Outer Banks: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

North Carolina's Outer Banks separating the Atlantic Ocean (east) from Albemarle Sound (north) and Pamlico Sound (south). Orbital photo courtesy NASA.

The Outer Banks is a 200-mile (320-km) long string of narrow barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, beginning in southeastern corner of Virginia Beach on the east coast of the United States. They cover approximately half the northern North Carolina coastline, separating the Currituck Sound, Albemarle Sound, and Pamlico Sound from the Atlantic Ocean.

The Outer Banks is a major tourist destination and is known for its temperate climate and wide expanse of open beachfront. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore has four campgrounds where visitors may camp.[1]

The Wright brothers' first flight in a powered, heavier-than-air vehicle took place on the Outer Banks on December 17, 1903, at Kill Devil Hills near the seafront town of Kitty Hawk. The Wright Brothers National Monument commemorates the historic flights, and First Flight Airport is a small, general-aviation airfield located there.

The English Roanoke Colony—where the first person of English descent, Virginia Dare, was born on American soil[2]—vanished from Roanoke Island in 1587. The Lost Colony, written and performed to commemorate the original colonists, is the longest running outdoor drama in the United States and its theater acts as a cultural focal point for much of the Outer Banks.

The treacherous seas off the Outer Banks and the large number of shipwrecks that have occurred there have given these seas the nickname Graveyard of the Atlantic. The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is located in Hatteras Village near the United States Coast Guard facility and Hatteras ferry.



A view of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse from the beach (June 2007)

The Outer Banks is a series of islands: from north to south — Bodie Island, Roanoke Island, Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke Island. The northern part of the Outer Banks, from Oregon Inlet northward, is usually considered part of the North American mainland, although it is technically separated by the Intracoastal Waterway, which passes through the Great Dismal Swamp occupying much of the mainland west of the Outer Banks. Road access to the northern Outer Banks ends in Corolla, North Carolina, with communities such as Carova Beach accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles. North Carolina State Highway 12 links most of the popular Outer Banks communities. The easternmost point is Cape Point at Cape Hatteras on Hatteras Island, site of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

The Outer Banks is not anchored to offshore coral reefs like some other barrier islands and as a consequence often suffers significant beach erosion during major storms. In fact, its location jutting out into the Atlantic makes it the most hurricane-prone area north of Florida, for both landfalling storms and brushing storms offshore. Hatteras Island was cut in half on September 18, 2003, when Hurricane Isabel washed a 3,000 foot (900 m) wide and 30 foot (9 m) deep channel called Isabel Inlet through the community of Hatteras Village on the southern end of the island. The tear was subsequently repaired and restored by sand dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers.


Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras, North Carolina, June 2007

The islands are home to herds of feral horses, sometimes called "banker ponies," which according to local legend are descended from Spanish Mustangs washed ashore centuries ago in shipwrecks. Colonies exist near Corolla and on Ocracoke Island.

Ocracoke was the home base of pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard. It is also where the famed pirate was killed.


Towns and communities along the Outer Banks include (listed from north to south):

Bodie Island

Sunset over the Currituck Sound in Duck (2009)
The Bodie Island Lighthouse (October 2008)

Roanoke Island

Hatteras Island

Sunset over Avon

Ocracoke Island

Cape Lookout National Seashore


Jockey's Ridge State Park

Notable residents

See also


External links

Coordinates: 35°22′25″N 75°29′43″W / 35.37365°N 75.49530°W / 35.37365; -75.49530

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

The Outer Banks [1] are a chain of long but narrow barrier islands that lie off the coast of North Carolina. Portions of Currituck [2], Dare and Hyde [3] counties make up the Outer Banks.


Currituck County


  • Carova
  • Corolla, pronounced like Kerala in India; rhymes with "holla." It does not sound like the name of the Toyota automobile.

Currituck Mainland

  • Powells Point
  • Jarvisburg
  • Grandy

Dare County


Roanoke Island

Dare County Mainland

  • Manns Harbor
  • Stumpy Point
  • East Lake

Get in

From the North, take I-64 in Virginia to exit 291B (US 168-Battlefield Blvd). Merge left onto Rt 168 and continue until road becomes RT. 158 (beyond the NC border). 158 will take you all the way to the beaches, and is the main highway up and down the Outer Banks. Driving from the West use US-64 and 264 through Columbia and Manteo, NC. US 264 becomes 158 once you've reached the Outer Banks beaches. Ferries connect Ocracoke to Cedar Island and Swan Quarter; there is free ferry access across Hatteras Inlet from Ocracoke Island.

Get around

The best tip for navigating the Outer Banks is to learn their main roads and milepost system.

There are two main drags on the beaches. State Highway 12 is known as Virginia Dare Trail, or more commonly "the Beach Road". US 158 is known as Croatan Highway, but the locals refer to it as "the Bypass" or "the Big Road". Most advertisements you find will refer to them that way.

The Mileposts are similar to what you find on the interstates. Green signs on the right hand side of the road, marked every half mile. Milepost "0" is at the Wright Memorial Bridge on the north end in Kitty Hawk. Head south on the Bypass or Beach Road and the Mileposts get higher with Milepost (MP) 16 at Whalebone Junction being the end of the 'main drag'.

  • Cape Hatteras is probably the most famous lighthouse in the Outer Banks; it presides over an area known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." This is an area with a large number of wrecks.
  • Four other lighthouses are located on the Outer Banks: Currituck, Bodie Island, Okracoke, and Cape Lookout.
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, dedicated to the first successful flight.
  • Watch a Beach Apparatus Drill Reenactment at the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station in Rodanthe
  • The Lost Colony on Roanoke Island [4] Runs June-August; Wonderful entertainment for the whole family- from musical numbers to battle scenes.. it's a must do on the Outer Banks!! www.thelostcolony.org
  • Performances during the summer at Roanoke Island Festival Park, located on the sound in Manteo.
  • Check out the Outer Banks Music Showcase in Kitty Hawk for a terrific night of music.
  • The dolphins! Check out the boat tours on the sound that spend a couple of hours searching for and watching dolphins
  • Surfing - The Outer Banks offers some of the best surfing on the East Coast. Plenty of surf shops rent equipment and/or offer lessons.
  • Most other watersports - Kayaking, Windsurfing, Kiteboarding, Parasailing, Jet Skiing, you name it.
  • Hang gliding in Nags Head, just south of where the Wright Brothers first managed to fly.
  • Climb up and run down the big dune at Jockey's Ridge State Park at milepost 12 in Nags Head. They also have hang gliding classes at the park during the day.
  • Shopping, shopping and more shopping! Tons of great places to find unique items. Many Art Galleries are located up and down the beaches.
  • Historical tours-the Outer Banks is rich with history and you'll find many different areas to explore the unique background. One must-see is The Lost Colony and Roanoke Island Festival Park, both located on Roanoake Island. The very beginnings of the country and it's people can be seen and explored there.
  • 4 wheel drive beaches where you can drive on the beach and look for wild horses
  • For kids there are many miniature golf courses and go cart racing tracks that are also near shops and places to eat or get ice cream
  • While the big waves make the beaches a fun place to hang out all day,there were very few lifeguards



If you're out with children, be warned that the large souvenir shops (Wings, Reef, etc.) are R-rated. If you don't mind exposing your children to jokey portrayals of heavy drinking, semi-nudity, stylized gore, and death's heads, then by all means bring them inside to pick out some colorful beach toys. But be ready for questions about the purpose of the smoking paraphernalia that may be on display beside the cash register. If you want pirate kitsch or Rebel flag merchandise, this is the place to be. Each of the giant shops has numerous locations up and down Croatan Highway (the "Bypass" or "Big Road").

Many places, including "Wings", make t-shirts, sweatshirts, and long sleeve shirts with a logo or picture you can choose from that are posted all over the walls


The Outer Banks is chock full of great places to eat. In season, most restaurants are open and the choices are virtually unlimited. Off season, many of the local eateries close down or limit their hours. If you are traveling in the off/shoulder season, expect the restaurant and shopping choices to be a bit more limited than during peak season.

A few great places to try:

For breakfast, burgers and hometown lunch specials, try Art's Place, open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at MP (Mile Post) 2.5 on the Beach Road. Lunch specials daily, kids' menu and full ABC license. Nice front porch and upper deck where you can enjoy a drink or chow down on their huge all-beef burgers. Their ad says: "Art's Place -- Food so good you'll think we stole your mom!" They aren't kidding.

For dinner and a view, try The Black Pelican at MP 4.5 on the Beach Road. Stone oven pizzas, fresh seafood, steaks, nightly specials and drinks. The building is an old lifesaving station said to be haunted. Large dining room means you never have to wait hours for a seat.

If straight-out oysters and seafood is what you're after, Awful Arthur's Raw Bar on the Beach Road at MP 6 is your best bet. The only authentic raw bar on the beach, the food is great, the atmosphere is Outer Banks casual and when you're done stuffing your face full of oysters, you can skip right across the street to the Avalon Pier to see what they're catching.

Of course, there are many nice restaurants to sit and have a great dinner. Others to consider for their food, atmosphere, locations and overall popularity include: Jolly Roger (MP 7 Beach Road), serving Outer Banks Italian; JK's (MP 9 Bypass), serving seafood/steaks and more; Mako Mike's (MP 7 Bypass), serving steak/seafood. Check out the live shark tank; kids love it!

Take advantage of the local bars and restaurants on the island that not only offer good food but a great experience. While you eat you can hear about storms that ripped through the coast and learn other fun facts about the island from friendly waitors and waitresses.


If your group is tempted to go out for breakfast, note that Stack 'Em High on Croatan Highway has a peculiar method of having guests queue up to order, causing the line to extend out the door and creating the false impression of a long wait. You will get your food in a hurry, but make sure your whole group arrives at the same time; otherwise the latecomers will be told to push through to join the earlier arrivals, which may not make the other guests entirely happy. You pay at the end of the queue, take your loaded tray to a table, eat, and exit through the back door, which expels you onto a narrow walkway beside the building's buried septic tanks. (Despite all this, the place has many regulars who claim to love it.) The servers are friendly and helpful, especially considering the cattle-herding ambience of the place; they refill your coffee and such, and tips are appreciated. Another Croatan Highway joint, Bob's Café, lives by the motto "Eat and Get the Hell Out!" What more is there to say?


Howard's Pub on Ocracoke Island offers an extensive exotic beer list with an even more impressive of draft beer selection. The food isn't bad either. If you're on Ocracoke looking for a good affordable meal, try Jason's, across from Howard's Pub. The alfredo (the best I've ever had) and cheddar tomato soup are to die for.

  • Karaoke
  • Most places close pretty early in the evening in the Outer Banks so if you like to get out it is a good idea to do it during the day because the nights are quiet
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