For some very valid reasons, the Outer Banks has a reputation for amazing sunsets. With sounds and bays to the west of the sand bar and a shoreline with a wide variety of habitat, the possibilities seem endless.The most iconic sunset images of the Outer Banks are typically captured at the Whalehead Club in Corolla or from the top of Jockey's Ridge in Nags Head...and those are amazing places to view the setting sun. Well worth a visit, especially with a camera.But, here at Outer Banks Blue, we like to take our visitors a little bit off the beaten path from time to time, so we've put together our own list of best places to photograph the setting sun. One or two of them might take a little extra effort, but we think it will be worth it.We've arranged the list from south to north.
Bodie Island LighthouseNot the lighthouse itself—climbing closes at 5 :00 p.m. However, there is a very nice nature trail on the south end of the parking lot. That's the tip of the loop in the road.There's what looks like a service road that leads to a small bridge. Cross the bridge and go to the end of the trail. The trail is about a quarter mile in length and very easily walked—no elevation gain and it's packed earth. The trail ends look due west over a low island, marsh and open water.Bodie Island Lighthouse also offers a marvelous chance for a sunrise shot. At the base of the lighthouse, there is a pond with a boardwalk that faces east. There is some scrub pine and low vegetation along the eastern bank of the pond, but it does give an opportunity to get a wonderful early morning shot.
End of Roanoke IslandAs Outer Banks locations go, this one entails a bit of a drive, but well worth the effort.Before the 4-lane Virginian Dare Bridge was built bypassing Manteo, all traffic took what is now business US 64 through the town to the William Umstead Bridge. That is the route to take.Just before the bridge there will be a turnoff to the right leading to a small parking lot. The view at the tip of the parking area is due west, across Croatan Sound. The trees that mark Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge mark the western banks of the sound.It's a wonderful little spot. Take a moment to check out the historic marker telling the story of the Civil War naval battle that took place just off the point in 1862.Pay close attention to what's happening at the bridge. Every day at dusk, more than 100,000 purple martins return to the bridge to roost for the night.
Bob Perry Road Boat RampThis one is away from the typical sunset spot, but we think it's worth a visit. Managed by the town of Kitty Hawk, it's also the town's recycling center. Bob Perry Road intersects W. Kitty Hawk Road a little to the west after intersecting the Woods Road—which is not as confusing as it may sound.Easiest way to find it is look for the recycling center signs on Kitty Hawk Road.What makes this site so nice is there are a number of docks that allow access over the water. Any sunset shot will include the trees of the maritime forest to the west, but the interplay of the colors of the still waters of the creek, the marsh and the hues of sunset can create a remarkable image.There is also an early morning possibility here, with an open marsh leading to a maritime forest to the east.
Duck BoardwalkThe Town of Duck boardwalk is about a mile long, paralleling the town's shoreline the entire way. There is nothing between the boardwalk and the open waters of the Currituck Sound so there are limitless opportunities for some fantastic sunset shots.A particularly nice feature of the boardwalk is that there are three or four places to stop and get a bite to eat or enjoy a beverage, giving the photographer a chance to sit back, relax and still capture an image for the ages.
Pine Island Sanctuary CenterThis suggestion will take a bit more effort than the others, but for the adventurous Pine Island offers a great possibility for a different view of a sunset.Once upon a time the Pine Island Hunt Club was a huge tract of land that extended from the Dare/Currituck County line from sound to sea. It won't show up on any map now, but before there was a NC 12 connecting Corolla with the rest of the world, the only road was a packed dirt track through the heart of the hunt club property.That dirt road still exists and is now a 2.5 mile nature trail with two observation towers along the way. Those observation towers make for a fantastic viewing spot to capture a sunset.Getting to an observation tower a little early may give a photographer a few shots of the remarkable birds and waterfowl of the sanctuary.There are parking lots on either end of the trail. On the south end across from the Sanderling Resort and on the north end behind Pine Island Racquet Club.Things to remember:
- The 2.5 mile trail is one way. It is not a loop trail.
- In the summer especially, insect repellant is a necessity.