The Outer Banks, NC, a string of barrier islands nestled between mainland North Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean, offers an array of romantic escapades amidst its abundant natural splendor and rich historical heritage.
Exploring the pristine beaches, state parks, and historic shipwreck sites tops the list of idyllic activities. Delve into the historical narrative by visiting sites like Roanoke Island, famously known for the Lost Colony. Adventurous duos can indulge in thrilling escapades like parasailing, paddleboarding, and kayaking.
The North Carolina coast comprises six distinct regions, including Kill Devil Hills & Nags Head, Ocracoke Island, and Southern Shores, each offering a plethora of accommodations, dining experiences, and recreational options for couples seeking a romantic getaway.
Romantic Things to Do in the Outer Banks for Couples
1. Embark on Adventure with Captain Johnny’s Dolphin Tours
- Address: 400 Queen Elizabeth Ave, Manteo, NC 27954
- Phone: +12524731475
- Website: https://outerbankscruises.com/
- Ticket Fee: start from $32 Adult, $22 Children 12 and younger, $10 Under 18 months
Led by a ninth-generation native of Roanoke Island, Captain Johnny’s Dolphin Tours offers an exhilarating opportunity to witness bottlenose dolphins up close, operating from June through October. In the rare event of not spotting dolphins during the initial tour, guests are entitled to a complimentary second tour.
Tickets are necessary for these tours, which operate from Monday to Friday. On weekends, visitors have the option to charter a boat for their explorations.
For couples seeking a romantic experience, the sunset cruises are ideal. Additionally, there are specialized cruises tailored for bird-watching enthusiasts, as well as those interested in shrimping and crabbing adventures.
2. Explore Majestic Wild Horses with Back Beach Wild Horse Tours
- Address: 817 B Ocean Trail, Corolla, NC 27927
- Phone: +12524536141
- Website: http://seewildhorses.com/
- Ticket Fee: Adults: $54, Kids 12 and younger: $36 , Kids 3 and younger: $19
Back Beach Wild Horse Tours offers captivating sightseeing excursions via four-wheel vehicles to witness the captivating native wild horses in their natural habitat. The safari-style tours along the oceanfront provide an immersive experience, lasting approximately two hours per beach tour.
To secure a spot, it’s advisable to make reservations in advance for these sought-after tours, ensuring a seamless and memorable adventure amidst these magnificent creatures.
3. Immerse Yourself in Nature’s Splendor at Elizabethan Gardens
- Address: 1411 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954
- Phone: +12524733234
- Website: https://www.elizabethangardens.org/
- Ticket Fee: $12 for adults, $8 for ages 6 to 17
A homage to the inaugural English settlers, the Elizabethan Gardens offer a perennial display of floral beauty. Amidst your visit, vibrant blooms like azaleas, dogwoods, and roses may enchant you, while other seasons unveil camellias, daphne, and a myriad of annuals and herbs.
Traversing the grounds, you’ll encounter timeless stone fountains, ornate garden embellishments, and a charming waterfront gazebo. Amidst the serene ambiance, couples can relish a self-guided exploration, finding solace among the benches, statues, and the majestic live oaks.
For an added enchantment, the John White Butterfly Center opens its doors to the public from May to September. Throughout the year, the gardens host workshops, lively plant sales, and captivating festivities.
Opening from March to January (closed in February), the gardens’ operational hours fluctuate with the seasons. Admission fees stand at $12 for adults, $8 for ages 6 to 17, and $4 for children aged 3 to 5. Little ones under 2 years old enjoy free entry, while furry friends are welcomed with a $3 admission fee per dog. For more comprehensive information, visitors can refer to the garden’s official website.
4. Ascend to Splendor at Currituck Beach Lighthouse
- Address: 1101 Corolla Village Rd, Corolla, NC 27927
- Phone: +12524534939
- Website: https://obcinc.org/currituck-beach-lighthouse/
- Ticket Fee: $12 to climb lighthouse tower (ages 4 and up)
Offering a breathtaking panoramic vista of Currituck Sound upon scaling its 220 steps, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse promises a mesmerizing experience. As visitors descend, they delve into the lighthouse’s rich history, complemented by captivating exhibits located at the base.
As a proud member of Historic Corolla and the Historic Albemarle Tour, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse stands as a testament to the region’s heritage.
Admission to ascend the lighthouse stands at $12.00 for individuals aged 4 and above, while children aged 3 and below enjoy complimentary entry when accompanied by an adult, securely carried in carriers during the climb. For safety, minors aged 12 and below are permitted to ascend only under adult supervision, while a signed waiver by parents or guardians is required for unaccompanied climbers aged 13 to 17. The lighthouse welcomes visitors from mid-March through December annually.
5. Experience Coastal Delight at Jennette’s Pier
- Address: 7223 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head, NC 27959
- Phone: +12522551501
- Website: http://www.jennettespier.net/
- Ticket Fee:
- Fishing: Adults $14 Children $7
Walk-on: Adults $2 Children $1 (children age 12 and under)
- Fishing: Adults $14 Children $7
Welcoming visitors since 2011, Jennette’s Pier stands as a beloved destination, particularly bustling during Nags Head’s summer season. Offering ample space for both sightseers and fishing enthusiasts, the Pier boasts surrounding beaches, a convenient bathhouse, and complimentary parking facilities.
Throughout the year, Jennette’s Pier hosts an array of engaging events, adding vibrancy to the coastal experience.
For those inclined towards fishing, a license is a prerequisite and conveniently available for purchase on-site.
6. Adventure Awaits at Nor’Banks Sailing Center
- Address: 1314 Duck Road Duck, NC 27949
- Phone: +12522612900
- Website: https://www.norbanks.com/
- Ticket Fee: Start from $79 per Jet Ski
For water sports aficionados, Nor’Banks Sailing Center stands as a haven of excitement. Offering an array of rentals including jet ski, bikes, and sailboats, the center caters to diverse interests. Thrill-seekers can opt for tubing, wakeboarding, or pontoon boat adventures. Notably, restroom and shower facilities were added in 2018 for visitor convenience.
Aside from rentals, the center arranges captivating tours, adding depth to the exploration experience.
To secure preferred rentals or tours, advance online reservations are highly recommended for a seamless and enjoyable visit.
7. Discover Hatteras Island: Where History Meets Adventure
Nestled among the Outer Banks barrier islands, the 50-mile stretch of Hatteras Island beckons couples seeking an eventful weekend getaway or a relaxing vacation.
Renowned for its storied past as the infamous ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic,’ Hatteras bears witness to shipwrecks dating back to the Civil War and World War II. Home to the Tri-Villages—Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo—this island boasts attractions like the National Scenic Byway, Bodie Island Lighthouse, and the picturesque Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Vacation rentals predominantly consist of charming rental houses, many just a short distance from sought-after amenities such as hot tubs.
For outdoor enthusiasts, a plethora of activities awaits. From beach access and hunting to the rental of off-road vehicles, Hatteras Island caters to various interests. Engage in horseback riding, fishing escapades, or partake in thrilling watersports, ensuring an adventurous experience on this historic island.
8. Discover the Majesty of Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Lighthouse
- Address: 46379 Lighthouse Rd, Buxton, NC 27920
- Phone: +12524732111
Situated within the expanse of the National Seashore, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse stands tall at 193 feet, proudly holding the distinction of being the nation’s tallest lighthouse. A revered local icon since 1803, this monumental structure was relocated to its current site in 1999.
Ascending to its pinnacle rewards visitors with a breathtaking panoramic vista encompassing the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean and the scenic Outer Banks.
Access to the lighthouse summit requires tickets, obtainable on-site on a first-come, first-served basis, ensuring an opportunity to behold the stunning views from this historic beacon.
9. Explore the Majesty of Jockey’s Ridge State Park
- Address: 300 W Carolista Dr, Nags Head, NC 27959
- Website: http://www.ncparks.gov/jockeys-ridge-state-park
- Ticket Fee: Free
Nestled among North Carolina’s collection of state parks, Jockey’s Ridge State Park stands proudly on the Atlantic Coast, boasting the title of harboring the tallest living sand dunes in the region. A haven for various activities, it invites visitors to indulge in kite flying, breathtaking sightseeing, and witnessing mesmerizing sunsets, offering unobstructed views extending from the east coast ocean to the Roanoke Sound.
The park also caters to thrill-seekers with on-site hang gliding lessons available. Seasoned and licensed hang gliders can relish the sport amidst the park’s scenic vistas. Wanderers can opt to explore trails, bask in the sun, or partake in paddling activities during their visit.
For those planning a picturesque picnic, reservations for the designated picnic areas are required. Entry to this natural wonderland comes without a fee, welcoming all to explore its remarkable terrain.
10. Set Sail with Avon Harbor Sailing
- Address: 40067 Harbor Rd, Kinnakeet, NC 27953
- Phone: +12523056839
Avon Harbor Sailing specializes in captivating boat tours, presenting an array of experiences including sunset cruises, private charters, and engaging lessons. With a licensed Captain at the helm, a day charter promises an enchanting journey around Pamlico Sound, offering couples the perfect opportunity to unwind amidst the gentle breeze on their romantic escapade.
Both charters and cruises span a delightful two-hour duration, allowing ample time for relaxation and appreciation of the serene surroundings.
For those eager to embark on this maritime adventure, reservations for cruises, charters, or lessons can be arranged by contacting the provided phone number.
Exploring these romantic activities in the Outer Banks promises to create unforgettable moments and strengthen the bond between you and your partner.
Plan your dream getaway and immerse yourselves in the natural beauty and charm of this coastal paradise.