Best American Adventures: Paddle the Outer Banks


We've just updated our popular America's
Best Adventures
feature with 50 new trips, bringing our grand total to 100 iconic escapes (see the map, state-by-state list, and photo gallery, too). So no matter what your pleasure—hiking,
heli-skiing, surfing, climbing, biking, or paddling—we've got the perfect adventure
for you. Check in each day for a new, out-the-backdoor adventure highlighted here on our blog.

By Doug Schnitzspahn; Photograph by Skip Brown

North Carolina’s Outer Banks represent what the
eastern seaboard used to look like before all the development and
jetties. Left to the whims of the wind and tide, the barrier islands
and their dunes change shape from year to year. That makes for an ideal
place for beach sports ranging from surfing to striper fishing.

the absolute best way to explore the 68 miles (109 kilometers) of Cape
Hatteras National Seashore and 56 miles (90 kilometers) of Cape Lookout
National Seashore is to load up a kayak and paddle between Hatteras’s
four campgrounds and dispersed camping on the beaches. While the ocean
side can be quite rough (the ocean offshore is referred to as the
“Graveyard of the Atlantic”), the clear, sheltered waters of Pamlico
Sound make for ideal paddle touring.

kayakers can travel from campsite to campsite; those who don’t want to
log long miles in a sea kayak can simply choose a campground and then
make day trips. But no matter how you plan your trip, few experiences
beat paddling along the beaches of Shackleford Banks with the barrier
island’s herd of wild horses running along the beach.

Need to Know: Coastal Kayak Touring Company Inc. ( has half-day trips from $39. Consult Cape Hatteras National Seashore ( or Cape Lookout National Seashore ( for more information.