Well, we are back from our trip (7-24 to 7/27), and I wanted to follow up with some advice from our (amazing) visit to this gem of a place.
-The sunsets are stunning, and can be well appreciated from both the western part of the island (main street), or toms cove. We parked our car on the furthest part of the beach parking (to the right) and enjoyed it from the bay side. Gorgeous!
-The ammount of wildlife here is spectacular. We saw rabbits, a few dozen types of birds (im not much of a bird watcher but was impressed by the variety). Be carefull driving around the island (especially main street) as there is a group of about 30 ducks who waddle around crossing streets (and they take their time lol). We knew to look out for them after a close encounter. We saw the ponies (pretty close- about 100 feet away) while driving into the park. we stopped and took pictures.
-Has it been said hundreds of times? yes...but go to the island creamery! My husband had the bourbon ice cream with caramel swirl and the black raspberry. I had vanilla and pony tracks. BEST icecream and the portions are HUGE.
-If you decide to go hiking- wear long sleves and lots of bug repelent. I read about the mosquitoes just as much as I did the ponies (lol) and we had on 50% deet (we felt so prepared!). We did the main circle route (gorgeous views- try it) and they were bad in the areas where there more trees and no breeze (ok in the more "open" and breezy areas). The little bastards were biting through our clothes and in some cases- chasing us. They are huge. We killed about a dozen and fed a few more....so...your'e welcome. FYI- the visitor center has an indoor bathroom and water fountain. We changed there after the beach to go on our hike and filled up our bottles.
-The beach is large and less crowded than say ocean city, va beach or myrtle. If you walk to the left side of the beach there are fewer people (we did this every day). We made a point of being there before 10 each morning since we knew parking could be an issue. There are rinse off stations, places to change and port a johns.
-Places we ate at and what we thought:
AJ's on the creek- Had the shellfish bouillabaisse and the fried oysters crabcake platter. food was good but not spectacular. Salad was nothing special. I think I liked their crab soup most of all but Ive had better. View was nice- we sat by the creek, but be advised you see the main street and a put put course as well.
Sugarbakers- had the bbq chicken and reuben sandwiches. Both were "ok" but we didnt think they were worth the price. Cant vouche for the pastries as we didnt try them.
Woody's beach barb-q- Had the pulled pork platter (came with cornbread and two sides- i picked coleslaw and applesauce) and a carolina style pork sandwich with a side of fries (GREAT fries). - YOU CANT MISS THIS PLACE. Our dinner here was so good we came back the next day for lunch. SUPER fresh and SUPER delicious. neat hippy decor. Note of warning- beware of seagulls who will steal your food (funny story). we had a 10 min line the first day and no line the second. worth any wait and half the price of the "fancy" places. Their red sauce is great (and always on the sside) think not quite carolina style and not quite thick bbq.
Gary Howard seafood- Great seafood. I had the steamed shrimp (21 pieces!) and my husband had the fried oysters (10-14?). Menu said we had a choice of fries and hush puppies and "sides of the day"- which turned out to be "in husk" steamed corn, pasta salad, and fresh honeydo watermelon. I got HP (they were really good) and the mr. got fries (just normel fries). NOTE: Gary howards is NOT a restaurant- they are a seafood provider who happens to cook what they sell as takeout. They DO have a few tables outside on heir porch, and if you want something to drink- there is a vending machine. But do yourself a favour and grab their take out- its fresh, less expensive than the "seafood restaurants" and in my experience so far- better. (its also a jump skip and a hop away from cedar gables in- where we stayed).
Island creamery- just GO!
We stayed at: cedar gables bed and breakfast: this place is just perfect. the two minute drive out of town makes this place seem like its miles away. food and staff were great, and their dock over looking the marshes is my new "favorite spot in the world". Hot tub while star gazing at night cant be beat. full review and pictures to come under their page here on TA.
Overall- great trip- can wait to come back!