When you drive onto Hatteras Island, crossing the Oregon Inlet Bridge just south of Nags Head, your first impression is endless ocean and sandy beach. The barrier island is surrounded by water with spits of land jutting out, and the first 10 miles or so is protected national park land. As you drive down the highway, all you’ll see are sand dunes, sea grass and the birds on the sound to your right.

Hatteras Island is famous for its surfing, wind boarding and sport fishing, as well as for the recent damage from Hurricane Irene. (Hurricane insurance is a must here.) Stand-up paddle boarding is a relatively new sport that’s catching on, according to Dottie K. Reed of Outer Beaches Realty, or you can always drive a four-wheel drive right onto the beach for picnicking or collecting shells. It’s more secluded than Duck or Nags Head, because it’s one of the furthest Outer Banks islands from Washington, D.C. — about six or seven hours (or more) depending on traffic.

After passing the tri-village area of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo, you drive through another dozen miles of protected land, until you reach Avon, the hub of Hatteras Island with the grocery store, a movie theater and fishing pier. On the sound side of Highway 12 at the end of a cul-de-sac called Sunfish Court, you’ll find our first property, an open floor plan house that sleeps eight, with two decks and an outside shower, for $295,000. The gross rental income is typically $15,000 a year, with flood insurance costing $303, wind/hail/hazard insurance amounting to $2,100 and property taxes of $1,301 last year, according to Reed.

The house — being sold furnished — was built in 2003 and listed for sale on Oct. 27. 2011. You’re just blocks from the sound, where you can walk to enjoy the sunset after dinner, and a half-mile to the beach. (You’d pay substantially more than $300,000 for a beachfront or ocean-view home.) Because of the number of beaches on the island, it rarely feels crowded, Reed said.

On rainy days, you could visit the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum or enjoy the art galleries in Hatteras town, where the marina and restaurants are located. Or take a drive to explore American history in nearby Kitty Hawk, where the Wright Brothers launched the first powered flight, or the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site where you can submerge yourself in the story of the Lost Colony.

— Katherine Reynolds Lewis