Make your getaway to North Carolina’s Outer Banks a trip to remember. Between climbing the three historic lighthouses here, searching for wild horses in the dunes, building a few sandcastles, surfing and fishing and paddling around, and soaking up the sun – there are many activities to enjoy. The Outer Banks are rightly famous for beaches and sunshine. At the same time, there’s a sometimes surprisingly rich selection of cultural, natural and historic places of interest.
Let’s think of the Outer Banks as north and south.
South of Nag’s Head is dominated by approximately 80 miles of Atlantic coastline called the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, double that with the calm, sound-side. Long sections of natural undeveloped beach are joined by some very impressive bridges. Famous lighthouses at Bodie Island and Cape Hatteras invite exploration. The are 7 towns along the route, each with its own charm. Whether your surfing, kite-boarding, fishing or simply looking for your own section of beach to search for shells, you will find this section less crowded. At the town of Hatteras, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is a fascinating view into the challenges faces by ships plying the waters.
Nag’s Head, Kitty Hawk, Duck, all the way to Corolla at the northern end is a collection of towns, each blessed with lovely beaches. Or wander out onto one of the famous piers for a little fishing time or to simply feel like your walking out past the waves. The events that changed the world as the Wright Brothers proved they could beat gravity are celebrated at the dedicated Wright Brothers National Memorial. To play in the sand dunes, a visit to Jockey’s Ridge is good fun. If you like exploring the the end of the road, you’ll be rewarded with the village of Duck, and another great lighthouse and superbly scenic Currituck Sound at the town of Corolla.
Be sure to include at least a half day visit to Roanoke Island and its charming waterfront town of Manteo. The island is the site of the Lost Colony and Fort Raleigh – the earliest English settlement in the New World who vanished without verifiable explanation. The world-class aquarium and several other attractions round out a great day out.
With so much to explore, between your beach and relaxation time, you’ll want to have a plan and a guide to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
Hatteras, Kitty Hawk or Nag’s Head
At least three days, ideally a week or more.
Driving the full distance from Corolla in the north to Hatteras in the south is a total distance of 95 miles.
The Outer Banks are barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, separating the Atlantic Ocean from the mainland. The Outer Banks are a popular holiday destination with open-sea beaches, state parks and shipwreck diving sites.
The best time of year to visit the Outer Banks is in spring or fall to take advantage of the lowest prices, lower crowds, and great weather for the area. Summer is by far the busiest time on the Outer Banks, with warm weather and lots of people enjoying the beaches and water activities. Winter can be a little chilly, but the weather is still mild compared to many other places in the country and there’s lots of year round activities.
With 50 miles of fantastic beaches, the number one reason that people visit the Outer Banks is to enjoy the sun, sand, and surf. There’s also birdwatching, lighthouses to visit, museums and historic sights, extensive bike paths, hiking trails, spas and much more.