lookoutThe Outer Banks National Scenic Byway traverses one of the nation’s great wild and scenic coastal landscapes encompassing the unique maritime culture of 21 coastal villages.

The U. S. Department of Transportation found the traditional maritime culture along the Byway worthy of the National Byway designation in October, 2009. The Outer Banks National Scenic Byway is one of only 150 nationally designated byways.

The Byway follows the North Carolina coastline as it juts east into the Atlantic Ocean. The Byway stretches over 138 driving miles and 25 ferry-riding miles along barrier islands, Pamlico Sound and two inlets and through coastal villages.

These barrier islands and surrounding waters are awash with national significance.

Two national seashores, Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores are homes for four iconic lighthouses, including the nation’s tallest brick lighthouse (Cape Hatteras) and its second oldest operating lighthouse (Ocracoke) as well as the stately and picturesque Bodie Island and Cape Lookout lighthouses. Two national wildlife refuges, Pea Island and Cedar Island, highlight this coastal region’s world famous stopover for migrating song birds and waterfowl.

boat_01Many of the residents in the 21 villages scattered along the Byway continue the same living traditions that have been a way of life on these island for generations. Live oaks, old summer cottages, family cemeteries, beautifully simple churches, family-owned and operated stores, fish houses, and seven standing life-saving stations mark these historic settlements.

Leave the mainland behind. Slow down and come tour these historic villages and enjoy the rich maritime culture with a stunning backdrop of gorgeous beaches and scenic marshlands and thriving wildlife, well-known lighthouses and awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets.

Visit the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway soon for an up-close look.