Atlantis Lodge, in Pine Knoll Shores, N.C., is so much more than just a lovely retro beach motel; it's a state of mind. Just two days there can transport you back to a gentler time when the North Carolina coast was about the surf, the dunes, the maritime forests and the birds. Atlantis is a true respite from what's spoiled so many U.S. coastlines: concrete, high-rises, gigantic pools blocking your path and your view of the ocean.
Our third (and top) floor balcony facing the Atlantic Ocean was perfect. We could see and hear and smell the surf. The multiple species of birds put on a spectacular show around the gigantic bird feeder at the edge of the maritime forest between the lodge and the beach. When a brief rain shower came, the show continued as the birds sought refuge in the forest.
That great balcony meant we didn't need to leave our room to feel Atlantis' magic, but when we did more delights awaited us. I felt pampered that they had beach chairs, umbrellas, kayaks and more for us to enjoy. I almost wish we'd brought a dog because of the many nice amenities to make a pooch feel welcome: water dishes, a special doggie bath and lots of conveniently placed "disposal" bags.
The third floor lounge was full of surprises: great retro furnishings, a huge flat-screen, a lending library, a pool table and a treasure trove of cards and guest books connecting me to the thousands who "feel" the Atlantis as I do.
Built in 1963, the Atlantis is now managed by the granddaughter of the woman who opened it. Its quiet beach-cottage casualness and the fact that little has changed in five decades are among the reasons we love it. Our room — with efficiency kitchen, dining, living and sleeping areas and balcony — was far from fancy, but clean and comfortable with plenty of space for the two of us.
Click here to visit the Atlantis Lodge website for more information.
Here are some of our favorite haunts near the Atlantis Lodge —
Breakfast: 4 Corners Diner – We like it for inexpensive down-home bacon and egg breakfasts in yes, a real old-fashioned retro diner. They serve lunch and dinner too. 100 E Fort Macon Road, Atlantic Beach
Dinner: Amos Mosquitos. We tried it because one of the owners formerly managed our favorite fine-dining restaurant in Raleigh. Although Amos Mosquitos is beach casual, the food was very good to excellent.
Fun: The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. One of our favorite activities is the educational kayak tour of the tidal flats in the adjacent Roosevelt Natural Area. Follow this link to see all the aquarium’s adventures: Outdoor Programs
And just up the road, in the quaint historical town of Beaufort, about 9 miles north of Atlantis Lodge —
Sailing: We enjoyed our two-hour sail with Lookout Cruises so much that we saved a day on our next visit to the area for their six-hour trip.
Dining: The Front St. Grill at Stillwater and The Spouter Inn offer very good waterfront dining, and the great menu at Beaufort Grocery Company, on a nearby side street, is tempting enough to forego the view.
And I never knew sampling olive oil could be so much fun until I found Beaufort Olive Oil.