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Outer Banks

The narrow strand of barrier islands known as North Carolina's Outer Banks strings for more than 90 miles along the coast from Virginia's border south through Ocracoke and Portsmouth Islands. Bordered by bodies of brackish water on the west (known as "sounds") and by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, these fragile islands are accessible by plane, boat, or by driving over one of several bridges that provide links to the mainland. At the narrowest points, the islands are less than a half-mile wide, and in some areas, they extend out more than 20 miles east of the North Carolina mainland.

Despite the apparent inaccessibility, the Outer Banks has been populated for thousands of years. Although today's year-round population barely tops 46,000 people, the area draws nearly 250,000 people each week during the height of the summer season. Many consider the banks a vacation paradise, owing to its wide sandy beaches, unspoiled natural terrain, abundant clean water, and relatively mild temperatures. Aside from the allure of the untamed beach, recreational activities include all watersports, great East Coast surfing, world-class sport fishing, and world-class golf. Since the towns of Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills are home to the world's first powered flight, the area is a magnet for aviators and hang gliders.

Outer Banks Communities

Towns and communities along the Outer Banks include (listed from north to south):

Hatteras Island: Ocracoke Island: