Day 1 You'll See:
- Jockey's Ridge State Park
- Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
Day 2 You'll See:
- Wild Horse Adventures
- Jennette's Pier
- Red Wolf Howling Safari
Day 3 You'll See:
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore
- Seafood Dinner
The Outer Banks is “that place”… the place you conjure when you’re daydreaming, a nature lover’s paradise and history buff’s delight. It’s the place you see in your mind’s eye when you imagine sturdy descendants of Spanish Mustangs plodding across a vast expanse of wild and windswept white quartz sand, where you’ll lose your cares and discover Heaven on Earth amidst breathtaking maritime scenery, enjoying spectacular nature hikes and wonderfully immersive educational programs, world-class birding and plenty of wildlife watching, and the freshest local seafood anywhere. (Some of the best donuts, too!) Be sure to check with your Adventure Student Travel team about seasonal special events; there’s always something happening in the beautiful Outer Banks. Your students will love every single thing about this thrilling 3-Day Eco Adventure – and you for arranging it for them!
You’ll begin this amazing Eco Adventure by hopping into kayaks to stealthily explore some of the Outer Banks’ famed unspoiled waterways, home to alligators, black bear, bobcats, red wolves, otter, beaver and an endless host of other native species. Maybe you’ll paddle through what was once a thriving lumber town and moonshine outpost, known to the Algonquin Indians as a Pocosin, meaning "swamp on a hill". Perhaps you’ll explore the pristine marsh of the Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary, or Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve - one of the few remaining maritime forests in the world. Bring plenty of water, wear your sunblock, apply insect repellent and leave the flipflops packed – you’ll want to focus on your surroundings, not lost shoes, parched lips or bug bites!
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
The tallest active dune system in the Eastern States and one of the most significant landmarks on the Outer Banks – consists of 426 acres of massive sand peaks, continually shifting and changing in the relentless winds. The area supports three distinct ecosystems: The Roanoke Sound, the Dune System and the Maritime Forest, each home to a variety of hardy and unique species specially adapted to the harsh dune environment. A visitor’s center provides area history and houses a gift shop and fascinating exhibit hall, and a variety of special Ranger-led programs are offered throughout the year. Take advantage of nature trails or stick to the boardwalk; birding, picnicking, hiking, kite flying, kayaking, sandboarding and hang gliding are favorite activities here. Summer weather brings “wicked” electrical storms; be sure to search for fulgarites – crazy glass tubes formed when lightning strikes sand. (finders, leavers: the fulgarites must stay on the dunes.) Tips: Wear dune-friendly shoes – the sand’s surface can be up to 30 degrees hotter than the air temp, which often tops the century mark – and sandspurs are a very real annoyance!
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
Could anyone tire of a briny ocean breeze, the rhythm of pounding surf or the sight of waves of busy shorebirds rolling along the water’s edge? You and your students will marvel at the endless natural wonders of this pristine Outer Banks haven covering the northern 13 miles of Hatteras Island. One of six refuges in the North Carolina Coastal Plain National Wildlife Refuges Complex, it’s host to nearly native 400 bird species and shelter for endangered and threatened animals including the red wolf, the peregrine falcon, myriad sea turtles, the West Indian manatee and the American Alligator. Neotropical migrants flock to the sanctuary in season, and abundant opportunities for birding and wildlife watching, hiking, photography, kayaking, crabbing and fishing ensure something for everyone. If you’re familiar with the Diane Lane/Richard Gere flick, “Nights at Rodanthe,” you’ll recognize the area – renowned for its special, untamed beauty.
Wild Horse Adventures
Day two of your Outer Banks excursion has you tracking wild ponies – known as “Bankers” to locals - indisputably descendants of the once plentiful herds of shipwrecked Spanish stock that roamed the islands in the 16th century. You’re guaranteed a sighting as your expert and affable guides haul you and your young naturalists across the glorious Corova Outback; along the way you’ll see reels of windswept scenery and enjoy plenty of educational and entertaining narration on this open-air Wild Horse Adventure of a lifetime, the #1 “Thing to Do” in beautiful North Carolina!
1,000-foot Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head is a popular eco-friendly landmark leisure fishing destination and family recreational area loaded with state-of-the-art “green” technology and offering a diversity of exciting hands-on educational programs, special events and activities throughout the year for visitors of all ages! Sign up for Pier Fishing, 101, and learn tips from the pros – including how to catch “the big one” ; meet the animals that call the intertidal zone home, study plankton’s role in the marine food chain, or stick around and stalk the creatures that lurk around the pier after dark. Grab a paddle board and explore the sound, build a turbine and experiment with wind energy, dissect a real squid, make your own water filter, catch a few “Climate Clues” or construct a solar vehicle or airboat! A trip to Jennette’s Pier is an OBX eco-tour must, and treats the future environmentalists in your group to a wonderful demonstration of clean energy production and conservation at work!
Red Wolf Howling Safari
Toward the end of the 20th century, the Red Wolf was declared extinct in the wild, but its haunting song can still be heard in the 152,000 acre Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. A captive breeding program is successfully restoring the critically endangered red wolves to the area and the refuge conducts popular two-hour Red Wolf Howling Safaris throughout the year allowing groups an opportunity to go into the woods to “howl” and experience the plaintive “music” of the rare canids’ response. Unforgettable.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
You’ll spend a rapturous Day 3 reveling in the unspoiled splendor of our first national seashore. There’s plenty to do here: surf-fishing, kiteboarding, swimming, some of the best board surfing on the East Coast, crabbing, sensational beach combing, (keep an eye open for purple, green or orange sprigs of “sea whip”) wildlife watching and - of course - phenomenal sightseeing – by bicycle or afoot. These dynamic barrier islands, with their diverse habitats and richly storied history, offer young visitors an exciting array of exceptional experiences, all lending themselves to the creation of fabulous adventures and lifetime memories! Try your hand at cast netting, practice “soundside” seining - gathering sea life specimens for study, hit the nature trail, learn to snorkel, wander charming fishing villages and visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Station – relocated not long ago due to erosion that left it dangerously close to the ravenous ocean. Like a view from the top? Make your way up the 257 steps of the tallest, most famous brick lighthouse in America and it’s yours! The Outer Banks is, to the seafaring soul, synonymous with shipwrecks, and its sands are studded to this day with the bleached bones of vessels battered to death by wickedly treacherous storms or driven ashore while navigating the perilous waters. Close your eyes…can you imagine such a fate?
After a full beach day, be sure to treat your young explorers to a “so fresh it was swimming this morning” seafood dinner; the Outer Banks offers some of the best and freshest locally-caught and expertly-prepared seafood and regional cuisine on the Eastern Seaboard, from delicious, sweet Dungeness crab, succulent shrimp, tender crab cakes, rich chowders and bisques to clams, “all ways”, traditional fish dinners, specialty dishes and sandwiches, hand cut fries and more!