside their holes. The tracks can be up to 4′ ft. deep and may include many branch tunnels, allowing a network of protection from the elements and predators. The entrance to their tunnels will only be a couple inches wide on the surface. You may have noticed while at the beach during the daytime, these small, half-dollar sized holes in the sand. Underneath the surface millions of ghost crabs are waiting for the sun to set so they can have their time on the beach.
Ghost crabs are notoriously shy, and with 360-degree vision, are very sensitive to any action that occurs around them. The ghost crab really stakes a beach claim at night, when the majority of humans have disappeared, leaving the ghost crabs to enjoy the shoreline all to themselves. This is when the ghost crabs feed, foraging on coquina clams, mole or “sand crabs,” or any other recently deceased small sea critter. Nighttime is also when ghost crabs seek out a mate. Once a ghost crab is captured in a flashlight beam, it will stand motionless for a moment while it collects its bearings. This is an ideal time to take a few photos and get an up-close look at the critter before it scurries away.
When it comes to the best beaches to find ghost crabs, the quieter and more secluded the better. Beaches with little night traffic, including pedestrians, beach bonfires, or vehicular traffic, are the best ghost crab hunting grounds. Luckily, Hatteras Island is perfect! Vacationers can simply walk to the nearest beach pathway to start their hunting expedition.
Ghost crabs are essentially harmless and will very quickly shy away from humans. Ghost crab hunters essentially only need two things, a quiet Outer Banks night and a flashlight, to have a successful “hunt.” This is a free activity that everyone in the family can participate in, especially young children, as the excitement of spotting a crab generally elicits squeals of excitement. A family of ghost crab hunters can get some incredible pictures and some equally incredible vacation memories of some Outer Banks nocturnal, local natives.
Hermit Crab Races – mid-June to Labor Day Weekend in September
This is a fun-filled Hatteras Island sport! Choose your hermit crab and cheer it on as it races with the other crustaceans toward the finish line.
- Dillon’s Corner in Buxton, every Thursday afternoon!
- Scotch Bonnet Gifts, Marina & Campground in Frisco, every Friday afternoon!
Both retailers offer nautical gifts and home decor, t-shirts and treats for both humans and dogs. A vacation on Hatteras Island would not be complete without a visit to Dillon’s Corner or Scotch Bonnet Gifts. A visit on race day is all the more memorable.
A round of miniature golf while vacationing in the Outer Banks is family tradition. It is one of the best ways to spend time with your kids. Putt-Putt Golf gets everyone in the family actively enjoying our coastal paradise. And let’s be honest, there is at least one memorable moment that will be talked about for years to come. Hatteras Island has two miniature golf courses:
We hope you get a hole in one during your time on the greens!
Making a Memory
Vacations on Hatteras Island are all about making a memory with your children. Our vacation planners at Shore Details can help you plan or suggest other age appropriate activities for your kids. Spending time together on the beach, playing a round of putt-putt golf, cheering for their hermit crab to win the race, visiting a spaceship in one of the most unlikely places on earth and hunting for ghost crabs are all kid-friendly activities sure to make many Outer Banks memories.