Kitty Hawk in Outer Banks, NC  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Outer Banks Area Features

Adventures on Air, Land and Sea

If heart-pounding, action-packed activities are what you seek, you came to the right place. The Outer Banks of North Carolina has a long history of paving the way in exciting sports and activities. After all, since the days of the first flight in Kitty Hawk, multiple other methods of flying (whether on a kite or a parasail) have been attempted and perfected. In addition, there are a wide range of calmer, yet enthralling adventures that will keep the family entertained in the air, in the water, and on land.

From surfing to kiteboarding and climbing to skydiving, adventurous go-getters have a lot to choose from. Find your new feat to vanquish on the Outer Banks.


For those who are certified, diving in the Outer Banks can be a rewarding experience—literally. In addition to returning from the water with the evening’s dinner, divers with a keen eye and good luck may be able to salvage some treasure from one of the many shipwrecks in the area. Many divers believe that the history they’re exploring is a treasure in itself. It is important to note that many sites, such as the wreck of the USS Monitor, are protected by the National Park Service or other agencies, and permits are required to dive in those areas.


What’s the most extreme activity to try on the Outer Banks you ask? How about skydiving? From an altitude of approximately 9,000 feet, plummet to the earth at approximately 120 miles per hour until the life-saving cord is pulled and a parachute takes you gently to the land below. It’s the rush of a lifetime!


Embarking on a challenging voyage on the waves of the deep sea while hooking a game fish onto a boat deck can be quite an adventure. Anglers of most ages can participate, and no intermediate skill is required since knowledgeable captains provide the equipment and the prime fishing spots for those looking to battle some of the largest fish in the ocean. Even a smaller fish can test the strength of the fisherman trying to reel one in as it fights to break free from the hook.

Curious why the Outer Banks is a favorite fishing destination? It’s because the Gulf Stream sets the stage for some of the most exciting fishing found anywhere in the world. Imagine the thrill as a massive blue marlin charges from the deep to inhale a lure trailing only yards behind the boat. That feeling kicks into high gear when the marlin, weighing nearly 500 pounds, takes the bait and leaps ten feet into the air. At the end of the fight, both angler and fish are winners when the fish is unhooked and released to swim away unharmed.

Blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish, locally known as “billfish,” are among the top sport fish to catch when offshore fishing. Some of the best-tasting fish in the sea, such as yellowfin tuna, wahoo, king mackerel and dolphin (the fish which is also called mahi-mahi—not the mammal) can also be caught on a Gulf Stream charter. Sometimes the thrill of the hunt is an adventure in itself. Near-shore waters provide an abundance of fish for boaters. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, red drum, sea bass, cobia, and amberjack can be caught within a few miles of land. During the past several years, striped bass have made some memorable appearances during the winter.

Trust your Sunny Day Guide to find knowledgeable guides who are available for offshore charters or backcountry fishing safaris. The local captains are among the best in the world! They furnish all of the tackle, bait, and equipment for fishing trips, which can be arranged through many of the Outer Banks marinas and boat docks.

Hang Gliding

A fun way to get some air-time is on the dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Here, you’ll find hang gliders taking off from the sandy slopes. The best way to try the sport for yourself is through Kitty Hawk Kites, the largest hang-gliding school in the world. The business offers introductory tandem flights to those who are interested in taking to the skies. Already a pro? You can bring your own equipment but please note that potential hang gliders need to register their credentials with the park before embarking on a flight.


Be among the first you know to try a cutting-edge sport. Sandboarding is a hot new activity, but finding ideal places to try it can be challenging since there are so few areas in the nation with large sloping mounds of sand. However, Jockey’s Ridge on the OBX has been boasted as the best place on the East Coast to try it. It’s like snowboarding, but without the chill of winter.

Ropes Courses

In the Outer Banks, there are also thrilling activity places such as Corolla Adventure Park, the First Flight Adventure Park in Nags Head, or the Adventure Tower in Rodanthe where you can defy gravity on a rope and zip-line course consisting of aerial obstacles for many different levels. Climb to platforms that extend to 50 feet in height and navigate your way through strategically placed hurdles that are both mentally and physically challenging. Once you reach the zip lines, you just glide through the sky to the ground below.

Jet Skiing

One of the most popular motor sports in the Outer Banks is jet skiing. Spread throughout the region are many places that rent jet skis that can accommodate 1, 2, or 3 people. Experience an adrenaline-charged rush while racing over the waves at top speed. Many of the riding areas are spacious enough to give you a great sense of freedom in the water.


It’s impossible to discuss fun on the water without mentioning boating. Boats are certainly available for rent and riding aboard them can pack a lot of enjoyment. It’s always exciting to spring over the waves on a high-speed jet boat. Plus, there is a wide range of other sports that can be tried from the back of a boat including parasailing, water skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding. For those who would appreciate a relaxing reprieve from adrenalized adventures, perhaps a wildlife tour might be the way to go. Not only do you get to leave the captaining to someone else, but everyone in the group will get to learn about dolphins, whales or other aquatic creatures while hopefully seeing them in the wild. Other recommended, yet easygoing cruises for the entire family are sunset cruises and dinner cruises. Both are pleasurable trips and a great way to end the day with spectacular scenery.


The OBX coastline is also ideal for kiteboarding, and though it can be costly to get started, it is a very popular sport. It is absolutely necessary for the novice kiteboarder to receive proper instruction in the correct mechanics and use of the equipment. A good instructor will teach you about rigging the kite, becoming airborne and learning to cruise along the waves and through the air. Those with advanced skills can take on flips and twists while having fun and getting a great workout!


When it comes to water-based sports, surfing is king. If you’ve never tried it, the OBX is a great place to start. Here, you’ll find beaches that can handle just about any swell direction the Atlantic can throw your way. Combine that with summer water temps from 75-82º, and you’re in surfing heaven. The waves aren’t typically too strong to intimidate novices but they can be strong enough to challenge pros.

Looking for gear? Look to Sunny Day Guide for shops that will rent you the latest in quality boards. Typically you’ll find soft boards, hard epoxy boards, and a few premium boards for those thinking about an eventual purchase. New to surfing? A good surfing instructor is key and it is easy to find one in this region. Many shops that provide rentals also provide instruction and plenty of free advice. When the waves are good, the rental boards go fast!

Paddling Around

Trying out a watersport such as kayaking or paddleboarding while staying in the Outer Banks gives you and your family the opportunity to pleasantly discover hidden coves along the the sound and rivers or natural splendors of the open sea. With good reason, the number of people enjoying these activities has exploded along the Outer Banks in the last several years. Riders can set their own pace and choose an exhilarating adventure by ripping down the face of a breaking wave. Or, they can opt for a more peaceful expedition, exploring pristine sound-side waters alive with wildlife. Visitors can purchase or rent kayaks and SUPs (stand-up paddleboards) from a number of outdoor outfitters servicing nearly every beach town from Corolla to Hatteras Village. Guided tours and lessons are also available for both types of paddling.

Stand-up paddleboarding has gained a lot of enthusiasts from Kitty Hawk to Hawaii. The beautiful part of this sport is that when you catch a wave, you’re already standing up. Riders first use the paddle to catch a breaking wave, and then use it to increase speed while riding the surf. It's pretty easy to learn but experts advise first learning and practicing on “flat water.” Don’t be surprised if you find yourself taking a refreshing dip in the water once or twice until you get the hang of it! Once riders get used to keeping their balance and paddling smoothly, they may want to head to the ocean for more challenging fun. Some SUP riders prefer to take long cruises paralleling the shoreline. If the ocean is clear, it’s possible to see schools of fish and dolphin swimming.

Ever since “sit-on-top” style kayaks became mainstream several decades ago, this easy sport has attracted paddlers of all ages. On most sunny summer days, the bright royal blue, canary yellow and teal green boats can be seen bobbing in the surf as the double-ended paddles revolve like windmills. Get a full dose of sun and surf by stroking out to a nearby shipwreck for snorkeling, or just enjoy a long ride in the breaking surf. As for kayaking on the bay or sound side, this calmer environment provides a more controlled way of participating in the sport. Traditional “sit in” kayaks are still available, and many watersports outfitters offer guided tours where participants can learn about salt marshes, waterfowl, and marine critters as well as history and local legends. Anglers too, have adopted kayaks as an efficient, affordable way to seek out secret, productive fishing grounds on both sides of the islands.

These adventures are delightful ways to explore some remarkable treasures—the “Carolina blue” skies, the natural land areas, and the surrounding waters of the Outer Banks.

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