The center of any Outer Banks tour, Cape Hatteras has become well-known for its gorgeous sandy beaches, uninterrupted by overdevelopment. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore runs along the Atlantic coast of the island, as well as nearby Bodie Island and Ocracoke Island, and attracts tourists from all over the country with its pristine views of the ocean. Hatteras is also known for sportfishing, having earned the title of “Blue Marlin Capital of the World.”
Beyond their status as a modern-day vacation destination, the islands of the Outer Banks have major historical significance as well. Some of the earliest European settlements in North America were founded on these islands, including the infamous Roanoke colony that vanished mysteriously in 1587. The notorious pirate Blackbeard perished in 1718 when British pirate hunters attacked his ship near Ocracoke Island. Blackbeard is far from the only sailor to lose his life off the Outer Banks, which earned the grim nickname “Graveyard of the Atlantic” due to the treacherous waters that caused hundreds of ships to sink outside the island chain.
The Outer Banks have also been the site of several famous firsts. In 1902, Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden made the first successful transmission of his voice from a tower on Hatteras Island to one on Roanoke Island, demonstrating the effectiveness of the technology that would eventually become radio.
Only a year later, in 1903, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright would demonstrate a new technology of their own at Kill Devil Hills: a motorized aircraft they called the Wright Flyer. Although there were several inventors working on powered flight around the same time, the Wright Flyer is considered by most to be the first airplane.
To make the most of your next trip to North Carolina, check out our bundle of Self-Guided Outer Banks Driving Tours, or you can sign up for Action+ to gain access to over 100 tours for a single yearly price.