Towns of the Outer Banks

Discover the Outer Banks: A Guide to Its Enchanting Towns

The Outer Banks of North Carolina, with its over 100 miles of sparkling beaches and rich history, offers a diverse array of towns each presenting its unique charm and attractions. From the wild horses of Corolla to the remote beauty of Ocracoke, these coastal gems are perfect for families, history buffs, and adventure seekers alike.

Whether you’re drawn by the call of the ocean, the lure of historical mysteries, or the simple pleasure of a serene beach town, the Outer Banks has something special for everyone.


Corolla captivates visitors with its luxurious vacation homes, pristine beaches, and the legendary wild Spanish Mustangs. This upscale town combines natural beauty with refined pleasures, making it an ideal destination for those seeking both relaxation and adventure.

Things to Check Out in Corolla:

  • Wild Spanish Mustangs: Encounter the majestic horses roaming free on the beaches.
  • Currituck Beach Lighthouse: Climb for panoramic views of the Outer Banks.
  • Historic Whalehead Club: Explore this early 20th-century Art Nouveau mansion.
  • Heritage Park: Offers educational walks and picnics amidst maritime forests.


Duck is renowned for its sophisticated yet laid-back atmosphere, offering a picturesque boardwalk along the Currituck Sound, upscale dining, and unique shopping experiences. Its vibrant community events make it a lively place to visit year-round.

Things to Check Out in Duck:

  • Duck Town Boardwalk: Stroll for beautiful soundside views and access to shops.
  • Duck Jazz Festival: Enjoy world-class jazz musicians in a festive outdoor setting.
  • Waterfront Shops: Discover unique boutiques and dining with spectacular views.
  • Town Green and Amphitheater: The venue for yoga, outdoor movies, and concerts.

Southern Shores

Southern Shores provides a peaceful escape with its secluded beaches and tranquil neighborhoods. It’s the perfect spot for visitors looking to relax away from the crowds, nestled between the bustling towns of Duck and Kitty Hawk.

Things to Check Out in Southern Shores:

  • Secluded Beaches: Enjoy quiet, family-friendly beaches.
  • Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve: Explore diverse ecosystems on nature trails.
  • Dogwood Trails: Perfect for biking or a leisurely walk in a serene setting.
  • Triangle Park: Ideal for a peaceful picnic or a restful afternoon.

Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk offers a blend of natural beauty, historic significance, and outdoor activities. It’s famously known as the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flight, with beautiful beaches and a friendly community atmosphere.

Things to Check Out in Kitty Hawk:

  • Wright Brothers National Memorial: Discover the birthplace of aviation.
  • Sandy Run Park: Enjoy paddling or fishing surrounded by wildlife.
  • Sea Scape Golf Links: Experience golfing with stunning ocean views.
  • Beach Accesses: Explore numerous spots for a perfect beach day.

Kill Devil Hills

The heart of the Outer Banks, Kill Devil Hills, is bustling with activity, featuring a wide array of accommodations, dining, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial. It’s a central hub for entertainment and exploration.

Things to Check Out in Kill Devil Hills:

  • Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve: Hike through diverse habitats.
  • Avalon Fishing Pier: Fish or sightsee on this historic pier.
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial: A monument to human flight.
  • Kill Devil Hills Movie Theater: A cozy spot for entertainment.

Nags Head

Nags Head mixes classic beach town vibes with historical elements, offering miles of sandy beaches, the towering Jockey’s Ridge, and a wealth of water activities. It’s a favorite for its outdoor adventures and heritage sites.

Things to Check Out in Nags Head:

  • Jockey’s Ridge State Park: Visit the largest natural sand dune on the East Coast.
  • Nags Head Fishing Pier: A prime location for fishing and ocean views.
  • Bodie Island Lighthouse: Climb for scenic views and photo opportunities.
  • Gallery Row: Explore local art and Outer Banks souvenirs.

Manteo (Roanoke Island)

Manteo, on Roanoke Island, is rich in history and culture, offering a slower pace of life with its waterfront charm, historical sites, and the famous Lost Colony outdoor drama. It’s a picturesque town that tells stories of the past.

Things to Check Out in Manteo:

  • The Lost Colony Outdoor Drama: Experience America’s oldest mystery in an outdoor theater.
  • Elizabethan Gardens: Wander through beautiful, historic gardens.
  • North Carolina Aquarium: Get up close with regional marine life.
  • Roanoke Island Festival Park: Learn about the island’s history and the first English settlers.

Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo

These three communities offer a laid-back, rustic charm ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. Known for their beautiful beaches and as a haven for surfers, kiteboarders, and campers, they represent the adventurous spirit of the Outer Banks.

Things to Check Out in Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo:

  • Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station: Dive into the history of sea rescues.
  • Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge: A paradise for birdwatchers and nature lovers.
  • Water Sports: Perfect spots for kiteboarding, windsurfing, and surfing.
  • Rodanthe Pier: Enjoy fishing or the panoramic ocean views.


Avon is the heart of Hatteras Island, blending modern amenities with a small-town feel. It’s popular among families and fishermen, offering easy access to both sound and sea, and a variety of watersports and recreational activities.

Things to Check Out in Avon:

  • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: Visit the iconic lighthouse for its history and views.
  • Kinnakeet Clay Studio & Gallery: Explore local art and craftsmanship.
  • Avon Pier: A favorite spot for fishing and enjoying the ocean.
  • Spa Koru: Relax with a spa treatment after a day of exploration.


Buxton is best known for the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and its prime surfing and fishing spots. Its natural beauty and relaxed atmosphere make it a must-visit for those looking to connect with nature and enjoy outdoor activities.

Things to Check Out in Buxton:

  • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: Climb the tallest brick lighthouse in North America.
  • Canadian Hole: A renowned spot for windsurfing and kiteboarding.
  • Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve: Discover the maritime forest and its wildlife.
  • Shipwreck Diving: Explore the ocean’s depths and its underwater history.

Frisco and Hatteras Village

Frisco and Hatteras Village are steeped in maritime history, offering a blend of cultural attractions, natural beauty, and a gateway to the pristine beaches of Ocracoke Island. They are the southern gems of the Outer Banks, where the pace of life slows, and the waters invite exploration.

Things to Check Out in Frisco and Hatteras Village:

  • Frisco Native American Museum: Learn about the region’s indigenous culture.
  • Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum: Discover maritime history and artifacts.
  • Hatteras Ferry: Embark on a scenic ride to Ocracoke Island.
  • Beachcombing and Surfing: Enjoy the surf and search for treasures along the shore.


Ocracoke Island, accessible only by ferry, is a secluded paradise known for its laid-back lifestyle, historic lighthouse, and vibrant village life. It’s a place where time slows, and the beauty of untouched nature shines.

Things to Check Out in Ocracoke:

  • Ocracoke Lighthouse: One of the oldest lighthouses still in operation.
  • British Cemetery: A solemn reminder of the island’s role in WWII.
  • Springer’s Point Preserve: A peaceful nature reserve ideal for hiking.
  • Ocracoke Village: Wander the quaint streets for unique shopping and dining.

The Outer Banks is more than just a destination; it’s a journey through history, natural beauty, and the spirit of exploration. Each town offers a unique slice of coastal life, inviting visitors to discover their secrets and create lasting memories. From the wild shores of Corolla to the serene sands of Ocracoke, the OBX beckons with open arms and endless adventures. Whether you seek solitude, adventure, or a glimpse into America’s past, the Outer Banks promises an unforgettable experience for every traveler.