Waves is part of the “tri-village” in the northern part of Hatteras Island, with Rodanthe NC to its north and Salvo NC to it south. Quite frankly, it is hard to know where one village ends and the other begins as you pass through the three towns as there are no signs welcoming you from one town to the other. It seems to be a closely guarded secret that only the locals seem to know for sure. The villagers gave up on putting up the signs as surfers continually took them. Yes, this is in the hotbed of some great Outer Banks surfing. Besides surfing, the area is also known for both its Outer Banks kiteboarding and wind surfing. Surf fishing is also a big sport in this area.
At one time, the entire area was known as Chicamacomico or Chicamacomico Banks, derived from Indian names. This name dated back to the time of the earliest settlers. But then the Post Office, which seemed to have a penchant for changing the names of towns in this area, interceded again.
In 1874, the Post Office named the entire northern end of the island Rodanthe. Growth in this area continued, and by the 1930s, three distinct villages formed: North Rodanthe (what is now Rodanthe), South Rodanthe (what is now Waves) and Clark or Clarksville (what is now Salvo).
The Post Office, confused by this, decided to intervene again, and in 1939, renamed South Rodanthe as “Waves”. North Rodanthe decided to call itself Rodanthe, no longer needing the “north” designation to distinguish it from what was now called “Waves”. Anna Midgette, who was the local Postmaster at the time, decided to name the village “Waves” because she felt it would encourage tourism. It, at various other times, had also been called South Chicamacomico and Southern Woods. Locals simply refer to the town as “the hump in the middle”. Today, the single post office in Waves covers all three villages.
Today there are several ways for you to enjoy your vacation. There are numerous campgrounds that will accommodate both those who want to pitch a tent as well as those “camping” in an RV. You will find the campgrounds on either the sound side or ocean side depending on what you are looking for. In addition, rental houses are available both large and small, and ocean side and sound side. Route 12 cuts through the middle of the town distinguishing between ocean (east) and sound (west) side.
The true beauty of this area continues to be preserved because the bulk of the land on Hatteras Island is owned by the Park Service, as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and can never be built on. So when the land encompassed within the borders of the tri-village are built upon, unlike the towns to the north in the Outer Banks, there can be no expansion as this is protected property. In addition, the distance from sound to ocean is not that extensive within the Tri-Village, again keeping a building explosion to a manageable limit. As a result, the Tri-Village will always enjoy this unique situation of having the feel of the Outer Banks of sparse crowds and a symbiotic relationship with nature. If you are looking for a place to relax and decompress from the pressures of everyday life, this town and its tri-village sisters, may be the place for you.