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Exploring the “Off the Beaten Path” Outer Banks

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a popular tourist destination for beachgoers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. But if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience, the Outer Banks has plenty of hidden gems that are worth exploring. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind, or a place to explore and discover, the Outer Banks has something for everyone.

The Wild Horses of Corolla

The wild horses of Corolla are one of the most impressive sights in the Outer Banks. These majestic creatures are believed to be descended from Spanish Mustangs that were brought to the area centuries ago. The herd is protected by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, which strives to preserve the horses’ habitat and educate visitors about the importance of respecting and protecting these animals. Exploring the beaches and dunes of Corolla by horseback can be an unforgettable experience.

The wild horses are elusive, so catching a glimpse of them can be a challenge. But there are a few ways to increase your chances. The best time to see them is early in the morning or late in the evening when they come out to graze. Visitors can also take a tour with a local guide who knows where to find the horses and can provide insight into their behavior.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to explore the area on horseback, you can also take a 4×4 tour of the beach. This will give you the chance to see the horses in their natural habitat and learn more about the area’s history and culture.

The Historic Lighthouses of the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks are home to four historic lighthouses: the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the Bodie Island Lighthouse, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, and the Ocracoke Lighthouse. These lighthouses are a testament to the region’s maritime heritage and are popular destinations for tourists. Each lighthouse has its own unique history and can provide insight into the area’s past.

Visitors can take guided tours of the lighthouses, which include access to the top of the lighthouse and often include the opportunity to explore the nearby grounds. On a clear day, visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding coastline and islands. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a few wild horses or dolphins in the distance.

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The lighthouses are also a great place to take photos, with plenty of opportunities for dramatic shots of the coastline and wildlife. Be sure to bring a tripod if you plan to take photos, as the lighthouses can be quite dark inside.

The National Seashore of Cape Hatteras

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a 70-mile stretch of undeveloped coastline that spans from the southern tip of the Outer Banks to the Virginia border. It is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the United States and is home to a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles, dolphins, and hundreds of bird species. It is also a popular destination for surfers, as the shoreline provides some of the best waves in the region.

The National Seashore is a great place to explore, but visitors should be aware of the potential dangers. The waters can be quite rough and the currents can be strong, so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and take appropriate safety precautions. Be sure to check the local tide charts before venturing out, and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks.

The National Seashore is also a great place to go camping. There are a variety of campgrounds in the area, ranging from primitive sites to full-service RV parks. Whether you’re looking for a secluded spot to relax or a place to explore and discover, the National Seashore has something for everyone.

The Beaches of Nags Head

Nags Head is one of the most popular beaches in the Outer Banks, and for good reason. The beaches here are some of the best in the region, with plenty of room for sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing. The area is also home to a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles, dolphins, and seabirds.

The Nags Head beaches are also great for surfing, with plenty of breaks and good waves for experienced surfers. If you’re a beginner, there are plenty of options for renting boards and taking lessons. Be sure to check the local tide charts before heading out, as the tides can be unpredictable.

Nags Head is also home to a variety of restaurants and shops, making it a great place to spend a day exploring. Visitors can also explore the nearby Jockey’s Ridge State Park, which is home to the tallest natural sand dune system in the eastern United States.

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The Fishing Villages of Hatteras Island

The fishing villages of Hatteras Island are a must-see for any visitor to the Outer Banks. These small towns are home to a colorful and vibrant culture, with plenty of seafood restaurants, galleries, and shops. Visitors can explore the villages on foot, or by taking a guided tour with a local guide who can provide insight into the area’s history and culture.

Hatteras Island is also a great place to go fishing. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner, you can find plenty of options for fishing in the area. There are a variety of charter services that offer guided fishing trips, as well as plenty of opportunities for shore fishing. Be sure to check the local regulations before heading out, as some species of fish require special permits.

If you’re looking for a unique experience, you can also take a tour of one of the island’s many lighthouses. The Hatteras Lighthouse is one of the oldest and most iconic lighthouses in the United States, and taking a tour of the lighthouse can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Wildlife Refuges of Pea Island

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is a 14-mile stretch of undeveloped coastline that is home to a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles, shorebirds, and waterfowl. It is a great place to explore, but visitors should be aware of the potential dangers. The waters can be quite rough, so it’s important to take appropriate safety precautions. Be sure to check the local tide charts before venturing out, and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks.

Pea Island is also a great place to go bird watching. The refuge is home to hundreds of different species of birds, including a variety of migratory species. Birders can also explore the nearby marshes and wetlands, which are home to a variety of species of wading birds and waterfowl.

The refuge also offers a variety of guided tours and activities, including kayaking, fishing, and wildlife photography. Visitors can also take a boat tour of the refuge, which will provide the opportunity to get up close and personal with the local wildlife.

The National Parks of the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks are home to two national parks: the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the Cape Lookout National Seashore. The parks offer a variety of activities, including camping, swimming, fishing, and wildlife watching. Visitors can also take guided tours of the lighthouses, explore the beaches, and take in spectacular views of the surrounding coastline.

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The parks also offer a variety of educational programs, including ranger-led hikes and presentations. Visitors can also take part in a variety of volunteer programs, which provide the opportunity to get involved in the stewardship of the parks.

No matter what you’re looking for, the Outer Banks has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind, or a place to explore and discover, the Outer Banks has something for you.

Conclusion

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is an amazing destination for beachgoers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. With its wild horses, historic lighthouses, national seashore, beaches, fishing villages, wildlife refuges, and national parks, the Outer Banks has something for everyone. So if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience, the Outer Banks is the perfect place to explore.

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