As we started developing our registry, Traveler’s Joy helped us in many ways. The registry acted as a guide to our honeymoon, helped us budget more effectively, and made it possible for our guests to make monetary gifts in a wide range of choices. The ability for our family and friends to make the choices of gifts based on a monetary level and specific activities motivated them to give more generously and with more creativity than with normal registries. In total, our honeymoon was under $2,500, our rental house was very cheap at $700 for the whole week. We actually spent more time and money looking for locally made gifts for all our friends and family than most of our other expenses.
It didn’t take us long to decide that Ocracoke Island – off the coast of North Carolina – was ideal for us. We wanted a honeymoon that was simple and affordable. We wanted it to be within a day’s drive and pet friendly. We also wanted to make sure that we could sit on the beach as much as possible. We were looking for privacy and something close to nature. We had already decided to wait a week after the wedding, so we could go during the second week in September, when it was no longer “peak season”. This made the island considerably less busy with many more local activities and flavor. Once we decided the destination, we started looking at rental properties.
Due to Ocracoke being so small and private, there are only two rental companies. We wanted to bring our lovable yet loud beagles, so our first requirement was to rent a house that was pet friendly. The Ocracoke Island Realty Company was very helpful. When we called to get details and chat about what we needed, they walked us through the whole process. They also went above and beyond to get us approval for three dogs since all of the houses generally allowed only two. We couldn’t wait to get to our house!
We travelled almost 24 hours on the road, in a car packed to the brim with three dogs, two people, and all the vacation necessities we thought we would need. When we arrived earlier than anticipated to the island, the rental house was not ready. But the rental company called the owners to ask if they could have the house ready early for us, and again they accommodated our needs. Our vacation house was a little small, but we hoped to spend very little time there, so simple and cheap was our goal. It had a screened-in porch with a swing for morning coffee, a washer and dryer (which is a must between beach towels, salt water, and three dogs fresh from daily swims), and a good-sized kitchen for the meals we had planned to fix to save money on dining out. What we didn’t know was that on this sleepy little island, we would find the most delicious and exciting restaurant we had been to in years.
Our mornings and evenings were spent grabbing a bite to eat at a local restaurant called Dajio (aptly named for its owners "Dave and Janet in Ocracoke). They had great breakfast dishes like caramelized apple pancakes and manchego cheese grits. In the evenings Dajio had “shrimp happy hour” where they steamed fresh shrimp in their secret sauce. We often dined on the outdoor patio, which was adorned with candles and strategically hung twinkle lights to create a relaxed dining experience.
We usually walked our dogs on the beach in the morning, went for an evening bike ride to watch the sunset and feel the warm ocean breezes. We frequented other local restaurants, the local coffee shop, and visited the beach daily.
Every afternoon was spent enjoying the beach by either catching up on some reading, enjoying a brand new bodyboard we bought at the local variety store or just hanging out in the waves. The local ice cream parlor was a favorite stop for us too. They featured banana pudding ice cream, a treat no true Southern can resist. Everyday we wrapped up the afternoons by searching through local shops, art galleries and souvenir stores for gifts for family, friends and ourselves. Our days usually ended after dinner and a sunset, with a few beers at home and watching some evening news to stay connected to the world we had left so far behind on this warm and friendly island.
Once again, thank you for all your hard work to make our honeymoon a once-in-a-lifetime event! We would recommend Ocracoke Island to anyone wanting the beach life without the hassle of crowds. We now have a new retirement destination – Ocracoke Island. The combination of friendly people, exciting local artists, and delicious locally produced food is our ideal destination for vacation and for life.