Communities – Outer Banks

Outer Banks, North Carolina

The “Outer Banks”, Barrier Islands, OBX are low sandy islands, thrown up by the Atlantic and strung like a string of oblong pearls from Virginia south to Ocracoke Island, very similar in geology to the Florida Keys. The Outer Banks is one of the few wild places left to see nature before human contact.

Here the Gulf Stream kisses North America good bye as it curves out to sea, bringing tropical waters, and all manner of fish cruising this maritime highway. Route 12 parallels part of the way, stretching from the quaint lighthouse and fishing village of Ocracoke., in the south before bending north, to the quaint village of Duck, to the old Corolla Lighthouse with its wild horses near the Virginia line. Route 12 offers 150+ miles of sea, sand and sound that is as wide as a mile and as close as the thin asphalt route and ribbon between the ocean, you, and the sound.

The Outer Banks currently consists of at least five elongated islands and Jockey’s Ridge, with the largest, highest sand dunes on the east coast. Atlantic storms and wind can and do reshape this island chain in a weekend. In fact, the winter winds are so reliable that the Outer Banks offer the best opportunity for kites and gliders in the eastern US, a fact taken note of by the Wright Brothers, who used them to perfect powered flight at their national park site and other adventurous souls today who para-sail, wind-surf and hang-glide.

Native Americans had the first fishing camps a thousand years ago, harvesting the spring and fall migrations carried by the Gulf Stream. The first known European visitors came in 1584 to scout a location for Sir Walter Raleigh’s new world settlement and returned to England with two Natives, Manteo and Wanchese. Several years later a colony was established and then “lost” when resupply ships were driven off course. The “Lost Colony” and what happened to these first settlers’ remains a mystery today. You, too, can become lost in a world out to sea.

Because of the jutting islands, spearheaded by Cape Hatteras, currents are swirling and strong. They have driven so many ships to their doom that the Outer Banks are known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. Many homes have Ships Watches to see the passing parade of ships of all ages and sizes; many that have foundered and litter the shores so that even today as storms uncover and re-cover ancient timbers and local museums document your find. Wreck your schedule by diving on some of the more than 5,000 documented wrecks of our Outer Banks.

The Outer Banks offers one of the most complete packages for a vacation imaginable- one of the best places to enjoy, beaches, the roar off the surf and the quiet of the sound, the history of settlement and the echo of lost ships, fishing alone in the surf or with new friends on a pier, lighthouse sentinels of the past, to the light after dark of the present. Whether seeking active watersports of all kinds, or the quiet solitude of a deck high above it all, the Outer Banks has everything but you. Come to your Outer Banks vacation and complete your package!

Map of Outer Banks, NC