Did You Know the OBX is More Underdeveloped Than Most Beaches?


by Jessie S.

obx is more underdeveloped than most beaches

Did You Know the OBX is More Underdeveloped Than Most Beaches? When you look at photos of the Outer Banks 50+ years ago, you might not even recognize the quiet landscape. Its remote location meant that most visitors tended to be hunters, fisherman, or others who were seeking out that the specific isolated geography. As locals and visitors realized the potential of such a unique area, development increased and the Outer Banks became one of the top vacation destinations in the country seeing millions of visitors every year from all over the world. Yet, compared to most beach destinations, the Outer Banks is still one of the most underdeveloped beaches.

obx is more underdeveloped than most beaches - ocean view

Although a lot has changed over the years, that historic charm can still be found in the midst of the close-knit local community, natural parks and wildlife sanctuaries, historic landmarks, and even along every street corner in the form of classic beach box homes and family-owned businesses. What most visitors love about the Outer Banks is the unique balance of two important factors that make up a great vacation: 1) pristine, undeveloped land and 2) having access to plenty of fun local attractions and vacation amenities.

It's true that accessing these barrier islands may be getting easier though the construction of new bridges and yes, we do have a few major retailers like WalMart and Publix to accommodate for the growing economy and increased tourism, but overall, the Outer Banks is a great place to visit and there is nowhere else quite like it in the country.

Full-Time Residents & Visitor Statistics

The Outer Banks may seem busy during the summer but at the end of the day, these barrier islands are simply made up of several small towns that stretch over three counties including Currituck, Dare and Hyde County. The following list is a count of full-time residents for each county. Keep in mind that this population data covers the entire county, including mainland areas:

  • Currituck County: approx. 24,500
  • Dare County: approx. 34,900
  • Hyde County: approx. 5,700

(The above numbers are from the January 2018 ACCESSNC County Profile for Currituck, Dare & Hyde County posted on the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce Website.)

obx is more underdeveloped than most beaches - coastline
When it comes to visitors to the area, measuring numbers is more difficult so most government agencies measure tourism by tax spending. However, when you look the following neighboring beach destinations and compare estimated number of annual visitors to the total land area (in square miles), it’s easy to see that a trip to the Outer Banks means you can lay out on the beach without everyone else being right on top of you.

  • Dare County: 6.2 million visitors at 383 square miles
  • Virginia Beach, VA: 19 million visitors at 249 square miles
  • Myrtle Beach, SC: 14 million visitors at 23.3 square miles
  • Ocean City, MD: 8 million visitors at 4.4 square miles

(The above numbers are approximate and all data comes from US Census Bureau or the concurrent City/County website/visitors bureau/chamber of commerce).

Enjoy Underdeveloped Beaches

Overall, the Outer Banks has miles of ocean AND sound coastline for you to explore along with plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy no matter their age and no matter their interest. You might see some large, colorful beach homes and even a hotel or two but on the Outer Banks, having a view of the natural landscape is the norm - you won't see any high-rise hotels here. Book an Outer Banks Vacation today and see for yourself!

obx is more underdeveloped than most beaches - no high-rise hotels

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. 

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