The Outer Banks are a strip (about 320 kilometres) of thin islands (wide no more than a few hundreds metres) stretching towards the Atlantic Ocean. They create almost a lagoon facing the southern corner of Virginia and continuing towads North Carolina.
You can reach them coming from the North, on the North Carolina Highway 12, leaving behind the featureless concrete castings in Virginia Beach, an american destination which became popular without any merit. Coming from the South, instead, you will have to take the short Highway 58. In any case, some of the islands are only reachable by ferry.
First time I heard about them, I thought the Outer Banks were some joke of nature: a bunch of tiny islands facing since ages the Atlantic’s fury and the tropical storms coming from the Gulf of Mexico.
At the same time, the Outer Banks are ruthless butcherers themselves. Their surprising appearance in the middle of the ocean led to over 1000 shipwrecks during the centuries. The first know in history happened in 1526, the last one in 2012. During the windy days the sand unveil the corroded corpses of the ships. They call them ‘the Graveyard of the Atlantic’ for a reason.
But to the one able to understand and respect them, the Outer Banks offer incredible experiences. Just move from the northern part, where the human activities are still apparent, and you will find endless stretches of untouched beaches, the ideal set for an intimate relationship with the sea.
I was there last August, just south from the Oregon Inlet. A random choice, but still a very lucky one. Seated in front of the ocean, I gazed for hours at the waves’ vigour, completely alone, interrupted just by the sea birds whenever I got too close to their nest.
Beside their natural beauty, the Outer Banks also offer some more cultural insight to the visitors. If you are interested in history and pirate stories, Ocracoke was the headquarter of English pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard. And on Kitty Hawk there is the Wright Brothers National Memorial, where the aviation pioneers had their first take off on December 17, 1903.