Corolla - Home of the Wild Horses
Corova's Wild Horses
Nestled in the northern stretch of North Carolina's Outer Banks sits the towns of Corolla and Carova. It wasn't until 1984 that this part of the Outer Banks was opened to the public. Prior the the gate coming down, one had to know a property owner north of the gate to gain access. Though corolla's isolated location barred it early on from the development the Southern beaches saw, for generations there have been thriving communities up the Virginia State line. Corolla's allure didn't begin with wide open sandy beaches being its draw.
It was the the bountiful amounts of waterfowl that attracted the Millionaire Sportsmen of the late 19th and early 20th century, and the need of a Light House on the Northern Outer Banks between Bodie Island Lighthouse and the Lighthouse at Cape Henrey, Virginia.
This gave Corolla its most recognizable land marks, The Whale Head Club and the Currituck Beach Light Station. Completed in December of 1875, The Currituck Beach Light House was the last of the Dexter Stetson Towers to be built. To distinguish the Currituck Beach Lighthouse from other regional lighthouses, its red brick exterior was left unpainted and gives today's visitor a sense of intricate masonry work used in the structure.
The last true keeper left in 1939, as it was automated when the United States Coast Guard assumed the duties of the Bureau of Lighthouses. The Lighthouse stretches 158 feet above corolla, and at night, the beacon still flashes at 20-second intervals to warn passing ships of the barrier islands along the coast. Considered the most celebrated home in corolla and a true peace of Americana is the luxurious Whale Head Club. Completed by the Knight Family in 1925, the whale head club is something straight out of The Great Gatsby, a testament to American decadence in the 1920's. The Club actually had power 40 years before the rest of the village!
North of Corolla, past where the Road ends and the 4x4 beings,(4x4 required) sits Corova (Swan Beach, Penny's Hill, and Wash Woods). Known for its secluded, wide beaches and the herd of wild Spanish Mustangs that call this part of the beach home, Corova remains one the few underdeveloped areas left on the OBX. (Remember, the wild horses are WILD and are protected, give them plenty of space, and DO NOT feed or attempt to touch them.) Until recently, Penny's Hill was as tall as Jockey's Ridge in Nags Head. Though it's only a 2/3's of its former height, Penny's Hill is still your best option to avoid the crowds at Jockey's Ridge.
Of all the Townships on the OBX, Corolla and Corova are the most seasonal. From April to October, just about everything is open and offers a change of pace compared to the southern beaches. On the other hand, during the off season, November - March, you can count the number of businesses open on one hand, plus the grocery stores close at 8 p.m.!