The Outer Banks, North Carolina

A couple summers ago I was looking for a place for my daughter and me to go to the beach. We had gone to Maine for our last two beach trips and I wanted to go somewhere I had never been before. Since we had been heading north lately, I picked our destination by tracing the shoreline on the map south until I got to a beach I had never been to. That beach was at the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

The beach at Nags Head, North Carolina   I rented a motel room in Nags Head right near the beach. I was pleasantly surprised by the prices of lodging in the area (our place was about $65 a night and had a kitchenette). It was much cheaper than the hotels at the beaches closest to us in New Jersey and Maryland.

Our seven to eight hour trip from Lancaster turned into a fourteen hour, two day trip. There was heavy rain the entire time and multiple accidents causing insane traffic. Just when we arrived onto the islands of the Outer Banks the sun started to break through the clouds. It seemed as though things were looking up.

We checked into our room, grabbed a bite to eat, then went to relax on the beach. The next morning I awoke to find myself ill. Soon after, my daughter became sick too. We ended up spending most of the week in our beds watching TV. We did manage to salvage a couple good days at OBX. We had a chance to go to the beach and to the North Carolina Aquarium. We also went on a dolphin watching boat. We did see alot of dolphins, but unfortunately they are hard to photograph. By the time I would snap a picture they would be underwater.

Dolphins at OBX

Dolphins at OBX

I did like Nags Head and the Outer Banks so I thought I’d pass on a little information about the area.
If you go, I’m sure you’ll have better luck than we did. Some of my friends go often and really like the laid-back, relaxing, and family friendly atmosphere.

The Outer Banks (OBX) are a 200 mile long string of narrow islands off the coast of North Carolina. The islands are best known for their 125 miles of sandy beaches. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to relax on the beach or something a little more active like surfing, kite boarding, fishing, or golfing, the Outer Banks has something for you to do. If you’re looking to explore some history OBX has something for you too.

OBX has every type of accommodation; camping, B+B’s, hotels, motels, and vacation homes.

The beach from our hotel in Nags Head, OBX

The are many towns on the three main islands of the Outer Banks. Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head are the towns of  the Northern Shores. Manteo and Wanchese are on Roanoke Island. Hatteras Island is made up of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras.

One of the most popular things to do at the Outer Banks is to take a drive on the beach. You can drive down the beach to find a great fishing spot, a place to build a fire, or just to enjoy the drive along the ocean. Driving on the beach is permitted, with some restrictions, at Carolla, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke. Some bonfires are permitted at Nags Head and Hatteras National Seashore.

Outer Banks, North Carolina is home to the largest sand dunes on the east coast of the U.S.. The dunes at Jockey’s Ridge in Nags Head stand between 100 and 140 feet tall depending on the weather conditions.

Another attraction that first comes to mind when thinking of the Outer Banks, for me anyway, is lighthouses. There are seven lighthouses spread throughout the Outer Banks. We made it to one, the striped, Bodie Island Lighthouse. There is a gift shop and book store at the lower level of this lighthouse located just south of Nags Head.

Bodie Lighthouse near Nags Head, North Carolina

Bodie Lighthouse near Nags Head

Rainy day? No problem. As we discovered, a rainy day is a good time to visit the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. The aquarium has a 285,000 gallon ocean tank full of sharks, sea turtles, and fish. There are also lots of exhibits showing off local inhabitants. There are alligators, eels, flounder, and lobster. Kids will want to check out the touch tank, that includes horseshoe crabs and rays, found at the North Carolina Aquarium.

Turtles at the North Carolina Aquarium

Turtles at the NC Aquarium

If you’re a history buff there is plenty at the Outer Banks to keep your interest. A sixty foot tall granite monument at Kill Devil Hills marks the spot where the Wright Brothers made the first powered, heavier-than-air flight on December 17, 1903. You can also learn about the “lost colony”, a group of over 100 men, women, and children who came to Roanoke Island from England. They came to the new world in 1587 and within three years had disappeared without a trace.

Replica of the Elizabeth II, the ship that brought the lost colony to NC

Replica of the Elizabeth II, the ship that brought the lost colony to NC

The Outer Banks are also rich in maritime history with stories of pirates and shipwrecks. Since the Tiger, the first known ship to wreck in the dangerous waters off the Outer Banks in 1585, over a thousand more vessels have met their demise in the “Graveyard of the Atlantic“. Remnants of the shipwrecks can be seen throughout the Outer Banks.

For more information about the Outer Banks of North Carolina check out the OBX Chamber of Commerce.

3 thoughts on “The Outer Banks, North Carolina

  1. Wow, there’s so much to do on the Outer Banks. I definitely love to take a drive along the beach and see where it takes me. Thanks for sharing!

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