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EssentialsFirst you have to get here. You could just drive over a bridge to reach the barrier islands of the Outer Banks, but the alternative is much more fun—car ferries run from Cedar Island and Swan Quarter to Ocracoke and also provide the only connection between Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.
Climb to the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse near Buxton or the Currituck Beach Lighthouse at Corolla, and you'll be rewarded with panoramic views and an appreciation for the role these guardians played in safeguarding seafaring vessels.
Take a leisurely drive along undeveloped stretches of SR 12 through Cape Hatteras National Seashore , enjoying the solitude, the sound of the surf and the sea oats swaying in the ocean breeze.
Remember the brave souls who sailed from England to an unknown land in 1585 to establish an outpost for their mother country. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site , Elizabethan Gardens , the play “The Lost Colony” and Roanoke Island Festival Park, Home of Elizabeth II —all on the island in Roanoke Sound where the expedition came ashore—recall these settlers' valiant efforts to colonize the New World.
Marvel at the advances in aviation since Orville and Wilbur Wright's Flyer left the ground for 12 seconds and a distance of 120 feet on that blustery December day in 1903. The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills traces the brothers' attempts to conquer the mysteries of powered flight.
Stay for a while. For a true Outer Banks experience, rent an oceanfront “cottage” for a week or longer; choices range from modest but cozy bungalows to palatial 10-bedroom mansions.
Scramble up the shifting sands of the tallest dunes on the East Coast at Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head for unparalleled views of both Roanoke Sound and the Atlantic Ocean—coming back down is much easier.
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Join the crowds and buy an OBX souvenir. It seems this acronym for the Outer Banks appears just about everywhere and on everything. You'll find OBX—presented as three bold black letters inside a banded oval—on car bumpers and back windows, on T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts and other typical forms of vacation mementos.
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Outer Banks in 3 DaysThree days is barely enough time to get to know any major destination. But AAA travel editors suggest these activities to make the most of your time in the Outer Banks.
Day 1: MorningTo fully appreciate North Carolina's Outer Banks, a car is a necessity. This long, slender strip of barrier islands stretches 113 miles from Ocracoke at the destination area's southern tip to Corolla in the north, and you'll want to experience every bit of this sunny slice of heaven. Though this itinerary begins in Ocracoke and ends in Corolla, you can set out from either direction.
Part of the fun of the Outer Banks is getting there. If you're approaching the area from the south, you can begin this adventure with a ferry ride from Cedar Island or Swan Quarter to Ocracoke ; just remember to make a reservation and factor in the 2.25- to 2.5-hour trip time. Phone the North Carolina Department of Transportation Ferry Division at (800) 293-3779 for information about fees and schedules.
Once you and your car reach Ocracoke Island, spend some time exploring this laid-back fishing village. A favorite hideout of Edward Teach (aka the pirate Blackbeard) in the early 18th century, the town is now popular with vacationers in search of peaceful surroundings and windswept beaches. The best way to see the sights is by bicycle, so stop at a rental outlet and pedal off along narrow, tree-shaded streets to the Ocracoke Lighthouse, built in 1823; Silver Lake, the village's focal point; and the British Cemetery, the burial site of four English sailors who washed ashore after their patrol ship was sunk off Cape Lookout by a German U-boat during World War II.
Day 1: AfternoonIf the brisk ocean breezes and exercise have made you hungry, there are a couple of casual restaurants in Ocracoke to consider for lunch. You can quench your thirst with a beer from the more than 200 brews available at Howard's Pub & Raw Bar Restaurant , then dive into a half-pound burger, fresh-shucked oysters and clams, pizzas and hand-cut fries, all made to order. The rooftop deck is a great place to kick back, relax and enjoy splendid views of the harbor, ocean and island. Equally casual is Jason's Restaurant , where the emphasis is on pizza (you can choose from more than 20 toppings) and pasta dishes, though there is also an extensive list of sandwiches (including subs) and fresh seafood.
As you leave the village heading north on SR 12, the only highway through Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the Outer Banks, it's awfully tempting to pull off the road and make your way through the sea oats and dunes to the seashore's undeveloped beachfront for a brief splash in the surf. Don't linger too long, though, since you'll want to save enough time to stop and see the herd of wild Banker ponies (said to be descendants of Spanish mustangs or possibly distant relatives of horses left behind by 16th- and 17th-century explorers) scampering around their pasture, which is about 7 miles north of Ocracoke.
When you reach the northern tip of Ocracoke Island, another ferry ride awaits. You don't need a reservation for the brief, 40-minute trip to Hatteras Island, and the ride is free. Set out again on SR 12 and enjoy the solitude as the highway meanders past long stretches of deserted beach, occasionally interrupted by small clusters of vacation homes. There are several interesting diversions along the way, and a stop at a couple will provide insights into the history, culture and lifestyle of the Outer Banks.
Your first option is in the small village of Hatteras, not far from the ferry docks. Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum explains the meaning of its name with exhibits about the treacherous offshore waters that caused more than 2,000 shipwrecks beginning in the 1500s before a series of lighthouses were built in the 19th century to safeguard ships sailing near the Outer Banks, in particular the hazardous Diamond Shoals. The entrance to the museum itself resembles the frame of a shipwrecked vessel.
Just a few miles away, Frisco Native American Museum & Natural History Center provides insights into the traditions of the Native American tribes that lived not only here on Hatteras Island but in other parts of the country as well. You can see artifacts from their everyday life such as pottery, beadwork, basketry, tools and weapons, and nature trails lead through a wooded area, providing access to a pond and labeled plants and a chance to spot waterfowl and wildlife.
Lighthouses are always fascinating, and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse near Buxton is no exception. This symbol of the Outer Banks, built in 1870, is distinguished by its black-and-white diagonal stripes. An observation deck can be reached by climbing 257 (somewhat strenuous) steps. The lighthouse is also known for a well-publicized move: In 1999 it was physically relocated further inland to safeguard it from beach erosion and encroaching surf. The keeper's quarters also serves as the visitor center for the national seashore.
Before the U.S. Life-Saving Service evolved into the Coast Guard, its sole purpose was to rescue victims of shipwrecks. Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station & Museum at Rodanthe was the first such station in North Carolina and is believed to be the most complete such station still in existence. A stop at the restored complex will give you an understanding of those brave, dedicated men who risked their lives to save others.
As you continue your drive along scenic SR 12, the highway passes through Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge , a haven for migrating snow geese as well as ducks, terns, herons, sea turtles and raptors. A bridge (no more ferries) transports you across Oregon Inlet to Bodie (Body) Island and the resort area of Nags Head .
A handy thing to know is that navigation in the Nags Head area is by milepost; street numbers are rarely used. Green signs along the side of SR 12 (the Beach Road) and US 158 (the Bypass) tell you where you're at (i.e., Mile 16, Mile 7.5, etc.).
Day 1: EveningAfter a full day of ferries and sightseeing, a relaxing dinner is in order. Seafood is the star attraction at Owens' Restaurant , a Nags Head favorite owned and operated by the same family since 1946. White tablecloths set an upscale mood, yet the restaurant maintains a cozy feel. Creative salads with homemade dressings set the stage for fresh-off-the-boat seafood and crispy hushpuppies. Try the margarita sea scallops, the signature Miss O's crab cakes, any number of seafood platters or the 14-ounce prime rib. The weathered, gray-shingled building, reminiscent of an Outer Banks lifesaving station, has an interesting display of maritime memorabilia.
Take a quiet stroll along the beach to end a busy day; watching the moon rise over the water can be awe-inspiring.
Day 2: MorningMorning possibilities include swimming in the ocean, sculpting a sand castle, fishing or playing a round of golf. Or, better yet, try hang gliding from the highest sand dune on the East Coast at Jockey's Ridge State Park (instruction is available). Kids love to scurry up to the top of the more than 100-foot-high dunes and then roll their way back down. If you're not up to hang gliding, bring a kite (you can buy one at most local shops); the always-present wind guarantees a successful flight. A sand-covered boardwalk runs from the visitor center to an observation area—the perfect spot for capturing a souvenir photo.
From the state park, head across the causeway from Nags Head to Manteo on historic Roanoke Island. This is the site where the English, in 1585, made their first attempt at colonization in the New World. Across from Manteo's waterfront at Roanoke Island Festival Park, Home of Elizabeth II , you can see a ship designed to resemble the one Sir Walter Raleigh's colonists sailed on during their voyage across the Atlantic. Climb aboard and meet interpreters dressed as period sailors who relate, in Elizabethan dialect, tidbits about life on the ship during the long journey. You'll also want to check out the interactive exhibits at Roanoke Adventure Museum, which covers 400 years of Outer Banks history, and then head to the Settlement Site to learn from a group of 16th-century soldiers what life was like at this early British outpost.
Day 2: AfternoonBefore delving into more early American history, stop for lunch at family-friendly Darrell's Seafood Restaurant . A long-time Manteo favorite, Darrell's has been around since 1960 serving oysters, shrimp, flounder, crab and scallops as well as soups, salads, sandwiches (including a French dip) and delicious desserts.
American History (The Early Years) continues just a few miles north of Manteo at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site , the location of the earthen fort built by Sir Walter Raleigh's first contingent in 1585. The second group of colonists, sent by Raleigh in 1587, has the unfortunate distinction of being remembered as the “Lost Colony.” When ships bringing provisions returned to the New World in 1590, no trace of the earlier group could be found. You can see a reproduction of the fort and watch a 17-minute video presentation about the courageous colonists' settlement attempts at The Lindsay Warren Visitor Center .
Within the historic site is Elizabethan Gardens , planted in memory of those brave early settlers. Designed to resemble 16th-century formal English gardens, plantings include camellias, hydrangeas, a Shakespearean herb garden, rhododendrons, azaleas, dogwoods, magnolias, roses and chrysanthemums. A thatched-roof gazebo and statues of Virginia Dare, the first English child born in this country, and Queen Elizabeth I are other highlights.
There should be time before dinner to head back to your hotel and hit the beach. There's a lot of history in the Outer Banks, but the surf is awfully tempting. Regardless of where you're staying, the beach is probably not far away, so grab a towel and some sunscreen, let some sand sift between your toes, relax and enjoy.
Day 2: EveningFor dinner, return to Manteo and 1587 Restaurant , a favorite of many locals for special occasions. The chefs use only the freshest local ingredients, including herbs grown on-site, to create imaginative cuisine. The menu changes with the season, and might include soft-shell crab, sesame scallops, molasses-brined pork loin, grilled rack of lamb and rib-eye steak, the latter two served with a choice of garlic butter or bordelaise sauce.
After dessert, head back to Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and a performance of an outdoor drama that has been seen by more than 4 million people since 1937. Presented in the Waterside Theatre on Roanoke Island, “The Lost Colony” is performed near the 1587 site of the first English settlement in the New World. The play relates—through drama, music and dance—that early attempt at colonization and the mystery that surrounds the vanished pioneers.
Day 3: MorningStart your day off right with breakfast at Miller's Seafood & Steak House in Kill Devil Hills, a popular brunch spot for both locals and vacationers. This family-owned and -operated restaurant serves up generous portions of chocolate chip pancakes, Texas-style French toast, omelets, country ham and other breakfast favorites. Be sure to order a colossal cinnamon roll on the side.
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Day 3: Afternoon
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Historic Corolla Park provides two other worthwhile options while in Corolla. You can climb the 214 steps to the top of the unpainted brick Currituck Beach Lighthouse , which has been guiding navigation since 1875. The partially renovated Art Nouveau-style Lighthouse Keepers' House is adjacent. Or step inside the Whalehead in Historic Corolla to see the elegantly furnished “cottage” built 1922-25 as a winter retreat by a wealthy Northern couple who enjoyed wildfowl hunting on the northern Outer Banks. The home's cork floors, Tiffany lighting fixtures, copper roof and five chimneys are highlights.
Day 3: Evening
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AttractionsIn an area with dozens of attractions, you may have trouble deciding where to spend your time. Here are the highlights for this destination, as chosen by AAA editors. GEMs are “Great Experiences for Members.”
Let's start at the beginning. Roanoke Island, to be specific, is where the group of colonists sent by Sir Walter Raleigh landed in 1585 in an attempt to establish the first English-speaking settlement in the New World. The tiny island, surrounded by Roanoke and Croatan sounds just west of Nags Head , is the site of several attractions that examine this ill-fated venture and the settlers' mysterious disappearance.
The focal point of Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is a small earthen fortification, a reconstruction of the one built by those courageous colonists. The Lindsay Warren Visitor Center provides an introductory video and displays artifacts discovered during the site's excavation. A room taken from a 16th-century Elizabethan hall shows the aristocratic lifestyle the journey's benefactors were accustomed to.
Within the historic site are two AAA GEM attractions. The musical drama “The Lost Colony” has been presented outdoors in a waterfront theater at Fort Raleigh every year since 1937 (except during World War II). The play examines the unresolved fate of a second group of pioneers sent to Roanoke Island by Raleigh. When a supply ship reached the island from England bringing much-needed provisions, no trace of these colonists could be found. Included in this group, which has come to be known as the Lost Colony, was Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the New World. Nearby is Elizabethan Gardens , designed to resemble the formal gardens typical of 16th-century English estates. Created in memory of Raleigh's settlers, the grounds have walkways winding past colorful seasonal plantings—azaleas, dogwoods, magnolias, chrysanthemums and camellias; fountains; and statues, including one of Virginia Dare.
In addition to a museum with interactive exhibits chronicling 400 years of Outer Banks history, the AAA GEM attraction Roanoke Island Festival Park, Home of Elizabeth II also features a living-history settlement where costumed interpreters portray the harsh everyday existence of those pioneers, and the Elizabeth II, a hand-hewn representation of the sailing ships common during that period. Elizabethan-clad guides welcome visitors on board the brightly painted vessel and provide insights into the realities of shipboard life during that late-16th-century voyage to the New World. A film presented from the viewpoint of the island's native inhabitants, boardwalks and an outdoor concert pavilion are part of the park as well.
Also close by is the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island , which spotlights the diverse waters of the Outer Banks; all aquatic residents are indigenous to the state. The feature exhibit boasts the state's largest aquarium, where sharks, sea turtles and other ocean life coexist with a replica of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor. A walk through an atrium's marshy environment promises glimpses of lounging alligators and playful river otters, and touch tanks allow for close contact with sting rays and horseshoe crabs. Visitors who time their visit right can see presentations by scuba divers and daily feedings.
In the southern reaches of the Outer Banks on Hatteras Island is Frisco, where you'll find a tribute to North America's earliest citizens. The Frisco Native American Museum & Natural History Center has collections of artifacts representing Native American tribes from across the continent. Displays of basketry, jewelry, pottery and weapons help define the history and culture of these groups. Nature trails wind through several wooded acres.
Remote and undeveloped, Cape Lookout National Seashore extends 56 miles southward from Ocracoke Inlet along the North Carolina coast. You'll have to do some advance planning to visit the seashore's four sandy barrier islands, however, since they are reachable only by boat and have limited services. Nature lovers make the journey for the splendid bird-watching, photography and surf fishing opportunities, or just to collect seashells along the beach. A herd of free-roaming horses, legend says, has made its home on Shackleford Banks since the 1500s; if you happen to spot these elusive creatures, remember they are wild and not used to human contact. The lighthouse keeper's quarters serves as a visitor center for the national seashore.
Picking up where Cape Lookout National Seashore leaves off, the AAA GEM attraction Cape Hatteras National Seashore covers almost all of the Outer Banks' Ocracoke and Hatteras islands and part of Bodie Island. The nation's first national seashore, Cape Hatteras protects quiet expanses of beach that seem to stretch for miles, offering peaceful escapes where shorebirds flitting about in search of food frequently outnumber people. And, though sand dunes and sea oats are common images of the seashore, it also encompasses woodlands, marshes and sounds. Access points to the shore are frequent along SR 12, the main road through the Outer Banks.
Within Cape Hatteras National Seashore are two other points of interest. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, with its distinctive black-and-white diagonal stripes, is often considered a symbol of the Outer Banks. This sentinel has guided ships away from the treacherous Graveyard of the Atlantic, as these offshore waters are known, since 1870. The lighthouse was itself rescued from the encroaching surf in 1999 in a feat of engineering achievement and moved 1,600 feet further inland. The view from its observation deck is well worth the climb. At the northern end of Hatteras Island is Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge , which was initially created as a safe haven for migrating snow geese. The geese share their sanctuary with other seasonal residents such as swans, ducks, terns and herons as well as with sea turtles. Gaggles of bird-watchers and vacationers carrying binoculars and cameras take advantage of the observation platforms scattered throughout the refuge.
Two great places for kids—from both an educational and a letting-off-steam perspective—are the AAA GEM attraction Wright Brothers National Memorial and Jockey's Ridge State Park . Orville and Wilbur Wright, arguably the area's most famous visitors, chose the soft sand dunes, windy conditions and remoteness of the Kill Devil Hills area to test their gliders and, ultimately, attempt powered flight in their handcrafted flying machine. A granite monument attesting to the success of their efforts stands atop Big Kill Devil Hill near the actual site of their world-changing December 1903 flights. Two reconstructed sheds represent those the Wrights used as a hangar and combination living quarters and workshop; simple markers indicate the increasing distances flown on each of the four flights made on that momentous day. Exhibits in the visitor center and Centennial Pavilion, including reproductions of the brothers' glider and flyer, trace the history of aviation.
Instead of just imagining the Wright brothers' early gliding adventures, visitors can actually take to the sky themselves (after a little instruction) at Jockey's Ridge State Park. Lessons are available for those brave enough to try hang gliding from the highest sand dune on the East Coast. The state park is a favorite with children, who love to clamber to the top of the dune and then roll back down the sandy slope. The dune's summit also is a popular place for kite flying and watching brilliantly hued sunsets. Two hiking trails and a museum with natural history exhibits provide a close-up look at the park's ecology.
At the northernmost reaches of the Outer Banks in Corolla are two attractions that hearken back to an earlier era. The Whalehead in Historic Corolla , overlooking Currituck Sound, was built in 1925 as a winter retreat by a wealthy Northern couple who enjoyed waterfowl hunting along the Atlantic flyway. The restored Art Nouveau mansion retains its Tiffany chandeliers and many of its lavish details, such as cork floors and a copper roof. Nearby is the 1875 Currituck Beach Lighthouse , the last such tower built on the Outer Banks. Exhibits can be seen on the lower levels, and visitors who make the winding climb up the red brick lighthouse's 220 steps can appreciate expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound.
See all the AAA recommended attractions for this destination.
RestaurantsOur favorites include some of this destination's best restaurants—from fine dining to simple fare.
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Spread along the 113 miles separating the southern tip of the Outer Banks at Ocracoke and the northern end at Corolla are restaurants specializing in seafood (of course), down-home comfort food, haute cuisine and just about everything in between. You shouldn't have problems finding any of these establishments, since practically all of them are either on or just off SR 12, the destination area's main thoroughfare.
Howard's Pub & Raw Bar Restaurant is one of the few places open year-round in Ocracoke , and that alone guarantees its popularity. The excellent food, an added bonus, is served on island time, though—so sit back and relax with one of the pub's more than 200 domestic, imported or microbrewed beers while you wait for your meal to be prepared from scratch. Oysters are shucked and burgers weighed and formed to order. The french fries are hand cut and the desserts are homemade. TVs, video games and coloring books will keep the kids entertained. The lengthy menu includes pizza, sandwiches, burgers, soups and salads as well as heartier fare like fresh seafood, steaks, chicken, ribs and shellfish from the raw bar. For a striking view of the ocean, sound and dunes, sit upstairs on the rooftop deck.
Fine dining in the beach tradition is the order of the day at the casually elegant Back Porch Restaurant & Wine Bar , which offers its patrons a choice of dining either on its screened porch (as its name implies) or indoors. This Ocracoke mainstay features an extensive wine list with choices that complement its menu of local seafood, steaks, chicken, duck and nightly specials. Favorites include the signature crab beignet appetizer and entrées such as seared wild salmon and bourbon pecan chicken. The homemade desserts are a delicious way to complete a meal.
A Hatteras Island family favorite, The Froggy Dog serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Breakfast selections at this casual Avon eatery include a variety of omelets as well as pancakes and hot biscuits. Lunch features a wide selection of burgers, sandwiches and hot dogs. Fresh fish—prepared steamed, fried, sautéed or grilled—tempts those in the mood for seafood, while steaks and chicken provide options for landlubbers. A game room is upstairs, and there's a children's corner to keep the little ones entertained until your meal is served.
Owens' Restaurant , said to be the oldest dining establishment on the Outer Banks, has been owned and operated by generations of the founding family since 1946. Fresh local seafood—often broiled, fried or sautéed—joins Angus beef, Maine lobster and pasta dishes on the menu at this Nags Head fixture. House specialties include grilled North Atlantic salmon, margarita sea scallops and Miss O's crabcakes, and the homemade desserts are not to be missed. Within the restaurant's gray-shingled building, which is evocative of a weathered Outer Banks lifesaving station, is an interesting collection of maritime artifacts from the U.S. Lifesaving Service as well as other pieces of historic Outer Banks memorabilia.
A favorite with Outer Banks residents for more than 10 years, Mama Kwan's Grill & Tiki Bar is a casual Kill Devil Hills hangout where guests can enjoy an eclectic menu of Asian and island-influenced fare. The restaurant's laid-back atmosphere is enhanced by its funky tropical decor. Guests rave about the jerk chicken soft tacos, teriyaki beef wrap, California-style fish tacos and pad thai. A late-night menu and karaoke fun are featured nightly at the bar in season.
Also in Kill Devil Hills is JK's Restaurant which, since 1984, has offered its patrons only the best aged Western beef and fresh local and regional seafood. Diners also can choose from flavorful chicken, ribs, pasta and veal. Most meats are grilled over mesquite wood coals after being dry-rubbed with the restaurant's secret weapon, JK's #5 Seasoning. Though the dining room is large, it is subdivided into small sections that offer a feeling of privacy and intimacy. An expansive wine list with many affordable selections adds a touch of class to your night out.
Reservations are recommended at Ocean Boulevard Bistro & Martini Bar , particularly in summer, as this American bistro is popular with locals and out-of-towners. The unassuming building in Kitty Hawk was formerly a hardware store, and its humble exterior belies a casually elegant two-level dining room. Red brick walls and crisp white table linens promote an upscale, yet cozy dining experience. Guests can relax on the patio before dinner and enjoy one of the restaurant's signature martinis or a selection from the award-winning wine list. The menu, which showcases world influences, changes seasonally in order to spotlight only the highest-quality fresh, local ingredients. All selections are presented with a precise and artful flair.
With a dining room overlooking Currituck Sound, it's not difficult to figure out the focus of The Blue Point in Duck. The restaurant creates innovative dishes in a style known as Southern coastal cuisine, which emphasizes local and regional seafood and produce. The bistro's commitment to quality is evident throughout the establishment, from the contemporary yet comfortable feel of the decor to the well-trained waitstaff and the creative presentation of each course.
Kimball's Kitchen —an elegant bistro—is part of the Sanderling Resort hotel complex. The intimate, posh dining room affords premium views of brilliant sunsets over Currituck Sound. The menu features French-influenced contemporary American cuisine and changes often to showcase seasonally available ingredients. Diners can watch the talented chefs at work courtesy of the bistro's display kitchen, and an outstanding selection of fine wines is available to enhance this fine dining experience. The dress code for gentlemen indicates that collared shirts are requested.
See all the AAA Diamond Rated restaurants for this destination.
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The Legend of BlackbeardArrr, me hearties! There was, indeed, a pirate named Blackbeard who terrorized the Caribbean and the Atlantic seaboard (including the Outer Banks) in the early 18th century. Though much of what we know about this buccaneer comes from legends embellished over the years, tidbits about his life have been pieced together.
Most historians agree that the man who adopted the nickname Blackbeard was born in England, probably around 1680. Though his true name has never been verified, he took the name Edward Teach (or Thatch, Thache or Tache) when he turned to a life of piracy. Blackbeard’s notorious reputation was reinforced by his menacing physical appearance—he was said to be a large man with a loud, deep voice, and the mere sight of his bushy, dark whiskers and bright red coat overlaid with swords, pistols and daggers was sufficient reason for many ships to surrender without a struggle. Some accounts say he added to his fearsome countenance in battle by lighting gunpowder-covered wicks in his braided beard. Despite his formidable reputation, however, there is nothing on record to show that he ever killed anyone, except in a one-on-one fight.
Evidence indicates that Blackbeard served as a privateer during Queen Anne’s War (1702-13), yielding to the temptations and rich rewards of a pirate’s life after that conflict. Commandeering a ship in 1716, he began preying on merchant vessels across the Caribbean. He seized a French vessel near the island of St. Vincent, changing its name to Queen Anne’s Revenge and converting it into his flagship after increasing its firepower to 40 guns. The shallow inlets of the Outer Banks (especially those around Ocracoke Island) proved to be a perfect refuge for his reign of terror.
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Although his gruesome death effectively put an end to The Golden Age of Piracy, Blackbeard’s legend lives on. In 1996 the remains of what is thought to be his flagship were discovered buried deep in the sands of Beaufort Inlet. Artifacts recovered from the site can be seen at the North Carolina Maritime Museum on Beaufort’s waterfront. The resting place of the pirate’s purloined treasure (if it indeed exists) has yet to be found. Blackbeard and his deeds also are believed to have inspired the characters of Long John Silver, Captain Hook and, more recently, Jack Sparrow in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films.
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