Wild horse on the beach of the Outer Banks NC

13 of the Best Outdoor Activities in the Outer Banks

05/14/2021 | by Joseph Mitchell | Outer Banks Outdoor Recreation

There are many ways to enjoy your time on the North Carolina coast, and we recommend you get out and discover the beautiful nature surrounding our area on at least one of your days here. That’s why we compiled this list of our favorite outdoor activities in the Outer Banks! From relaxing on one of the many sensational beaches to seeing the wild horses of Corolla, you won’t be disappointed. 

For more ways to make the most of your time in the Outer Banks, be sure to download our complimentary Vacation Guide! It’s full of the best restaurants, activities, and attractions in the area. 

Discover the Best Outer Banks Outdoor Activities 

1. Spend a Day (or Several) on the Beach 

Some of the best outdoor activities in the Outer Banks revolve around the beach. Whether you go to Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, or Kill Devil Hills, you won’t find a better time or place to soak in the natural beauty of our enchanting coastline.    

We recommend taking a nice long walk on the sand to watch the sunrise before staking your spot on your favorite beach. Between playing in the ocean, building sandcastles, and running around on the sand, your little ones will have plenty of opportunities to tire themselves out! You can’t beat our stretch of beautiful shoreline. 

2. Explore Alligator National Wildlife Refuge 

If you really want to get off the beaten path in the Outer Banks, look no further than Alligator National Wildlife RefugeDriving, hiking, kayaking, and ranger-led programs are just a few of the fun ways to explore this serene wilderness area, where you can spot black bears and red wolves. 

3. See the Wild Horses of Corolla 

Spotting a wild horse is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the northern region of the Outer Banks. These herds of beautiful creatures roaming the beaches originated from a deserted Spanish settlement in the 1500s that continued to breed. There are plenty of tour companies that give you an upclose and personal view of these beautiful creatures.   

4. Go Fishing 

While there are tons of places along the OBX beaches, including piers, to go surf fishing, nothing beats casting a line out on a charter boat. Roanoke Island is home to a bevy of charter fishing boats, both in Manteo and Wanchese. Pirate’s Cove Marina and Wanchese Marina both offer an array of guided fishing tours that are among the best in the area. 

5. Hike on the Nags Head Woods Preserve Trail 

Nags Head Woods Preserve Trail is a fantastic place to immerse yourself in Outer Banks outdoor activities. This beautiful park bordering Roanoke Sound is home to miles of trails mainly for walking (some allow bikes). Photography and wildlife viewing are also fun activities here! 

6. Enjoy a Unique Adventure at Jockey’s Ridge State Park 

Jockey’s Ridge State Park is a massive dunes complex home to some of the most exciting outdoor activities in the Outer Banks. The 360-foot boardwalk boasts excellent views, but if you really want to have the ultimate experience here, you need to try your luck at hang gliding or sandboarding. Kitty Hawk Kites provides training and tours for beginner hang gliders, and you can pick up a permit from the park if there is availability. 

7. Hit the Water 

Renting a boat, kayaking, jetskiing, and paddleboarding are just a handful of the fun and exciting ways to hit the water during your trip to the Outer Banks. There are plenty of places on Roanoke Island, and in Nags Head, to rent one of these and explore the waters of Roanoke Sound. 

8. Play a Round of Golf 

While it may not be a true outdoor activity, there are many great golf courses to check out during your time in the OBX. Plus, they are all within 30 minutes of Pirate’s Cove! 

9. Stroll Through the Elizabethan Gardens 

The stunning Elizabethan Gardens consists of 10 manicured acres bordering the Roanoke Sound, where plants, flowers, sculptures, and more create a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere! Check out what’s in bloom during every season 

10. Go for a Bike Ride 

Biking around Roanoke Island is one of the best things to do in the Outer Banks this spring. There are miles of trails and sidewalks to ride on throughout downtown Manteo and our private gated community. You can also find fantastic trails at the Nags Head Woods Preserve and the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.  

11. Play at a Local Waterpark 

If you love to mix in thrills with family time, then you need to head over to H2OBX. This new waterpark has something for everyone, with plenty of fun attractions and activities for families in the Outer Banks.    

12. Take a Day Trip to Ocracoke Island 

Ocracoke Island is a fantastic place to explore the peaceful shores of the Outer Banks. If you want to get off the grid and relax with as few people as possible around you, then this is the place for you. We recommend this as a day trip from Roanoke Island or Nags Head. There is a ferry you must take to get here.  

13. See a Couple of Firsts 

The Outer Banks is not only home to the first attempted English settlement in the United States, but it is also the site of the first flight. You can explore both the beautiful outdoor areas around the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Nags Head and Fort Raleigh National Memorial on Roanoke Island.  

Discover the Beauty of the OBX With Pirate’s Cove RealtyPirate's Cove resort 

Pirate’s Cove Realty is the ultimate home base for your outdoor adventure in the OBX! We offer condos and homes at a variety of locations around Roanoke Island, including our private gated community and Shallowbag Bay Resort. We even have properties in downtown Manteo that are steps away from the lighthouse!    

Start planning your Outer Banks getaway by booking one of our accommodations. We look forward to welcoming you to our coastal oasis.