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Corolla: Home to Currituck Beach Lighthouse

At the very northern end, almost in Virginia, the paved road ends in Corolla. The only access beyond is using a 4x4, but somehow driving on the beach just doesn’t seem right. At this small turnaround see the gates that separate man from wild horses. Oddly this is what keeps these four-legged creatures safe and free to roam on the remaining undeveloped land.

While in downtown Corolla stop at Winks for a soda or an ice cream. It’s right next door to the post office and as one might suspect by its name, it’s been a part of Corolla for quite some time. While here make sure to visit the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, the Whalehead Club, and the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education. Along Corolla Village Road, a block west of the main highway, take some time to visit the bookstore, garden shop and antique store.

The lighthouse is under the stewardship of the Outer Banks Conservationists, which has been in existence for more than three decades. Currituck Beach Lighthouse is strategically located about half way between the lighthouse at Cape Henry in Virginia Beach to the north and Bodie Island Lighthouse to the south. The Currituck Beach Light Station, as it was originally known, began working in late 1875. Still operational today, the 214-step brick landmark sits adjacent to the restored lighthouse keeper’s home, all of which are surrounded by tall pine trees. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself below the lighthouse and don’t even know it.

From here, take a leisurely walk over to the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education. Situated on the edge of Currituck Sound, the center, through its exhibits, brings visitors into the world of migrating waterfowl, as well as to local estuaries rich with animal life and fish.

Next door to the center is the Whalehead Club, the former 1920’s hunting cottage of Edward and Mary Louise Knight. A waterfowl enthusiast, Knight found the location on the sound to be an excellent place for his hobby. The facility is now open for public tours.

Just east of the lighthouse is a road cut between the dune that serves as a public beach access. An ironic twist is the sign next to the new house that reads, “Please stay off the sand dune.”

Winding your way south through Sanderling and Duck it becomes apparent that much development has occurred in recent years. Many of the stilt residences are for rent and look to be second homes. Shopping centers and strip malls sprouted in the middle of nowhere. The merchants stay busy during season, but may long for customers at other times. Most of the stores and restaurants are the homegrown variety each with their own unique character or menu.

The town of Duck comes across as being an older or more established community. There’s an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants that are clustered along Carolina’s Highway 12 in a variety of architectural styles. Officially though Duck has only been incorporated since early in the new century.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina
Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
One Visitors Center Circle
Manteo, NC 27954
(877) 629-4386
(252) 473-2138

Currituck Beach Lighthouse
Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 453-4939
The Whalehead Club
Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 453-9040

Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education
1160 Village Lane
Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 453-0221

Photos: Boardwalk on Currituck Sound, Currituck Lighthouse, Whalehead Club - ©2006 Flying Compass, Inc. All rights reserved.