We had a family reunion mini vacation at Corolla, NC, and this is what happened.

Does anybody else feel more tired than rejuvenated coming back from a vacation? Over the past few days, my family and I, along with my mom, sisters, and their family, total of 12 people, stayed at a rental beach house at Corolla, North Carolina for some family bonding. Remember my post about beach essentials where I said “I am a light packer never”? Well, this trip was no different. While I may not have brought all my beach essentials this time, opting to bring more food instead for this 3 night stay, my car was packed none the less. We should just set it in stone I’m not a light packer, as well as I don’t like the idea of starving so I pack more food than I need, always.

Corolla, NC is beautiful. It is two hours away from where we reside and is the second northern most point of the North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Carova being the most northern area. We checked-in Thursday and checked-out Sunday. And while the weather was forecasted for some rain, we were able to catch the sun a few times and hit the beach for a swim one of the days we were there.

Our mini vacation started with packing, driving and unpacking all our luggage and food. The house had 3 floors, no elevator. The kitchen was on the second floor. My room was on the second floor. So everything we packed, went on the second floor.

Here are my take away from our beach house:

  • It’s beautiful and new, styled and decorated well, with high ceiling to boot, so close to the beach, and so I wanted live there full timeIMG_7211
  • All the bedrooms has its own full bathroom. Basically, one for each family – a definite plus for me who had spent half her life sharing bathrooms with sisters. Haha Plus two half bathrooms and an outside shower to wash off the excess sand.
  • We had our own parking driveway, good for up to 3 cars.
  • It was fully stocked with plates, mugs, glass (wine glass included), utensils, knives, cookware, coffee maker (single and community pot types), toaster, blender, full stove/oven, microwave, full size fridge/feezer, bakeware, cutting board and glass storage containers. There was also a gas grill.
  • The beach was a walking distance of 2 blocks from the beach house. There is also a free mini beach parking just by the beach for people who have a number of beach essentials to unload and load. Like me. haha.
  • Stainless pots and pans are provided and the worst for my type of dishes. I’m sure it’s great for some, just was not happening for me when I used it. No matter how much oil I used, the eggs, tofu, meat and whatever else we cooked during our stay, got stuck, crusty, and finally burnt on the bottom of the pan. I am bringing my own set of non-stick pans next time.
  • The knives were horrible. Cutting a mango turned it to mush. Same with everything else. It’s pure manual laboring with those knives. I hated using them. I will bring my own next time. Luckily, I also brought my own kitchen shears because the place didn’t have one.
  • Although fireworks were not allowed, neighbors used them anyway, while we were sleeping at midnight and they were using them right by my car, just by our unit. I actually got out of my bed to see what was going on.
  • There were staffs that took the trash to the curb and put it back after the trash has been picked up. Pretty convenient. Trash bags were furnished but since there were 12 of us, I’m glad I brought my own.
  • There was a hot tub that the kids absolutely loved, as well as a table hockey/tennis.
  • First floor of the house had a fridge and sink as well. My mom loved that she had her own fridge to store her food. She’s not a light packer either. She is worse than me!
  • Our beach house is part of a resort community so it came with other amenities such as a community pool, karaoke night, and gym to name a few. We didn’t end up using any of it.

What is there to do in Corolla on a budget?

  • Wild Horses Tour: Corolla is famous for their wild horses. This is something we wanted to see; however, by the time we decided to take the wild horse tour, there were no available time slots convenient for us. It rained most of the day on Saturday as well. There are several businesses to choose from. Some also offer active duty military discount. There are also coupon books available. We will have to save this tour for next time. They would have made quite a bit of money from us had this been planned better. Cost: would have been approximately $49/person.
  • Beach: We had to go up a segmented 3 flight of stairs and down to get to the beach. It makes for a beautiful shot though when you are up there; but, it will tire you out if you have quite a bit of accessories to bring to and fro, like the two surfboards my mother rented. We ate before hitting the beach so really all I brought from my beach essentials were our beach tent, towels, water and sunscreen.I woke up at 5 am just to be able to see the sun rising Friday morning. I almost missed it too. It’s so beautiful, the beach is nearly deserted at this time. Just a handful of runners getting their exercise out of the way. By midday, the beach was packed.  Dogs are also allowed at the beach. The waves were pretty fierce, the kids got a few scrapes from getting toppled over by the waves and dragged. Didn’t get them out the water though. No restroom or port-a-potty that I noticed. We had to walk back to the beach house if one needed one. Cost: Free. 
  • The Currituck Sound:  Such a great place to watch the sunset, which we did each night. We even found crab lines hanging by the pier. Each line was attached to a chicken drumstick. Each time we pulled it up, there were crabs attached to it, which let go after sensing being out of the water. I have no idea whose lines they were.  It didn’t stop my family from trying it out though. It looked like it’s been abandoned because the chicken were nearly just bones. The water was brown so it’s hard to see pass the immediate surface. We also saw a snake swimming along by the pier. We went around dusk, I didn’t put any bug repellent and didn’t get bit at all. This was just across the street from our rental home, walking distance. Cost: Free. 
  • Timbuk II: This is the closest shopping center in the area from us. It rained most of Saturday and so we hit this place just to get out of the house. Kids got their souvenir sweaters, fam ate ice cream and I took home a vegan friendly-burrito, paid for by my brother-in law, who recently switched to a plant- based diet 2 weeks ago. You can also mini golf here, rent jet skis and paddle-boards. You can find the coupon books here to get additional savings on shopping and adventures. Cost: Free to walk and window shop.
  • Historic Corolla Park: This place is beautiful, very scenic and by the water. We came here after the heavy rain Saturday, so certain places were flooded. The water by the pier is also elevated. This is where the historical Whalehead is located, the building and the actual whale head bone.  Cost: Free 
  • Currituck Banks Reserve Trail: At the gate, there is a sign posting to close the gate behind us to keep wild horses in. The promise of seeing wild horses was exciting; however, we were so loud walking the wooden-paved trail that each hope of seeing one diminished each second. haha. We had fun though. I specially love the sheep sounding frogs hiding in the water. I didn’t put bug spray here either and got bit once, by an unknown bug. I felt it on my tricep area when I reached out.  Saw a couple of snakes swimming along the water by the pier, who were more concerned about hiding than doing harm to us. There are also salmanders.  I’m not a fan of amphibians, in general. So, I distance myself from the group, in case it decided to hop trees branches and land on me. With my luck, what are the chances?! At the end of the trail is a gazebo with a beautiful view of the water and the backdraft of trees behind us. Cost: Free 
  • Currituck Beach Lighthouse:  I’m sure the view would have been spectacular from the lighthouse, but we opted to just walk the area, checked their souvenir shops, took pictures and read a little history about the place. There is a restroom at this place as well, which after the Nature Trail, came in handy. Cost: Free to walk around; $10/person to climb the lighthouse. 

Helpful tidbits:

  • There’s a Food Lion just 3 miles from our rental. (Speed limit is 35 mph.)
  • There’s a Starbucks within Harris Teether just 5 miles from our rental. (Speed limit is 35 mph.)
  • Lots of restaurants within driving distance if you hate cooking, or just prefer not to.

So, for the budget, just how much did this trip end up costing me?

I think if it hadn’t rained Saturday, nearly all day, we would have tried so much more while at Corolla. We wanted to do both the Wild Horse Tour and Jet Skiing, at least.

  • Beach House Rental =  with tax, divided by family, $511/3 nights.
  • Beach Essentials $20, bought an extra beach towel and zinc oxide sunscreen spray.
  • Food = $150 (the majority of which are fresh fruits and vegetables; lots of vegan and omnivore friendly meals choices)
  • Gas =$34
  • Eating Out = $35 (ice cream and coffee to and from Corolla, stopped by a Farmer’s Market on the way to the beach house and Starbucks on the way back.)
  • Souvenirs = $40

Totaling to a $790 out of pocket expense for our family summer vacation*

*Plus kennel expenses because pet is not allowed. Most beach homes do not allow large breed pets.

*most of which are variables and can be reduced if I tried. Bringing my total from Thursday to Sunday to about $197/day. Thank goodness sightseeing is free! haha.

Final Words

Coming down from a three day vacation is not easy. However tired it made me, I had fun. Looking forward to the next one. Once we got home Sunday afternoon, after putting away most of the vacay food and gear, I took a nap and visited a cousin to see his baby and their new home. My sister was flying back to Cali on Tuesday so I took Monday off from blogging as well to do more stuff with them. We tried an escape room for one – we didn’t escape. haha.

So I ask again, does anyone feel more rejuvenated after a family vacation?

Until next time.


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2 thoughts on “We had a family reunion mini vacation at Corolla, NC, and this is what happened.”

  1. What a beautiful area! My family has rented homes on the beach before (in Washington State) and we always love our experience being close to the water, but not having to stay in a hotel. Thank you for sharing your trip – I’m putting it on my list of place to explore someday!

    1. Aw, that’s great to hear. I really wish we had more time, or the least, that it didn’t rain on one of the days we were there. It’s such a short vacation to see everything Corolla has to offer. Thank you for stopping by and leaving your mark on my blog. I appreciate your time and support.

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