- Avalon Pier
- 2111 N. Va Dare Trl - Kill Devil Hills
- North Carolina 27948 - United States
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The Outer Banks is a chain of barrier islands located off the coast of North Carolina. It stretches over 200 miles from the Virginia border down to the southeastern coast of the state. The Outer Banks have a rich and fascinating history that encompasses early exploration, piracy, shipwrecks, and the development of a popular tourist destination. Let's explore some key aspects of the Outer Banks' history:
- Early Exploration: The Outer Banks played a significant role in early European exploration of North America. It is believed that the first European to reach the area was Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian explorer, in 1524. English explorers, including Richard Grenville and Sir Walter Raleigh, also visited the Outer Banks in the late 16th century.
- The Lost Colony: One of the most famous events in Outer Banks history is the establishment of the Roanoke Colony in 1585. The colony, sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh, was intended to become the first permanent English settlement in North America. However, the colonists mysteriously disappeared, leading to the colony being referred to as the "Lost Colony."
- Pirates and Shipwrecks: The treacherous waters and shifting sandbars of the Outer Banks were notorious for causing shipwrecks. This attracted pirates who would loot the stranded vessels. The most famous pirate associated with the Outer Banks is Edward Teach, commonly known as Blackbeard. He used the islands as a base of operations in the early 18th century.
- The Wright Brothers: In December 1903, the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, achieved the first powered, controlled flight in Kitty Hawk, a town located on the Outer Banks. Their successful flight marked a significant milestone in aviation history and transformed the world.
- Development and Tourism: In the 20th century, the Outer Banks began to evolve into a popular tourist destination. The construction of bridges connecting the islands to the mainland, such as the Bonner Bridge and the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, made access easier. Today, millions of visitors come to the Outer Banks each year to enjoy its pristine beaches, water sports, fishing, wildlife, and historical sites.
- Preservation Efforts: Due to its vulnerability to storms, erosion, and rising sea levels, the Outer Banks face ongoing environmental challenges. Efforts have been made to preserve the islands and protect their historical landmarks, such as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, one of the most recognizable symbols of the Outer Banks.
The Outer Banks continue to be a captivating destination that combines natural beauty with a rich historical legacy. Visitors can explore museums, lighthouses, maritime history, and enjoy the unique charm of the barrier islands.
Top Tourist Attractions
The Outer Banks offers a variety of attractions that appeal to tourists from around the world. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in the Outer Banks:
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore: Spanning over 70 miles, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a stunning stretch of coastline that features beautiful sandy beaches, sand dunes, and iconic lighthouses. Visitors can swim, sunbathe, fish, and explore the preserved natural habitats.
- Wright Brothers National Memorial: Located in Kill Devil Hills, the Wright Brothers National Memorial commemorates the historic first flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903. The memorial includes a visitors' center, a replica of the original camp, and a 60-foot tall granite monument atop Big Kill Devil Hill.
- Jockey's Ridge State Park: Situated in Nags Head, Jockey's Ridge State Park is home to the tallest sand dune system on the East Coast. Visitors can hike to the top of the dunes for panoramic views, fly kites, hang glide, or explore the park's nature trails.
- Roanoke Island: Roanoke Island holds significant historical and cultural importance. Visitors can explore the Roanoke Island Festival Park, which includes a reconstructed 16th-century sailing ship, interactive exhibits, and a Native American village. The Lost Colony outdoor drama, a reenactment of the ill-fated Roanoke Colony, is also performed here.
- Currituck Beach Lighthouse: Located in Corolla, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse is a historic structure that offers stunning views of the surrounding area. Visitors can climb the 220 steps to the top of the lighthouse and learn about its history and the role it played in guiding ships along the coast.
- Outer Banks Beaches: The pristine beaches of the Outer Banks are a major draw for tourists. From the bustling shores of Nags Head to the serene expanses of Corolla and Hatteras Island, visitors can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, fishing, and water sports.
- North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island: This popular attraction showcases a variety of marine life found in the Outer Banks region. Visitors can observe sharks, sea turtles, otters, and other fascinating creatures in their natural habitats.
- The Elizabethan Gardens: Situated on Roanoke Island, the Elizabethan Gardens is a beautifully manicured garden that pays homage to the English settlers who arrived in the area in the late 16th century. The gardens feature stunning floral displays, Renaissance statues, and peaceful walking paths.
These attractions are just a few highlights of what the Outer Banks has to offer. Visitors can also enjoy activities such as fishing charters, dolphin watching tours, surfing, kayaking, and exploring the numerous shops, galleries, and restaurants that dot the islands.
The climate of the Outer Banks is characterized as a humid subtropical climate with mild winters and warm summers. Here are some key features of the Outer Banks climate:
- Mild Winters: Winter temperatures in the Outer Banks are generally mild, with average highs ranging from the mid-50s to the low 60s Fahrenheit (12-16 degrees Celsius). However, occasional cold snaps can bring colder temperatures, especially during January and February. Average lows during winter range from the mid-30s to the low 40s Fahrenheit (1-5 degrees Celsius).
- Warm Summers: Summers in the Outer Banks are warm and humid. Average high temperatures during the summer months of June, July, and August range from the upper 80s to the low 90s Fahrenheit (29-33 degrees Celsius). Nighttime temperatures are generally comfortable, with average lows in the upper 60s to low 70s Fahrenheit (20-23 degrees Celsius).
- Rainfall: The Outer Banks experiences a moderate amount of precipitation throughout the year, with the wettest months typically being August and September. Annual rainfall averages between 50 and 60 inches (127-152 centimeters), which helps maintain the lush vegetation of the region.
- Hurricane Season: The Outer Banks is located along the Atlantic Coast and is vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak activity occurring between August and October. Visitors should stay informed about weather conditions during this period and follow any evacuation orders if necessary.
- Coastal Breezes: The Outer Banks benefits from cool ocean breezes, which provide some relief from the summer heat. These breezes can also have an impact on the local weather patterns, often resulting in localized rain showers.
- Seasonal Variations: The Outer Banks experiences distinct seasons, with spring and fall offering pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds compared to the peak summer months. Spring brings blooming flowers and warmer temperatures, while fall offers milder weather, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities and exploring the beaches.
It's important to note that weather conditions can vary, and it's always a good idea to check the forecast before planning outdoor activities or visiting the Outer Banks.
The geography of the Outer Banks is characterized by a chain of narrow barrier islands located off the coast of North Carolina. Here are some key features of the Outer Banks' geography:
- Barrier Islands: The Outer Banks consists of a series of barrier islands that stretch over 200 miles from the Virginia border to the southeastern coast of North Carolina. These islands act as a buffer between the Atlantic Ocean and the mainland, protecting the coastal areas from the full force of storms and providing habitat for diverse ecosystems.
- Atlantic Ocean: The Outer Banks is bordered by the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The ocean waters are warm during the summer months, attracting beachgoers and water sports enthusiasts.
- Pamlico Sound: On the western side of the Outer Banks lies the Pamlico Sound, a large shallow lagoon separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the barrier islands. The sound is an important ecosystem and offers opportunities for boating, fishing, and water-based recreational activities.
- Cape Hatteras: Cape Hatteras is a prominent feature of the Outer Banks and is known for its iconic lighthouse. It is located on Hatteras Island and is the easternmost point of the state of North Carolina. The area around Cape Hatteras is known for its strong winds, making it a popular destination for wind sports like kiteboarding and windsurfing.
- Estuaries and Wildlife: The Outer Banks is home to numerous estuaries, marshes, and saltwater creeks that provide important habitats for various wildlife species. These areas support a rich diversity of bird species, fish, shellfish, and other marine life. The Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, located on the northern part of Hatteras Island, is one of the prime spots for birdwatching and nature observation.
- Shifting Sandbars and Barrier Island Dynamics: The Outer Banks are known for their dynamic nature, with sandbars and barrier islands constantly shifting due to the forces of wind, waves, and currents. This natural process has led to the formation of sand dunes, inlet changes, and the occurrence of occasional land loss and island migration.
The geography of the Outer Banks contributes to its unique and scenic environment. The combination of barrier islands, beaches, ocean, sound, and estuaries creates a diverse ecosystem and provides a range of recreational opportunities for visitors and residents alike.