Photo albums are filled with images of Outer Banks beaches. Our pristine shoreline and endless panorama of sea and sky call out to photographers who want to capture sunrises over the Atlantic, sea birds and their families enjoying surf and sand.
Yet, the Outer Banks is more than just miles of shoreline. As beautiful as our beaches may be, there are numerous venues that offer camera-worthy photo opts. To add unique snapshots of our area to your collection, adventurous photographers should take note of the following scenic locations.
The Boardwalk Trail, Currituck Banks Reserve – Corolla, NC
Approximately one mile past the Currituck Heritage Park, NC12 takes a sharp right hand turn. Directly to the left, there is a small parking lot that’s the trail head for a boardwalk that leads to the Currituck sound. This boardwalk, and the surrounding maritime forest, is a part of the Currituck Banks Estuarine Reserve.
The boardwalk is a short (.3 mile) stroll through a maritime forest leading to the sound. An easy walk, actually handicap accessible, it ends at a small platform overlooking the Currituck Sound. Towering pines line the pathway, leading to the point of a small bay or inlet that perfectly frames the sound water.
The Currituck Sound this far north is dotted with small islands and floating rafts of reeds, and on a clear day, details of mainland Currituck are easily seen. Other photo opportunities include marshy wetlands, wild oaks with storm-twisted branches, sea birds and other wildlife and color drenched sunsets. Mosquito repellant is a must!
The Duck Town Park & Boardwalk – Duck, NC
Open to the public from dawn to dusk, there’s nothing else quite like this park on the Outer Banks. A mile-long wooden boardwalk perched on the edge of the Currituck Sound and surrounded by a lush 11 acre town park. It’s a wonderful place to take a stroll, but you definitely don’t want to forget your camera.
Ducks, geese and osprey regularly visit these waters, and a number of boat ramps and launches often provide a backdrop of recreational activity. Although the sound waters initially catch the eye, you’ll also want to scan the shoreline for interesting photo opts of waterfowl or the occasional otter that rest in the protective waters between the boardwalk and shoreline.
Sandy Run – Kitty Hawk, NC
Sandy Run Park is a gem of a park with photo opportunities available throughout all four seasons. Consisting of a one mile loop trail that circles around wetlands and impoundments, this area is teeming with wildlife. There is also an observation tower that looks out over a marsh and an osprey nesting site on the north end.
The park is located on The Woods Road, about two miles from the intersection with US 158, and the parking lot is on the left, just past Kitty Hawk Garden Center.
Old Nags Head Woods – Nags Head, NC
Old Nags Head Woods Road is a long-standing dirt road that twists and turns its way through Nags Head Woods. Beautifully shaded by massive old growth trees, the road itself is worth the trip, but it’s the view at the end of the road that camera buffs will want to capture.
Perched on a 20’ bank, and framed by the arcing tree branches, the view of Roanoke Island is unobstructed and breathtaking. Hawks regularly survey the waters for prey from the branches of a massive live oak that’s fallen to the sound waters yet is still very much alive.
There’s no official sign marking Old Nags Head Woods Road, but it does show up on maps. There are two ways to get to the road from Kill Devil Hills. Turn west at the stoplight adjacent to Pigman’s Barbecue onto Ocean Acres and follow it past the Nags Head Woods Visitor Center. The paved road becomes a dirt road and ends at a secondary dirt road where you turn left. Or, turn west onto Martin Street. Martin Street becomes a dirt road and bends to the left. Stay on this road until it arrives at the sound.
There are three Outer Banks lighthouses that are available to climb: Cape Hatteras, Bodie Island and Currituck Beach. The view from the top of all three is spectacular and, although Cape Hatteras is the best known and tallest of the three, photographers may actually find the other two towers more interesting. In particular, the marshes, wetlands and impoundments at the base of Bodie Island make for very interesting photos. Nonetheless, the climb to the top of all three is worth the effort, especially if you have your camera.