Sun Rise and Solstice at North Carolina's Outer Banks
By Chris McBeath

The morning stirred, as a soft stream of orange gently parted the horizon, separating the sea from the sky that in pre-dawn, had been masked as one. Normally, I’m not an early riser but when such an invitation kisses you awake and the sound of the ocean seeps into your consciousness, the promise of what lay ahead was hard to resist.

I had heard about the mystical call of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, but until that instant, hadn’t realized its unique magic. So, leaving the warmth of my bed, I opened the door to the balcony to let the morning in – the rising sun, the salt-air breezes of the Atlantic ocean, and a call so compelling that within minutes I found myself fully dressed, with coffee in hand, walking along the outstretched shores into the sunrise.

In summer, families throng to this part of the United States but this was off-season and I delighted in the serenity of being able to appreciate the magnitude of the expansive ocean, and the magnanimous introspection it brings. As one of North Carolina’s most romantic spots, the Outer Banks is a favourite getaway for city slickers yearning for respite of a different tempo and for me, after a few fast-days in New York City, this was heaven sent space for body and soul.

Linked to the mainland only by bridges and ferries, The Outer Banks enjoys a relative isolation that has enabled it to retain a charm of yesteryear and an ambiance that celebrates an easier time. Rich in history and legend, The Banks are in fact, a moving coastline of sand and grassy dunes which shift with the winds while creating a barrier reef that protects a network of inner waters.

It was here where the first colonists landed, and it was at Kitty Hawk, that the Wright Brothers gave the world their gift of flight. Consequently, in addition to kayaking, birdwatching, fishing, para-sailing and more, you’ll find the largest hang-gliding school in the world, coaxing children and grandparents into the skies under brightly colored wings.

While many visitors enjoy renting one of the self-catering seashore cottages, we opted to stay at The Sanderling Resort & Spa, a 12-acre oceanfront complex, near the village of Duck. Noted by Conde Nast as one of the top 30 North American resorts, the Sanderling is unpretentious, deluxe comfort.

Comprising 88 luxury rooms and suites, and four three- and four- bedroom individual homes, the Sanderling has been designed to evoke the character of the grand seaside hotels of the turn of the century while offering all the modern amenities you could want.

Every guest room has a private balcony and small kitchenette, while jasmine-scented pathways lead you through the resort to the beach, a quality fitness centre, an intimate conference facility, and a coastal-themed restaurant and lounge in a restored 1899 coast guard lifesaving station. The resort’s piece de resistance, however, must be its new fine dining room, The Left Bank where the French-inspired menu can only be described as a gastronomic experience, bar none.

The Sanderling’s day spa is also a must-do, if only for its signature treatment which combines the sensual touch of La Stone massage with the flow, rhythm and release of Swedish massage and Shiatsu. Other services include a variety of water therapies such as Vichy Rain Shower, Thalassotherapy and mineral soaks as well as body wraps, facials and even a buff & bronze for getting a head start to tanning.

For me, however, the Sanderling was providing food for the soul. The brightness of the morning was taking hold and as the mist of the surf began to lift, I planted a deckchair into the sand and watched the waves gasp tantalizingly at my feet before receding to find their strength once more. A surf-fisher arrived, and wading into the bubbling water, started to cast his line into the rollers. It was a scene about as far away from civilization as you can get. And it was Outer Banks at its very best.

photos: Chris McBeath

If You Go:

The Sanderling
The Outer Banks
North Carolina
Web site: www.thesanderling,com

The Outer Banks

The nearest airport is Norfolk International, (757) 857-3200, in Norfolk, Virginia, approx. 90 miles north of the Outer Banks. Carriers include American, Continental, Delta, Northwest,
Southeast Airlines, TransWorld, United, USAirways.

From there, visitors have the option of car rentals, shuttle and taxi services. The best rates are offered by Coastal Limo, (252) 441-2262 which offers 24-hour, door-to-door, 7-day service for approximately US $60-80 per person, one way, between the airport and your Outer Banks destination. The Sanderling also provides a limo service.

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