When you dream about your Hatteras vacation, whether it’s a daydream in the office or an actual nighttime version, in all likelihood, it’s in color. That’s because the colors of the summer on the Outer Banks are vivid, varied, and truly unforgettable.
The sand is a great place to begin. Whether it’s a golden hue you see, or a more reddish tinge near the tide line, the sunlight makes the sand shimmer and the brightness can be overwhelming. In the height of summer, the sand can bleach out to white perfection. Couple that with a beautiful blue sky and the contrast is magical. Near the end of the summer, the sea oats tassel out, and their green and gold colors along the dunes create a waving buffer between sand and sky.
The ubiquitous Jo Bell flowers combine a vivid yellow and deep red to add to the summer landscape. Beach umbrellas and tents provide the frivolity. Every color in a paint box can be represented, and again, when played up against the sand and sky, they stand out as if placed there like stickers in a child’s sticker book.
The lighthouse stands in stark contrast to everything else with its gleaming white and black-as-night stripes. The lighthouse is impressive no matter what the background, but on a day when the sky is bluer than blue and a few big puffy white clouds are around, it is just magnificent. In the early morning or at sunset, those white stripes can take on a shade of pink and it’s a whole different look.
This brings us to sunrises and sunsets. Talk about every color! Sometimes, the sky is filled with various pastels, and other times the sky is on fire. The scene can change from moment to moment on the same night, and especially at sunset, when the colors linger long after the sun has actually set with purples and oranges streaking across the sky.
On a sunny day with a storm approaching, the clouds can turn a deep, dark violet, and the lightening streaks the sky. And of course after the storm, summer rainbows are our reward.
Let us not forget the ocean. Every shade or blue or green can be seen there, depending on the weather, the tide, or the prevailing wind. Sometimes the horizon is a dark navy blue and white ships dot the horizon. Other days, the colors can almost be Caribbean and crystal clear. In the waves, as they roll and break, there is a lovely seafoam green, one of the most relaxing colors we know.
As the 4th of July approaches, there are three other colors that make their presence known in many ways. Beach umbrellas, bathing suits of all sizes and styles, beach towels, hats, paper plates, napkins, T-shirts and of course, actual flags proudly display the red, white, and blue. It’s a great celebration and just adds to the wonderful palette that is summer on the Outer Banks. And when you throw in the colors of the fireworks bursting in air – that completes the magic!
When the summer ends, and you reflect on vacations past, or dream of future days in Hatteras, may all your dreams be in color, and may all your Hatteras dreams come true!
Janet Morrow Dawson is the owner and operator of the Cape Hatteras Motel in Buxton, where her husband Dave is celebrating his 50th season there in 2021. She has lived full-time on Hatteras Island since 2015, and is celebrating her seventh season at the motel, however, she has been an Outer Banks fan since her family started coming to Hatteras Island for vacations in 1964.