The Outer Banks

The Outer Banks

Dora and I are always on the lookout for adventure and exploration and the Outer Banks is one of our favorite places to go. Although we have been to the Outer Banks a number of times on our own and know our way around we also like to participate in workshops hosted by Tommy White and Alistair Nicol. Workshops led by Tommy and Alistair are packed with photographic opportunities, locations, lots of tips, and hands on instruction. In addition, it is a good opportunity to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. 

The Outer Banks consists of a string of barrier islands mainly off the coast of North Carolina. The northern most portion of the Outer Banks extends into the southeast corner of Virginia. The Outer Banks are rich in history, including the original Roanoke Colony established in 1584, only to vanish in 1587. The Outer Banks is also home to the Wright brother's famous flight from Kill Devil Hills on December 17, 1903. Wild horses can be found around the islands, which according to legend, are descendants of horses either left by the Spanish or washed ashore from a shipwreck. Ocracoke Island was the last refuge of Edward Teach. We know him as the pirate Blackbeard. Edward Teach was killed in a battle on Okracoke in 1718.

There are a number of excellent photo locations to explore. Currituck, which is the northeastern most county in North Carolina, is home to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, located in the town of Corolla. The lighthouse was completed in 1875. The lighthouse continues to function today. Adjacent to the lighthouse is Whalehead, once the winter home of the Knight family. Whalehead was built in 1925. This restored Art Nouveau style home is open to the public for museum tours. Whalehead is an amazing place to watch and photograph sunsets.

Bodie Lighthouse is another great location to add to your itinerary. Bodie Lighthouse is traditionally pronounced as "body". The name is derived from the original name of the area, which was "Bodie's Island" after the Body family who once owned the land that was a separate barrier island. In 1811 Roanoke inlet, that separated it from the Currituck Banks to the north, closed.Three lighthouses have stood in the vicinity now occupied by Bodie Lighthouse. Bodie Lighthouse was built in 1872, and like all the lighthouses we visited is still a working lighthouse. Depending on the time of year photographers have been able to get amazing Milky Way photos over the lighthouse. The location lends itself well to sunrise photos but there are also amazing sunset opportunities. 

Frisco Pier, also known as the Cape Hatteras Fishing Pier, is a favorite for fisherman and photographers. The pier was built in 1962. Storm damage over the years has taken a toll on Frisco Pier. The pier was demolished in 2019. Spectacular sunrise and excellent surf action made this a photographic dream. A photographer couldn't ask for more.  Sadly, Frisco Pier is no longer there. However, there are a number of piers along the eastern shore to photograph, all of which make for beautiful sunrise settings. Piers include Avalon Fishing Pier, Nag's Head Fishing Pier, Jennette's Fishing Pier, and Avon Fishing Pier. Other piers and walkways are found throughout the Outer Banks.
Cape Hatteras is also the location of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. The first lighthouse to mark the dangerous shoals of Cape Hatteras which extend from the cape out a distance of 10 miles was erected in 1794. The second lighthouse, which is still in use today was constructed in 1870. Gradually the sea encroached on the lighthouse and in 1999 the lighthouse was moved 2,900 feet inland.

Roanoke Marshes Lighouse is located in the town of Manteo. This lighthouse lends itself quite well to a sunrise. The lighthouse lends itself well even to overcast days. The original Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, built in 1831, no longer exists. It stood offshore between the southern end of Roanoke Island and the mainland, where it served to mark the southern entrance to Croatan Sound from Pamlico Sound. After only 8 years of service it needed extensive repairs and a new lighthouse was finally operational in 1858. At the start of the Civil War the lighthouse was taken out of service by the Confederates but was operational again by 1863. In 1872 it was determined a new lighthouse was needed and work completed in 1877. Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1955. A private citizen bought the lighthouse and had it placed on a barge to transport to a location not far from the lighthouse's site. The structure didn't make it. Somewhere along the way it fell off the barge and sunk in the sound. It was never recovered. The city of Manteo decided to build a replica, which opened in 2004.

A ferry ride from Hatteras to Ocracoke is another adventure. Ocracoke is home to my favorite lighthouse. The Ocracoke Lighthouse was built in 1823. Ocracoke is the second oldest operating lighthouse in the United States.