North Carolina's Outer Banks remains a virtually unspoiled area with white sandy beaches and limitless outdoor recreation. This long tail of land swoops eastward to the Atlantic Ocean at the northeastern edge of North Carolina then bends gently back inland at Cape Hatteras. Ferries and two-lane roads don't make for a fast trip to and along the banks but that's probably for the best. Nags Head is one of the best-known quaint towns along this stretch of sea-sprayed land.
Settling the Outer Banks wasn't easy; for many years, only lighthouse keepers called the area home. Lighthouses are a special attraction in the area. The Outer banks stretches from Currituck Light in the north to Ocracoke Lighthouse in the south. While tourists visit the area, there is little commercialization or crowding seen at places like Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.
Nags Head has a winter population of about 1,800; in summer, this number increases dramatically but is still relatively small. North of Nags Head lies Kitty Hawk, said to be where the Wright Brothers tested their first airplane, which they actually did at nearby Kill Devil Hills. These small towns have fishing piers and seafood restaurants with the freshest catch of the day.
Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hills stands higher than the Wright Brothers actually flew. The visitors center has exhibits and a reconstruction of the brothers' workshop. Nearby is Bodie Island Lighthouse, constructed in 1872, north of Oregon Inlet. While closed for climbing due to its age, visitors can explore the ground floor.
Outdoor recreation includes Jockey's Ridge State Park with the East Coast's highest sand dune at about 140 feet, offering a great view. Try walking Tracks in the Sand Trail covering 1.5 miles until it reaches Roanoke Sound. Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve is a 1,400 acre maritime forest with trails for hiking.
North of Nags Head lies the exclusive town of Duck and the interesting town of Corolla, featuring historic buildings, the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge and Currituck Beach Lighthouse.
Accommodations in the area vary in price according to the season. There are locally owned motels, B & Bs and rental cottages. First Colony Inn, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, offers 26 antique luxury rooms at luxury prices. Dining options include Etheridge's Seafood where the seafood is extremely fresh to The Wharf, for its seafood buffet. Other options include steak, barbecue and burgers. Nightlife here includes spots for live entertainment, comedy and music at spots like Madeline's.
Sports in this windy, ocean-sprayed area include surfing, paddling excursions, windsurfing and hang gliding.
The Outer Banks and Nags Head are located over four hours east of Raleigh, NC, US 17 north to US 64.