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Many times we get asked what is the difference between staying Seaside vs. staying Soundside when renting a vacation home in the Outer Banks. The term Seaside pretty much explains itself, near or on the ocean. The confusion comes in when we talk about Soundside.  

What is a sound? 

In geography, a sound is a large sea or ocean inlet that is larger than a bay. Sounds are generally larger than fjords, something we tend to associate with Scandinavia, and are sometimes considered lagoons. In the case of the Outer Banks, these large stretches of water usually separate islands or peninsulas from the mainland. There are five sounds that border the Outer Banks: the Currituck Sound, the Albemarle Sound, the Croatan Sound, the Roanoke Sound, and the Pamlico Sound.

Currituck Sound

Let's begin with the northernmost sound of the outer banks, the Currituck Sound.  The Currituck Sound connects the Albemarle sound with Norfolk and Virginia Beach's Back Bay.  According to, "The Currituck Sound is a nature lover's playground, offering ample access to wide open spaces of shallow, easy to navigate open water, dense thickets of maritime forest, and small, marshy islands that are covered in wildlife.  

Albemarle Sound 

Moving south down the Outer Banks is the Albemarle Sound.  This sound feeds East Lake in the Dare County mainland, Bull Bay near Columbia, and Swan Bay at the edge of Plymouth.  This sound is very wide and crosses sections of US-65 and US-158.  The Albemarle Sound IS soundside for most of the central Outer Banks-Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head.

Croatan Sound 

The Croatan Sound is a very small body of water, more similar to an actual inlet or river, that separates Roanoke Island from the Mainland. The Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge, which bypasses Manteo to get into Manns Harbor and Columbia, crosses over the Croatan Sound. This bridge is the longest bridge in NC.

Roanoke Sound 

The Roanoke Sound is the body of water that separates Roanoke Island from the rest of the central Outer Banks and is known for being a great place to fish, jet ski, and kiteboard. You can also take an amazing kayak tour around Roanoke Island on the Roanoke Sound to get a glimps of the sights and wildlife in the marshy areas. There is no specific boundary line where the Roanoke Sound ends and the Croatan and Albemarle Sounds begin. 

Pamlico Sound

Lastly, and furthest south, you'll find the Pamlico Sound.  This is the water you see opposite oceanside on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands. This sound offers some of the best kiteboarding and windsurfing in the world.

Should I stay on the sound in the Outer Banks? 

What about staying on the sound?  In addition to our many private rental homes on the oceanside, Seaside Vacations also offers many soundfront homes.  These homes offer a host of advantages such as private docks, and kayaks, not to mention they tend to be a bit more secluded.  Of course the biggest advantage that a soundfront home has over a seaside home is the view of THE INCREDIBLE OUTER BANKS SUNSET.  When you stay in the Outer Banks of North Carolina oceanside will get you the best sunrises, but the Soundside sunsets simply can't be beat.

Oceanfront Rentals Soundfront Rentals