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    Where to Get that Special Picture on the OBX

    No matter where you go on this strip of sand by the sea, there is something to photograph.

    Undoubtedly, the Outer Banks is an ideal place for a couple and a camera…or a family and a camera…or one person and a camera. No matter where you may go on this strip of sand by the sea, there is something to photograph.

    People take pictures for a lot of different reasons, and we can’t list all of them, but for a short list, here are three topics and some suggestions from our experience.

    Best Place for a Romantic Picture

    The Whalehead Club, Corolla

    The centerpiece of 39 acres of beautifully maintained landscape and art nouveau buildings, the Whalehead Club is located at the south end of Corolla Village at the base of Currituck Beach Lighthouse.

    Elizabethan Gardens, Roanoke Island

    This beautifully maintained 10-acre formal garden on the north end of Roanoke Island is actually part of Fort Raleigh National Historic Site—the location of Soundside Theater where The Lost Colony is performed. The rose garden is extraordinary, but so is the Italian motif fountains and statues.

    The Beach

    You’re on the Outer Banks, our beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world, just find a good place and take some pictures.

    And the Winner Is

    Whalehead Club Bridge

    The Whalehead Club—There are so many locations that make for great pictures that it can almost seem overwhelming. There is the footbridge, that’s classic; or a spectacular sunset shot; or maybe something featuring the boat pond with the boathouse in the picture—that can be a great shot from the footbridge. And, of course, there is always the exquisitely restored Whalehead Club itself.

    Whalehead Club and Corolla Lighthouse

    Also in its favor, unlike the Elizabethan Gardens that is open somewhat sporadically in the winter, the Whaehead grounds are always open.

    Best Place for a Sunset

    Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head

    It’s a bit of a trek to the top of Jockey’s Ridge, the massive sand dune that gives the park its name, but the view from the top is worth the effort. The highest natural point on the Outer Banks, looking west there is an unobstructed view across Roanoke Sound to Roanoke Island and even the mainland.

    The park closes at sunset, so after taking the picture, you will have to leave.

    The Whalehead Club, Corolla

    Perched as it is on the edge of Currituck Sound, the Whalehead Club has a well-deserved reputation as a place to get a great sunset shot. There are a number of options here, so be sure to scout it out before taking your pictures.

    Moor Shore Road, Kitty Hawk

    A surprise entry in the best sunset location competition, but Moor Shore Road, a short spur road connecting West Kitty Hawk Road with Beacon Drive in Kitty Hawk, parallels Kitty Hawk Bay. This is actually a very old road and when the Wright Brothers first arrived in Kitty Hawk, they stayed at the Tate house on this street. A concrete marker notes the location.

    And the Winner Is

    Moor Shore Road—Again surprising, perhaps, but Moor Shore wins because of how easy access is…just stop your car along the side of the road, pop out and take some pictures. It’s also absolutely beautiful at sunset.

    Moor Shore Road KItty Hawk Sunset

    There are a couple of locations along the road that will give different perspectives. When driving from Kitty Hawk Road to Beacon Drive, Kitty Hawk Bay appears at the bridge over an unnamed creek. There are some great shots available there, but drive a bit farther past the reeds, and there are more opportunities.

    Photographer tip—A sunset is one time a cellphone camera works just about as well as anything else.

    Best Place for Bird Watching

    Sandy Run Park, Kitty Hawk

    This wonderfully maintained town park off Woods Road in Kitty Hawk features a very easily navigated half-mile boardwalk and hard-packed dirt trail. May through September, look for the nesting osprey. Year-round there are usually some blue heron and egrets to be seen. There are also occasional woodpeckers in the trees and always songbirds.

    Nags Head Woods, Nags Head (at Nags Head Town Park), or Kill Devil Hills (off Ocean Acres Drive)

    There are so many different mini-environments in Nags Head Woods that there is almost always something to be seen. Part of the Nature Conservancy, the reserve stretches for about two miles along Roanoke Sound, although access to the shoreline is somewhat limited. Featuring a very robust trail network, it’s a great place to explore.

    Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, North End Hatteras Island

    The Outer Banks has a well-deserved reputation as a birders paradise, and PINWR is a big part of that reason. The trail from the Visitor’s Center gives access to just a small part of the refuge, but there is almost always something worth seeing photographing in the impoundments.

    And the Winner Is

    Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge—Just the sheer abundance of birds of all sorts makes this a clear winner. Migratory waterfowl have been coming to the impoundments along the trail for at least 100 years. What is so remarkable is not just the number of waterfowl, but also the diversity of species.

    Birds Swimming and Flying at Pea Island Wildlife Refuge

    It’s not just the waterfowl, though. Grackles and warblers (especially yellow-rumped warblers in the winter) abound in the trees. In the low grass and weeds along the impoundment, look for eastern meadowlarks, and semipalmated and black bellied plovers. And that’s just a small sample of what is there.

    Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Aerial View

    Photo tip—this is one time when a good camera will make a difference. Cellphone cameras don’t zoom all that well.