Outer Banks Adventures
by Jessie S.
When someone says “beach vacation,” many people probably imagine relaxation and tranquility… lounging by the ocean, tanning by the pool, and generally adopting “island time” where everything moves at a slower, laid-back pace in order to recharge the mind and soul. On the other hand, some people prefer to spend their vacation trying new activities, exploring new places, and seeking thrilling adventures. While this is certainly the perfect place to come when you want to get away from it all, the Outer Banks is also the perfect place to visit when you’re seeking out invigorating or adrenaline-pumping experiences.
Get stoked because we have a list of some awesome Outer Banks adventures you should try on your next vacation:
If you’ve ever dreamed of flying, hang gliding might just be the adventure for you and you’ve certainly come to the right place. The natural dune formations and hearty winds in the Outer Banks are ideal for the popular sport where riders are harnessed to a suspended navigational frame that controls an attached sail. To try this exhilarating sport, you can book a beginner dune gliding lesson with Kitty Hawk Kites+ where you'll learn the ins and outs of hang gliding. For something a little more daring, book a tandem hang gliding tour where you and your instructor will explore the Outer Banks coast from 2,000 feet in the air! If you’re here in May, the 47th Annual Hang Gliding Spectacular and Air Show is an awesome competition where you can watch the professionals fly across Jockey’s Ridge while competing in categories like duration, altitude, and spot landing.
You may be aware that the Outer Banks is known for its wild Banker Mustangs but did you know that you can also explore the Outer Banks on horseback yourself(domestic horses of course!)? Over the last couple centuries, horseback became a very popular method of transportation for patrolling the beach, especially over the shifting and uneven sands, but today, horses are primarily used for joy riding. Book a guided tour through Outer Banks Horseback in Nags Head or Equine Adventures on Hatteras Island to take a casual stroll along our pristine beaches and learn more about the local area. Whether you’re an experienced jockey or you’re brand new to riding horses, you will love the free-spirited feeling of galloping along the coast in the ocean breeze.
Inshore and Offshore Fishing
One of the world’s most versatile recreational pastimes, fishing can be enjoyed by literally anyone – kids or adults, beginners or experts, those that prefer the mountains or those that prefer the beach. When it comes to reeling in the best catch, experienced anglers know that location is everything and the Outer Banks is the perfect location to try your luck. Often winding up on top fishing destination lists (#2 on the 15 Best Fishing Spots in America by Traveleering Magazine in 2017, one of the Best Family Fishing Vacations in NC by FishingBooker in 2018, and #6 on the 11 Ultimate “Bucket List” Saltwater Fishing Trips in America by SaltStrong in 2016), it’s no wonder that anglers from all over the world head to the Outer Banks all year long to cast a line out into the surrounding waters. While there are plenty of fishing options (surf fishing and fishing piers to name a few), visitors who are seeking a unique and exciting experience should try inshore and offshore fishing. Inshore fishing occurs within a few miles of the shoreline while offshore fishing is typically 30 miles or more from the shore depending on water depth. Many charter companies on the Outer Banks make it easy for anglers to try inshore and offshore fishing with options to head out in the sound or the ocean for full or partial days. Rock Solid Fishing* launches charters out of Oregon Inlet and Wanchese Marina that include everything you need for an entertaining adventure out on the water including licenses, equipment and bait. You may catch billfish, cobia, tuna, mahi-mahi, mackerel and other saltwater species depending on the season.
If you’ve never driven in the sand, you’re definitely missing out on a thrilling experience. There are very few beaches on the East Coast that allow off-road driving and not only does the Outer Banks allow vehicles on several areas, there are parts of the Outer Banks that are only accessible by 4WDs! If you are going to drive on the beach, we suggest doing it in style – that is – in an open top Jeep. Book a Jeep tour with Corolla Jeep Adventures to explore the Outer Banks 4x4 beach area with the wind in your hair and the ocean as your backdrop. You’ll probably even spot a few Outer Banks wild horses along the way!
You probably already know that the Outer Banks is a popular destination for watersport athletes but do you know just how many different watersports you can try here? Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, the sounds and seas invite anyone with an adventurer's soul to get out on the water and have a blast.
Flyboarding is a new watersport invented within the last decade. Riders stand on a board with foot-holds resembling boots while a hose connected to the board forces water pressure through jets that propel the rider into the air. Professional flyboarders can reach impressive heights and even do tricks while in the air. Although it looks like you are standing on a hoverboard and a jetpack all at once, anyone can learn how to do this exciting sport with a helpful instructor! Kitty Hawk Kites can provide beginner lessons and even provides a lesson where riders can just strap a jetpack on their back and fly through the air.
Kayaking is the perfect activity for kids of all ages and the Outer Banks is the ideal place to explore by kayak. A tranquil activity when you venture out alone and a fun activity when you take the whole family, most sound accesses and soundfront homes let you launch kayaks right from your back yard. If you love kayaking but would like to try something new, consider taking a kayak tour through Kitty Hawk Kites+. Guided tours help you discover new waterways while learning about the local geography. You can always rent kayaks, paddles, lifejackets and other gear if you don’t have your own. Our favorite time to go kayaking? Right at dusk because you can literally sail right into the sunset.
Kiteboarding is one of the most popular watersports on the OBX due to the open waters and favorable wind conditions that exist along the coast. Riders soar across the waves while standing on a board and steering a reverse “U-shaped” kite that is propelled by the wind (attached to the rider via a harness). Combining elements of paragliding, windsurfing and wakeboarding (among others), kiteboarding may not be a beginner’s level sport but since you see kiteboarders in the sound on a regular basis, it’s obviously a blast! Luckily, many local companies offer lessons so suit up and give it a go. Kitty Hawk Kites offers private kiteboarding lessons, kiteboarding camps, and equipment rentals. If you are interested in watching the professionals perform some awesome stunts, don’t forget to check out the upcoming Wind Voyager Triple-S Invitational in June! Note: Another variation of kiteboarding is kitesurfing (a term sometimes used interchangeably). The difference can be attributed to the type of board the rider stands on, the style of competitive tricks, and may even vary by region.
If you’ve always dreamed about riding through the waves with the wind in your hair, renting a jet ski may be the perfect way to have that awesome Outer Banks adventure you’ve been dreaming about! A personal watercraft that resembles a motorcycle or ATV without wheels, jet skis are perfect for rediscovering the coast because they provide the means to cover a longer distance in the expansive waters around the Outer Banks. Reputably, they are also easy to maneuver and extremely fun. Unless you live in a coastal town, you probably don’t have this personal watercraft lying around but luckily, companies like North Beach Watersports* in Corolla and Island Breeze Water Sports in Nags Head will rent them out to you. Some jet skis are even designed for two riders so you can explore with a friend.
Parasailing is a fun recreational activity that anyone can try! Riders are attached to a harness rig that is hooked up to a circular-shaped kite resembling a parachute. They are then lifted up and glide through the air as a boat tows the riders along through the water. Since more than one rider can parasail at once, this is a great group activity for family or friends! Not only is the experience exhilarating and fun but you end up getting awesome views of the Outer Banks from the air! To ensure proper safety, parasailing should be an activity you try at a local company with the proper certifications. Kitty Hawk Kites guarantees USCG-licensed boat captains and CPR-certified crews on each outing and offers parasailing adventures in Duck and Manteo. North Beach Watersports* also guarantees USCG certified captains (some are even retired USCG members) and provides parasailing adventures in Corolla.
Stand up paddleboarding (also known as SUP) is another great way to explore the Outer Banks coast. In SUP, riders stand on a large board and use a paddle for moving and steering. Both a fun activity and an excellent workout, this is a much slower-paced activity that allows you to do some solid sightseeing. Although anyone can master this activity, finding your balance might take some practice so book your first private or group lesson through Farmdog Surf School to learn how to properly maneuver the SUP. If you’re more experienced, consider booking a tour through the sound or even giving SUP yoga a try.
Even if you’ve never seen it in person or tried it yourself, chances are you are familiar with the sport of surfing. Believed to have originated thousands of years ago in the Polynesian Islands as a method of transporting fish back to land, the first real documented cases of surfing as a sport are from the 1700s when a navigator described a Tahitian man riding a canoe in the waves for fun. Today, the sport of surfing is often associated synonymously with the laid-back island lifestyle. With our long coastline and ideal swell, surfers from all over the world come to ride the waves of the East Coast and so can you! If you’re an experienced surfer, the OBX has many popular surf spots to try but for beginners, sign up for a private surf lesson through Farmdog Surf School and learn the basics of catching waves. If you enjoy watching experienced, talented surfers effortlessly glide through the water, consider checking out the 2019 ESA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship at Jennette’s Pier in May where you’ll get a front-row seat to the second of three qualifying events in the Eastern Surfing Association National Championship.
Wakeboarding and Waterskiing
Both Wakeboarding and Waterskiing are watersports in which a rider is propelled behind a boat. Wakeboarders feature ridres on a small board (that resemble a surfboard skateboard hybrid) while waterskiing features a rider on skis. Both sports are fast and exhilirating and experienced riders may be able to do tricks and unique maneuvers over the water's surface. The vast open waters in the Outer Banks are the perfect location for trying either of these activities and OBX Wakeboard & Waterski offers lessons for both beginners and more experienced riders. This activity is perfect for small or large groups.
Another popular sport here on the Outer Banks, windsurfing combines surfing and sailing as riders stand on a board with an attached angled sail. While this sport is extremely thrilling, it does require some practice to master so head down to Hatteras Island and take a private or group beginner windsurfing lesson with Ocean Air Sports. For those who are more experienced but don’t have the equipment, rentals are also available. If you are more of an observer, it was recently announced that the US Windsurfing National Championship (made up of three separate events across the country) will hold its Freestyle event in Avon on April 13th – April 20th, 2019 which is sure to be an awesome display of extreme windsurfing talent.
*Guests of Seaside Vacations may be eligible for special rates or discounts through our Club Seaside program for this particular activity. Please view our Club Seaside page for additional information.
+Guests of Seaside Vacations may be eligible for special rates or discounts through our partnership with Kitty Hawk Kites for this particular activity. Please view our Kitty Hawk Kites partnership page for additional information.
Jessie has been coming to the Outer Banks since she was just 5 years old. She loved it here so much that she finally relocated in 2018. Now her mission is to show the world that the Outer Banks is an incredible place that everyone should experience. When she isn't working, you can find Jessie hanging out with her friends, chilling at home with her awesome cat, Yoji, or discovering a new Outer Banks adventure.