The Outer Banks are one of the most beautiful coastlines
in the USA. Their wild and windswept beauty has attracted
people through the ages, from the first colonists to surfers
who flock here every year. The Outer Banks are made up of
a long thin strand of islands stretching in a 100 mile arc
from the Virginia border in the north, down to Cape
Lookout, halfway down the coast of North Carolina.
There are dunes, marshes and beaches interspersed with historic
lighthouses. Offshore, the Outer Banks are known as the graveyard
of the Atlantic, and have over a thousand wrecks lying beneath
the crystal clear water. Its a great place for sailing,
diving, exploring and wandering.
- Looking out from the top of the 19th century Bodie Island
- Diving some of the hundreds of wrecks, including the U352
submarine, beneath the Atlantic waters
- Diving in the vicinity of sand tiger sharks.
Our Journey Path (as featured
in Treks in a Wild World)
Holly Morris land and sea trek begins at Jockeys
Ridge State Park, home of the largest sand dune on the
East Coast. She meets up with her guide, Chris Blanchard,
and they head out on a reconstructed, traditional 19th century
sailboat from Roanoke Island, down Pamlico Sound,
to the Bodie Island lighthouse. From here, Holly and
her guide sail down to Cape Hatteras before heading
to the historic village of Ocracoke. Here, Holly says
goodbye to her guide and sailboat and embarks on an underwater
adventure, diving to find sand tiger sharks and to
see some of the shipwrecks that surround this beautiful
coastline near Morehead City.
When you view the Outer Banks waters from the top of the lighthouse,
you get an idea of just how treacherous these waters are.
The surf is strong, the sand is shifting and the land is so
flat and sparsely habited. This is not an area to be messed
with, so if youre surfing or sailing its a good
idea to talk to the local fishers and sailors and find how
to handle the seas here.
If youre sailing along the Outer Banks, keep watch
for wrecks on the beaches. As the winds blow across the Atlantic,
the sand is often pushed away to reveal evidence of ancient
or even more recent wrecks.
Wreck diving is a dangerous sport. Dont attempt to
dive wrecks on your own go with someone who knows about
them. Only professional divemasters who dive down and into
the wrecks should take you to see them. If youve never
dived a wreck before get some training! Contact your
local scuba diving company for information on wreck diving
Did Your Know?
A hundred colonists settled on Roanoke Island in 1587.
They had a hard time surviving on these shores and eventually
were forced to sent a ship back to England for supplies. By
the time the ship returned three years later the entire colony
had disappeared, leaving absolutely no trace except for a
mysterious carving on a tree spelling out the word Croatan.
To this day, no one had discovered what happened to them.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse has stood guard over Oregon
Inlet since 1848, but it has a chequered past. The first light
started tilting to one side so much that the light stopped
flashing. The second light in the lighthouse was blown up
by Confederate troops in 1861. The third one is the present
one, and stands 150 feet tall and is still fully operational.
The tallest lighthouse in the United States can be found
at Cape Hatteras, and is 208 feet high. The countrys
oldest lighthouse is on Ocracoke Island, and was built
in 1872. These days its open only in the summer months.
The most famous pirate of all, Edward Teach, alias Blackbeard,
used to scour these waters looking for lightly armed merchants
to rob. Many wouldnt even put up a fight once they knew
who he was. He used to put wicks laced with gunpowder in his
huge black beard to make himself more fearsome. Blackbeard
was powerful enough to blockade the whole town of Charleston,
South Carolina for a whole week in May 1718. Seven months
later, in November 1718, Blackbeard eventually died in a fierce
battle at Ocracoke Inlet. His flagship, the Queen
Annes Revenge has only recently been found off
the coast and is now being excavated. But his treasure, rumoured
to be buried on Ocracoke Island, has never been recovered.
The cemetery on Ocracoke island is officially located on
British soil. It contains the graves of British sailors washed
ashore after the wreck of the HMS Bedfordshire during