This was my second time to the Outer Banks. The first time was in May 2013 when I came with my school friends at Corolla, which is at the top part of the Outer Banks. I had a great time and have wanted to come back here ever since. While most part of the Outer Banks has wonderful sandy beach, there were a number of interesting things to check out near Kill Devils Hill, where we visited this time.
When we finally reached the bridge to cross Alligator River, we scrolled down our windows to let the ocean wind blow in our face. It was cold and dark, but we could tell that we were near our destination – Outer Banks. It was 1 am by the time we checked-in, but we saved up some energy to walk along the beach under the moon light. The full moon, the beach, and the vast emptiness, it was beautiful.
So here are the highlights!
- Beach Time and Sunrise
First thing first, go enjoy some beach time! You are at THE OUTER BANKS!!! The sand is wonderful and the view is beautiful. From reading, picnicking, swimming, playing Frisbee, and tanning, everyone finds something to enjoy at the beach! Want to figure out which beach to go to? Order their free Outer Banks map and explore the different beaches!
Since this is the East coast, you can also see a beautiful sunrise like this one. It’s truly dazzling to see the sun gradually rise from the sea as the sky and water changes color. Isn’t this a wonderful way to start your day? (It’s ok if you decide to nap few hours after this. It is worth it!)
- Wright Brothers National Monument
Did you know that Outer Banks is where the Wright Brothers experimented their flights? Wilbur and Orville Wright achieved their first successful airplane flights in 1903 after four years of experimentation in Kill Devils Hill, NC. In memory of their work, the Wright Brothers National Memorial was built in Kill Devils Hill. They chose to test their planes here because there is a long flat land and the wind is steady throughout the year. The national monument is well done and worth a visit if you are in the area!
The visitor center offers historical insight as well as informative tour guides that walks you through the history of the Wright Brothers. You can also check out the field the actual flight experiments were done and in what conditions the brothers lived in.
The walk from the visitor center to the granite monument looks long. However, do not skip this walk. We were tempted but we were glad we didn’t. Because when you reach the top of that monument, you get to see a great view of the surrounding area! On a good day, you can even see the oceanfront.
- Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Have you seen a dessert next to the ocean? Well, this is not a dessert. BUT it surely looks like one if you took a picture like this one.
Welcome to Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the tallest active sand dune system in the Eastern United States! The dunes consist of three peaks and are an example of a Medaño, shifting sand that lacks vegetation. While there are some small plants and grasses hosted in the dunes, no plants or animals make their home due to the harsh conditions.
This place is big! We gave up walking to the beach because it was further away then we thought. You go up one pile of sand thinking that there is the ocean behind it. But when you go up, you are greeted by another pile of sand and another. In addition, we didn’t expect the sand to be this burning hot under the sun. We took off our sandals at one point because sands kept coming in our shoes and was greeted instead with steaming sand. If it wasn’t this hot, we might have continued walking. But as you can see, you can’t really see the end of it.
Turns out, there is a reason why we couldn’t find the end to this sand dunes. The information center explained that “the amount of sand making up the 420 acres is equal to about 6,000,000 dump truck loads.” That is a lot! They also explained that the sand is mostly quartz rock, which came from the mountains millions of years ago. The dunes were never blown away because Northeast and Southwest winds blow the sand back and forth. Pretty fascinating, right? The center also explained how the dunes developed. So go check out and learn more about it in person!
- Nags Head Wood
If you missed green nature, take a walk or hike at Nags Head Woods. Owned and operated by the Nature Conservancy, hiking trails are open dawn to dusk every day for foot traffic only. This is more than just a hike in the woods though. Over 100 species of birds have been documented at Nags Head Woods and over 50 species nest here today. 15 species of amphibians and 28 species of reptiles have been document as well. The freshwater ponds are inhabited by seven species of fishes too.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to check this out this time. But it was the next thing we wanted to do if I had another hour or more in the area. If you plan to be there for few days, do check it out!
Dinnertime was approaching, and it was our time to get back on the road. I was sad to leave the beach so soon for we barely spent a full day here. Still, we did get a taste of various things and more than just beach time. I closed my eyes and soaked in all the vitamin D I could get at the beach before we drove off. At least we had great weather during our entire trip so far. Plus, you can’t go wrong with food like this.
Norfolk Virginia was our next stop. If Google’s 90-minute drive prediction was correct, we should get there in time for dinner. Stay tuned!
Copyright © 2015. Monica H. Kang, All Rights Reserved.