The community, which is found on Currituck Banks, can only be accessed by boat or by four-wheel drive vehicle since there are no paved roads connecting Carova Beach to either neighboring settlements of Sandbridge in Virginia Beach, Virginia or Corolla, North Carolina and no bridge connecting it to Knotts Island, North Carolina, on the mainland. Four-wheel drive vehicles drive north along the beach from Corolla into the community, as access from Virginia is only limited to pedestrians.
The community’s name derived from the combination of the first syllables of Carolina and Virginia since the coastal community lies just south of the North Carolina-Virginia state line. Thus, it is the northernmost of the Outer Banks communities of North Carolina.
Banker horses and other wildlife roam freely on the beaches of Carova. There is an enforced law on the beach that states that no one is to get within 50 feet (15 m) of the horses. Commercialism is absent from this section of the Outer Banks; there are no restaurants, shops, or other attractions that often accompany beach communities. There are many beach homes, however, and developers continue to build in the area.
It has a permanent population of approximately 500 people; during the summer vacation season, the population surges into the thousands. Corolla is home to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, one of the seven North Carolina coastal lighthouses.
Corolla is home to about 119 feral Banker horses. They are located on a 12,000-acre (49 km²) animal sanctuary situated north of the populated areas of Corolla. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund is a public charity whose mission is to protect and preserve the herd.
FYI… The usual pronunciation of local residents stresses the second syllable like all (Kuh-RAH-Luh, /kəˈrɑːlə/), however many outsiders pronounce Corolla the same as they pronounce the name of the car, the Toyota Corolla, where the second syllable sounds like roe (Kuh-ROE-Luh, /kəˈroʊlə/).
Yes, it was named Duck. Hunters and gatherers have been flocking to the area since the 1800’s for its abundant waterfowl.
This resort town has an impressive reputation for great beaches, water sports and outdoor adventures, first-class events including a nationally-known Jazz Festival, fine dining, and eclectic shopping. Bounded by the Currituck Sound to the west, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, visitors delight in great kayaking, jet skiing, fishing, and much more. The beaches, many named among the top in the nation, are private and afford great shell collecting opportunities, especially in the offseason when the pickings are flush. Some local restaurants offer open air dining and most of the Town’s shops and restaurants are connected by the Duck Trail that runs the entire length of the town parallel to Highway 12 or by the soundside boardwalk which offers premium views of the Currituck Sound.
Nestled between the towns of Kitty Hawk and Duck, you’ll find Southern Shores, predominately a vacation-oriented town though it has many more year-round residents than Duck. Just one mile wide and four miles long, Southern Shores has much to offer with much of the natural vegetation left intact. With easy access to two major shopping centers, several smaller marketplaces, dining, hotels, oceanfront cottages, private beaches and golf, Southern Shores is a great place to call home, even for just a short time.
The Town of Kitty Hawk is rich in history and tradition. When Orville and Wilbur Wright looked for a site for their aviation experiments in 1900, they needed a place with winds regularly over 15 mph. with gentle hills for glider launching, a sandy surface for soft landings, and a remote location to avoid public attention. A Kitty Hawk citizen, Mr. Bill Tate, assured the Wrights in a letter that Kitty Hawk would provide the ideal location. In closing, Mr. Tate encouraged Wilbur: “If you decide to try your machine here & come I will take pleasure in doing all I can for your convenience & success & pleasure, & I assure you, you will find a hospitable people when you come among us.” That tradition lives on today.
Kill Devil Hills
Kill Devil Hills received its municipal charter in 1953. Situated in the near geographic middle of the Northern Beaches, it is the largest municipality in Dare County with a year-round population of about 6,800 people. We are proud to be the site of the first heavier-than-air powered flight. A 12 second, 120-foot flight that launched the Age of Aviation on Thursday, December 17, 1903. Wilbur and Orville Wright were successful in making four flights at the base of the big hill that is now a part of the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
One of the most popular questions visitors ask is how the name Kill Devil Hills came about. Several versions of the story circulate on the Outer Banks. One legend suggests the pirates who once called these shores home are to blame. Apparently, one night while taking a “shore leave”, a surly lot of buccaneers were sitting amongst the sand dunes that towered over the landscape, drinking moonshine that was “strong enough to kill the devil.” Another version holds that in the 1700’s William Byrd of Virginia, apparently no admirer of the Carolinas, wrote that “most of the rum they get in the country comes from New England, and is so bad and unwholesome that it is not improperly called “Kill Devil.” Other lore suggests the town received its moniker from an old brand of rum that washed ashore at the dunes here, the only surviving cargo from a nameless shipwreck.
The origin of the town’s colorful name, the legend of Nags Head takes us back to days of piracy, when tales drifted ashore about the wonderful treasures traveling at sea being plundered by “rogue businessmen” like Blackbeard, that one of the original Outer Bankers got the inspiration for the equine moniker. A lantern was tied around the neck of an old gentle horse, then this old “nag” was led up and down the tallest of the sand dunes, so that the light was visible out at sea. As a ship’s captain saw this gently bobbing light, it seemed to be from a ship riding at anchor in a sheltered harbor. As the Captain tried to put in to this “safe” harbor, his ship would pile up on the treacherous shoals that constantly writhed and changed shape beneath the surface. The “land pirates” made the crew walk the plank, looted and burned the hapless ship, and made away with the bounty.
Today, family operated businesses and a small town atmosphere prevail, contributing to a certain charm and a slow, relaxed pace of life. Incorporated in 1961, Nags Head takes pride in its clean water, low density of development, and abundant open spaces. Its 11 miles of oceanfront and 6.5 square miles of area are home to a year round residential population of 2,800. The town is an annual vacation spot for a countless number of families, making it the ideal family beach.
The town of Manteo wraps around Shallowbag Bay on the eastern side of Roanoke Island. Named the seat of government for Dare County in 1870, this waterfront community incorporated in 1899. In those early days, every store lining the waterfront had two doors – one for those coming by boat, and the other for those coming from the courthouse or one of the inns on Water Street. Manteo is home to more Bed and Breakfasts than any other Outer Banks town.
Today, county business still brings people to the charming downtown streets, as do the many reminders of the island’s unique history, including the representative 16th century ship Elizabeth II at Roanoke Island Festival Park, and the George Washington Creef Boathouse and Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, part of the Roanoke Island Maritime Center. Each summer, Manteo welcomes singers, dancers and actors back to Waterside Theatre, where they perform the nation’s oldest outdoor symphonic drama, The Lost Colony.
The Village of Wanchese is at the southernmost end of Roanoke Island, opposite the town of Manteo to the north. Wanchese is a charming fishing village that retains its old world charm and sense of identity. Far removed from the hustle and bustle of the beach, Wanchese is an idyllic retreat from the flashy part of summer vacations, but close enough to enjoy all the amenities.
The village takes its name from one of two Native American Indian chiefs that first met British governor John White’s expedition in 1585. Chief Manteo was the other. Today, Wanchese remains a key ingredient in the Outer Banks economy.
It’s worth seeing. Here, at the mid-point of the East Coast of the United States, is a major fishing hub. Shrimp trawlers, flounder boats, huge vessels go out for weeks at a time gathering fresh seafood from waters up and down the Eastern Seaboard and the coastal and inland waterways of North Carolina. Much of the fresh catch ends up on the specials menu at our local Outer Banks restaurants. Some gets shipped packed in ice all across America.
The entire northern end of Hatteras Island was once known as Chicamacomico, but in 1874 the postal service changed the name to Rodanthe, but by the early 1900s, three distinct villages had become established in the Rodanthe area – North Rodanthe, South Rodanthe, and Clark. As the postal sections were subdivided, the northernmost village kept the name “Rodanthe,” while the others were assigned new names once again.
Rodanthe is home to the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station, the first such station established along the North Carolina coast, in the service of the U.S. Lifesaving Service, which eventually became today’s modern Coast Guard. The U.S. Coast Guard was essentially founded in this tiny village. A state historic site is one of the showpieces of this community, where re-enactments using the breeches-buoy rescue cannon, restored buildings and artifacts. Rodanthe is a simple delight for children and those hungry for history.
The village of Waves was called South Rodanthe during the 1930’s until the town got its own post office and its new name reflecting the Atlantic Oceans influence on the tiny community. The area is a haven for water sports like kiteboarding and windsurfing, bird watchers will love the proximity to the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and access to the sounds is terrific for fishermen and beach lovers alike. Today, the village is dotted by gorgeous cottages, but the influence of history is still apparent to anyone who visits.
Originally called Clarks or Clarksville, the village of Salvo got is name in a most interesting way. The legend goes that during the Civil War, a sailor aboard a Union ship passing off the coast of Hatteras Island spied the town of Clarks, but couldn’t find a name for it on the map. He informed his captain who famously said, “Give it a salvo anyway.” They did, and the sailor then wrote “Salvo” on his map to mark the town. The town took on its new name in 1901 when it got its own post office.
Avon is an old Hatteras Island village that has become synonymous with recreational surf fishing, and the Avon pier is a hot spot for those in pursuit of big gamefish like Red Drum. Just north of Buxton, this once tiny village of watermen and their families has grown to be a highly coveted vacationing experience with pristine, natural beaches and beautiful rental cottages. But Avon still retains its tight knit community feel. Even though you can find fantastic seafood restaurants, a supermarket, and some of the conveniences of home, a rustic atmosphere still permeates Avon.
You may hear Avon referred to as Kinnakeet by some locals. It was the name local tribe of Algonkian Indians gave the area, and later adopted by settlers. But in 1883, the U.S. Postal Service redubbed the village Avon, like they did with most of the Hatteras Island communities.
The Village of Buxton is located just off Cape Hatteras, and in fact, used to be called simply “The Cape.” It is home to the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, America’s tallest brick lighthouse at 208-feet. The National Park Service opens the lighthouse for climbing every spring, and closes it during the winter, though the grounds and museum are accessible year round.
Buxton is home to a nationally popular surf fishing spot known as Cape Point. It is a large sweeping sand bar that stretches farther out into the Atlantic that any other point on the Outer Banks, getting you close to the fish. There is camping available at Buxton as well, and many people enjoy the elementally exposed experience of sleeping under the stars with the gentle pounding of the surf.
The village of Frisco is known for its heavily wooded maritime forests on the soundside or western edge. Situated at the edge of what is known as Buxton Woods, between the villages of Buxton and Hatteras, tiny Frisco has a flavor all its own. Once known as Trent, until the Postal Service changed the village’s name in 1898, Frisco has deep roots in American cultural and military history.
On September 5, 1923, General Billy Mitchell of what was then the Army Air Service used a tiny airstrip at Frisco to launch a series of bombing run demonstrations against battleship targets off the Outer Banks. This exhibition left no question to the effectiveness and necessity of air power, and was a major impetus in establishing the United States’ modern Air Force.
Hatteras Village is the southernmost community on Hatteras Island. Not to be confused with Hatteras Inlet, the channel of water between Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island, nor Cape Hatteras, which is the spit of land jutting into the Atlantic Ocean at Buxton.
The name Hattaras was used by the Fort Raleigh colonists in reference to Pea Island north of modern day Hatteras Island. Croatoan was an area described in Algonkian Indian tongue as west of what is now Cape Hatteras. The village of Hatteras retained its historical name, while the U.S. Postal Service reassigned many of the neighboring communities in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Today, the village is home to a renowned charter fishing fleet, and home to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, where the remnants of the original Fresnel lens that once shone bright atop the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is now displayed, having been recently reunited with its original rotating pedestal. There are numerous artifacts and displays there, and even a gift shop too.