Outer Banks, NC  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Outer Banks Area Features

“Seas” the Day

Ahoy, mates! The expansive waters of the Atlantic Ocean and calm sounds are calling to you and your fellow landlubbers. By venturing to a local pier or marina on the Outer Banks, you’ll find many options for an exceptional day (or evening) on the water. After all, boating is fun, relaxing, and the perfect thing to do on a beautiful day on the Atlantic Coast.


Sitting on the stern of a boat with a fishing pole (and maybe even a cold beer) is a great way to spend a day on the water! And the Outer Banks has some of the best fishing around. Curious why this area is such a favorite fishing destination? It’s because the Gulf Stream sets the stage for some of the most exciting fishing found anywhere in the world. Imagine the thrill as a massive blue marlin charges from the deep to inhale a lure trailing only yards behind the boat. That feeling kicks into high gear when the marlin, weighing nearly 500 pounds, takes the bait and leaps ten feet into the air. At the end of the fight, both angler and fish are winners when the fish is unhooked and released to swim away unharmed.

Blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish, locally known as “billfish,” are among the top sport fish to catch when offshore fishing. Some of the best-tasting fish in the sea, such as yellowfin tuna, wahoo, king mackerel and dolphin (the fish which is also called mahi-mahi—not the mammal) can also be caught on a Gulf Stream charter. Sometimes the thrill of the hunt is an adventure in itself. Near-shore waters provide an abundance of fish for boaters. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, red drum, sea bass, cobia, and amberjack can be caught within a few miles of land. During the past several years, striped bass have made some memorable appearances during the winter.

Explore our Outer Banks Fishing Guide to find knowledgeable guides who are available for offshore charters or backcountry fishing safaris. The local captains are among the best in the world! And the best part is, you don’t need any equipment or experience. They furnish all of the expertise, tackle, bait, and equipment for fishing trips, which can be arranged through many of the Outer Banks marinas and boat docks. Good luck hooking the big one!

Be your own captain (or book a private excursion)

Boats are certainly available for rent and riding aboard them can pack a lot of enjoyment. It’s always exciting to spring over the waves on a high-speed jet boat. Plus, there is a wide range of other sports that can be tried from the back of a boat including water skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding. On the other hand, pontoon boats are great for large groups—especially those who just want a relaxing cruise on the waterways. Couples might prefer to rent a jet ski and independently race each other across the water.

If you’re interested in other boat-based activities but would prefer to have someone else in charge so you can enjoy the fun, there are a few other fantastic nautical experiences to try. A gorgeous vista awaits those brave enough to take to the skies to see the North Carolina coastline from a different (and higher) perspective while parasailing. For sheer fun, maybe book a tubing or banana boat ride. You’ll be bouncing along on a group raft as a powerboat speeds you over the ocean waves.

Nature Cruises

For those who would appreciate a relaxing reprieve from adrenalized adventures, a wildlife tour might be the way to go. Not only do you get to leave the captaining to someone else, but everyone in the group will get to learn about dolphins, whales or other aquatic creatures while hopefully seeing them in the wild. Dolphin cruises bring you close to the mammals that continually captivate spectators. Their intelligence, communication styles and playful antics have endeared them to many, and the love for these mammals continues to grow. Plus, they’re fun to see in the wild. That’s why tours to see these creatures have become so popular on the Outer Banks.


Taking out a non-motorized vessel—a kayak—while staying in the Outer Banks gives you and your family the opportunity to pleasantly discover hidden coves along the sound and rivers or natural splendors of the open sea. With good reason, the number of people enjoying this activity has exploded along the Outer Banks in the last several years. Kayakers can set their own pace and choose an exhilarating adventure by riding breaking waves in rough waters. Or, they can opt for a more peaceful expedition, exploring pristine sound-side waters alive with wildlife. This environment provides a more controlled way of participating in the sport. Many watersports outfitters offer guided kayak tours where participants can learn about salt marshes, waterfowl, and marine critters as well as history and local legends. Anglers have also adopted kayaks as an efficient, affordable way to seek out secret, productive fishing grounds on both sides of the islands.

With so many options for a memorable boating experience, you would be remiss not to take advantage of them while vacationing on the Outer Banks. So “seas” the day and go find your adventure on the water!

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