Visitors to the central Crystal Coast region who want to embark on a wild island adventure without venturing too far away from the mainland can enjoy a relatively easy trek with a visit to Sugarloaf Island. Veritably hidden in plain sight, this unique little island is located just a shell’s throw away from Morehead City, and yet feels like it’s worlds away from the busy downtown area.
The quaint village of Duck was named (you guessed it) for the vast numbers of waterfowl that once made their home here. The beautiful Currituck Sound, which borders the Outer Banks from Kitty Hawk north to the Virginia line, was once one of the most bountiful and popular waterfowl hunting destinations in the country. Historians note that the fresh water of the sound once attracted ducks, geese, and other water birds in such numbers that when they lifted into the sky, their shadows would blot out the sun.
In the nineteenth century, northern businessmen discovered the wealth of wild birds in this area and began buying up tracts of the marshes and small islands in the sound top construct hunt clubs. Luxurious clubhouses and lodges were built along the sound, with prestigious names like Monkey Island, Swan Island, and the crown jewel of them all, the Currituck Club in Corolla.. In the winter months, hunters from New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey would come Currtituck. Local residents served as caretakers, servants, and guides, providing them with a sorely needed source of income.
For nearly 75 years, Currituck's waters were hunted until the bird population was almost decimated. Today, thanks to stringent wildlife protection laws, the clubs no longer play host to hunters. Instead, many are now in private and government hands, and have been restored or are used as private residences.