The Outer Banks area is filled not only with miles of beaches with access to sea life, but also to a variety of nature reserves and sightseeing attractions that allow for plenty of opportunities to get outside even when you’re not at the beach. Consider some of these Outer Banks vacation ideas that provide an encounter with nature on your next journey to the Outer Banks!
First, Get Educated
Vacationing is so much better when you can fully appreciate the landscape you’re looking at, so why not begin your trip with a stop at the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education in Corolla? Located near the Currituck Lighthouse, this free museum introduces visitors to the natural history of the Outer Banks region through fun exhibits and activities. Enjoy an educational film, learn about the area’s fauna, and ask all your questions to the center’s informative staff. That way, when you head out on the trail, you’ll recognize the animals you see!
Corolla Wild Horse Tour
Seeing the iconic wild horses that roam the oceanfront in the Outer Banks is practically a rite of passage for anyone who visits the Outer Banks. There are a variety of tour companies that will get you up close and personal with the horses, most of which involve a 4×4 excursion onto the sand, where you’ll not only take in the beauty of the horses but also untouched portions of the Outer Banks coastline that is inaccessible by car. Corolla Jeep Adventures, Corolla Wild Horse Tours, and Wild Horse Adventure Tours are just a few of the options to begin with when planning your excursion to see Corolla’s famed wild horses!
Visit a Wildlife Sanctuary
To observe some of the natural plant and animal species native to the shoreline, consider an Outer Banks day trip to one of the area’s wildlife sanctuaries such as the Audubon Pine Island Sanctuary. Covering 2,600 acres, here you will discover wintering waterfowl, migrating and resident coastal birds, a variety of mammals, and more than 350 species of plants native to the region. A 2.5-mile nature trail allows visitors to experience the beautiful surroundings up close and personal. Following along the Currituck Sound, a walk along this trail provides sweeping views of the water and its marshes, as well as of the many plants and animals you’ll view along the way. If you love what you see, and just can’t get enough, there are also many other wildlife refuges in the Outer Banks that you can visit, such as Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, where over 300 species of migratory birds take a rest each year. Don’t forget your binoculars and identification guide!
Embark on a Kayak Tour
It’s not all rolling ocean waves in the Outer Banks, where you’ll also find quaint marsh creeks and coves that provide a different view into the area’s ecology. Consider exploring some of these storied waterways by kayak. Coastal Adventures offers a variety of kayak and SUP tours that venture through natural areas such as maritime forests, marshes, and wildlife refuges. The knowledgeable guides on these tours will help point out interesting plants and wildlife that you may otherwise miss on your own. Explore maritime forests, swamps, and bird sanctuaries on these great tours that cater to a variety of skill levels, so everyone can participate. You can even take a gorgeous full moon tour to Pine Island in the summertime!
Head Out to Sea
No trip to the Outer Banks would be complete without a sea excursion, and there are just so many options to choose from. Those who like the romantic idea of sailing on an old-time ship should check out sail tours on the Downeast Rover, a 55-foot topsail schooner that departs from Manteo. Daytime and sunset trips are available, so reserve your trip now!
If you prefer the action of deep-sea fishing, consider a day trip on a fishing charter. Feel the wind in your face as you attempt to reel in a mahimahi or marlin; just don’t forget to pack the sunscreen! Alternatively, you can always cast a line from the beach or one of the Outer Banks’ many fishing piers; a great choice is Jennette’s Pier, which is operated by the North Carolina Aquariums, so it’s focused on education and conservation (and includes a small aquarium).
If you’re traveling with young children, the best ocean experience you can give them is a trip with Family Water Adventures. Their tours are customized to the desires of your group, so whether you feel like fishing, clamming, or snorkeling, they’ll go out of their way to make sure that parents and children alike have a memorable experience on the water.
Outer Banks Sightseeing
Stay near all the best sightseeing points and natural attractions when you base your Outer Banks getaway in one of these Outer Banks vacation rentals offered through us at Shoreline OBX!