Get Outside and Explore

By Heather Frese | Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The world is wild with wonder on the Outer Banks. Arched delicately into the ocean, this fragile yet hardy strand of islands offers an opportunity to explore a maritime environment unlike any other. Imagine digging your toes in the same sand the Wright brothers lifted off from in the first powered flight as you fly a colorful kite in the brisk breeze. Or imagine paddling through the calm waters of a brackish soundside canal as you watch an egret lift into the air. Or carving your surfboard into the trough of a wave, sunlight glistening on the ocean – these are just a few of the seemingly endless outdoor opportunities you can experience here on the Outer Banks. From wind and waves to waterways, wildlife and the world of culture and history, Kitty Hawk Kites has a way for everyone to get outside and explore all the Outer Banks has to offer.

Since their formation in 1974, Kitty Hawk Kites has stood out as the preeminent watersports and adventure company on the Outer Banks. Their curated selection of adventures will get people of all thrill and skill levels outside to play. With 11 locations of retail stores and adventure instruction up and down the Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk Kites opens the door for the whole family to enjoy all these islands have to offer, from sky to sea, sand to land, and everything in between.


One of the hallmarks of the Outer Banks, the defining feature that drew the Wright brothers to the area so many years ago, is its wind. Perched in exactly the right spot to catch air currents coming off the ocean as they stream across the sound to the mainland, the islands of the Outer Banks are a wind-lovers paradise.

Hang gliding is a classic wind experience. You can catch the pros doing it at several competitions in the area. This year featured the 50th anniversary of the annual Hang Gliding Spectacular, an event that’s the longest running hang gliding competition in the world.

To experience the thrill of hang gliding yourself, Kitty Hawk Kites has several options.  From dune gliding to going 2,000 feet up in a tandem lesson with a certified Kitty Hawk Kites instructor, there’s a way for everyone to get up in the air.

Kiting is another fun way to get out in the wind on the Outer Banks. The retail locations of Kitty Hawk Kites have tons of kites to purchase that are great for any age level. Jockey’s Ridge is an excellent spot to catch the wind, but kiting is also phenomenal along any of the beaches. Five colorful kite festivals occur throughout the year too.

Parasailing will also get you up into the wind with Kitty Hawk Kites. Soar in the air above the Roanoke or Currituck sounds as you enjoy a birds-eye view of the Outer Banks from above. This adventure is good for everyone ages 5 and older.

To catch the wind while also experiencing the water, give kiteboarding a try. Lessons in this sport depart from the Rodanthe location of Kitty Hawk Kites, where you’ll fly in the wind on a kiteboard while in the warm, waist-deep waters of the Pamlico Sound. The shallow water and offshore winds offer a safe playground for learning the sport that’s suited to new kiteboarders and pros alike.


The waves along the Outer Banks are legendary. The shape of the islands ensures that there’s almost always a wind condition somewhere that’s creating surfable waves. With the clashing currents and shifting sandbars, there’s usually good surf for lots of different skill levels.

From locations in Corolla, Duck, Nags Head and Rodanthe, you can take surfing lessons to learn how to ride the waves. Surfboards and leashes are provided, and these lessons are available for anyone ages 7 and older. And if your kid gets hooked, Kitty Hawk Kites offers kids surf camps in Nags Head; these run from nine a.m. to noon and are for kids ages 8 to 12.

Ocean kayaks are also a great way to get in the waves, and Jet Skis, standup paddleboarding and wind surfing are additional ways Kitty Hawk Kites can get you out on the water. For something new, you can also try the new Fliteboard, where you’ll hover over the water’s surface on a board as it flies along the waves.


There’s a whole world of soundside activities that will get you exploring the wildlife and waterways of the Outer Banks. With fascinating ecology and history, guided kayak tours through the area’s marshes and waterways will have you threading through the maritime forest of Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Preserve and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, paddling through the Corolla salt marshes, exploring the Roanoke Island marsh, which sheltered the settlement that would become known as the Lost Colony or adventuring around the waters of Bodie Island. For a larger tour, check out their Alligator River kayak tour. It takes place in a national wildlife refuge and is one of their most popular tours.

Boat tours are a relaxing way to explore the wonders of the waterways as well. Dolphin cruises through the Roanoke Sound will get you up close and personal with migratory dolphins. Led by captains who work with the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research, these experts know all the spots the dolphins like to play. In the spring and summer, you might even see dolphin babies! The 40-foot pontoon boats can accommodate large groups and depart from locations in Nags Head and Manteo. There’s even a guarantee to spot dolphins when you take a tour in the summer months.

Inshore excursions offer another amazing opportunity to play in the waterways of the Outer Banks, be it on a tubing adventure, a private sunset cruise or customizable island exploration trips. Just getting out on a boat with the captains at Kitty Hawk Kites is a treat in and of itself as they share their knowledge of the history, stories and ecology of the area. These excursions are perfect for the whole family. 


On the land side of things, the history and culture of the world of the Outer Banks is full of fascinating stories. What other place has lost colonies, wild ponies who arrived via shipwrecks, beheaded pirates, tumultuous storms and daring rescues at sea?

For a glimpse of the world of wild horses, try an open-air horse tour to spy the wild Spanish mustangs that roam the beaches of Corolla. Or gallop along the beach with the wild mustangs’ more domesticated kin on a guided horseback tour on Hatteras Island.

For an up-close and personal peek into the most haunted places on the Outer Banks, join a Kitty Hawk Kites ghost tour. You’ll stroll through the streets of Manteo by lantern light as your guide tells spooky tales of pirates and other lost souls.

Finally, the world of the Kitty Hawk Kites retail stores is a very Outer Banks sort of shopping adventure and a way to bring home a talisman of your trip. The have tons of kites, yes, but also flags, spinners, wind-art, shoes, sunglasses, hats, t-shirts, jewelry and so much more.

Whether you’re searching for extreme adventure, looking to cross off a bucket list experience or simply grabbing a kite and reliving your childhood, Kitty Hawk Kites is the one-stop shop for all travelers to the wild and wonderful world of the Outer Banks.
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About the Author Heather Frese
Heather Frese fell in love with the Outer Banks when she was three years old. She grew up camping every summer on Hatteras Island, and her writing is deeply influenced by the history and wild beauty of the area. Her debut novel, The Baddest Girl on the Planet, won the Lee Smith Novel Prize and is set on Hatteras Island.