Beach Camping –Don’t Do It

Go beach camping they said, it will be fun they said. Actually, no one said that…and for good reason. Beach camping sounded like a great idea. We thought it was going to be one of our most exciting North Carolina adventures (which I suppose it was), but it turned out to be pretty miserable and we left a day early (only camped out for 1 night). We went to Portsmouth Island which is on the southern end of the outer banks. It can only be accessed by boat/ferry and it sounded like a pretty neat place to camp. A 13 mile beach with barely anyone on it sounded great and we love camping so it seemed like a win, win. It was NOT.

We arrived in the afternoon on Thursday and quickly set up camp. We THOUGHT the wind was worth complaining about. Only later did we realize the wind was the best thing on that island because it kept the biting deer flies away. That evening the wind died down a bit and the bugs came out! Poor Jake was being swarmed with flies. We made dinner and then Daniel started a fire (difficult with the wind and everything was damp). We got 1 s’more each before the rain started falling. We ran for the tent and even Jake got to go in. We weren’t going to let him in the tent but felt so bad with all of the bugs swarming…and the rain. The rain quickly subsided and we headed back to the fire which was still going strong. We sat by the fire for about 10 minutes before the tide wiped it out and then headed to bed. Jake was great. He went to the end of the tent, laid down, and literaly fell asleep the second his head hit the ground. His face was kind of squished into the side of the tent but he seemed perfectly comfortable.


We woke up the next morning and enjoyed the beach for a little bit but some “crazy bird lady” (as the ferry lady called her) was digging(or something) pretty close to us so we decided to pack up and go visit the little historic village that’s located on the island. THAT was an adventure. We had to drive downt the beach about 10 miles until we saw a sign pointing toward the village that signaled us to cut in away from the beach. We drove down the little sand road for awhile until we came to a point where the “road” was completely covered in what appeared to be a lot of water. We backed out and turned around and started to head away from the village when Daniel noticed a sign that had fallen on the ground and said something along the lines of “Fresh water. Mostly 4″-8″ deep. Solid bottom. Drive between posts and stay near middle.” We turned back around and started to head back toward the village to re-evaluate the road. Daniel hopped out of the truck to test the waters and (to my surprise) decided to give it a try. It was a tense few minutes driving through the water but we made it without getting stuck. We were through the water and thought we were in the clear when the truck died. Daniel restarted it and it died several more times before finally working and taking us the rest of the way to the village.

The village wasn’t near the beach and was located in a fairly wet/marshy area. Wet/marshy = HORRIBLE bugs. We were swarmed with mosquitos and couldn’t stop moving without it being terrible. The village was actually really neat and we were able to go into a lot of the buildings/houses but Jake could not so we didn’t really go into too many. It was still a lot of fun and really neat to walk around the village. It was established in 1753 and the last people lived there until 1971. We can’t figure out why in the world anyone would want to live there with all the bugs.

If there’s water, Jake will be in it!

Looking out over the village from the watch tower.

We headed back to the beach through the water road and the truck died at the end again. Luckily it started working pretty quickly (although the check engine light was on for awhile) and we made our way back to the beach and set up camp.


The deer flies were absolutely horrible. Jake didn’t know what to do with himself and the flies so he finally just gave up and quit trying to fight them.


Daniel and I couldn’t relax and enjoy our books because we were swatting at flies constantly. The only time we weren’t completely swarmed with flies was when we were in the water but even then a few would find any bare skin that wasn’t in the water.

We finally decided to pack up the truck and drive around the island to get a little break. While we were driving I mentioned the idea of seeing if we could go home early and Daniel was on board. He later told me that he had wanted to for awhile but was waiting for me to throw in the towel. We had 1 bar of service so I called the ferry people to see if there were any slots on the ferry that day and thankfully there were…we just had to wait a few hours. We headed back to the beach and hung out in the water for a while and then headed to the ferry pick-up and sat in the truck for at least an hour while we waited for the ferry. We were so glad to get off that island! I counted over 80 bites from my knees down and was miserable and barely slept that first night we were home. It was an experience worth experiencing but an experience that only needs to be experienced once.


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