Outer Banks Guide © 2017

The Outer Banks of North Carolina  

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is famous world wide. The Outer Banks is a great tourist destination with so much to see and do from surfing to fishing to enjoying fun in the sand, sun and surf. The coastal scenes at the Outer Banks include the vast Atlantic waters, sunrises and sunsets, calm sound waters, windswept sand dunes and wide clean sandy beaches. It truly is a beautiful place with an unique landscape of beaches, waves, bridges and lighthouses. An Outer Banks vacation rental makes for a fun beach vacation.

 Where are the Outer Banks?

The islands start at the Virginia-NC boarder and continue down the coast to the south to Cape Lookout. The Outer Banks of North Carolina include the following coastal counties:Currituck County, Dare County, and Hyde County.

The Outer Banks or OBX as some call it, is composed of several separate and vastly different towns, villages, cultures, dialects and people. They include Roanoke Island, the Northern Beaches, Hatteras Island, Ocracoke Island and Portsmouth Island. One side flanked by the vast Atlantic Ocean and inland lie the calm sound waters of the Albemarle Sound and the Pamlico Sound.The area was first inhabited by the Croatan Indians, part of the Algonquin tribe, because of the mild winters and abundant fish and wildlife. Then followed by European Settlers looking for a new world. The Lost Colony is a mystery even today and the story is played out in the outdoor drama at the Waterfront Theatre in Manteo at the Outer Banks.


Outer Banks Activities

For such a narrow strip of sand dunes, sea oats, shrubs and trees the Outer Banks of North Carolina offers a long list of activities and adventures for those looking for sun, sand and fun. Activities are surfing, fishing, wind surfing, hang gliding, kayaking, pier fishing, surf fishing, golf, sand dune climbing, parasailing, jet skiing, lighthouse climbing, sailing, shell hunting, and beach combing to name just a few of the exciting sports and activities one can experience on the Outer Banks of North Carolina! And an Outer Banks wedding is an unforgettable event!

Outer Banks Lighthouses

The Outer Banks has 4 lighthouses along the coast each unique in appearance. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse located in Corolla is a red brick 158 foot tall structure and can be seen 18 miles out over the ocean waters. The Bodie Island Lighthouse (pronounced body) is located on the sound side in South Nags Head. Standing 150 foot in height with horizontal black and white stripes it has a 19 mile beam of visibility. Heading south to Hatteras Island the next lighthouse is one of the most famous lighthouses of our nation. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse stands a majestic 208 feet tall and has the black and white candy cane strips. Its beam can be seen 20 miles away and help ships navigate the dangerously shallow Diamond Shoals located just off the coast. On Ocracoke Island is the Ocracoke Lighthouse. The shortest of the Outer Banks Lighthouses, it stand at 75 feet  tall and is painted solid white. The beam can be seen 14 miles away and the lighthouse marks the entrance to Silver Lake on Ocracoke Island at the Outer Banks.

Outer Banks Fishing

The Outer Banks are one best place to fish with a wide variety from either the ocean or the sound. With fishing piers, surf fishing, charter boats and head boats, the fishing is great year round. The tackle shops have everything you need including helpful staff who can fix you right up with tackle and bait or just good old advice about how and where to catch the next big one on the Outer Banks.


The ever changing landscape of the Outer Banks is due to the tides, erosion, nor’easters, hurricanes, storms and human impact. The changes to the geographical landscape are constant and always changing the appearance of the islands. High tides and blowing sand can alter the sand dunes and cause much beach erosion. Throw in a good nor’easter and damage can really be extensive. But the most damaging are the hurricanes that frequently brush the coast or a direct hit that can cause major destruction to the island. In 2003 when Hurricane Isabel hit the Outer Banks a new inlet was formed in Hatteras Island, separating the island just south of Frisco. Hatteras Village was unable to be accessed for months except by boat until the inlet was filled in by pumping sand into the inlet and then highway 12 had to be replaced. The most recent Hurricane Irene in August 2011 has done it again. Highway 12 was breached in several locations on the Outer Banks.

North Carolina Ferry System

The Ferry System of the Outer Banks add a unique way of island hopping. The ferry service is from Hatteras Island to Ocracoke Island, Ocracoke to Hatteras, Ocracoke to Swan Quarter, and Ocracoke to Cedar Island. A fun way to come and go, with the sea gulls circling the ferry waiting for food to be thrown by the travelers, or the waves breaking over the bow and unto the cars! Make sure to check the ferry schedules, the waiting time in line can be long in the busy summer season at the Outer Banks.

Outer Banks of NC

Hatteras to Ocracoke Ferry Run on the Outer BanksHatteras House Link

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Kiteboarding on the Outer Banks Charter Boat Catch of the Day on Hatteras Island at the Outer Banks Charter Boats at Marina at Outer Banks Holding fish caught on charter boat fishing trip at Outer Banks Facebook Link NC Outer Banks from Space

What are the Outer Banks of NC?

The North Carolina Outer Banks are a 200 mile long chain of barrier islands that form the eastern portion of the state North Carolina. The islands of the Outer Banks have the Atlantic Ocean to the east and sound waters to the west. The islands are very narrow in some areas and only about a 3 miles wide at its widest point. The Outer Banks have breathtaking scenes of sand dunes, beaches, ocean views, sound waters, sunrises and sunsets.

Bonner Bridge at the NC Outer Banks Ocracoke Lighthouse on Ocracoke Island Ramp 55 ORV Access on Hatteras Island Jockey's Ridge at the Outer Banks Bodie Island Lighthouse

Quick Links

Ocean View on Hatteras Island From Beach

Mandatory Evacuation For Visitors

For Ocracoke and Hatteras