We have a place in Waves and love the mellow pace of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo. I think you can rent kayaks from Real Watersports, Kitty Hawk Kites and Hatteras Jack's, all in the tri-village area. There are also public access launch spots at the day use area south of Salvo and in Rodanthe, south of LIberty, or head up to the "New Inlet" or another spot in the Pea Island Refuge or drive down to Avon and check out the Canadian Hole. I'm sure you could paddle up to the cafe at Real Watersports for lunch and maybe Lisa's Pizza or Uncle Pauly's.
Hwy 12 is WAY slower in RWS than Nags Head. There's not really a road that runs parallel to 12 for any great distance in RWS, so you'll probably need to weave in and out of neighborhoods. You'll want to check out Serendipity, the house featured in Nights in Rodanthe (Richard Gere & Diane Lane), but it's no longer the first on the left as you drive into Rodanthe; it's about a mile down.....look for the blue awnings. Kinnekeet Shores in Avon would be fun to explore on bike. Or bring the bikes the morning you drive down to Buxton for an apple uglie (Buxton is also home to the famous Hatteras lighthouse) and take the bikes on the ferry to Okcracoke. I think it's 12 miles from the ferry to town; it's on 12, but once the ferry traffic passes you, it will be pretty quiet. Head into O'coke for lunch and explore the village.
Favorite restaurants: Atlantic Coast Cafe (especially for breakfast); Hot Tuna Grub and Pub (better food than ambiance, but I LOVE the crabcakes) and Top Dog (Carribean/cajun flair and fun menu). All have seafood and other choices. For local seafood: either Austin's in Rodanthe or St. Waves Seafood and Produce (in Waves just south of the post office).....great local catch, superb crab dip and awesome key lime pie.....also will prepare a steamer pot for you to cook at home.
Have a great vacation.....can you tell I'm ready to go myself?!