Like an unexpected gift, the sighting of dolphins along the Outer Banks delights and amuses many summer visitors. Many people view these chance encounters as a treasured highlight to a relaxing vacation and will happily spend hours observing the dolphins' antics. What few people realize is that they are likely viewing the same group of dolphins, day after day and summer after summer. Some bottlenose dolphins will spend their summers in the waters of the Outer Banks and then migrate south for the winter only to return again in the early summer the next year. This early migration has led some people to call them the "Retirees of the Sea."

Dolphins swimming near Nags Head NC

Besides viewing the dolphins at a distance from the beach you might have a chance encounter with a dolphin while kayaking or sailing. The most certain way to get "up close and personal" with a dolphin is to take a ride on one of the popular Dolphin Watch boat trips. While no guarantees can be offered on these trips, they usually have a better than 90% chance of encountering dolphins.

One benefit of a Dolphin Watch trip is to be able to get really close to the dolphins, since they usually swim right near the boat. If you look closely you might even be able to see that the dolphins' fins (which appear smooth at a distance) are actually covered with nicks and scratches. It is these marks that dolphin researchers have used to identify over 300 dolphins in the Outer Banks. The most famous of these is Onion, perhaps the easiest dolphin to identify on the entire East Coast. Onion and his family spend their summers in the Nags Head area, and their winters off of Beaufort, N.C.

Dolphins were first documented to inhabit our sound and ocean waters by the original English explorers, prior to the founding of the Lost Colony. These explorers found that native tribes were well acquainted with the dolphins and even hunted them for food. Since Onion's group is known to have inhabited these waters for well over a decade, it is even possible that his ancestors have been living in these waters for several centuries. They might even be our oldest Local Family.

But are they dolphins or porpoises? Many people believe that the two terms are interchangeable, when in fact they are vastly different species. The main way to distinguish between them is simple: porpoises have a blunt, whale-like head while dolphins do not.

A dolphin in the sound

Dolphins perceive the world in ways that are well beyond the scope of our own senses. Whereas we rely mainly on sight and hearing and retain the senses of touch, taste and smell, they have had to adapt in different ways to suit their aquatic environment. While sight, touch and taste are important, their primary source of information is hearing-which they have developed to an extraordinary degree. Sound travels through the water nearly 5 times faster than through air and can be heard over much longer distances below the surface. They have highly developed hearing abilities, and a large portion of their brains are devoted to the analysis of sounds.

The coastal bottlenose dolphins that frequent our sound and ocean waters return to Oregon Inlet, Roanoke, and Croatan sounds every year as soon as the waters warm and the fish they feed on are in abundance. Dolphins are social animals, and they spend their entire lives in the company of other dolphins. The pods of 3 or 4 (and up to 40) dolphins will range in age from newborns to fifty years old, and physically mature adults range in size from just under 6 feet to nearly 12 feet, and weigh from 330 lbs. to 1430 lbs. The bottlenose dolphin shows a more striking range in size between individuals than any dolphin species.

Living together in the protective sound waters improves their chances of finding and catching food, increases the likelihood of spotting and avoiding predators such as sharks, makes it easier to encounter a suitable mate, provides a source of willing and available babysitters to look after the calves, and increases the learning potential of youngsters. Often these pods will band together to succeed in foraging for food, encircling groups of tiny fish and corralling them against the surface of the water which acts as an impenetrable barrier (the fish can often be seen jumping frantically into the air in a desperate bid to escape) and taking turns diving into the tightly packed shoal to feed on the fish. In some cases, the dolphins may stun the fish with exceptionally powerful echolocation clicks with their tail flukes.

A close encounter with a dolphin in the wild is a thrilling and memorable experience. Who could remain untouched by the amazing agility of a bottlenose dolphin as it leaps into the air beside a boat, or as it exhales a breath of air causing a cloud of spray to shoot 10 feet into the air before disappearing under the surface again, or a young calf breathing out of the water in stride with its mother, never missing a beat? These are the kinds of experiences that stay with people for the rest of their lives.


Outer Banks Boil Company

Outer Banks Boil Company

Dining out in the Outer Banks can be a daunting task. Leaving the beach early, hour long waits for tables, expensive drinks, and mediocre food are just the start! Let Outer Banks Boil Co. solve your dining dilemma with our unique approach! Choose either our at-home catering or one of our pots to-go. Maximize your beach time and enjoy a meal and experience you won't soon forget! Outer Banks Boil Company offers an alternative to the traditional restaurant experience. Our highly acclaimed Traditional Coastal Boils are available catered at your location or in our convenient and easy Best Pot To-Go.


What is a boil?


Jumbo Shrimp, spicy andouille sausage, red bliss potatoes, corn on the cob and sweet Vidalia onions are layered, seasoned ( with our own special blend) to perfection and expertly cooked together. Served with our homemade cocktail sauce the Outer Banks Boil Company has been dubbed the "Best Pot on the Beach". We pride ourselves on providing quality, fresh and when available, local ingredients. Our spicy andouille sausage is shipped up from Louisiana (for that true low-country boil taste), Want to take it up a notch? You can add seafood such as snow crab legs, clams, mussels and lobster tails!


You Steam (takeout) Our BEST POT TO-GO provides you with the opportunity to experience our acclaimed Coastal Low Country Boil without the full-service catering.  Succulent Jumbo Shrimp, spicy andouille sausage, fresh sweet corn, buttery red bliss potatoes, all layered, seasoned to perfection and ready to steam. Snow crab? Lobster Tails? Clams? Mussels? Yes Please!!!!!


So easy! Just add liquid (water, beer, white wine) and place on your stovetop and let the magic happen. That’s it! Nothing complicated about it, just steam, serve and enjoy “the Best Pot on the Beach”! Oh, and by the way…cleanup’s a breeze!


CALL ahead and we can have your pot ready to go when you arrive, or stop in, place your order and we’ll put your pot together while you wait. For groups 10+, ask us about our “We Steam” catered service.

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Big Buck's Homemade Ice Cream

Big Buck's Homemade Ice Cream

Serving our customers on the Outer Banks since 1994, Big Buck's ice Cream is dedicated serving you “The Best.” We offer a full line of super-premium ice cream products, smoothies, chocolates, and custom-made ice cream cakes! 2 locations are open all year: Kitty Hawk, at Buccaneer's Walk Shopping Center and Manteo, at The Waterfront Shops.


We offer a full line of Espresso Drinks from Hot Vanilla Cappuccinos and Hot Chocolate to Iced Caramel Lattes & Frozen Mochas, all made to order. Big Buck’s fresh fruit smoothies are lactose-free and made to order. Also offering lactose-free sorbets made from the best fruits available. Old time favorites are sure to please! Choose from a delicious collection of milkshakes, sundaes and banana splits.


Savor the moment with our Homemade Chocolate! Chocolates are made daily in each location. We offer a large selection from Dark to Milk to White. Milk Chocolate Oreos & Almond Toffee, Dark Chocolate Berries and Cherries Clusters & Hand-dipped Peppermint Patties with a Drizzle of White Chocolate, Extra-Dark Sea Salt Caramels & our famous homemade caramel chocolate pretzels oh & don’t forget the ever-popular caramel pecan turtle, just to name a few treats!


Belinda Pleva grew up serving ice cream out of her parent’s shop. She loved being part of what she calls “a happy business.” “I love it when people come into the shop and you hand them something, and it makes them smile,” Pleva says. “That moment when you hand an ice cream cone over to a little kid and their eyes just light up. That’s what I love about the ice cream business.”


In 1994, Pleva opened up her own ice cream and chocolate shop, Big Buck’s Ice Cream, in the brand-new Timbuk II Shopping Center in Corolla. Business was good, but something was missing.


“I was never satisfied with the ingredients in the ice creams and chocolates you could purchase back then. I wanted to serve my customers delicious flavors with ingredients they could actually pronounce,” Pleva says.


Pleva took a trip to Italy to study the gelaterias. She fell in love with the incredible flavors, and when she returned home to the Outer Banks, she began working tirelessly to perfect the flavors in her own ice cream.


Big Buck’s homemade ice cream combined the flavors of the Italian gelaterias and the richness of American ice cream. It quickly became a tourist favorite. After having the same unsatisfactory experience with the readymade chocolates she was selling, she also took a trip to Brussels to learn more about making handmade chocolates. Pleva brought the chocolate-making experience right back with her, and the result was the finest quality of chocolates on the Outer Banks.


After her huge success in the Corolla shop, Pleva was able to open up three more shops—one in Kitty Hawk, one in Manteo and one in Duck.

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