The heart of the Outer Banks is the set of barrier islands that form a long isthmus along the North Carolina coast. It is made up primarily of four islands: Bodie Island, Roanoke Island, Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke Island. The first three are connected by a set of roads and bridges. Ocracoke Island, in the south, can only be reached by ferry. In addition, the Cape Lookout National Seashore, another set of barrier islands just southwest of Ocracoke Island, is generally considered part of the outer banks experience.
Because they are barrier islands, the outer banks feature a number of famous lighthouses. Above is the Cape Bodie Lighthouse. Below, is the very famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which has been moved from the shore to a more central location because of beach erosion.
Most of the Hatteras Seashore is simply beach, with water visible on both sides of the road. There are campsites and beach access areas, but it mostly is just wild and open.
I wanted to see the beach, and so I took what looked like a good road onto the beach. I should mention that I have relatives who like to point out that, while stupidity runs in my family, it gallops in me. I don't know what I was thinking, but a Toyota Avalon is not going to make it onto the beach. I got immediately stuck in the sand, as you can see from the picture below:
I was in the middle of nowhere, but I had cell phone service (What a great country!). AAA sent a tow truck, and an hour and a half later I was back on the road. While waiting, I was on the beach, it was sunny and 70 degrees, and I even saw dolphins frolicking in the surf.
It was hard to get a picture of them, but I tried. In the picture above you can see the tail fin of one dolphin, the dorsal fin of the next one, and the dorsal and tail fin of the third. They were having a ball, and were fun to watch.
Because of ferry schedule problems, I was not able to get to Ocracoke Island, which I think is a loss. I drove back to the mainland, and around to Morehead City to spend the night. The next morning I visited the visitor's center for Cape Lookout National Seashore. Cape Lookout can only be accessed by private boat, and even the visitor's center is on Harker's Island, which is connected to the mainland. It too, has a lighthouse, and I was able to get a picture of it from across the sound.
Next Monday, Myrtle Beach.