Joe Miller is the author of “Adventure Carolinas: Your Go-To Guide for Multi-Sport Outdoor Recreation,” to be published in May (UNC Press; $45 hardcover, $20 paperback). We asked him to pick his favorite coastal destinations.
The Outer Banks, for hang gliding. “Kitty Hawk Kites ( www.kittyhawk.com) runs this program where they take you over to dunes, give you some instructions, then you get three flights. It’s pretty much safe and you’re almost guaranteed to fly: not far – maybe 30 feet up – but it's pretty cool and easy to do.”
Scuba diving near Morehead City. “The Atlantic has some of best wreck diving in the world; I think this is one of the best places to go in North America. Some of the best wrecks are within a day trip. The most popular is U352, a German submarine. There was a six-month period in World War II when German subs were sinking everything in sight; the U352 was one of the main culprits. Its wreck is extremely popular because it has a colony of sand tiger sharks on it. The visibility is great, too – another plus.” (Area info: www.crystalcoastnc.org.)
Best for families
Merchants Millpond State Park, for canoeing in the swamps. You can rent a canoe for $2 an hour, and this N.C. park ( http://1.usa.gov/1cxyJsN) has marked trails, so it’s harder to get lost. But you do get into swampland pretty quickly, and get a sense of what it’s like... but in a safe environment.”
Hiking the Hermit Trail out of Fort Fisher Historical Site ( www.nchistoricsites.org/fisher). It’s not long – a mile out, a mile back – and you can explore the different barrier island habitats. It goes by this old bunker from World War II where a hermit lived for about 20 years. He became something of a legend, and allegedly died under mysterious circumstances in the early ’70s. It’s cool to think he lived there in a bunker; there’s a society dedicated to this guy ( http://on.fb.me/1ksdssy). Imaginations can run wild there for kids”
Paddling out to Bear Island. “This is at Hammocks Beach State Park ( http://1.usa.gov/1n2XBiF). From the mainland, the water trail goes through a marshy area for two miles to Bear Island, a barrier island. It’s not hard paddling, but you get a sense of adventure. Get to the northern tip of Bear Island, where there aren’t as many people; you’ll have the beach there pretty much to yourself.” John Bordsen