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Spotlight on:
Outer Banks/Cape Hatteras

Come to North Carolina's fabled Atlantic sanctuary for abundant fishing, classic lighthouses and wild ponies

Just off the North Carolina's Atlantic Coast lies a 200-mile stretch of picturesque barrier islands. With their rich history and extraordinary layout, the Outer Banks offer exciting experiences for the adventurous and the relaxed alike. From frolicking in the warm surf at pristine beaches to touring interesting museums and historic lighthouses, the Outer Banks will take your breath away with their pristine beauty. Like a small child in a candy store, you just won't be able to get enough of each place you visit along the vast, majestically scenic Outer Banks of North Carolina.

From the First Flight and the Lost Colony to the exquisite Elizabethan Gardens, there is much to experience and appreciate.

Voracious Atlantic
The historic roots of the region extend all the way into the water of the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." With the help of notoriously powerful storms, constantly-shifting underwater sandbars and treacherous shoals, the rough seas off the Outer Banks have claimed some 3,000 shipwrecks, their hulls littering the ocean floor from Kitty Hawk to Ocracoke. The wreckages date all the way back to the 1500s with the first colonial ships. The Outer Banks also claimed the most German U-boats sunk off in the United States. Hardy explorers can view some of these wrecks from the shore, while snorkeling or while scuba diving.

Kitty Hawk
Located on the northernmost beach of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, this charming town offers a quaint, relaxing environment that boasts a traditional village, a cottage-filled beach community and the Kitty Hawk Woods, a massive maritime forest. To this day, the origin of the name of the town is a matter of local debate, but all agree that it was here that the Wright brothers performed their aviation experiments. It's not really all that surprising, once you consider the ideal conditions that exist here for glider launching: steady winds, gently rolling hills and a remote sandy terrain for soft landings. Today, you can visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial Park and Museum, where for four years they experimented and finally perfected the art of soaring and controlling an aircraft back in the early 1900s.

Manteo
This picturesque, waterfront community on Roanoke Island is, interestingly enough, home to more bed and breakfasts than any other Outer Banks town. It also boasts quite the history to ponder, with the legend of the "Lost Colony" as a long-standing, unsolved mystery that dates all the way back to the 1500s. Every summer, the townspeople warmly greet actors and dancers who come to perform the nation's oldest outdoor symphonic drama, The Lost Colony, at the Waterside Theatre.

Another living memorial to the lost colonists, the Elizabethan Gardens are truly spectacular and great for a peaceful stroll through history. The gardens offer a wide array of colorful flowers and native plants, Elizabethan-style buildings and a collection of Renaissance statues that make you think you are living during the time of Queen Elizabeth I. On the eastern side of the island, facing the Atlantic, the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse is a reconstruction of the original cottage-style screw-pile lighthouse and remains an active aid for navigating vessels into Shallowbag Bay. While you're here, you can also visit the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island for under $10 a person for an incredible time observing the local aquatic wildlife.

Rodanthe
The U.S. Coast Guard was essentially founded in 1874 in the Village of Rodanthe, on Hatteras Island, at the famous Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station. Considering this laid-back island boasts 72 miles of unspoiled beaches with ideal, temperate weather, excellent surf and warm water, you'll likely find yourself enjoying some relaxing time in the sun while you are here. It's great for a fun, recreational activity in the refreshing water or to pursue a warm, relaxing spot to unwind. This gorgeous coastline offers the best wide, sheltered and sand dune-spotted beaches that sidle up alongside vast natural marshlands. Also nearby are the Water Fall Amusement Park, 850-foot long Hatteras Island Fishing Pier and eclectic surf shops for your perusal. You can stop for a lunch or dinner break along the way at one of the delicious cafes, pubs or superb seafood restaurants. For a cool, tasty and refreshing treat after, visit the family-owned Village Conery. It is said to have the best ice cream on the island.

Hatteras
As the southernmost village on Hatteras Island, Hatteras is one of the only communities in the area that wasn't renamed by the U.S. Postal Service during the 19th and 20th centuries. It is home to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, charter fishing fleet and the Ocracoke Ferry Docks at the southern end of town. The ferry docks attract the most tourists, who come seeking to visit nearby Ocracoke Island and the quaint village of Ocracoke.

The ferry ride doesn't cost anything to make the daytrip through the Hatteras Inlet. The 40-minute ride (one way) offers excellent opportunities for scenic views.

For More Information:
Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
877-629-4386
www.outerbanks.org

Visit North Carolina
800-VIS-IT-NC
www.visitnc.com