Outer Banks, A Taste of the Beach

The Outer Banks is a culinary destination with a variety of flavor choices. The Outer Banks Restaurant Association hosts Taste of the Beach, an annual food and wine festival. The OBRA hosts culinary experiences that showcase the cooking and hospitality skills of the local Outer Banks community. As part of Joe Lamb Jr & Associates, we want to ensure you have the best beach experience possible and a full belly to enjoy. Spend one fun-filled weekend discovering the treasures of the Outer Banks!

food on the beach

Taste of the Beach consists of nearly 15 quaint venues that host over 40 events over three days. More than 20 iconic restaurants are participating throughout the OBX in this event. A broad platter of prepared delicacies will be served during this food-lover festival, including wine tastings, a 5k, food education, special multi-course menus, brewery tours, culinary tours, tapas crawls, and chef cook-offs. If you would like to view the schedule, you can do so by clicking here.

dinner on beach

Indulge your palate in a sampling of local handcrafted food, choice wines, and beers that serve for tasting. Local restaurants will compete for the TOB awards. These awards include best booth presentation, best in the show, best outer banks catch, the Chef’s Award, and the People’s Choice Award. We cordially invite you to have a taste of the beach and stay to enjoy it!

Discover the seasoning experience while you stay on the Outer Banks. The Outer Banks Taste of the Beach will be held March 24-26, 2023.

Outer Banks Valentine’s Day Getaway

outer banks valentine beach

‘Tis the season for love! Valentine’s Day this year is all about romance on the Outer Banks. Your favorite seaside destination is perfect for a romantic couples’ getaway. Whatever you plan to do on Valentine’s Day, we know all the things to do to make it extra special.

Rent a beach house

To start off your Valentine’s Day, there’s nothing better than a scenic view from your front porch. With one of Joe Lamb Jr.’s beach houses, everyone is welcome, whether it is with a partner or the whole family.  The beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina are the perfect place to spend Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart. Whether you’re staying for a long weekend or an entire week, you’ll have a great time.

Watch Sunrise on the Beach

outer banks sunrise

The sunrise on the Outer Banks is unmatched. Stroll the island’s eastern side to watch a spectacular display of light shine across the Atlantic. Give your date a lifetime memory by sharing this experience! Enjoy the sunrise from the romantic comfort of one of our oceanfront homes while you catch a glimpse of the sunrise.

Watch Sunset at Jockeys Ridge

outer banks sunset

Jockeys Ridge is the largest sand dune on the east coast. Allowing for panoramic views of both the sound and the ocean. This time of year, there are fewer crowds on Jockey’s Ridge, which makes it an ideal spot to watch sunsets over the Roanoke Sound. During sunset, the sand dunes are unmatched.

Romantic Dinner

There are a number of different culinary experiences that you can enjoy on the Outer Banks. A wide range of dining options are available on the island, so you can choose the one that suits you best. In preparation for Valentine’s Day, many restaurants offer special dinner menus for their customers. We recommend making reservations (if possible) for your favorite local restaurant in advance.

Take a Stroll in the Gardens

The Elizabethan Gardens are located in Fort Raleigh National Park.  This garden has become one of America’s most beautiful and unique gardens since the first attempts to colonize America by England under Queen Elizabeth I. The Roanoke Sound’s tranquil setting makes this scenic year-round garden a perfect spot for a Valentine’s Day stroll. Find out more about the fascinating beauty of camellias as one of the featured flowers in February.

Star Gazing

outer banks stars

Observe the Milky Way and shooting stars! Among the most popular things to do on the Outer Banks is stargazing. The Outer Banks have dark skies and limited light pollution, and are a romantic place to stargaze with your loved one. Valentine’s Day beneath the stars.

Outer Banks New Year Resolution

Now that we are in 2023, people are starting to make changes. Spending time with family, learning new skills, relaxing more, or creating new memories might be on your list of resolutions. An Outer Banks vacation allows you to accomplish all of these things. Contact us today to reserve your 2023 vacation!

Learn to Surf

Besides its picturesque beaches, the Outer Banks is an ideal destination for surfers. World-class surfing spots are found around the Outer Banks, attracting surfers from all over the globe. However, these waves are not just for professionals but vacationers looking for water fun. Various surf schools offer lessons for vacationers of all ages. Try dancing on the water this year as a new year’s resolution.

Visit all 5 Lighthouse

There are five lighthouses on the Outer Banks, which protect its shores. Driving along the barrier island coast will allow you to see these lighthouses. Reach the top to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the island. Take an Outer Banks lighthouse road trip this year and visit them all!

Try a New Local Spot

Local restaurants, shops, and attractions are plentiful along the Outer Banks. This year try something new that you have never experienced before. Embrace a first experience this year!

Buy your Own Vacation Home

Buying a beach house has always been a dream of yours. Find that perfect beach home with the help of one of our real estate agents. Get in touch with an agent by clicking this link.

Reel One In

A favorite fishing spot has always been the Outer Banks. Known as “The Billfish Capital of the World,” fishermen travel far and wide to catch a bite. Perhaps you can fish deep sea, from the pier, or even from the beach. If fishing piques your interest, make this your destination. There may be a record catch this year.

Spending time with family

A vacation on the Outer Banks is the perfect way to spend quality time with your loved ones. Aside from the beach, there are plenty of activities to be enjoyed by the whole family. It’s an enjoyable way to spend time together, experience new things, and create new memories.

Go somewhere new

There is always room for new adventures. This year, why not spend some time on the Outer Banks beaches? Vacations are a great way to relax, have fun, and appreciate nature. Relax at the beach as you deserve it.



OBX Beach Safety Tips – Staying Safe

Taking a trip to the Outer Banks can be an enjoyable and memorable experience. As much fun as it can be, beach safety must be a top priority for those who visit the OBX. Whether you are taking a stroll on the beach, going sailing or taking a dip in the ocean, we want to ensure your trip to the beach is just as safe as it is fun. Here are our top five OBX beach safety tips for those who want to stay safe in the Outer Banks.

OBX Beach Safety Tips:

1. Rip Currents

A collection images that shows various beach safety flags. From top left and going right Green for calm, yellow for moderate and red for hazardous
A collection images that shows various beach safety flags. From top left and going right Green for calm, yellow for moderate and red for hazardous

A rip current is a localized current that flows away from the shoreline. In fact, it can be so strong, even the strongest swimmers can struggle to escape one of these. With the possibility of rip currents being as large as 50 feet to 100 feet wide, these currents can drag people away from the shore in just a matter of seconds.

Remember, respect the power of the ocean. Be wary of the following indicators for rip currents:

  • Churning, choppy water
  • Deviation in normal water color
  • Foam or seaweed moving steadily toward the sea
  • A break in the incoming wave pattern

According to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it is recommended to swim parallel to the shore instead of towards it if you get caught in a rip current. However, if you find yourself being dragged away from shore by a rip current and can’t seem to get out of it, it is important to remain calm. Do not fight against the current. On the contrary, allow yourself to float and be carried. Call or wave for help to the lifeguards on shore or other beach goers nearby.

Be sure to keep an eye out for flags on lifeguard stations on the shore and read any signs thoroughly as you arrive. Flags on our public beaches will indicate rip current conditions as the following:

  • Green-for calm water conditions
  • Yellow-moderate surf conditions
  • Red-high hazards for rip currents

2. Jellyfish

Moon jellyfish washed ashore on a beach of the OBX. Watch where you step!
Moon jellyfish washed ashore on a beach of the OBX. Watch where you step!

One of the types of wildlife that you will need to be on the lookout for, are the jellyfish. This is especially true if you plan on visiting our beaches. Local jellyfish deliver a powerful sting, which can result in red welts, mild to severe pain, blisters, swelling, prickling, and itching. Be on the lookout for the most common types of jellyfish found in the OBX below.

  •  Moon Jellyfish-These jellyfish are the most common jellyfish you will find along the beaches of the Outer Banks. They are classified by their clear, disc-shaped tentacles. You will mostly find these jellies washed up on the shore, mostly without their tentacles.
  • Sea Nettles-This jellyfish is the primary culprit behind most of the jellyfish stings on the OBX. They are classified by their reddish-brown color (typical of sea nettles) or their bay coloring (typical of bay nettles). These jellyfish tend to make themselves known during the late summer months. Furthermore, the size of these jellies will ultimately determine the severity of the sting.
  • Cannonball Jellyfish-Just as their name implies, the Cannonball jellyfish is named due to their cannonball-shaped bell. While these jellyfish are rare to see in the OBX, they are easy to spot if they do make an appearance. These jellyfish can usually be seen in the late summer and early fall.
  • Mushroom Cap Jellyfish-Named after their fungus-like appearance, these jellyfish are typically known for their creamy color, mushroom shaped bell, and the dark markings along their tentacles. You can typically see these jellyfish in the late fall and well into the winter.
  • Dwarf Lion’s Mane Jellyfish-As gorgeous as these jellyfish are, their stings are not so fun. The Lion’s Mane jellyfish is known for the pair of stripes running from their bells in a gorgeous floral-like pattern and their Nettle-like coloring. These jellyfish can typically be seen in the late fall and wintertime.
  •  Portuguese Man o’ War-Be on the lookout for these jellyfish later in the summer season. This is when these jellyfish tend to wash up on the shore. These jellyfish can be dangerous, especially with the powerful sting they can deliver with their 16 foot long tentacles. Usually, these jellyfish like to float on the surface to catch their prey with their tentacles, using their balloon body like a buoy. As cool as these jellyfish look, be sure to keep your distance.

3. Sharks

Blacktip reef shark shown swimming in between the sandbars in ocean waters.
Blacktip reef shark shown swimming in between the sandbars in ocean waters.

It is very unlikely that you will encounter a shark during your stay at the Outer Banks. However, it is best to be prepared on the off chance you come across one in the water. The most common types of sharks found in the Outer Banks include:

  • Scalloped Hammerhead
  • Atlantic Sharpnose
  • Blacktip

To stay safe, keep these shark safety tips in mind:

  • Swim near a lifeguard
  • Keep away from waters currently being used by fishermen or avoid water near the pier
  • Always stay close to a group
  • Do not swim at sunset, night or during twilight
  • Refrain from wearing shiny jewelry
  • Avoid excessively splashing water
  • Be cautious when swimming between sandbars and drop offs. This is a regular hangout for sharks
  • If you are bleeding, do not enter the water. Doing so will only attract sharks directly to you

4. Lifeguards on duty

Wooden lifeguard stand with condition warnings located in Kitty Hawk, NC
Wooden lifeguard stand with condition warnings located in Kitty Hawk, NC

Here in the Outer Banks, we welcome several million people every year to our beaches. For those coming from out of the area, be sure to visit beaches with lifeguard stations. Always consult the stations for up-to-date safety information regarding severe weather, shark sightings, jellyfish sightings and rip current risks.

5. Severe weather

Finally, outer Banks weather can change drastically. Be sure to be aware of any weather warning issued by the local authorities. Follow precautionary directions given by public safety officials. Additionally, be sure to keep up with the National Weather Service for hurricane warnings, ocean conditions, and other severe weather warnings such as wind or lightning.

As long as you know the ocean, understand the wildlife within it and respect its power, your next trip to the Outer Banks should be a memorable one. We want to make sure while you are vacationing that you are prepared. We hope our OBX beach safety tips will help you stay safe during your next trip. If you have any questions about risks or your safety, be sure to reach out to local officials, check out our additional beach safety tips here or reach out to the lifeguards on duty on the beach. 

Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates is one of the most trusted vacation rental managers in the local area by growing into a market leader in the Vacation Rental and Sales Industry. Joe Lamb Jr. and his family have played a vital and intricate role in the Outer Banks Community for decades.

Over the past 50+ years, Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates have worked diligently to help promote the Outer Banks for the amazing beach and family vacation destination that it is, helping to increase tourism in the area and grow our beautiful community.

Where To Vacation In The Outer Banks


The Outer Banks, frequently abbreviated OBX, is an ideal place to unwind and relax. The beaches are family-friendly, making them a perfect destination for a family vacation. With miles of sandy beaches fun off-shore activities, the Outer Banks offers a wide variety of activities that are well suited for everyone. There are so many fun things to do in the Outer Banks!

Where To Vacation In The Outer Banks

The Outer Banks is filled with quaint towns and fishing villages. An Outer Banks Vacation Rental gives you and your family a private home or condo to call yours for the duration of your vacation.

Three story blue vacation home on the Outer Banks of NC with a private pool.

To the north, Duck and Southern Shores are the newest communities on the Outer Banks.

Centrally located, the towns of Kitty HawkKill Devil HillsNags Head are more populated, especially in the summer, with plenty of locally owned bars, restaurants, and shops. The town of Manteo wraps around Shallowbag Bay on the eastern side of Roanoke Island.

To the south, on Hatteras Island, isolated towns sit nestled right along the ocean. Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras: one road leads to them all.

Explore the Outer Banks and learn more about the OBX Towns. On your way, you’ll pass through Corolla, where you can spot wild horses roaming the beaches.

Brown horse walking along shoreline in Corolla, NC.

What To Bring To The Outer Banks On Your Vacation

What to pack for in the Outer Banks depends on when you’re traveling. The weather on the Outer Banks of North Carolina varies drastically. We have perfect sunny days, windy days, rainy days, and yes even sometimes snowy days. All in all, the Outer Banks has a lot to offer any time of the year. 

Sunscreen, sunglasses, a bathing suit, and layered clothing are all a must. Although if you forget something, you can pick them up at many of the local stores. If you plan on exploring different areas of the island, be sure to bring comfy shoes or flip-flops.

Read more about what to pack in your beach tote when visiting the Outer Banks. You can also view our Outer Banks Weather Guide to see the current or upcoming weather on the OBX.

Waves crashing under the pier with a young boy playing in the surf along the coastline in the Outer Banks, NC

Pet-Friendly Areas Of The Outer Banks

We understand that no one likes having to leave their dog behind when the family goes off for a fun-filled vacation. It’s for that reason that we make sure to have plenty of Outer Banks pet-friendly vacation rentals for our guests. Each Outer Banks town has different beach regulations regarding dogs. Please review information about having your dogs on the beach or feel free to contact us.

Plan Your Outer Banks Vacation Today

No matter where you choose to stay during your vacation to the OBX, we’re sure you’ll have fun! View all of our Outer Banks Vacation Rentals here and start packing your bags for your next family vacation.

Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates is one of the most trusted vacation rental managers in the local area by growing into a market leader in the Vacation Rental and Sales Industry. Joe Lamb Jr. and his family have played a vital and intricate role in the Outer Banks Community for decades.

Over the past 50+ years, Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates have worked diligently to help promote the Outer Banks for the amazing beach and family vacation destination that it is, helping to increase tourism in the area and grow our beautiful community.

Discarded Christmas Tree Recycling Information Outer Banks – 2022

Outer Banks Recycled Christmas Tree

The holiday season is over so so what do you do with your used Christmas Tree this year?

We hope you were able to get out and enjoy some of the amazingly festive holiday events along the Outer Banks over the past few weeks.

Residents of Dare County and its six towns are reminded that there are different policies governing the disposal of Christmas trees as the holidays draw to a close. Before the tree may be discarded, all ornaments, lights, ribbons, and decorations must be removed.

In the past years, there have been different volunteers and businesses that have stepped up and helped collect trees for beach nourishment events in the Outer Banks. With a bigger Beach Nourishment project in the works for 2022 in the Nags Head, NC area it is uncertain if these volunteers will be participating again this year.

If you are uncertain of what to do with your real Christmas trees this year please contact the town government office where you live to ask about collection dates and times in your area. You can find some phone numbers below to help expedite your search now.

Town of Duck: 252-255-1234

Town of Kill Devil Hills: 252-480-4080

Town of Kitty Hawk: 252-261-1367

Town of Manteo: 252-473-4104

Town of Nags Head: 252-441-1122

Town of Southern Shores: 252-261-2394

Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates advises you to recycle your Christmas trees, as repurposing them will make a long-term effect on the OBX for future beach vacation enjoyment.

Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates is one of the most trusted vacation rental managers in the local area by growing into a market leader in the Vacation Rental and Sales Industry. Joe Lamb Jr. and his family have played a vital and intricate role in the Outer Banks Community for decades. 

Over the past 50+ years, Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates have worked diligently to help promote the Outer Banks for the amazing beach and family vacation destination that it is, helping to increase tourism in the area and grow our beautiful community.

Fishing Honey Holes Along The OBX

– A Joe Lamb Jr. Blog Series

Welcome back to the third and final installment of our Outer Banks fishing blog series. Our first post of the series displayed the most popular types of fishing in the OBX while the second post focused on popular fish that you can catch here in the Outer Banks

Planning for memories to last a lifetime can be done at any of the following locations.

We are smack dab in the thick of the fishing season here in the Outer Banks. With the right insight and a little luck, you will be reeling in some monster fish in no time! So dream big and travel far!

Some of the Best Surf Fishing Spots in the OBX

A fisherman is silhouetted by a sunset on a beach in North Carolina as he gets a rod ready to cast out. Birds can be seen flying in the background

What are some of the most plentiful surf fishing areas?

On the Outer Banks, many people enjoy going surf fishing. It’s a fun activity, especially in the fall when the fishing is excellent and the ocean and air are both cooling off, making a day at the beach even more enjoyable. Where do you even begin when there are miles and miles of beach on which to cast your line? Here’s a rundown of some of the most well-known surf fishing spots along the Outer Banks.

Hatteras Inlet

Hatteras Inlet’s northern end requires a 4WD vehicle. Alternatively, you can park at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum parking lot and walk 2 miles north to the beach. Take the ferry to get to the other side of the island. Summer ferries run every 30 minutes, from 5:00 a.m. to midnight, with each ferry holding 30-60 vehicles; off-season ferries run every hour. The trip takes about 40 minutes and follows the coastline of Hatteras Island before heading out into the open inlet waters. 

You can park near the ferry docks and walk to the beach, or you can drive to the 4WD beach access ramp down the road from the ferry docks. Before driving on the beach in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, make sure you have a beach driving permit and a fishing license that are both still current.

Cape Point

Cape Point is a well-known surf fishing spot on the Outer Banks. North and South facing beaches are formed as a result of land jutting into the Atlantic Ocean and curving sharply back towards the shore at the Point. There are two powerful ocean currents that meet off Cape Point: The Labrador and the Gulf Streams. To get to the Point, you’ll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a beach driving permit, or you can walk from the public access point.

During peak times, Cape Point can be overrun with anglers vying for prime casting spots. Don’t trespass on anyone’s fishing territory, but don’t be shy about striking up a conversation either. Many of the local fishermen have been coming to Cape Point for decades and are happy to share a fish story or two, or even a few tips, with a newcomer.

Oregon Inlet

Oregon Inlet is the most visited inlet on the Outer Banks, and for good reason: it has an abundance of fishing spots. The sandy beach stretches from the oceanside to the sound side on the northern beach, and 4WD vehicles are authorized with a permit. It’s a great spot for surf fishing. In the inlet, the beach turns into a seawall and the soundside has a small sandy beach access. The southern beach is excellent for surf fishing. The southern side is better for fishermen who want to park their car and walk to the beach, while the northern side is better for anglers who want to drive out to the beach.

You don’t have to go to one of these places to have a productive surf fishing trip. Almost anywhere on our beaches is a good place to try your luck with the fishing rod. If you’re not a fan of surf fishing, try throwing a line in from one of the Outer Banks’ many piers instead. There are plenty of types of fishing for you to explore in the OBX! 

Some of the Best Sound Fishing Spots in the OBX

View of the Sound at sunset looking west

Where are the best fishing spots soundside?

When it comes to Outer Banks fishing, fall is prime time. However, fishing in the ocean isn’t for everyone, so we asked some local fishermen about great spots to fish in the sounds. Here are a few of the best-kept secrets in the Outer Banks. When fish find a spot with plenty of bait they stay there.

South Side of Oregon Inlet

It’s a great place to take kids and you can go fishing in the ocean-like waters. There’s parking and a short trail to a shallow lagoon or small bay right next to the Bonner Bridge on the south side. The bay is a great place for kids to learn how to fish because it is sheltered.

Whalehead Club Boat Basin

This is a safe place with a few surprises. Flounder have been caught in the basin, which is strange considering that the water is primarily fresh. Also, keep an eye out for largemouth bass. It’s a wonderful location for families with children.

Roanoke Island, South of Washington Baum Bridge Boat Ramp

NC Marine Fisheries built a dock at the end of the ramp, and locals swear by it. There are a lot of Rockfish and Spot in the water.

See You Soon in the OBX

The Outer Banks are unmatched by any other vacation destination, especially for Outdoor Junkies. Snag huge Bluefish, Stripers, and more from the beach. Paddle around the sound side of the islands to keep an eye out for big Red Drum, delicious Flounder, and other marine life. Add a rich fishing history and beautiful surroundings to the mix, you’ve found the ideal fishing spot.

Are you thinking of going fishing on the Outer Banks? Finding the new trails and roads less traveled is always exciting, so try a few of these spots and venture out to find some honey holes in the OBX on your own!

Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates is one of the most trusted vacation rental managers in the local area by growing into a market leader in the Vacation Rental and Sales Industry. Joe Lamb Jr. and his family have played a vital and intricate role in the Outer Banks Community for decades. 

Over the past 50+ years, Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates have worked diligently to help promote the Outer Banks for the amazing beach and family vacation destination that it is, helping to increase tourism in the area and grow our beautiful community.

Vacationing On The Outer Banks With Your Dog

The Outer Banks is a great destination to bring your dog with you when taking a vacation.  Not only will your pups get to enjoy the beach alongside you and your family, but they will get to enjoy a vacation as well. Staying in one of our Pet-Friendly vacation rentals will allow you to bring your dog(s) along with you. Let’s look at a few things on how your family and pets will enjoy your vacation to the Outer Banks. 

What to Bring

We know that packing for a family vacation can be a little complicated at times, especially when you bring along your dog. Making sure that you have everything that you need for your pup is important as you want them to feel right at home. Be sure to pack their kennel or crate with you as it can not only help them keep safe but will allow you to go out and enjoy the local area. Pack enough food that will last the length of your stay and plenty of treats. Don’t forget to pack their food & water dishes, bed along with favorite blankets. Choose some special toys for the car ride here and the week you’re staying. Also, you can’t forget their harness, collar, and leashes with you as you can take your pups for a walk or run on the beach. 

Beach Fun with your Dogs

One of the best things about bringing your dog with you to the Outer Banks is that many of the beaches allow dogs. Our local beaches vary in leash laws depending on the season. Be sure to stay up to date and read our Pet Friendly Information when selecting an Outer Banks vacation home.  Before you hit the beach with the pups, you will want to make sure that you have a few of the following items for the day. 

  • Fresh Water – this is to allow your pups to drink clean, freshwater that isn’t salty. Too much saltwater can cause your dog to get sick, and we don’t want that to happen while on vacation. 
  • Harness & Leash – No matter what beach you go to for the day, you will want to make sure that you have your dog harness and leash with you at all times.
  • Beach Umbrella – anytime you are on vacation, bringing a beach umbrella is a critical essential to have. Not only will it help keep your kids safe from the sun and a little cooler, but it will do the same for your dogs. 
  • Toys – bringing a few toys that your dog can play with while you’re on the beach is a good thing to have. Just grab a few tennis balls, frisbee, and more just to keep them entertained too. 
  • Sunscreen – Did you know that dogs can get sunburned too? We all know how it feels when you get burned, and we don’t want that to happen to your pups either. Grab some dog sunscreen before you leave for vacation. 
  • Towel – Bring a separate towel that can be used on your pup while you are on the beach and vacation. This way, you can dry them off fast, either on the beach or at the vacation rental. 

While there are many other things that you can bring with you while on vacation for your dog, these are just a few things we wanted to share with you. If you haven’t booked your next trip to stay in one of our Pet-Friendly vacation rentals, now is the time. We hope to see you and your family on your next trip soon!

Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates is one of the most trusted vacation rental managers in the local area by growing into a market leader in the Vacation Rental and Sales Industry. Joe Lamb Jr. and his family have played a vital and intricate role in the Outer Banks Community for decades. Over the past 50+ years, Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates have worked diligently to help promote the Outer Banks for the amazing beach and family vacation destination that it is, helping to increase tourism in the area and grow our beautiful community.

Corolla-Wild Horses Outsmart Fence Looking for Greener Pastures

Corolla Wild mustangs grazing in the 4WD area for Carova.
Corolla Wild mustangs grazing in the 4WD area for Carova.

The Corolla Wild Horses have gotten themselves in the news again. It seems the herd has figured out that the fence meant to keep them in the 4WD area of the Currituck Banks is damaged. The fence runs from  the Currituck Sound to the Atlantic Ocean.

Reports seem to indicate the horses like the lush green lawn of the Whalehead Club, although they’ve been seen grazing in a couple of areas. The folks from the Corolla Wild Horse fund have been doing a remarkably effective job of rounding up the escapees and getting them back north of the fence.

The damage is on the ocean side. There are plans to fix the fence, but the contractor is waiting for a west wind to make the surf a little more manageable. 

It’s a fun thing to think about in the winter of the year—the horses running free…people trying to round them up.

But there is a serious side to it.

Between 1985 and 1996, twenty horses were killed by cars. That’s when that first attempt to build a fence—in 1996—and round up the herd up and move it north happened. There were a lot a lot of problems with that fence and it was rebuilt in 2004 and has been fairly effective.

There’s a good reason to preserve the Corolla Wild horses. Along with the Shackleford Banks herd, they are the last remaining true Spanish Mustangs in the world. The mustangs of the American west, that are often thought of as the classic example of the breed, have crossbred with other horses so much that they are not considered a genetic example of mustangs.

Genetic testing has established that the Corolla herd are direct descendents of the horse of the Spanish Conquistadores. 

A visual study of the horse also confirms that they are unlike any other breed of horse and have the physical characteristics history has said the horses had. 

They are somewhat short and stocky with narrow but deep chests. They have shorter backs compared to their body than other breeds. They are a small breed of horse—700-900 pounds. The smaller ones are barely bigger than a pony.

They are also known to be very intelligent and very determined.

A Lot of Theories But Nothing Confirmed

How they got here is a bit of a mystery.

A shipwreck, perhaps. A wonderful thought—the horse escapes sure death and swims to its safety. It is, however, very unlikely.

At the time, the thought was that a horse’s legs could not handle the movement of a ship at sea, so they were suspended below decks in a harness. To survive a shipwreck at sea, someone would have had release them from their harness, which seems improbable if the entire crew was on deck fighting to save the ship.

It’s more likely that the Spanish explorers left their mounts behind for one reason or another. We know that the Spanish were very active in exploring the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. That is one of the reasons why Queen Elizabeth I granted Raleigh a royal charter to form a colony—as a counter to Spanish efforts.

There were also a number of unsuccessful attempts by the Spanish to establish colonies in the Southeast. When the Spanish left, it is very doubtful that they would have taken their livestock, including the horses, with them.

An interesting theory on that is somewhat plausible is the mustangs came with the ships of the doomed Lost Colony.

Spain and England were at war or on the verge of war in 1585 when Sir Walter Raleigh outfitted his second expedition to Roanoke Island.

Led by Sir Richard Grenville, the expedition stopped in the West Indies to buy livestock, including stallions and mares. 

Approaching Roanoke Inlet from the south, the flotilla’s flagship Tiger, ran aground, probably around Ocracoke Inlet although Diamond Shoals off  Buxton is a possibility. Because it was the largest ship, it was carrying most of the supplies for the colony  including the recently purchased livestock. Attempting to refloat the ship much of the supplies, including the livestock was thrown overboard.

If the livestock were survived, over time they could easily have migrated to the north. At the time that the Tiger ran aground, neither Hatteras Inlet nor Oregon Inlet existed. Those did not open until an 1846 hurricane. Although inlets opened periodically for the most part the Outer Banks was a continuous strand of sand from Ocracoke to Roanoke Inlet, directly across from Roanoke until about 1820 when Roanoke Inlet closed permanently.

That explanation does leave a lot unexplained. As an example, the Banker Horses as they became know, were common throughout coastal North Carolina from the Core Banks to the south to the Currituck Banks and Virginia by the 1700s.

Ocracoke Inlet, separating Ocracoke from Portsmouth Island, has been a wide, navigable inlet for as long as European explorers first marked it in the 16th century. Horses are good swimmers, but it would still have been a difficult crossing.

At one time there were a few thousand Banker horses roaming the Outer Banks. The story of what became of them is somewhat sad and involved and we’ll save that for another day.

But remember, when a stallion and his harem (that’s what it’s called) are lazing on the Carova beach in the summer, what you are seeing is a living piece of the history of the United States. 

And please, do not feed them and keep at least 50’ away.

There is so much to learn about the Outer Banks. Spend a fascinating week or two in a Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates home and discover a place like no other.

Home Sweet Sandy Home–Life on a Barrier Island

Section of an 1822 map of coastal North Carolina showing three inlets that no longer exist, and no inlets where two are now located.
Section of an 1822 map of coastal North Carolina showing three inlets that no longer exist, and no inlets where two are now located.

Welcome to the Outer Banks where, as the saying goes, we live on island time…except we don’t really live on islands. More like sandbars that have managed to rise from the sea. 

That really is what a barrier island is and the Outer Banks are barrier islands and like all barrier islands they are not a permanent land mass. Left to their own devices, barrier islands migrate, generally to the shore.

The process is well documented. A large storm overwashes the sandbar. Sand is picked up from the ocean side and deposited on the landward or estuary side. 

The evidence of that process can be clearly seen if you know what to look for.

Where the Inlets Lived

On barrier islands, inlets open and close all the time and as they do so they leave a very clear footprint of where they have been.

At the north end of Duck, looking out across Currituck Sound, the water is dotted with small muddy islands. That is the remnants of Caffey’s Inlet that was open from about 1770-1811. The small islands are sand deposits from when the inlet was open.

More evidence? Check out the whole north end of Currituck Sound.

Currituck Inlet was so well known and so well defined that at one time the fledgling US Government established a customs house at what is now the town of Currituck. The customs house closed in 1828, as did Currituck Inlet.

The process continues to this day.

On Pea Island, in 2011 Hurricane Irene opened a passage to the sea that has historically been an inlet. The area is called New Inlet and since it was first noted by European explores in 1656 it has spent far more time open than closed.

Nonetheless, the processes that allow for the ocean to overwash the sandbars and move the Outer Banks to the west have been dramatically slowed by human intervention. 

Although the Outer Banks are barrier islands, there are a couple of true islands that are a part of what is typically included in a description of the area. It should be noted, though, that they are not directly on the shoreline.

Two Real Islands

Roanoke Island, where the Lost Colony tried their luck in the 1580s is now the home of Manteo and the fishing village of Wanchese. It’s unlike any other island in the Outer Banks area.

It was probably an island before the Outer Banks formed some 10,000 or 12,000 years ago. Geologists how have looked at its history feel there were rivers that flowed northward toward what was at one time the Roanoke River Delta. At that time the eastern shore of the Untied States was at least 40-50 miles to the east.

Roanoke Island’s nearest island neighbor is Colington Island about four miles north across Roanoke Sound.

Colington Island, at the end of the road that goes by the Wright Brothers Monument in Kill Devil Hills, is mostly a residential area. It actually is much more similar to the Outer Banks than Roanoke in a lot of ways.

It is actually a series of relict dunes, so it was probably either part of the coastline at one point or very close to it. The soil of the island is very sandy in keeping with its geological history.

Because it was once part of the shoreline and is made up of once upon a time dunes, the terrain is far more varied than Roanoke Island, which is pretty flat.

Interesting little fact—Roanoke Island was the first attempt by the English to colonize North Carolina. Colington Island was the first permanent settlement—1663.

Roanoke island and Colington are fairly close to one another, and for the most part, especially in the northern Outer Banks, things are clustered fairly close together. There is an exception to that though.

Hatteras Island Farthest From Mainland

Very few, if any, barrier islands are as far from the mainland as is Hatteras Island. It’s so far across Pamlico Sound—18-20 miles—that one European explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano first entered it in 1529, he thought he had discovered a passage to the Pacific Ocean.

He probably didn’t sail too far into the sound. If he had, no doubt he would have noticed that the waters were just too shallow to be an ocean. The maximum depth of Pamlico Sound is only 26’.

There is so much to explore and learn about the Outer Banks that it could be the study of a lifetime. Spend a week or so with Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates and begin your journey of discovery.