It’s been years since I’ve been on a true beach vacation. You know the ones where you conveniently forget your makeup bag at home and let the wind and salty air deal with your hair on its own? Ah, the beachy mane – how I love thee. I actually didn’t realize I was craving that kind of relaxation until making my way through these incredible photos of The Outer Banks. Captured by Elaine Palladino, I’m thinking that something like this needs to make its way into my future. And quick! Ps: there’s more.

From Elaine Palladino… Years ago, my husband and I exchanged vows in front of 70 of our closest friends and family in a house overlooking the coast of The Outer Banks in North Carolina. From the moment we arrived in The Outer Banks, we were charmed by the small beach town feel and beauty of this chain of barrier islands.

Last summer, my husband and his family returned to the same shore for a family vacation and fell in love with the place once again. There is no place quite like The Outer Banks both in beauty and in spirit.

Where to stay: Though there are plenty of hotels, the most popular and convenient lodging is to stay in one of the many vacation rentals which vary in size and proximity to the beach. We rented a house right on the beach in the town of Duck in the northern beaches section of the islands. We had plenty of space for four couples and a fully stocked kitchen. All we needed to bring were towels, paper products and food. It pays to go during the “off season” months so that you can save on lodging.

Where to Eat: There are plenty of restaurants throughout The Outer Banks but we loved The Outer Banks Brewing Station the most. This wind powered brewery featured house made beers and a fun atmosphere, not to mention delicious food.

What to do: The beach is absolutely stunning and was the highlight of our vacation. Though it was hard for us to leave the beach, we did drive down the coast to visit the famous lighthouses and to see Jockey’s Ridge, the east coast’s highest sand dune. We had so much fun running up the dunes. It was the perfect place to fly kites (a favorite pastime of the OBX) and it has spectacular views of the ocean.

Our favorite resource was outerbanks.org. There, we were able to outline our vacation including booking our rental home and planning the different activities we wanted to do. This was also a great springboard when I was planning my OBX destination wedding. Through them, I was able to find my venue, photographer and wedding cake designer.

Photography: Elaine Palladino Photography