Jennette's Pier

As one of three piers in Nags Head, Jennette’s Pier is probably one of the most popular spots for fishing in the Atlantic Ocean as well as a premium spot to possibly spot a hump back whale – depending on what time of year you visit.  But, while it is frequented by those who are looking to catch “the big one,” Jennette’s Pier offers a lot more than great fishing.

A Brief History

Originally built in the spring of 1939, Jennette’s Pier became the first fishing pier on the Outer Banks.  It was built at Whalebone Junction on the site that had been a sort of transient camp for workers hired by the US Civil Works Administration to help construct the sand dunes from Corolla to Okracoke. When the pier was constructed, the workers’ cabins were renovated to provide Outer Banks lodging to the men who traveled to the Outer Banks to fish. Once it was completed the, Jennette’s Pier was over 750 feet long and hosted fishermen for more than 60 years.

Hurricane Isabel

In 2003, soon after the pier was purchased by the North Carolina Aquarium Society, Hurricane Isabel hit the Outer Banks and washed virtually the entire pier into the Atlantic Ocean – 540 of the 750+ feet of the pier to be exact. The Society elected to rebuild the pier to be bigger and stronger. So, in the spring of 2009 on the exact day of construction of the original pier 70 years ago, the construction began on the new pier which would be made of concrete and extend a full 1,000 feet out (25 percent longer than the original pier). This pier, along with being an ever popular spot for fishing, now has an educational twist to it and is absolutely fascinating for visitors and locals alike to visit.

The New and Improved Jennette’s Pier

Finally completed in 2011, the new and improved Jennette’s Pier is definitely worth a planned visit while on Outer Banks vacations. There are several educational elements added to make it more than one of the best places to fish (which it definitely is). There is also a 16,000 square foot pier house that sells drinks, snacks, tackle, gifts and more. The North Carolina Aquarium Society takes its purpose to another level to make it fun to visit and make people want to come back.

Fishing. Of course, people still fish from the pier. After all, it is a top fishing spot where seasoned fishermen and those out to try it for the first time catch bluefish, red drum, king mackerel and more. But at Jennette’s Pier, there are opportunities to take fishing classes for beginners, experienced anglers and even a weekly hands-on lesson called “Catch It, Clean It, Cook It” and we are here to tell you that you learn to do it all – even fillet it. It is a morning event that culminates with frying up the caught fish for lunch with the group. YUMMO! There is nothing like freshly caught fried fish dipped in a little fresh tartar sauce for lunch.

Green Energy. When the new pier was designed, the intention was to use “green energy.” That is exactly what it does.  There are three wind turbines above the pier’s wooden deck.  These turbines produce enough energy to fulfill almost half of the entire facility’s electric needs.  On top of that, one of the shade pavilions is covered in something called photo voltaic cells. Simply put, this coverts sunlight to electricity that is stored in a batter pack used to power the lights on the pier at night.  There are also green systems in place to run the HVAC system in the pier house and the water system used for washing down the decks on the pier as well as the plumbing. A little statistic about how well the water conservation system works reveals a projected reduction of the use of municipal water by 60 to 80 percent.

Education. The North Carolina Aquarium Society has always had education at the forefront the pier’s reconstruction. From school field trips to the pier to outreach in schools, Jennette’s Pier brings a plethora of knowledge and science to the table for kids of all ages to learn and grow. There is a variety of programs from ways to conserve energy to marine biology and other science oriented activities that students love to see and, more importantly, participate in building things and figuring out how it all works.

Something for Everyone

The new and improved Jennette’s Pier offers something for everyone. The $25 million price tag on the reconstruction brings so much more than fishing (albeit the pier is a great place to fish) and hanging out on the pier to possibly catch a glimpse at a whale or other big fish.  It is important to note that there are fees for passes associated with fishing off Jennette’s Pier but even the $2 donation to walk down the pier is worth every penny.

Outer Banks vacations should definitely include a trip to Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head whether just walking out to the end for pictures, spending some time in the peace and quiet, or fishing to catch dinner. It is absolutely fascinating to see and truly be part of the wide Atlantic Ocean.