Stretching 200 miles off the coast of Southeastern Virginia and North Carolina, the Outer Banks is a string of barrier islands known for beautiful beaches, world-class fishing, wild horses, and the location of the first tests in flight by the Wright Brothers. It’s an absolute gem stretch of coast line along the Eastern seaboard of the United States, but changes to the landscape are happening quickly and swiftly and its homes and beaches are steadily being swallowed by the Atlantic Ocean. As storms continue to intensify while ocean/sea levels continue to rise, the Outer Banks is shifting and changing with every passing storm. It’s really not a matter of if or when according to many coastal geologists, the Outer Banks is vanishing now.
On Hatteras Island, home to the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the beach has worn so thin that ocean and sound are barely two hundred yards apart. Temporary bridges have been built on Highway 12 where the 2011 tropical storm Irene ripped through the road in five different locations.
So while you’re planning your next beach vacation, consider visiting the Outer Banks to not only visit a gorgeous coastline that will one day be gone, but to also support its residents by contributing to the local economy.
Here is a list of the best things to do while visiting the Outer Banks:
Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial
Honoring the legacy of the Wright Brothers and their monumental achievements in flight, the memorial is located at mile marker 7.5 in the heart of Kill Devil Hills. Part historical monument, part museum, and part park, the Wright Brothers National Memorial is a great afternoon trip for the entire family. Visitors can learn of how and why the Wright Brothers made their way from Ohio to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. The grounds include historical markers of each attempted flight, replica camp buildings, and a 60-foot granite monument on top of Big Kill Devil Hill (a 90-foot dune) honoring the brothers and their accomplishments that changed transportation forever.
Visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
As the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States, the iconic black and white spiral lighthouse has served as a reference point and warning to generations of sea travelers in the region. Today, visitors can learn of the lighthouse’s history and how various iterations were built over the years until the eventual brick version was built in 1870 that still stands today. Tickets are available for purchase at the site and climbs up the lighthouse take place every 10 minutes.
Experience the Old World at the Roanoke Island Festival Park
The Roanoke Island Festival Park is a 25-acre historic site that allows visitors to experience what life was like for the first English settlers to the area in the late 16th century. There are educational tours, a museum, and the park also features live concerts and other events throughout the year. The park is located in Manteo, NC and is just about a 20-minute drive from Nags Head.
The Outer Banks offers up amazing fishing opportunities for all skill levels and all ages. Everything from brackish fishing, fly fishing, offshore and inshore charter fishing, sound and headboat fishing to surf and pier fishing is available for angling enthusiasts. The Outer Banks is also home to great game fish like tuna, striped bass, marlin, bluefish, cobia, and much more. Jennette’s Pier features an aquarium and a pier that jets 1000 feet out into the Atlantic Ocean and can be used as a means to cast a line and hope for a nice catch. You can also charter a boating trip out into the gulf stream and hope to reel in the big one.
Get in the Water
Whether you’re boogie boarding or body surfing in the Atlantic surf on a hot summer day or you’re paddle boarding or kayaking in the sound, the Outer Banks is a water-lover’s paradise. Pretty much anywhere you find your lodging for your next Outer Banks vacation, you’ll have easy access to the ocean and the sound.
Eat Some Delicious Food
The Outer Banks community prides itself on the many locally-owned establishments along the 200 miles of coast line. Restaurants are no exception as there are more than 100 locally-owned eateries. You’ll find great seafood-centered places, steakhouses, pubs and breweries, and much more.