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Places Welcoming You

gs logo Smoky Mountain Meadows Campground
Bryson City, North Carolina
gs logo Lakewood RV Resort
Hendersonville, North Carolina
gs logo Camping World Racing Resort
Charlotte, North Carolina
gs logo Brunswick Beaches Camping Resort
Sunset Beach, North Carolina
gs logo Mama Gertie's Hideaway Campground
Swannanoa, North Carolina

Outer Banks/Cape Hatteras

High-flying history greets visitors to North Carolina’s Outer Banks

Its most ardent admirers call it a genuine slice of paradise. Orville and Wilbur Wright found just the right winds to make history. True to its reputation, Outer Banks/Cape Hatteras is in a proverbial class by itself.

Steeped in history, swathed in spectacular scenery and boasting a shoreline frequented by bottlenecked dolphins, the charms of Outer Banks/Hatteras Island, North Carolina, are shielded by a concerted effort to maintain the region’s beauty for visitors. While you are perfectly welcome to do nothing at all in this glimmering jewel and simply bask in the scenery and sunshine, you would be hard-pressed not to venture out to enjoy some of its highlights.

According to the locals, Hatteras Island is, in many ways, exactly as it was a century ago. The island stretches nearly half the distance of the Outer Banks region and is located at the heart of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Waves from the Atlantic Ocean gently roll in from the east while the calmer waters of Pamlico Sound gently lap the shoreline to the west. Hatteras Island has seven villages, each with its own unique attractions.

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The Outer Banks

Flying High in Hatteras

The Outer Banks is a treasure trove of history. A great place to start is the site of the Wright Brothers’ historic flight.

It only took 12 seconds for Orville and Wilbur Wright to know they were on to something big when the bicycle mechanics from Ohio launched their wood-and canvas contraption. That they chose the Outer Banks to make their historic 12-second flight in 1903 was no accident. The area’s climate, steady winds and wide, pristine beaches were perfect for the Wright Brothers’ experiments. Modern-day visitors will feel the same exhilaration.

The Wright Brothers National Memorial pays tribute to the history-making flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright. The National Park Service operates the memorial and surrounding area, which includes full-scale reproductions of the world’s first 1903 powered aircraft, replicas of the Wright Brothers’ 1903 camp buildings, numerous other exhibits as well as historical markers of each of the brothers’ flight attempts.

A climb up Big Kill Devil Hill will take you to see the actual monument commemorating the brothers’ historic achievement.

If colonial history tickles your fancy, check out the site of the mysterious “lost colony.” Some three decades before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, a group of English settlers made history in July 1587 when they landed ashore on Roanoke Island, establishing the first permanent British settlement in the Americas. The colony, sponsored by British settler Sir Walter Raleigh, didn’t last long: a relief ship sent to the colony a few years later discovered a vacated settlement, with the colonists nowhere to be found.

The Fort Raleigh National Historic Site re-enacts the disappearance of these 117 pioneers in “The Lost Colony,” famed as the longest-running outdoor symphonic drama in the United States. The park is also home to a visitors center, museum and the Elizabethan Gardens.

Just offshore of the Outer Banks is a stretch of ocean known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, where some 3,000 ships succumbed to the treacherous shoals and shifting underwater sandbars of the North Carolina coast. Visitors can view some of these wrecks either from shore or by snorkeling or scuba diving.

The ships range from 400-year-old colonial vessels to wrecks from the Civil War and World War II. German U-boats, who hunted for Allied cargo ships off the coast in the 1940s, frequently met their demise in this area. Visitors can learn more about this treacherous part of the sea by visiting the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

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Things to Do

Sport fishing ranks high on the list of favorite activities on Hatteras Island.  At the end of your fishing trip aboard one of the many charter boats available, stop by the marinas to see the catch of the day, including wahoo, tuna and king mackerel. There are also the majestic billfish, such as blue marlin and sailfish, which fishermen typically tag and set free.

For landlubbers, there is hiking and plenty of room to roam in the villages of Hatteras Island. The 3,000-acre Buxton Woods is a maritime forest in the village of Buxton replete with towering oak trees and a nearby stable offering horseback rides through the woods or along the beach.

Once a maritime forest in the 1700s whose trees were used for shipbuilding, the village of Avon today is a harbor town where many residents are commercial fishermen. For vacationers, the beaches in Avon are considered to be among the best on Hatteras Island.

The Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuges Complex includes six national wildlife refuges: Pea Island, Currituck, Roanoke River, Mackay Island, Alligator River and Pocosin Lakes. The refuges span thousands of acres and include wetlands habitats, plant species and wildlife—from alligators to black bears. Of course, you can observe them from a safe distance, as visitors enjoy the benefits of observation platforms.

Where to Dine

Don’t be dismayed by the absence of traditional fast-food restaurants. Instead, prepare to sample some of the finest local cuisine along the Atlantic. Given the abundance of commercial fishing, “catch-of-the-day” fare winds up as the star attraction at many of the local restaurants. It’s safe to say that you will likely have a hard time deciding just where to eat out of so many choices. From casual to elegant and everything in between, there is truly something for everyone.

For More Information

Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

877-629-4386

www.outerbanks.org

 

North Carolina Department of Tourism

800-847-4862

www.visitnc.com