Getty Images

Outer Banks

The Outer Banks are fragile ribbons of sand tracing the coastline for more than 100 miles, separated from the mainland by sounds and waterways. From north to south, barrier islands Bodie (pronounced 'body'), Roanoke, Hatteras and Ocracoke, essentially large sandbars, are linked by bridges and ferries. The far-northern communities Corolla (kur-all-ah), Duck and Southern Shores are former duck-hunting grounds for the wealthy, and are quiet and upscale. Nearly contiguous Bodie Island towns Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head are developed and more populated, with fried-fish joints, drive-through beer shops, motels and sandals and sunblock stores. Roanoke Island, west of Bodie, offers Colonial history and the quaint waterfront town Manteo. Further south, Hatteras Island is a protected national seashore with tiny villages and a wild, windswept beauty. At Outer Banks' southern end, find old salts, shuck oysters and weave hammocks on Ocracoke Island, accessible only by ferry.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Outer Banks.

Featured videos

Discover North Carolina's Outer Banks

1:53