Outer Banks


Dotted with lighthouses, the Outer Banks are a 200-mile-long string of narrow barrier islands beginning in the southeastern corner of Virginia Beach and going down the North Carolina coastline.

The Core and Pamlico Sounds, which are along the Cape Lookout National Seashore, are where most of North Carolina Outward Bound School’s sea kayaking courses take place. This wilderness area remains minimally developed and offers the largest expanse of primal barrier island ecology available on the east coast. There are no residents on this 56-mile long section, which runs from Ocracoke Inlet in the northeast to Beaufort Inlet on the southeast.

The three undeveloped barrier islands that make up the seashore - North Core Banks, South Core Banks and Shackleford Banks - offer many natural and historical features. These low profile, sandy, thinly vegetated islands are an International Biosphere Reserve for research and conservation purposes. The unique ecosystem of the Outer Banks is made up of ocean waters, sandy beaches, vital wetlands, maritime forests, and a series of sounds, estuaries and salt marshes. 

The diverse environment gives life to all kinds of creatures, from deer and wild horses, to sea turtles, ghost crabs and dolphins. Located on one of the great migratory flyways of America, birders come to the Outer Banks from all over the world to spot rare birds. The coastal winds of the Outer Banks still carry tales of The Lost Colony, Wilbur and Orville Wright and Blackbeard the Pirate. During the 19th century, the tricky shoals of the Outer Banks swallowed more than 650 ships, quickly earning the nickname "The Graveyard of the Atlantic." The result? An outcropping of lighthouses and shipwrecks, which continue to serve as famous landmarks for the Outer Banks today.

I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.
- Steve McQueen


Students can expect to spend a good deal of time each day in kayaks on an Outer Banks course. Both single and tandem kayaks will be used and students will have the opportunity to spend time in both vessels. Depending on the wind and weather, the level of difficulty will vary from day to day. Crews will practice marine expedition risk assessment and management, route planning, navigation, paddle stroke techniques, kayak-based rescues and equipment use and its care. 

NAVIGATION: Students will learn how to read tide charts and maps.
VESSELS: In some cases students will paddle in a tandem vessel. This is a great opportunity to practice communication skills.
WILDLIFE: Seeing The Shackleford Wild Ponies are just some of the amazing wildlife viewing opportunities in the Outer Banks.
HOME: Each night students will sleep in tents on sandy beaches with the ocean as their backdrop.
FOOD: On course you and your crew mates will take turns cooking for the group. Students can expect to eat things like, pasta, bagels, cheese, oatmeal, peanut butter, salami, beans, soup, Gatorade, etc.

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