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Top places to photograph in Outer Banks
These are the very best Outer Banks Instagram spots, curated by the PhotoHound team. If you've got limited time here, these are the must-see locations to shoot while you're in Outer Banks!
The reserve has two trails which lead from the parking area out to the estuarine coast on Currituck Bay. Both trails have their own charm. The two trails start out together, heading through the gate designed to keep the wild Banker horses, that freely roam to the north, out of Corrola. Follow the wide boardwalk through a forest of live oak and loblolly pine for 0.1 mile. At this point the trails divide. The boardwalk continues on through the forest for another 0.3 mile to a view of the estuary and Currituck Bay. The second trail, leaves the boardwalk and heads north through a wonderland of beautiful old oak trees – each one a masterpiece, each one crying out to be photographed. The trail wanders through the open forest for about 0.7 mile before ending at the edge of the estuary along the shores of Currituck Bay. On both trails, keep eyes open for wild horses. Frequent piles of droppings suggest that they are regular visitors in this area, especially during storms or when the oaks drop their acorns in the fall.
Learn more about Currituck Banks Reserve
The Whalehead Club is the most photographed, and famous, structure in this area. It lies on the shores of Currituck Sound and has its own reflecting pond, boathouse and marina. Nearby, at the outlet of the marina, is an arched foot bridge flanked by live oaks which is also very scenic. Several other old buildings in Corolla are worth looking at such as the old one-room schoolhouse and the chapel. The final site that should not be missed is the overgrown boardwalk which tunnels through the dense estuarine vegetation along the shoreline as it heads out to the open waters of the Sound.
Learn more about Historic Corolla
Currituck Beach Lighthouse is the most northern of the Outer Banks Lighthouses and is starkly different looking from the bright white or patterned black and white lighthouses to the south. The exterior of this lighthouse was never painted and the layer upon layer of red bricks insure that there can be no mistaking this lighthouse tower for any other.
Learn more about Currituck Beach Lighthouse
Except for one special feature, the town of Duck is a typical tourist oriented area located near the northern end of the Outer Banks. The town has numerous shops selling all the tourist gear; trinkets, souvenirs and beachwear. There are restaurants and bars and stores. What makes this town unique is the mile-long boardwalk which extends out over the estuarine shoreline of Currituck Sound. On a warm summer day, the Sound is full of people taking advantage of the open waters to kayak, fish, paddle board, kite surf and jet ski. At night the boardwalk is lit with soft lights over the water areas and brightly lit in the shopping areas.
Learn more about Duck
Kitty Hawk, Avalon and Nags Head Fishing Piers are all testaments to the popularity of fishing on the Outer Banks. All three of these piers have weathered numerous hurricanes and show it. The undersides of the piers are a jungle gym of pylons and the planks added for extra support. In order to survive, they have each specialized. Kitty Hawk Pier is owned by the Hilton Garden Inn and promotes itself as a wedding venue and a surfing area as well as a fishing spot. Avalon Pier advertises itself with a website full of information required by astute fishermen. The pier also features a well stocked store full of snacks and fishing gear. Nags Head Pier is notable for the colored chairs and tables that may be used by patrons of their restaurant and Tiki Bar. They will even cook and serve you your fish after you catch it. All of the piers are open to fishing and the shady areas underneath are popular gathering places for overheated beach goers.
Learn more about Kitty Hawk, Avalon and Nags Head Fishing Piers
It was at this location that the Wright Brothers, Wilbur and Orville, experimented with wing designs and learned to fly; first with gliders then with the airplane they developed and built. They took their first successful flight here on December 17, 1903. The Wright Brothers National Memorial celebrates the success and amazing accomplishments of the two brothers. The Visitor Center tells the story and discusses flight in general. However, it is the outside displays that really illustrate the accomplishment. The small sheds where they lived and worked when at Kitty Hawk have been rebuilt. Rock markers show the distance and time of their first 4 flights. The launch rail helps illustrate how they managed the take-off. A large monument has been erected on the crest of the sand dune from which they launched their glider. Finally, a life size sculpture of the first flight, at the southern end of the Memorial, puts the whole picture together.
Learn more about Wright Brothers National Memorial
The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is the best spot to photograph and view the aquatic life that lives on the Outer Banks. Here you have the opportunity to photograph life under the water without having to resort to scuba gear. The aquarium provides habitats featuring life in the Atlantic Ocean, the inland sounds, the marshlands, creeks and rivers.
Learn more about North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
Almost all of the 13- mile long Pea Island is part of the national wildlife refuge. On Pea Island, motor vehicles are not allowed on the beaches making them safe places for birds and turtles to feed and nest. The natural and man made ponds on the west side of the island are filled, in season, with nesting birds. For those who do not know the names and habits of all the local birds, the volunteers at the Visitor Center will be happy to give tips on how to identify them. Two trails in the wildlife reserve have been set aside for visitors to make short walks out to viewing areas, some equipped with telescopes. If interested, ask for a schedule of the interpretive programs.
Learn more about Pea Island National Wildlife Reserve
The Ocracoke Lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse in North Carolina. The simple white tower, with its noticeable taper, is located inland, beyond the reaches of Silver Lake Harbor. One of the most notable features of this light is that it does not have a blink pattern. When the light turns on, from dusk to dawn, the light is simply on, shining out in 360 degrees from the lens. The old lighthouse keeper's house is currently used as living quarters for Cape Hatteras National Seashore employees and is private property. This leaves only a narrow strip of land and a boardwalk path leading from the road to the lighthouse open to the public. The tower is maintained by the US Coast Guard and considered unsafe for public entry.
Learn more about Ocracoke Lighthouse
From the Harkers Island Visitor Center, the ferry heads east past Shackleford Banks, and the captain will point out any wild horses spotted along the shore. The ferry may stop on the beach at Shackleford Banks, and drop off or pick up passengers before making a wide swing around the bay to reach the Cape Lookout dock. Once ashore, a short boardwalk leads to a Visitor Center complex with a small store and information center, restroom and a covered picnic area. The trail divides here, the northern boardwalk heads past the camp area to a concessionaire who takes visitors for jeep rides along the beach and Sand Road south to the Cape Lookout Historical District.
Learn more about Cape Lookout
The boardwalk trail on the south side of the visitors area heads towards the Cape Lookout Light and Keeper's House and the very popular Beach Trail. The Historical District features several old houses and an abandoned Coast Guard Station. It is an historically interesting area and moderately photogenic.
The beach is beautiful and known for the number of seashells that wash ashore with every incoming tide. It is also a popular fishing area accessed by 4-wheel drive vehicles, which make the crossing on ferries originating from the town of Davis.
We hope you enjoy photographing these great Outer Banks Instagram locations. We love seeing your images of the most Instagrammable places in Outer Banks, so make sure to share your images on PhotoHound and tag us on Instagram @photohound and hashtag #photohound for a chance to be featured.
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