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Outer Banks, North Carolina

Fast Facts

Location: Coast of North Carolina, US
Attraction Type: Barrier Islands
Significance: Protected eco-zone, beaches, first center of British colonization in the US
Best Time to Visit: All around the year
How to Reach: Via road from Washington D.C., Raleigh and Durham. You can also travel from Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. You can also take a rented car from Norfolk Airport in Virginia. It takes around 1.5 hrs. to drive from Norfolk to Kitty Hawk.
Nearest Airport: Norfolk Airport

It was a birth at the graveyard: America actually began at the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Outer Banks at the North Carolina coastline is the place that the British first attempted to colonize. Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks was the first place that the British built as a colony, the place where Virginia Dare — the first person of British descent to born in America was born. Celebrated in history and culture, and holding an indelible place in America's popular imagination, Outer Banks is truly the stuff of legends. It was on a dune of these pristine shores that the Wright brothers made their first flight. Presently, it is a popular tourist destination because of its pristine shores, its calm community life, magnificent weather and cultural heritage. Overview of Outer Banks

The history of Outer Banks coincides with the history of America. In fact, this is the place where documented American history begins in many ways. Geographically, it is a narrow string of Barrier Island that stretches all the way from the southeast corner of Virginia Beach to the entire expanse of the American East Coast. Officially designated as the National Seashore of the US, Outer Banks is significant in many ways. The first English migrant settled here at Roanoke Island in 1585 and continued to inhabit it till 1587. Signs of their early settlement are still present, where you can get a glimpse of the American way of life as it initially was, back in the age of colonialism and European expansion in the 1 6th century, during the times of Elizabeth I. It is therefore, no surprise, that the Outer Banks have perennially been a source of inspiration for countless novels, fictions, musical operas and myths.

Things to do in Outer Banks

Outer Banks is however more than just history and culture. Great beaches and numerous adventure activities make this place a definitive place of attraction for modern day tourists. The place is particularly noted for the wide range of adventure activities that the tourists get a chance to indulge in during their visit to this island. Some of the most popular ones are:

Hang Gliding: Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head is the best place to enjoy hang gliding in Outer Banks. Glide across the giant dunes of this region and enjoy an unforgettable experience.

Kayaking: The Hatteras Islands backwater is the best to go for kayaking. This is one of the most exhilarating experiences of an Outer Banks tour.

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge: Exploring this site gives you a chance to observe hundreds of migratory avian species. The site falls en route to the great bird migration along the American Flyway.

Apart from the above mentioned activities, a large number of events and festivals are regularly held at the Outer Banks. Check on the local events schedule before you depart, as that will allow you to maximize on the fun quotient of your tour.

Heritage Tours in Outer Banks

Outer Banks has a rich past, which are well preserved in the various museums of these barrier islands. Some of the museums that are a must-visit include:

Roanoke Island Festival Park: This is the best place to catch a glimpse of the colonial way of life in the early periods of British settlement. The greatest attraction of this park is a replica of Elizabeth II, the giant sailing vessel from the age of discovery, and the colonial milieu.

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum: The treacherous sea has earned the nickname 'Graveyard of the Atlantic' for the island. There have been above a thousand shipwrecks in this region. What started in the early imperialist days continued well into the World War II period, when a number of ships and submarines drowned against the merciless rocks of these barrier islands. The profiles of all these naval vessels are well documented in this museum.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore: This seashore with a great degree of cultural significance is home to the tallest lighthouse in North America. This is, however, one of the five lighthouses that are located at the Outer Banks. They add a definite charm to these islands, adding to their picturesque quality.

Where to Stay in Outer Banks

The towns and villages of the Outer Banks house innumerable places of tourist attractions and endless stretch of vibrant and exciting beachfronts. There are many motels, inns, campground and BnBs in the islands. Some of the popular ones include The Inn at Corolla Lighthouse and Sea Ranch close to the oceanfront near the center of the Kill Devil Hills among the Northern Islands. The Hatteras Island has a larger collection of hotels and motels. The budget travelers may check out the Cape Hatteras Bed and Breakfast. Equally attractive is the Hatteras Marlin Motel and the Sea Side Inn. The Cape Woods Campground is ideal for the adventurous tourists. Most of these hotels and inns have good dining facilities as well.

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