The Outer Banks, perhaps one of North Carolina's most visited coastal communities, are ninety miles of flawless landscape and effortless beauty. For decades the Outer Banks were remote, with few inhabitants who made their living by the sea; today the islands are a popular tourist spot linked by ferries and bridges. As barrier islands, each side of the islands showcase a vastly different perspective. The west side of the islands help reinforce the solitude of these peaceful beaches with sounds that extend so far it gives the illusion that aside from the land, there is nothing other than stretches of brackish waters. The Easter shores of these islands welcome the pristine Atlantic waters onto their white sandy beaches. Because of the stark difference between the two-sided islands, there are a multitude of choices for vacationers. While some of the villages have a more commercialized feel with lots of shopping, restaurants and nightlife, other towns seem much more isolated and offer a quieter take of the area. The ability to have both such towns in such a short proximity of each other is what makes the Outer Banks even more appealing, as it truly will satisfy every taste and spur of the moment idea. Because the Ocean and Sound coalesce, as well as the Gulf Stream further out in the Atlantic, the area is a Mecca for windsurfers and fishermen alike. Wind sports truly came to life on North Carolina's Outer Banks, which is why there are so many activities that make use of this natural resource. Kiteboarding, hang gliding and especially windsurfing are enjoyed throughout the year.
There are many other activities to enjoy on these barrier islands, for those with strong sea legs and land lovers alike. Extreme sports aren't the only way to enjoy the waters; the temperate climates make the Outer Banks a great place to swim and enjoy some surf fishing. For the adventurous, discover exactly why the call this coast the Graveyard of the Atlantic by going on a guided scuba exploration of old shipwrecks. On land there are hiking and biking trails, lighthouses, shopping and of course many sandy beaches to stroll. It's more than just surfers and sun worshipers who flock to this natural area. It's long been known as a wildlife refuge; flora and fauna who've inhabited the area for centuries still call the island home thanks to the many preservation organizations. The Wild Horses of Corolla, who roamed the island freely until it became more populated, have their own section of Island that they share with locals and are a popular attraction for those who love the natural wildlife that seems to be fading quickly from many places around the nation. The Outer Banks are divided into two regions with several distinct communities. The Northern Outer Banks is home to the largest towns in the area: Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Manteo, while the Southern Outer Banks offer's more solitude as well as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
The Northern Outer Banks encompass seven unique communities; each offers different aspects to visitors. Though you are likely to find any type of restaurant you want along the Northern area, Kill Devil Hills has the longest stretch of well-known chain restaurants - endearingly termed "french fry alley" by locals. The options for dining out are endless; while most people expect seafood at the beach and are not disappointed in this area, there are many different restaurants to cater to any special needs or spur-of-the-moment cravings. With Japanese, Fine dining and grill food to name a few, there's a wide variety of choices. For those looking for pub grub, Manteo offers the Weeping Radish Brewery and Restaurant with micro-brews and German cuisine. For those on a quiet, romantic get away - never leave your cottage (unless you want to) with Groovin' Gourmets, where you can get the most delicious gourmet meals delivered to your doorstep for you to heat whenever you want. The nightlife proves as equally diverse as the dining options. The Wild Horses of Corolla garner many visitors to watch then in their natural habitat, while others flock to the more commercialized areas to enjoy local performers. Southern Shores and Duck share similar qualities as they are both smaller areas without a major commercialized community, yet the both maintain an allure that brings travelers every year. Southern Shores, one of the most residential areas of the Northern Outer Banks, is a private area and offers a wonderful day trip for those looking for beautiful hiking or biking trails. With its unique name due largely to the amount of waterfowl in the area, Duck offers fine dining and some shopping, yet it strays away from becoming too commercialized, as the quaintness of the town provides much of the town's allure.
Eight unique and quiet communities make up the Southern Outer Banks. Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo almost seem like one large village to the many visitors that come to the Southern portion of these barrier islands to enjoy peaceful vacations, yet they area actually three different towns. Water sports abound throughout the area and visitors often want to try windsurfing or kiteboarding especially around Waves, since the area along the coast provides some of the best in the world to participate in these sports. Equipment rentals and lessons for these sports are available at REAL Watersports, located in Waves, where you'll find everything to suit your needs, whether you are a beginner or advanced. On the Southern-most point of the Outer Banks lies Ocracoke. Accessible only by ferry, Ocracoke Island was ranked as the #1 Beach in America by Dr. Beach in 2007. Ocracoke continues to receive attention for its laidback lifestyle and beautiful white sands. For fishing, there is nowhere else on the Outer Banks, or the East coast for that matter, better than Hatteras. The Marinas offer docking as well as private charters for visitors to go on deep sea fishing excursions. It's also home to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, where you can discover the rich history of the beautiful waters. The history of the Croatan Indians resides in the town of Frisco, just North of Hatteras. Here, the Frisco Native American Museum and Natural History Center pays tribute to some of the first known inhabitants of the area. The highest point on the Southern Outer Banks and home to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is Buxton. Visitors come to see the nation's tallest brick lighthouse and climb more than 200 steps to look out from the top. In Avon, the central village of the Southern region, you will find the island's only supermarket and one of the largest kiteboarding communities in the entire Outer Banks.
No matter what you're looking for in a vacation, the Outer Banks has an unlimited amount of activities to choose from. Whether you're looking to discover the pirate Blackbeard's treasure coves or the beautiful wildlife there's so much to this unspoiled landscape. The beautiful stretch of land has been inhabited for thousands of years and not only offers the allure of peaceful sandy shores, but is steeped with heritage and local folklore.