Rodanthe, NC — What's in a Name?
Today’s Rodanthe, NC, is yesterday’s Chicamacomico, an Algonquin word supposedly meaning “sinking down sand.” Though the Native Americans named the area, the English settlers continued to use the word “Chicamacomico” (and dozens of derivations: Chickony-Commock, Chichinnacomoc, Chick, etc.) to describe the northernmost end of Hatteras Island — the Chicamacomico Banks. Rodanthe Outer Banks was populated by English settlers in the mid to late 1700s. By the late 1800s there were distinct settlements on the Chicamacomico Banks. Present-day Rodanthe and Waves were lumped together into one settlement called Chicamacomico. In 1874, when a U.S. Life-Saving Station was established in the northernmost settlement, it was named Chicamacomico, but a post office established here the same year was named Rodanthe, NC. Presumably Chicamacomico was too hard to pronounce or spell for the postal service, but no one seems to remember where the name Rodanthe came from. From then on, the village of Chicamacomico was separated into two sections: North Rodanthe and South Rodanthe. The “North” was dropped when South Rodanthe’s name was changed to Waves.
Rodanthe is a Haven for Water Sports and History
Rodanthe Outer Banks is on a portion of Hatteras Island that sticks the farthest out into the sea; it is the easternmost point of North Carolina. Is it any wonder, then, that Rodanthe recreation is also known as watersports? On any good wind day (which is most), dozens of colorful kite-boarding “wings” give the impression of huge, multi-hued birds hovering over the ocean. On the sound side, stand-up paddleboarders, kayakers, windsurfers and sailors claim their own wind and water. Surfers flock to this area. It’s interesting to note for Hatteras Island history buffs that until the middle of the 17th century there was a prominent cape here, called Cape Kenrick. The cape eroded away, but remnants of it are just off shore and are known as Wimble Shoals. These shifting sands and winds are constantly creating and recreating this narrow stretch of land we call Rodanthe, NC.
Also on the history topic, the best Rodanthe, NC, attraction is the Chicamacomico Station, which was the first life-saving station on the Outer Banks and, miraculously, is the most intact station left on the Outer Banks. You should visit this place. The original 1874 station is the small, ornate building closest to the ocean. Its style is a combination of Carpenter Gothic and the Stick Style. Notice the intricate wooden ornamentation — this was typical of the Carpenter Gothic style and was crafted with the era’s new steam-powered saws. Each of the Outer Banks stations built in this style was similar in overall size and appearance, but each had its own unique detailing. The station was originally built three-quarters-mile north of here; it was moved in 1903. A new Chicamacomico Station was built in 1911 because the original station was too small to house the crew plus the modern boats and life-saving equipment.
Present-day Rodanthe Outer Banks welcomes vacationers by the droves who love the laid-back lifestyle this part of Hatteras Island affords. Vacation rental companies represent everything from small beach houses to huge, amenity-laden oceanfront abodes. Rodanthe camping is a popular option too. Rodanthe restaurants serve this population with a variety ranging from hot dogs and pizza to top-notch seafood. When not on, in or around the water, local and visitors cruise Rodanthe shops for beachwear, souvenirs, sweets and art.