Outer Banks Outdoors

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Outer Banks Outdoors
Whether you go sailing, windsurfing, fishing, or dolphin-watching, make sure you get out onto the water in the Outer Banks. Enjoy the remote beaches and the pristine state preserves, or soar above it all on a hang glider or in a helicopter.
By Brianna Simmons, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Brianna Simmons
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    On the Open Water
    The Outer Banks has long attracted mariners of all stripes. Marinas and shops provide rentals and charters, making it easy for visitors to spend time on the water. Head out for world-class deep-sea fishing with Rock Solid Fishing or navigate a small skiff around the sounds to enjoy the scenery. Consistent winds make the Outer Banks perfect to explore by sailboat. Nor'Banks Sailing in Duck offers sailboat rentals and lessons.
    Photo by Brianna Simmons
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    Hitting the Links
    When you’re ready to trade in the blues of the water for the greens of the golf course, the Outer Banks has you covered. There are six award-winning courses scattered throughout the Outer Banks and a short drive away on the mainland, known as the Inner Banks. The Currituck Club in Corolla offers superb golfing just steps from the beach, while Nags Head Golf Links is quintessential Outer Banks golfing, with clusters of sand dunes and serene views of Roanoke Sound. Tee times in summer can fill up fast so it’s a good idea to call ahead for a reservation; Winter brings mild temperatures and off-season rates.
    Photo courtesy of ClubCorp Inc.
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    Hang Gliding
    The winds that attracted Wilbur and Orville Wright to the Outer Banks now attract scores of people looking for a taste of flight themselves. The Outer Banks is a world-class destination for hang gliding. If you’re new to the aerial sport, try a dune hang gliding lesson from the highest sand dune on the East Coast at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. For those who are craving a little more adventure, try tandem hang gliding and soar up to a mile above ground with unparalleled views of the Outer Banks. Hang gliding is available through Kitty Hawk Kites, located near Jockey’s Ridge at Nag’s Head.
    Photo courtesy of Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
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    The Outer Banks by Bike
    The mostly flat terrain of the Outer Banks is ideal for exploring by bike. This extremely bike-friendly community has paved, multi-use paths available in most towns that are great for families; wide shoulders along the roads are perfect for more advanced cyclists. The shaded path through Duck meanders past vacation homes, with occasional views of the sound, and is popular with families. You're sure to find avid cyclists pedaling alongside the dunes as Route 12 makes its way through Cape Hatteras. If you have left your bike at home, many shops have rentals, and some accommodations have bikes on-site for guests.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Kiteboarding and Windsurfing
    Consistent breezes and miles of open water make the Outer Banks a prime location for kiteboarding and windsurfing. Cape Hatteras is the home of the Triple-S Invitational, a preeminent kiteboarding event that draws in world-class athletes. The calm sound-side waters of the Haulover area just south of Avon are great for novice riders, while more adventurous souls head out to try the Atlantic waves of the Cove near Buxton. If you want to give kiteboarding a shot, professional instruction is definitely recommended for beginners; private and small-group lessons are available through local experts like those at Kite Hatteras or with companies like REAL Watersports and Kitty Hawk Kites. Hop on and go where the wind takes you.
    Photo courtesy of Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
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    Remote Beaches
    With 200 miles of coastline, it’s easy to find a stretch of sand to call your own in the Outer Banks. Without paved roads, the beaches north of Corolla are only accessible by four-wheel drive, but are worth the effort for the open sand and the chance to spot wild horses. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore contains 30,000 acres and 70 miles of windswept dunes and rolling waves, preserving the natural beauty of the area for all to enjoy. Ocracoke Island, reachable only by ferry, takes you back to another time, with its quaint village and miles of deserted beach.
    Photo by Steve Dunwell/age fotostock
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    Outer Banks by Plane
    One of the most exciting ways to view the unique landscape of the Outer Banks is from the sky. Get a different perspective as you soar above the barrier islands, enjoying magnificent views of the sandy shores, serene coves, and iconic lighthouses. For a different experience you could also fly out over the open ocean, where you can spot whales, pods of dolphins, and shipwrecks from overhead. There is a variety of aircraft available for your adventure. OBX Aero Tours by Kitty Hawk Kites offers Cessna airplanes that can accommodate larger groups, while Coastal Helicopters provides great opportunities for aerial photography and the chance to access remote areas. You can even opt for a ride in the open cockpit of a biplane with OBX Biplanes.
    Photo courtesy of Aaron Tuell/Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
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    Day Trips by Boat
    There are a variety of day cruise options around the islands of the Outer Banks, and they offer up some of the most memorable experiences for travelers. Head out to the Atlantic in search of dolphins and other marine life with the certified marine biologists of Nags Head Dolphin Watch. You could also spend the afternoon cruising the Roanoke Sound aboard the Downeast Rover, a beautiful topsail schooner that sails past the dunes of Jockey's Ridge and past the historic Lost Colony settlement. Charter sailing trips are available through Sail the Outer Banks, allowing you to craft your own perfect sailing adventure.
    Photo courtesy of Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
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    Paradise for Birdwatchers
    The pristine environments of the Outer Banks attract a wide variety of avian life, and its position along the Atlantic Flyway makes it a natural stopping place for thousands of migratory birds. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, and state preserves provide a variety of protected habitats for both resident and migratory species. Spring, fall, and winter are especially great for birdwatching. Species you’re likely to encounter include herons, ibis, egrets, and a variety of ducks, as well as some winter residents, including snow geese and tundra swans.
    Photo by Brianna Simmons