Travel the Barrier Islands of North Carolina
North Carolina's barrier islands, also known as the Outer Banks, stretch almost the entire coast of the state. These islands are known for their sand beaches, sunny weather, amazing opportunities for water recreation and more. Visitors to North Carolina could spend an entire vacation exploring these islands. However, for those that want a shorter road trip, here is a wonderful option.
Parts of the Outer Banks are only accessible by boat or plane. But, to start a road trip, travelers can drive along US-64 and cross the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge to the barrier islands. From this point travelers can go north along the islands to Kill Devil Hills. The beach at Kill Devil HIlls gets lots of swell throughout the year, making it a fantastic destination for surfing. Although the swell isn't always consistent, it does boast some of the best consistency on the East Coast.
Another great destination in Kill Devil Hills is the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Visitors to this memorial can lean all about the history of the Wright Brothers accomplishments. There are full scale reproductions of the Wright Brothers 1902 and 1903 Glider and Flyer. Visitors will also find the reconstructed Living Quarters and Hangars, and can see the Flight Line, which is a large granite boulder that marks the take-off point of the first successful powered, controlled flight, and smaller markers note the line of the flight.
After spending some time enjoying the sand and surf at Kill Devil Hills, drivers can head south on North Carolina 12, into the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is an amazing destination for recreating, relaxing and more. Throughout the barrier islands of the seashore there are many beautiful beaches for the whole family to explore and enjoy. Visitors can spend time searching for shells, birding, kayaking, hiking and more. Hatteras Island is an excellent spot for windsurfing. In addition, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore also has three historic lighthouses. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is open for visitors too.
Eventually the road on the Outer Banks comes to an end. Drivers now have to take a ferry to Ocracoke Island. This island is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, it is also fairly remote and can only be reached by public ferry, private boat or private plane. There is a relatively short ferry ride from Cape Hatteras to Ocracoke Island, and the ferry is free. The beaches on Ocracoke are perfect for swimming, fishing, surfing, sunbathing and even camping. There are 16 miles of undeveloped beaches on the island, which are lovely for visitors to enjoy. Certain portions of the beautiful sandy beach can even be enjoyed on off-road vehicle. In addition, the village of Ocracoke is filled with historic homes and buildings. Visitors can learn about the history of the island and how it developed while exploring the lovely town.
Then, after enjoying all that Ocracoke Island has to offer, drivers can take another ferry south to Cedar Bay. The next stop along the barrier islands is the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Like Ocracoke Island this National Seashore is accessible by ferry. Here visitors can enjoy all sorts of recreation. There is plenty of hiking, bird watching, swimming, boating and fishing during the appropriate seasons. Certain areas of the Cape Lookout National Seashore are open to primitive camping. Some of the most unique activities visitors can experience are collecting shells. Visitors are even allowed to take some shells home. The seashore is also home to over one hundred wild horses, which visitors are welcome to observe from a safe distance.
The barrier islands of North Carolina, known as the Outer Banks are filled with amazing recreational opportunities, history and more. Visitors can stop at historic sites, explore wonderful villages, try new water sports, relax, collect sea shells and much more. This drive is an amazing option to enjoy all that the Outer Banks and Cape Lookout National Seashore have to offer.