Frisco Guide Sections:
The small town of Frisco located at the southern end of Hatteras Island, is a paradise for beach lovers who want to relax away from all the activity and noise of the mainland, and settle into coastal life. The town is small, and the northern end covers a wide section of Buxton and Frisco Woods, while the southern end is a thin stretch of Barrier Island where from a breezy deck, it's possible to enjoy an ocean sunrise and a sound sunset. With a few well-loved restaurants, convenience stores, and a variety of inviting yet secluded accommodations, Frisco may be the perfect destination for Outer Banks vacationers who want to leave all the clutter behind, and simply enjoy a vacation on the beach.
Vacationers may worry that because of Frisco's relative obscurity there might not be many amenities readily available. However, Frisco is home to a number of restaurants, (including several that have been around for decades), a regionally-renowned tackle and convenience store, and easy access to two of the island's locally owned and operated grocery stores, located in Buxton and Hatteras.
For accommodations, Frisco is home to two of the island's favorite campgrounds, one managed by the NPS, and the Frisco Woods campground. The NPS campground is located next to the airstrip and 4WD beach access, and offers incredible beach proximity as well as a wide public wooden beach ramp for easy strolls to the ocean. Frisco Woods Campground has been a star on the local campground scene for decades, featuring private wooded campsites, a community pool, incredible sound access, and an on-site camping supply store and gift shop, which is open seasonally.
Families can also opt to stay in a local Frisco vacation rental home. The homes available for rent in Frisco range from coastal cottages with plenty of sea breezes and comfortable living space to all-inclusive retreats with the amenities of a five-star hotel. Several of these sand castles are even ideal for soundfront weddings, with plenty of private pool decking, multiple levels of decks, and extensive rec rooms to house the entire wedding party and reception. Despite the size, visitors can rest assured that there is a home to accommodate virtually every taste ad budget.
Vacation rental homes are the most popular way to stay in the Outer Banks. Rental homes are available in Frisco from:
Frisco Native American Museum - Open year-round, the museum features walls and walls of artifacts, ranging from the local Hatteras natives to the North Carolina Cherokees to national tribes from the East Coast to the Western US and beyond. Virtually every room and hallway is filled with treasures, and in April, the museum becomes the toast of Hatteras Island with an annual powwow, featuring guests, dancers, merchants, and historians from Native American tribes across the country. The museum also featured an eclectic and well-stocked gift shop, a birding room, and a nature trail that offers a slice of the local Frisco Woods habitat.
Frisco Pier - Frisco visitors will also note the striking Frisco Pier jetting out into the Atlantic, which has unfortunately suffered repeated damage in a sequence of hurricanes, including Hurricane Earl in 2010 and Hurricane Irene in 2011. Plans are in place to rebuild and rejuvenate the pier and reopen it to visitors, but in the meantime, vacationers can marvel at the site and get an in-depth view of the fragile nature of the Outer Banks, particularly when it comes to major storms.
Kiteboarding and Windsurfing - On the soundside, kiteboarders and windsurfers will find miles of open water playground in the gentle Pamlico Sound, and the area has even spawned its own annual water sports celebration, "Wind Fest," which takes place at the Frisco Woods Campground. This event invites water sports lovers of all genres to come to Frisco and enjoy a long weekend of celebrating the sport, with full days of riding the wind and sound waters, followed by evenings filled with barbecues and camaraderie. Kiteboarders and windsurfers will essentially love the exceptional sound access that Frisco has to offer, as well as the less populated and more hidden launching points, making it easy to enjoy a long plain of the Pamlico Sound all to themselves.
Amusements - Frisco is also home to the island's only go-kart track, which is adjacent to an exceptional woodsy 18-hole mini golf course, several art galleries, and Burrus' Flight Tours, which can give even the most seasoned Outer Banks vacationers an entirely new perspective of Hatteras Island. The tours generally last an hour or two, and can swoop visitors over Frisco Village and the southern beaches of Hatteras and Ocracoke, over the lighthouse and the northern Avon locales, or just provide an extensive scenic view of the greater Hatteras Island area. Available by advanced, pre-vacation reservations or by popping by the local stand next to Frisco Rod and Gun, Hatteras Island lovers should definitely look into taking an aerial tour for an entirely new way of admiring the landscape.
The Beach - Frequent Frisco vacationers attest that the beaches are among the Outer Banks' best, with a southern facing geographic location, and a gradually sloping ocean floor. Because of these characteristics, Frisco beachgoers can "walk out" into the ocean for 50-100 ft.' or more, and never lose their footing to steep ocean trenches. These same conditions also produce exceptional beach fishing, as well as exceptional shelling. The gradual slope and generally smaller waves allow North Carolina treasures like Scotch Bonnets, (which is the state shell), whelks, olive shells, and even sand dollars to wash up on the beach intact. The beaches of Hatteras Island are managed by the National Park Service as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Here are some things to know about Rodanthe beach policies:
- Pets are allowed on a leash no longer than 6ft, year-round. Pets are prohibited on designated swimming beaches. Service animals are allowed at all times.
- Fireworks are not permitted in Frisco.
- Beach fire permits are required. Print, sign and keep your paper permit with you (permits available here). From May 1 to November 15, beach bonfires are only allowed at Coquina Beach, the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras, and the Ocracoke day use area. From November 16 - April 30, Beach fires are allowed throughout the park. Fires are allowed from 6am - 10pm. An adult must be present. Fires must be on greater than 3 feet in diameter. Fires must be built and maintained below the high-tide mark and 50 feet from any vegetation. Fires cannot be left unattended, and must be extinguished upon end of use. The area must be cleaned up.
- Beer is allowed on the beach. Wine and liquor are not officially permitted. Please drink responsibly.
- Metal detecting is NOT allowed within National Parks.
- There are no lifeguard stations in Frisco.
- It is illegal to walk on the dunes, and it is also illegal to pick live sea oats growing on the beaches.
- Fill in any holes you dig. Holes in the sand can be a hazard.
- Be mindful of Noise. Most communities consider a violation of the noise ordinance to be any sound that can be heard from inside a nearby residence, and any load noise after approximately 11:00 p.m.
- No glass on the beach. Be mindful of glass bottles. Alcohol is allowed on all beaches, but if at all possible, stick to cans and plastic to save future beach-goers from any bare foot injuries.
- Surf fishing is allowed. A fishing license is required in North Carolina and can be obtained before your vacation via the NC Marine Fisheries and Wildlife website, or a fishing license can be purchased at most any tackle shop on the Outer Banks.
- 4x4 Driving on the Beach - Frisco also has one of the island's most popular beach driving access ramps, second only to Buxton's Cape Point ramp, located adjacent to the local Hatteras Island airstrip. This ramp is especially popular with anglers who find the fishing at Frisco simply fantastic, relaxing, and lots of fun. Bear in mind that the beaches in the town of Frisco are governed by the National Park Service (NPS), ergo a Beach Driving Permit is necessary to explore the shoreline by a pick-up or an SUV. The permit can be obtained with a visit to the neighboring NPS office in Buxton, and can be purchased on a weekly or annual basis.
The beaches of Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island are managed by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Permits are required, and can be purchased online and sent via mail, or in person at one of the following locations: Coquina Beach office, Cape Hatteras Light Station, and the Ocracoke Visitor Center. Each vehicle must have its own permit. Vehicles must be registered, licensed, insured, and have a current safety inspection if required in home state/country. Vehicles must have low-pressure tire gauge, shovel, jack and jack support board. A spare tire, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, trash bags, flashlight and tow straps are recommended. ATV's are not permitted. Night driving is generally allowed from November 16 through April 30. See current access ramps and beach closings by visiting this page and clicking on the "daily beach access map". Obey all posted signs.
Frisco is another Hatteras Island town that for centuries was inhabited by the Croatans, a branch of the Algonquins that settled on the island, and enjoyed a long and happy existence with no warring neighbors or conflict, and plenty of fresh off-the-coast seafood. In fact, recent excavations by local and visiting archeologists have uncovered massive shell piles, believed to be discarded oyster and clam shells from a rich and abundant shellfish diet.
In recent years, archeologists have flocked to the Buxton and Frisco Woods areas of Hatteras Island for the incredible finds buried a few feet under the sandy surface. One of the most notable discoveries was by the late David S. Phelps of East Carolina University in Greenville, who in 1998, discovered a 16th century signet ring, made of gold, that was attributed to the English "Kendall" family. Upon further research, Phelps found that two men from the Kendall family may have been members of The Lost Colony, the famous Roanoke Island colony that completely disappeared in the late 16th Century, leaving behind the words "Cro" and "Croatan" carved into two trees at their original settlement site.
Historians who deciphered that the tree carvings meant the colonists moved south to Hatteras Island took Phelp's discovery as a promising sign, and while the mystery is still unsolved, his find has prompted more historians to visit the excavation site, and create new local digging sites of their own.
For a glimpse of the storied history of the Native Americans on both tiny Hatteras Island and from all over the United States, visitors are encouraged to stop by the Frisco Native American Museum. This locally run and operated museum has been a labor of love and a fixture on Hatteras Island for decades.
After centuries of easy living enjoyed by the Native Americans, European settlers began to trickle in during the 1700s and 1800s, and eventually the town had garnered its own name, "Trent," or "Trent Woods." In 1898, the U.S. Post Office gave the village a new name, Frisco, and its own zip code, but frequent visitors find that many locals still refer to the area by its original European name, "Trent."
Frisco was one of the last areas of the Outer Banks to be developed for tourism, and for decades remained a quiet residential community. However, visitors were gradually drawn to the area's seclusion, its miles of beaches, and its fantastic mix of maritime forest and beachscape, and eventually, tourism blossomed in the small town.
Outer Banks vacationers in search of a beach vacation without all the traffic and distractions will adore a trip to Frisco. This small town at the southern end of Hatteras Island has just enough amenities for its loyal visitors, and miles of wide open beaches and sound sunsets, coupled with a small neighborhood feel. For an Outer Banks vacation that gets back to the basics of unspoiled beaches, local hospitality, and days of quiet relaxation, a trip to Frisco will definitely appease the most finicky of hard-core beachgoers.