By Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher
Part 1 in a Series
Sanctuary is a word often associated with the small beach community of Duck. And whether you seek a quiet couple’s getaway or a family destination away from the beach crowds, The Sanderling Resort and Spa here can deliver.
The Sanderling is remote enough for blessed isolation and old-fashioned solitude, yet it’s the first and only AAA Four-Diamond resort on the Outer Banks. Plus, there’s plenty to do just up the road at Corolla on the Currituck Outer Banks, or down the road in communities like Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills (made famous by the Wright Brothers) and Nags Head.
Sanderling sits on a slice of land bordered on one side by the tranquil Currituck Sound — site of beautiful sunsets and waterfowl galore — and on the other by an impressive expanse of Atlantic Ocean washing upon still-unspoiled beaches. Look for dolphins frolicking near the swell of waves.
Driving toward Duck, the winding, two-lane NC 12 is lined by mossy trees, wind-bent live oaks and scrub pine. Beach houses sprout here and there until you reach developments with ornithological names: Snow Geese Dunes, Sea Tern, Swan Beach, and Osprey.
The Sanderling, low and long, with weathered cedar siding, front-porch rockers, and three beach-access boardwalks, blends perfectly into this backdrop. The feel is casual chic. There’s a Sand Bar for kicking back in flip-flops and bathing suits.
Sanderling’s two restaurants are among the area’s best: Left Bank, with its Blonde Onyx Bar, for gourmet dining, and the casual Lifesaving Station Restaurant and Swan Bar for fresh local cuisine. The latter is a restored 1899 U.S. lifesaving station decorated with nautical artifacts and historic memorabilia — part of the local history along these shores known as “The Graveyard of the Atlantic.”
The name Duck comes from the plentitude of waterfowl that were said to darken the sky by their sheer numbers in a bygone era. These migratory birds drew sportsmen to the area, who frequented the Currituck Sound’s hunt clubs in their turn-of-the century heyday, including the 1922 Whalehead Club. It’s now restored and open to visitors at the 39-acre soundfront Currituck Heritage Park, where a wildlife education center shares space along with the Currituck Beach Lighthouse (all three are covered in additional installments in this series).
Today’s emphasis is on conservation; Sanderling’s owners donated a 3,400-acre tract between Duck and Corolla that’s part of Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary (also coming up in coverage here).
The Sanderling displays amazing bird carvings by the renowned Grainger McKoy, whose work has been featured at The High Museum, Atlanta. Audubon’s oversized book of birds is here, too.
A great outing is the Wild Horse Tour in open-air vehicles on the beach around Corolla, just north of Duck. These mustangs descended from a herd established by Spanish settlers here in the 1500s. A small museum and group of volunteers are dedicated to their protection. Read all about how you can help the wild horses here.
While in Corolla, climb the 214 steps to the top of the 162-foot, brick Currituck Beach Lighthouse for great views of Currituck Heritage Park, the Whalehead Club, Corolla Village, the sound and ocean.
Allow time, too, for a couple’s massage in Sanderling’s soundfront spa with its indoor pool next door. (That’s part 2, coming up.) Steps away is a romantic gazebo perfect for sunset viewing or to spot swans on the sound. Sanctuary, indeed.
Details: Visit www.thesanderling.com or call 800-701-4111. Click here for current specials.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy these:
• Other stories by Kathy M. Newbern, Luxury Travel Examiner
• Stories by J.S. Fletcher, International Travel Examiner
• More international travel stories by this team
Luxury Travel Examiner Kathy M. Newbern and spouse, J.S. Fletcher, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourSpaReport.com and YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business.