One of the features resort areas have in common are their boardwalks, and the Outer Banks, being a resort area, has its fair share of them.
Of course, on the Outer Banks our boardwalks are a little bit different, not quite like the garish commercial ventures of the Atlantic City Boardwalk, or Myrtle Beach or even Virginia Beach.
Rather our boardwalks are more low-key, never on the ocean, offering instead a real chance to explore the area.
There are two kinds of boardwalks that we have—there are the boardwalks that have some businesses as part of them; and then there are the boardwalks that lead to some of the most beautiful places on the Outer Banks.
The Duck Boardwalk stretches for about a mile along the Currituck Sound in the Town of Duck. It’s probably as close to a traditional view of what a resort boardwalk should be as there is on the Outer Banks, but don’t look for any rides or storefronts selling cheap souvenirs or T-shirts of questionable taste.
Rather expect spectacular views across the Sound and a restful experience simply strolling along the wooden walkway.
There are a number of restaurants offering a wide variety of fare…and they are very good restaurants. All of them offer outdoor seating either immediately next to the boardwalk or right on it.
One of the things that makes the Duck Boardwalk so nice is how well designed it is for multiple uses. There are stores and restaurants along its length, but it is also the place to come to launch a kayak or throw a fishing line in the water and see what’s swimming in the sound.
There are plenty of parking areas in the town with easy access to the boardwalk, so park the car and take an hour or two to enjoy this wonderful way to experience the Outer Banks.
On the Outer Banks, Manteo is the only town that has a true centralized downtown. Duck comes close, but the three or four blocks around the Manteo waterfront has a wonderful combination of businesses.
It also has a fantastic little boardwalk along the docks. There are a couple of restaurants right on the boardwalk—Poor Richards is the old standby, but there are one or two others. And there is easy access to the rest of the town.
There is, however, more to this boardwalk.
At the end of Compton Street just to the south of Manteo’s downtown, there is a parking area. At the water’s edge at that parking lot, there is a boardwalk that connects with downtown Manteo. It’s a very pleasant stroll into town that includes a great view of the Roanoke Sound and the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse.
At the north end of the Manteo Boardwalk is the bridge to Roanoke Island Festival Park. Cross the bridge and walk across the first parking lot. There will be a short trail leading to a boardwalk that parallels the north and west shore of the island.
Currituck Banks Reserve
About a mile north of the Village of Corolla, there is a sharp bend to the right in the road with a small parking lot on the left. That’s the parking for the Currituck Banks Reserve.
The boardwalk leads to the Currituck Sound and is a third of a mile long It is a very pleasant walk through a remarkable maritime forest.
Loblolly and longleaf pines dominate the canopy here, but the boardwalk crosses a marsh where red maple, cedar, and sweet gum trees thrive. In the spring and summer, it explodes with color from the wildflowers. In fall, look for berries on the bushes and trees.
The boardwalk ends at a wide pier that offers a panoramic view of Currituck Sound.
Close the gate at the parking lot. Corolla wild horses sometimes wander through the forest.
The boardwalk is handicap accessible.
Bodie Island Lighthouse
Bodie Island Lighthouse soars 156’ above the marsh, wetland, and open water of Pamlico Sound just to the north of Oregon Inlet. It is a beautiful structure and worth checking out.
To the south of the lighthouse—facing it from the parking lot and to the left—there is a short and easily navigated boardwalk to a viewing pavilion.
There is a sign at the beginning of the boardwalk advising people that “…venomous snakes observed near tall grasses and marsh.” The sign suggests staying on the walkway, which in this case makes a lot of sense.
The boardwalk is handicap accessible and is a great walk for families and people who may have some problems walking long distances. The view from the pavilion is quite nice.
While there, take a moment to look into the water by the pavilion. It’s fairly clear and a favorite spawning area for fish. Especially in late summer to fall, there’ll be quite a number of small fish getting ready to make their move to open water.
Sandy Run—Honorable Mention
We’re including Sandy Run Park in Kitty Hawk as an honorable mention boardwalk. It’s not strictly a boardwalk. It does have one, but it’s part of a loop trail around a pond. Part of the loop is dirt.
Spring, summer, and fall, look for the yellow-bellied slider turtles. Lots and lots and lots of turtles.