When the water is at low tide it stays under 3 feet deep far out into the ocean, so my brother and I spend a lot of time just wading in the ocean looking at all the plants and little animals in the shallow areas.
Going from one of the islands to another was always fun, and mid trip we went to Key West to relax and enjoy going out to dinner. That was nice but I preferred the family meals we cooked over the camp stove.
I was doubtful at first. I thought the house may be dirty; I was worried about who else may have stayed there and what conditions we might find.
However, my fears about the house were soon put to rest. Although the house was somewhat shabby and a little worn (we opted for something on the cheap end of beach rental houses to save some money) it was clean and sunny.
And it had a hammock on the deck! That was an unexpected but welcome surprise.
The house was located in Nag's Head, North Carolina, which is in the Outer Banks. To get to the beach was a short walking trip across a narrow, residential street, and then down a stony footpath.
We only visited the beach in the very early mornings or in the evenings to avoid sunburn. During the day we occupied ourselves with other entertainments, such as a walking tour that showed off historical attractions and a visit to a preserved shipwreck.
We also visited the Bodie Island Light House, although we weren't allowed to climb up in it. And of course, there were the local restaurants with fresh seafood - delicious!
As for price, the house we rented was only a little over a thousand dollars for seven days and fit our family of four comfortably; especially considering its proximity to the beach it was a bargain compared to staying in a city hotel.
Many of the outdoor attractions (we are very outdoorsy people) were free or asked only for a small admission fee or donation. All in all, it was a very pleasant and surprisingly affordable vacation.
During our second day in Newport, we were looking for something other than shopping and beach-going. Travelers can take tours of the Newport mansions, so we decided to give it a shot.
The mansions and their ornate decor were unbelievable and the staff was incredibly knowledgeable. The mansions are set along a cliff, so my husband and I decided to take a stroll on the Cliff Walk, a trail set right along the cliff that allows you to see both the back of the mansions and the beach.
The beauty of it all was surreal. The dining and nightlife is also enjoyable. There are bars that a younger crowd would enjoy, but also pubs for an older crowd. Overall, Newport is a great experience and a relatively inexpensive place to go for a holiday. I wish we had spent more time there since Providence, RI is only a half hour away!
As we neared our destination there was a collective gasp as the beautiful hotels and shops came into view, offset by a breath-taking view of foamy blue ocean.
Our hotel was right on the edge of the beach. You could literally step out the back entrance and sink your toes into the warm, golden sand. It was surprising just how well everything was maintained; there was no liter to be seen and the water was crystal clear.
Wading into the ocean and letting the gentle waves wash over me was a fantastic way to forget the stress that had been building up from work over the previous months since my last vacation.
While there we visited several restaurants, all of which had a fantastic selection of fresh seafood and over Texas favorites. We went on a tour boat around the island and had a chance to get up close and personal with some of the local marine life. Some people brought their children, and they had the opportunity to learn about and even touch some of the fish and snails that the crew had on board.
There were some great gift shops within walking distance of the hotel. Tourism is a large part of the local economy, and the gratuity really showed in the attitude of the staff at all of the stores we visited. I found some great deals on shirts and colorful shells. There was so much to see and do. We barely scratched the surface after 3 full days.
We didn't even make it to Schlitterbahn, the famous South Padre water park on that trip; we were too busy enjoying ourselves everywhere else we went. If you like the ocean, have never been, or even just want a little taste of paradise without a big price tag, a trip to South Padre really delivers on cheap beach vacations.
We stared at some oddity we saw as we walked toward the boardwalk. We laughed, shopped at the novelty stores, and then went on the beach. My children had never been to a beach. The younger ran for the water and squealed with delight as the waves almost knocked him over. Even my teen had a great time (You know she did, she never complained once!)
Beach time ended with the younger one actually seeing a jelly fish float past his leg. With the sun going down we got back on the bus, we chatted about the sand, the water, and the jelly fish. The youngest fell asleep after exclaiming how great a time he had. The entire day: just one long simple pleasure! Wildwood is now at the top of our list for cheap beach vacations.