The Outer Banks of North Carolina are a group of barrier islands off the Coast of The Atlantic Ocean. The narrow islands stretch of 125 miles of North Carolina’s coast. The islands have a unique culture, rich in maritime history. The ocean currents around the islands can be strong and dangerous. There have been hurricanes on the islands that have caused the islands to be evacuated.
The barrier islands have areas of wild primitive beauty and sand beaches, as well as areas with resorts, hotels and charming bed and breakfasts. The Outer Banks are a unique experience for visitors.
The islands have a rich history. The first English colony attempted to settle on Roanoke Island in 1585. The Wright Brother, Orville and Wilbur, made aviation history when they successfully launched the first flight of a power-driven airplane.
The islands are constantly shifting, due to strong wind and wave action. It is possible, as some people believe, that the landmass is gradually shifting toward the mainland. The inlets connecting the mainland and the sounds have a lifetime of less than 100 years.
When visiting the coastal islands, there are several interesting points of interest. Following are some of the top points of interest in the barrier islands, The Outer Banks:
Cape Hatteras National Seashore covers approximately 45 miles on the Outer Banks. It is the most extensive stretch of undeveloped seashore on the Atlantic. The National recreation area includes Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands and part of Bodie Island. The area features vast stretches of sand and water. The primitive area has a wild sort of beauty. Sightings of Bottleneck Dolphins near the beach have been reported. These lands are public property, so visitors and residents have access to the land. The Bodie Island Visitor Center is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The Park Headquarters in Manteo are open all year. Call 252-473-2111 or 252-441-5711 for information.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, about one mile south of Buxton, was built in 1870. The 208 foot lighthouse is the tallest such structure in the United States. The lighthouse warns ships away from the diamond shoals, “The Graveyard of the Atlantic”. There is a 268 foot climb to the balcony perched on top of the structure. This is an observation point. The keepers quarters contain a visitors center and exhibits of natural history. There is a self guiding trail that starts near the lighthouse. Call 252-995-4474 for more information.
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge covers about 5,880 acres, with over 250 species of birds. There are observation decks about five miles south of Oregon Inlet on Hatteras Island. Call 252-987-2394 for information.
Cape Lookout National Seashore, which extends 55 miles along the Outer Banks, consists of about 28,500 acres of undeveloped barrier islands. Cape Lookout is reached only by boat. Passenger and vehicle ferries depart regularly from Harkers Island. Atlantic and Davis. On Shackleford Banks is a wild herd of horses. The wild horses graze in bachelor banks and harems across the island and can be difficult to find. The herds are believed to have inhabited th e islands since the early 1500’s. Portsmouth Village was a prosperous pre Civil War Port. The Portsmouth Village Historic District, with surviving buildings, is located on the northern end of Core Banks. The Cap Lookout Lighthouse, in the Village, is still operational The nearby Keepers Quarters serves as a visitors center. 252-728-2250
Corolla, Currituck Beach Lighthouse. The lighthouse has been a navigational aid since 1875. Visitors can climb to the top.
Corolla, Whalehead Club is an Art Nouveau structure that was built in 1922-25, as a private home. The home has a basement, elevator, swimming pool, original cork floors, “corduroy” wall and Tiffany light fixtures.
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site with Elizabethian Gardens: In 1585, Sir Walter Raleigh attempted to establish the first English Colony in what is now the Eastern United States. Fort Raleigh was built, but survivors returned to England the following year. In 1587, another expedition was dispatched. The English Gardens are a re-recreated English Garden that was built as a memorial to the first English settlers. The Lindsay Warren Visitors Center displays artifacts and relics from the early period of the colony. The Lost Colony, presented in the Waterside Theater, is a symphonic outdoor drama that retells the story of th e1585 settlement.
Frisco with Frisco Native American Museum and Natural History Center
Knotts Island with Moonyard Bay Vineyard. Winery.
Manteo. Historic Roanoke Island. explores 400 years of the island’s history. The centerpiece of the island is a reproduction of Sir Walter Raleigh’s ship. Interpreters in Elizabethan costumes tell the story of the early settlers. North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island showcases the state’s diverse marine life, including: sharks, sea turtles, and reef fish in an aquarium.. Roanoke Island Festival Park.Nag’s Head, Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
Ocracoke Island is a fishing village that is adjacent to Cape Hatteras.
Wright Brother’s National Memorial is a memorial to the aviation pioneers, who made flight history when they flew the first engine powered aircraft.
Visitors to the islands can enjoy learning about the early history of America and maritime, as well as the history of aviation on the barrier islands of the Outer Banks.