Not the Usual Tourist Activities on the NC Outer Banks

Not the Usual Tourist Activities on the NC Outer Banks

You’ve seen all the famous attractions: lighthouses, beaches, botanical gardens, etc. Now it’s time to head off the beaten path and explore hidden Outer Banks havens where tourists are scarce but natural beauty abounds. You may find that these uncrowded spots are the most memorable activities of them all! READ MORE

Ecotourism in the Outer Banks: Oyster Reef Restoration

Ecotourism in the Outer Banks Oyster Reef Restoration
If you’re dreaming of a different kind of vacation, or a more active vacation, an ecotourism trip to the Outer Banks may be just what you’re looking for. Ecotourism is defined by the World Conservation Union as “environmentally responsible travel to natural areas in order to enjoy and appreciate nature and accompanying cultural features that promote conservation, have low visitor impact, and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local people.”

In other words, ecotourism is about having a deeper experience wherever you’re traveling while having less impact on the environment.

Ecotourism Opportunity: Oyster Reef Restoration

The Outer Banks have a special ecotourism opportunity: Oyster Reef Restoration. Oysters are a delicious staple of coastal cuisine, but they also perform a very important environmental function: Clustered oysters can be home to up to 300 species of plants and animals, and just one oyster can filter about 50 gallons of water per day. Oyster beds also protect coastal areas from erosion by buffering ocean waves and storm surge.

Oysters: Popular to the Point of Extinction

Oysters were once an important trade commodity in North Carolina — they were easy for colonists to exchange for much-needed supplies. After the Civil War, people all over the country developed a taste for oysters and vast oyster houses and canneries sprang up all along the East Coast. To keep up with market demand, oyster fishermen nearly decimated oyster beds in the late 19th century. In the 20th century, building along the coast, agricultural chemicals, and timbering also threatened oysters. In the late ’80s, a disease specific to oysters was nearly the final blow for everyone’s favorite bivalve.

Restoring Oyster Sanctuaries

Oysters grow in estuaries, or unique areas where fresh water mixes with ocean water. Estuaries are protected from the full force of the ocean, so they are a safe place for fish and birds to grow up. In fact, estuaries are among the most critical habitats in the world, and oysters love them.

Currently, 85% of oyster reefs have been lost, making oyster reefs the most severely impacted marine habitat on the planet. Pamlico Sound in the Outer Banks was once home to an extensive oyster reef habitat. However, more than 50% of the original habitat was lost to overharvesting, poor water quality, and disease.

In 2002 the Nature Conservancy began testing ways to restore oyster reefs around Pamlico Sound, resulting in more than 65 acres of new habitat.

Improved oyster habitats have yielded a regrowth of these hardworking mollusks, reduced erosion, improved water quality, and improved habitat for fish and plants that depend on oyster beds.

Another benefit is a slight rise in populations of the American Oystercatcher bird. The oystercatcher is a black-and-white bird with a bright red bill. Flocks of oystercatchers are a beautiful sight along the coasts, where they feed on clams, oysters, and mussels. Other environmental issues such as sea level rise and a loss of territory threaten oystercatchers, but an increase in clean oyster beds increases their chances of survival.

How Oyster Beds Are Seeded

Free-swimming oyster larvae need a hard surface where they can attach and grow together, and recycled oyster shells make the perfect nursery. If you’ve been to an oyster roast recently, you may notice that discarded shells are collected in large barrels and separated from trash. Oyster shells are handed over to conservation groups, who clean and bag them, then place them in oyster “sanctuaries” to attract new oysters.

Restoring oyster reefs is a community effort. First, fishermen take oysters only from state-regulated oyster beds with populations healthy enough for harvesting. Local residents and restaurants save and recycle oyster shells, then volunteers and environmental groups clean, bag, and store shells until it’s time to plant them in the summer.

Planting oyster shells means taking bags of shells to oyster sanctuaries in shallow water and spreading them along the bottom in sections about 12 feet apart. Some volunteers are also needed to monitor the sanctuaries and check water quality.

Nags Head Woods Oyster Reef Restoration READ MORE

Outer Banks Visitor Guide

Outer Banks visitor guide
Heading to the Outer Banks? From our famous beaches to local dining, there’s plenty to see, do, and eat once you arrive. Here’s a sample of the excitement and local fare you can look forward to. See you soon!

Enjoy a Unique Natural Environment

Natural beauty is undoubtedly one of the biggest draws of the Outer Banks. If you’re a nature lover, rent a kayak and spend the day taking in quiet water trails that wind through the islands, along the shore, through maritime forests, salt marsh canals, and estuaries. Floating in the bay for sunset is an unforgettable experience, as is paddling through a sound as birds and river otters play around you. Of course, no Outer Banks tourism guide would be complete without a mention of the area’s pristine wildlife refuges. Visit Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve,

Currituck National Wildlife Refuge READ MORE

Explore Nature’s Best at Outer Banks Parks, Refuges and Preserves

Outer Banks nature
The Outer Banks is one of the most beautiful and scenic geographies in the United States. Enjoying the wonders of nature is one of the best parts of visiting the Outer Banks, and there are plenty of parks, refuges and nature preserves to explore. Some parks are fun for the whole family, and some offer a haven for solitary hikers and serious birdwatchers. Whichever park you set off to discover, take sturdy, comfortable shoes insect repellent, and plenty of water and sunscreen.

Here are some of our favorite nature spots in the Outer Banks:

Hatteras Island Ocean Center, Hatteras

Located near Hatteras Village, the Hatteras Island Ocean Center is a good starting place for your Outer Banks vacation. With a fully interactive setup, the center features exhibits, programs, and special events to help visitors of all ages learn about the unique environments of the Outer Banks. Want to develop your turtle sense? Looking to see, touch and hear some of the Outer Banks’ most popular marine wildlife? This is the place!

Duck Soundside Boardwalk, Duck

The Duck Boardwalk will take you through almost half a mile of sea breezes and scenic views of stunning Currituck Sound. There are multiple entry and exit points so you can pop in and out of the Waterfront Shops and Town Park for snacks and shopping breaks. Plan to take this walk slowly and really soak up your surroundings. This is a wide, level boardwalk, so it’s also an ideal way for those with wheelchairs or mobility challenges to enjoy an easy but majestic nature walk.

Duck Town Park, Duck

If you’re headed for the Duck Boardwalk, don’t overlook the Duck Town Park. This 11-acre green space features winding trails that lead through Maritime Forest, expansive green spaces, a swamp, and past breathtaking views of Currituck Sound. If you’ve got your own kayak, paddleboard or canoe, you’ll find an easy launch at the boat pier. This is a perfect dog- and kid-friendly place to hike — there’s a picnic shelter, playground, and even a water fountain just for your furry friend.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head

It’s hard to decide whether to join the action or just sit and watch at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. This area sports the largest natural-living sand dune in the east, and due to the steady breezes, is a haven for hang gliders. There are miles of hiking trails, picnic tables and public restrooms, so bring your lunch and spend the day flying a kite or watching the daredevils soar.

Nature Conservancy at Nags Head Woods Preserve, Kill Devil Hills READ MORE

Having a Blast On The Outer Banks: Memory MondaySeptember 22, 2014.

Having a Blast On The Outer BanksThis week’s Memory Monday Photo Submission comes to us from a visitor that forgot to give us her name.    Sorry we can’t give credit where it is due on the photos this week, but we enjoyed the pictures anyway.The OBX brings joy to a lot of folks and this week’s submission shows it here!

Woo hoo…made it to the OBX!
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Relaxing in the largest beach chair ever.

Thanks for your photo memories.   We look forward to serving you again soon.All the best from the beach!By Tim Cafferty, President, Outer Banks Blue Realty Services

Looking for Things to Do on the Outer Banks? Check Out the Amazing Wildlife

Outer Banks, NC: A Wildlife Wonderland

If you’re an animal lover, there are few places in the country that offer the exceptional variety of wildlife as unique as the Outer Banks of North Carolina. When searching for things to do in this area, don’t neglect a chance to educate and fascinate yourself and your family with up-close encounters.Bring your camera! The photo ops you’ll discover during your stay make for cherished memories, as well as viral social media posts.

Wild Horses Roaming Free

One of the biggest attractions for visitors to the Outer Banks is the wild horses that roam free. Spanish Mustangs with a 500-year heritage occupy the beaches. Surviving in isolation for nearly 400 years, the settlement and expansion of the Outer Banks made life difficult for these thoroughbreds that once had run of the entire area. The small groups that remain are now sequestered by the National Park Service into a specific 11-mile section of Currituck Banks and Corolla. You won’t see actual Spanish Mustangs in the wild anywhere else in the world.Because the beaches are undeveloped and remote, driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle is practically mandatory if you don’t want to get stuck. If you don’t own a truck or SUV with this capability, you can rent them or rent four-wheel all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) when you’re ready to explore.

Currituck National Wildlife Refuge

Although Corolla and Carova have been popular with visitors since the 1930s, the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge wasn’t established until 1984. With the development of surrounding areas and the completion of NC Highway 12 came an inevitable collision between nature and man. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stepped in and deemed over 4,500 acres as a sanctuary for mammals, reptiles, fish, birds and other creatures.The wild horses (mentioned above) are a highlight for animal lovers, but certainly not the only attraction. With several varieties of snakes and turtles, exploration of the refuge can be fascinating. Box and snapping turtles make their homes here and the endangered loggerhead turtle drops by about once a year to lay eggs. Birders find this area of particular interest because it is in the migratory route for over 300 species of birds. Depending on the time of year, you’ll likely see Canadian geese, white swans, blue herons, osprey, egrets and more. Then there are the four-legged creatures that everyone loves to observe: raccoons, rabbits, deer and others. Guided tours are available or, for the truly adventurous, you can head out on your own via four-wheel-drive vehicle or boat.

The Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter

If you’re looking for things to do on the Outer Banks and you prefer to view local wildlife in a more civilized manner, take a tour of The Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter. With a mission to rehabilitate and release the injured, sick and orphaned animals they care for, the shelter also aims to teach humans how to successfully live alongside these creatures. Among others, you might see pelicans, possums, owls, ducks, gulls, turtles and more critters at the shelter. Tours are given every day at 2:00 p.m.

Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education

Have little ones that don’t care much for trekking through marshes and dunes? They can still experience area wildlife through the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education. With creative programs including “Swish Like a Fish,” “Sea Turtles in Jeopardy” and “Bird Brains,” your children can take a hands-on approach to discovering the wonders of nature in a safe, fun environment. Numerous programs are available: some as drop-ins with no notice required and others offering reserved space. Adults will love it, too!

Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve

According to the Nature.org website, “Over 100 species of birds have been documented at Nags Head Woods. The preserve is an important nesting area for more than 50 species, including green heron, wood duck, red-shouldered hawk, clapper rail, ruby-throated hummingbird, pileated woodpecker, prothonotary warbler, and summer tanager. Fifteen species of amphibians and 28 species of reptiles have been documented as well. An extensive marsh system bordering Roanoke Sound on the western side of the preserve supports a wealth of wildlife including river otter, egrets, herons, and many species of migratory waterfowl.” You can view a

complete list here READ MORE

Copyright 2021 © Outer Banks Blue. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy Website Design by InterCoastal Net Designs