These 175 miles of coastal sandbar islands can be spendy and busy. But there's a way to avoid crowds and still get into some of the East Coast's best surf. Go south from Pea Island to the one-gas-station town of Frisco and book a cabin at Frisco Woods campground. Rent a shortboard at Natural Art Surf Shop, five miles north, and head toward the Historic Cape Hatteras Lighthousethe tallest in the country. Work up a sweat climbing 248 stairs for endless Atlantic views. Then, as the tide rolls in, paddle out to consistent four-footers. Day two: Hike through 970-acre Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve, two miles from Frisco. Afterwards, head to Hatteras, grab a barstool at Dirty Dick's Crabhouse, and get into some steamed hardshell crab (dirtydickscrabs.comyes, that's the Web site).
EXPENSE REPORT Two nights at a cabin (252-995-5208): $162. Board and wetsuit rentals for two (252-995-5682): $30. Two shrimp baskets and two flounder sandwiches at the Hatterasman (thehatterasman.com): $35. Lighthouse tour for two: $14. Crab dinner for two: $65. Total: $306