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.

These regions are the ancestral lands of the Hatteras, Roanoke and Croatan nations.

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


Traveling by kayak allows for the ultimate freedom and ability to travel nimbly through this areas diverse ecosystems. Your instructors will teach you everything you need to know for this expedition including marine expedition risk assessment and management, navigation, paddle strokes and kayak-based rescues, so no experience is necessary, just the commitment to dig deep and embrace the challenge! 



WATCH: Discover what the barrier islands of the Outer Banks have to offer you. Video by the Saint John's River Alliance

Sign Up for Updates

Stay informed on North Carolina news and updates! Please fill out the form below to begin receiving our email newsletter.