From beaches to Blackbeard, shipwrecks to sand dunes, the Outer Banks have something for everyone

Gavin Haskell/

I stood frozen with fear, unable to move. The terrifying image drew closer, curved sword swinging wildly. Just as the fearsome swashbuckler seemed about to separate my head and body, I snapped back to reality; left my all-too-real daydream about Blackbeard the pirate behind; and moved on the next exhibit in the museum.

The dramatic, somewhat grisly story of Blackbeard is but one display that transforms The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras into a memorably lifelike experience. This eclectic collection is among the attractions which make North Carolina's Outer Banks – the chain of narrow barrier islands that parallels the state’s Atlantic coastline – into much more than just another sun-and-sand vacation destination. 

No wonder Forbes last year included it among The Top 20 Places Americans Are Dreaming About Right Now, and a renowned seashore expert included one of its beaches among his list of the most outstanding in the country.

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