The First Timer’s Guide to Corolla

March 1, 2023

You never forget your first time. The feeling of awe when you open the door to your spacious vacation cottage and see the comfort and amenities that await you. That moment your bare toes first sink into the wet sand just as the cool ocean water slides over your feet. The first sight of a gorgeous wild Mustang trotting down the shoreline… it’s all amazing!

First-time visitors to Corolla and the Currituck beaches can look forward to many experiences unique to our area. Our destination offers endless ideas for you to piece together the perfect itinerary for your family, and below you’ll find some of our must-do’s. But first…

Bring your kayak! Don’t have one? Rent one here!

What To Pack?

Corolla enjoys pleasant temperatures throughout the year. We advise visitors to pack for the weather: shirts and shorts, a nice outfit for dinner out, comfortable shoes for walking and flip flops for the beach, and of course your swimsuits. Evenings may be cooler, so it’s a good idea to bring a light jacket if you stay out late and enjoy a sky full of stars.

Check with your rental agency to see what amenities are provided with your beach home. Some, for example, may provide beach chairs and towels for your use. Otherwise, be sure to bring along what you need for a day at the beach: chairs or blankets, umbrella and hats for shade, sunscreen, bottles for drinking water, and your kids’ favorite beach toys. Larger equipment like paddleboards, kayaks, surfboards, and beach cruisers are available to rent at several local businesses if you choose not to bring your own gear.

Not to brag, but there’s only one place to see the sun rise…

Get Up Early & See the Sunrise

Kick off a stay in Corolla by getting up with the sun as it rises from the Atlantic. Take a chair down to the beach, bring along your favorite wake-up beverage, and watch the day begin. Currituck sunrises are picture-perfect moments that set the mood for your vacation — peaceful, relaxing, and unforgettable.

If you’ve planned for a full beach day, make the most of it. Unplug and find your happy place. Read the book you’ve been holding for the past several months waiting for the ideal time to turn those pages, help the kids with their sandcastle, or stroll along the shore for shells or the rare chunk of sea glass. 

Let our Wild Horse tour guides do the driving while you enjoy the scenery.

Book a Wild Horse Sightseeing Tour

If you’re staying in a vacation home in the 4×4 beach area, chances are a wild Mustang or two may trot past while you’re relaxing on the deck. If your car has four-wheel drive, you can also head north and try to spot the herd in the dunes, just be mindful of our beach driving regulations and keep at least fifty feet away from the horses. It’s the law. 

The best way to watch the horses, though, is on a Wild Horse Tour. On a guided tour, you get to relax and let the professionals do the driving for you. They know exactly where to go to find our famous residents, and you’ll learn much about their daily lives and natural habitat, and even the history of how they came to our shores. There’s never a bad seat in a tour truck or Jeep, either.

Satisfy your craving for fresh seafood in Corolla.

Dine Out (Or In) Like a  Local 

What is today’s fresh catch? In warmer months, the waters in our area may yield clams, blue crabs and soft shell crabs, grouper, spotted sea trout, and other species of fish. However long you plan to stay in Corolla, and if you enjoy fresh seafood, we recommend at least one night out enjoying the best our region has to offer. You can contact any of our favorite seafood restaurants for their daily specials, or — if you have the extended family gathered on the deck for private outdoor dining — have any of our area seafood markets prepare a steamer pot or seafood boil for you. On your way to Corolla, be sure to stop by any of the mainland farmer’s markets for in-season produce and other snacks, too.

If you like a drink with dinner, we recommend pairing your home meals with a pint from some of our favorite local breweries and wineries. Pick up the latest brewery releases at Northern Outer Banks Brewing Company or Whalehead Brewery in Corolla or try some local brews at Blue 42’s on the mainland, or a bottle of wine at Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg. These venues also offer outdoor seating if you’d like to enjoy a glass on a sunny day.

For more ideas on how to spend your first time in Corolla, download our visitors guide, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram for inspirational imagery.