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North Carolina: Jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, North Carolina's Outer Banks offer visitors plenty of sand, history, and recreational activities. This 100 mile long group of islands welcomed the first European settlers, witnessed mankind's first winged flight, and is often the first place that hurricanes visit as they run up the east coast of the United States. As barrier islands, the Outer Banks are exposed to the whims of the Atlantic Ocean.
Sand is pulled out and tossed away while the islands make a gradual westward move of approximately one to two feet per year.
Indeed, many of the shipwrecks that took place several hundred years ago right off shore would be as much as a mile further out into the Atlantic today if they happened in the same spot. In 1524, Giovanni de Verrazzano, the first European explorer to visit the islands, landed on the banks.
Later that century, Sir Walter Raleigh sent two English explorers to Roanoke Island and the first settlement of Europeans was established. During the ensuing centuries the area of sea just off the Outer Banks was coined by US Stateman Alexander Hamilton to be the "graveyard of the Atlantic." Scores of ships were sunk and hundreds of lives were lost as storms marched up the coast as they crept past the islands.
The American government, in an attempt to provide navigational assistance, constructed lighthouses along these shores. Even today four of these ancient watchmen continue to stand although their lights have long since been extinguished.
Much later, in 1903 to be exact, two brothers from Ohio, Wilbur and Orville Wright, attempted to make the first manned flight of an aircraft from Kill Devil Hills. Their twelve second voyage was short and sweet, and the rest is now history.
Other outstanding features of the Outer Banks include: Jockey's Ridge State Park featuring the highest sand dunes on the east coast; the Cape Hatteras National Seashore; wildlife refuges and maritime forests; and a whole host of recreational activities including: kite flying, deep sea fishing, swimming, boating, and more. Without a doubt, the Outer Banks has something for just about everyone and is well worth exploring. You will be enchanted the first time and every time you visit.