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The Outer Banks

The Outer Banks of North Carolina are as favorite a destination for today’s travelers as they have always been, and they have been for a very long time. From Native American fishermen to the infamous and ill-fated first English colony on Roanoke Island, from briefly reformed Outer Banks home-owner Edward Teach (a.k.a. Blackbeard, FYI) to the multitude of beach bums, jet-skiers and wild-life conservationists of today, the ‘Banks just draws them in. When one sees the lonely, wind-blown beauty of this 100-mile arc of dune-strewn barriers islands and yet-wild wetlands, it isn’t hard to understand why.

Before visitors tackle the limitless outdoor adventure opportunities the Outer Banks provides it’s wise to stock up on goods and information along the 16-mile stretch of Bodie Island that’s home to the towns of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nag’s Head. Kitty Hawk is home to the Visitors Centers, which provide lots of handy and pertinent tips for enjoying your stay. There are accommodations throughout the islands, and chances are you can find a hotel, motel, B&B or private campground or cottage anywhere from Duck to Stumpy Point.

Site seers at Outer Banks will find plenty of places of interest. The Wright Brothers National Monument on Kill Devil Hills commemorates birthplace of air travel with a granite, art-deco statue and plaque. The Fort Raleigh National Historic site has exhibits and shows about the late 16th century colonies. Several historic lighthouses dot the islands, like the one at Cape Hateras, which is the tallest brick lighthouse in the U.S.

Bird watcher and wildlife enthusiasts are sure to enjoy the many parks and refuges in the Outer Banks. Hiking in Peas Island Wildlife Refuge allows people to observe the 400 species of birds found in the islands, including Snow Geese, Tundra Swans and 25 species of duck. Canoeing through Alligator River National Wildlife refuge is an excellent way to see its eponymous ‘gators as well as Black Bears, Red Wolves, Bald Cyprus and beautiful Atlantic White Cedar. Horseback riders will love the trails in Buxton Woods as much as hikers will appreciate those at Nag’s Head Woods.

Active types will have a ball at Jockey’s Ridge State Park where they can take hang-gliding lessons, rent everything from bikes to skates or take a pontoon boat tour. Divers will do back-flips over the SCUBA and shipwrecks in Moorhead City on the Crystal Coast. All the water-sporting opportunities are first-rate, but the surfing is so good that the Outer Banks hosts the East Coast Surfing Championships every September. And all of this only scratches the surface when it comes to Outer Banks’ outdoor adventures.