Brooke Mayo Photographers

If you are looking for a photographer to capture some photos taken on the Outer Banks that you can have as keepsakes for a lifetime, look no further than Brooke Mayo Photographers. Find out more about them, activities, and all you need to know to enjoy your stay on the OBX at CarolinaDesigns.com.

Brooke Mayo Photographers

Brooke Mayo Photographers

P.O. Box 104
Powells Point, NC 27966
252-599-0720
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Do you want timeless photos taken during your visit to the Outer Banks? Brooke Mayo Photography has got your back! Brooke Mayo (right), Owner & Lead Photographer, and her Associate Photographer, Candace Owens (left), snap some truly stunning photos. Whether you are seeking a photographer for your beach-inspired family session, your soundfront wedding, a dreamy proposal, or even some celebratory photos, Brooke and Candace have experience in them all (and so much more)! But don’t take our word for it…visit their website to check out their work and the many awards and rave reviews they’ve received over the years!

North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island

Learn more about fish, wildlife, and the ecosystems of the Outer Banks with a visit to the North Carolina Aquarium in the town of Manteo on Roanoke Island. Find out more about them, activities, and all you need to know to enjoy your stay on the OBX at CarolinaDesigns.com.

North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island

374 Airport Rd
Manteo, NC 27954
252-475-2300
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Located on Roanoke Island in the town of Manteo, The North Carolina Aquarium makes a wonderful day trip from Nags Head or Kill Devil Hills. Exhibits include a myriad of interesting species that you might find in Eastern North Carolina: from the alligators and otters of “Wild Wetlands” to the graceful jellyfish of “Delicate Drifters.” There are even sharks and stingrays! If you’re interested in learning more about the animals and ecosystems of the Outer Banks, the NC Aquarium is a must-visit.

OBX Beachcombing & Shell Guide

Free souvenirs from the sea! This guide provides images of shells and other items found on the beaches of Corolla, Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head.

OBX Beachcombing & Shell Guide

Hand holding a scallop shell

Beachcombing is one of our favorite things to do.

Who doesn’t love free souvenirs from the sea? This guide provides images of shells and other items found on the beaches of Corolla, Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head.

Where is the best place to find shells on the Outer Banks?
Weather, currents, and our shoreline are constantly changing, so you never know quite where the best shell beds will be day-to-day. If you aren’t having luck at your nearest beach access, give a different one a try! There are many public beach accesses to choose from.

When is the best time to go shelling?
Beachcombing is in-season all year round. If you’re an early riser, head to the shore for sunrise. Some great shells may have washed up overnight, plus there’s nothing quite like watching the sun rise over the Atlantic. (This is also a common time of day to spot dolphins swimming offshore!) It’s also helpful to follow the tides. Low tide is the ideal time to beachcomb, before the water rises to cover what the waves brought onto the sand.

Scotch Bonnet Shells

Scotch Bonnets

Scotch Bonnets are the official North Carolina state seashell! The shell is grown by a type of sea snail and can be 2-4 inches on the longest side. They can be shades of brown, yellow, and orange.

Quahog Shells

Ocean Quahogs

Ocean Quahog shells are hinged clam shells, but it’s rare to find the two sides still attached once they wash up on the beach. These are thick shells that tend to have a white interior with a purple rim, but some have no purple coloring at all. The oldest living animal on the planet was a quahog at 507 years old!

Broken Pieces of Quahog Shells

Broken Pieces of Ocean Quahogs

When quahog shells break up into pieces, it can expose more of the purple coloring commonly found in the deeper layers of the shell. Over time these pieces become worn and smooth. White and purple quahog pieces were used by Native Americans to create wampum beads, which were used at currency.

Cockle Shells

Atlantic Giant Cockles

Cockles are radially-ribbed hinged clam shells, but it is uncommon to find the two sides still hinged together on Outer Banks beaches. Atlantic Giant Cockles range in size from about a half inch to six inches at their widest part. They are usually off-white with brown and red markings, and their interior is commonly smooth and pink.

Scallop Shells

Scallops

Scallops are clam shells, and they can be found in a wide variety of colors on the Outer Banks. They are typically about three inches at their widest width and are radially-ribbed with “ears” sticking out slightly on either side of their base where the hinge would be. It isn’t common to find the two sides still hinged together on the beach.

Coquina Shells

Coquinas

Coquinas are small hinged clam shells that grow to be smaller than an inch. You can find these on Outer Banks beaches at the tide line with both sides still held together by the delicate hinge, which give them a butterfly-like shape. They are typically white on both sides. The interior can have tinges of purple and yellow.

Whelk Shells

Whelks

A variety of Whelks are sea snails. A variety of whelk shells can be found on Outer Banks beaches, but the knobbed whelk and lightning whelk are the most common. Lightning whelk shells have their opening on the left side, and knobbed whelks have their opening on the right side. These sprial shells can be found in a variety of sizes.

Clam Shells

Atlantic Surf Clams

Atlantic Surf Clams are hinged clam shells that are usually white, gray, yellow, and brown. They can grow to be nearly 9 inches, but it’s very rare to find them that large.

Mussel Shells

Mussels

Mussel shells are wedge-shaped, hinged, and are typically black and dark blue or purple. It’s common to find these shells still hinged on the beach at the tide line.

Ark Shells

Ark Clams

Ark Clams are thick, hinged shells with radial ridges. They can be found in a wide variety of colors on the Outer Banks, but white and gray are the most common.

Oyster Shells

Oysters

Oyster shells are usually teardrop-shaped but can be found in other more freeform shapes as well. They’re comprised of many layers depending on how old they are.

Starfish

Sea Star

Sea Stars (or starfish) found on the Outer Banks have five tapered arms, also called rays, radiating out from their body. Sea stars are a wonderful beachcombing find, but they should not be taken out of the water or picked up from the sand if at all soft or limp — they could still be alive and are very fragile animals. Once dead, sea stars are dry and stiff.

Moon Snail Shells

Shark Eye Moon Snails

Shark Eye Moon Snail shells can be 5 inches at their widest point. They are smooth, spiral-shaped, spherical shells found in a variety of color ranging from brown to blue-gray.

Two Disc Dosinia Seashells

Disk Dosinias

Disk Dosinias are white, flat hinged clam shells. They can be about 3 inches wide.

Baby's Ear Moon Snail Shells

Baby’s Ear Moon Snails

Baby’s Ear Moon Snails have thin and fragile shells. They have a flattened spiral shape that resembles…and ear! They are typically white, yellow, brown, or gray.

Razor Seashells

Razor Clams

Razor Clam shells are smooth and delicate with a hinge on their long side. They can be up to 9 inches long and resemble the shape of a straight-razor.

Sand Dollar

Sand Dollar

Sand Dollars found on Outer Banks beaches are flat discs that can be about 1 to 4 inches at their widest point, and they have a flower-like shape in the center of their body. Sand dollars are brittle, fragile, and white from sun-bleaching. If you find a sand dollar that is a darker color and has fur-like growth on it, it may still be alive and should not be handled.

Driftwood

Driftwood

Driftwood is simply worn pieces of wood that have washed up on the shore. Salt water and wave action lighten and smooth the wood over time, removing any bark.

Sea Glass

Sea Glass

Sea glass comes from glass objects that made their way into the ocean, broke up, and eroded to small smooth pieces over time. The most common colors that wash up on the Outer Banks are white, amber, and green. Learn more about Outer Banks sea glass on our blog.

Fulgurite

Fulgurite

Fulgurite is sand and sediment fused together by lightning strikes! These pieces of petrified lightning are often mistaken for concrete because of their color (often gray on the Outer Banks) and odd shapes. Although they may not look like much from the outside, they’re usually hollow, and the inside is smooth glass.

3 Skate Egg Cases

Skate & Ray Egg Cases

Skate and Egg Cases, often called “mermaid purses” are black capsules with two skinny tendrils at the top and bottom.

We’d love to see your beachcombing finds!

Tag us in your shell photos on Instagram or send them to us on Facebook.
If you’re feeling creative, we’re always sharing new shell display and DIY ideas on Pinterest.

First Flight Adventure Park | Nags Head, NC

Zip line, climb and challenge yourself at First Flight Adventure Park! This family friendly attraction features multiple obstacles, a range of platforms, and varying courses. Find out more about them, other activities, and all you need to know to enjoy your stay on the OBX at CarolinaDesigns.com.

First Flight Adventure Park

First Flight Adventure Park

6716 S Croatan Hwy
Nags Head, NC 27959
252-715-3622
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Zipline, climb, and challenge yourself at First Flight Adventure Park! This family-friendly attraction features multiple obstacles, a range of platforms, and varying courses: easy, intermediate, or hard. Designed to mimic the bands of a hurricane that cycle out from a central tower, the Adventure Park includes ropes, hammocks, cables, and more! A perfect outing for all ages. Open seasonally.

East Coast Sailboats | Southern Shores, NC

East Coast Sailboats offers youth camps, adult lessons, and private lessons for all skill levels on the Currituck Sound on the Outer Banks, NC. Find out more about them, other activities, and all you need to know to enjoy your stay on the OBX at CarolinaDesigns.com.

East Coast Sailboats
Photo credit: eastcoastsailboats.com

East Coast Sailboats

8865 Caratoke Hwy, Unit 5
Point Harbor, North Carolina
252-489-3491
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Do you ever dream of learning to sail the open seas? The Currituck Sound on the Outer Banks is a wonderful place to learn! East Coast Sailboats offers youth camps, adult lessons, and private lessons for all skill levels. The majority of lessons operate out of the Southern Shores Marina. With experienced instructors and a diverse fleet of boats, East Coast Sailboats is one of the most well-equipped sailing outfitters in the area.

Dare County Arts Council | Manteo, NC

Dare County Arts Council

300 Queen Elizabeth Ave
Manteo, NC 27954
252-473-5558
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With a focus on cultivating a strong arts community on the Outer Banks, the Dare County Arts Council is a nonprofit that supports local artists and offers family-friendly events and workshops. Their gallery space in downtown Manteo is located on the ground floor of the historic courthouse and features rotating local artists with exhibits changing monthly. Their gallery is free to visit. Check out their calendar of events for fun activities like kids painting parties every Wednesday during the summer!

Salt Minded Fishing Charters | Wanchese, NC

Salt Minded Charters

Wanchese Marina
4457 Mill Landing Rd
Wanchese, NC 27981
252-455-9790
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For inshore and nearshore fishing trips, Salt Minded Charters is there to help put you on the fish! Experienced captain Dave Lusk offers full, 3/4, or half-day trips out of the Wanchese Marina, and his charters are great for all ages and all skill levels. Depending on the day, expect to spend time on either the calm waters of the sound or between 1-5 miles offshore, casting for a variety of fish, from trout and flounder to stripers and cobia. Dave is happy to customize your trip to make it a memorable day on the water!

Fish N Fowl Charters | Wanchese, NC

Photo by Cory Schaible

Fish n Fowl Charters

Thicket Lump Marina
219 Thicket Lump Dr
Wanchese, NC 27981
252-599-7277
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Join Captain Zac of Fish n Fowl (and his trusty co-pilot Vicki the dog) for an in-shore or near-shore fishing trip in the beautiful waters of the Outer Banks. Fish n Fowl tailors their charters to fit each group, ranging from a family-friendly day on the sound, to an adventure through the inlet to search for a bigger catch. Depending on the season, expect to fish for spot, trout, flounder, red drum, or cobia. You can choose a half-day, 3/4 day, full-day, or a sunset cruise for a few hours. If you’re visiting in the off-season, you can also contact Fish n Fowl for duck hunting!

Turf’s Up | Kitty Hawk, NC

Turf’s Up

Turf’s Up

3712 N Croatan Hwy Suite E
Kitty Hawk NC 27949
252-715-5820
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One of the newer additions to the Outer Banks activities scene, Turf’s Up is an indoor sports club in Kitty Hawk with HD sports simulation – golf, baseball, dodgeball, football, soccer you name it! Turf’s Up is a great activity for a rainy day on the Outer Banks, but it offers family-friendly entertainment any time of year. Book ahead to reserve a spot for large groups! A snack bar serves up snacks and beverages.

Wanchese Marina | Wanchese, NC

For inshore or offshore fishing trips, head to Wanchese Marina on Roanoke Island, a short drive from Nags Head. Find out more about them, other activities and things to do, and additional information to enjoy your stay on the OBX at CarolinaDesigns.com.

Wanchese Marina

Wanchese Marina

4457 Mill Landing Rd,
Wanchese, NC 27981
252-423-3157
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The Wanchese Marina is located in the Village of Wanchese on Roanoke Island, a short drive from Nags Head. Wanchese is famous for its fishing culture, beautiful views, and quick access to the Atlantic Ocean. Eager to get a taste of the high seas? Join one of their knowledgeable captains for a chance to make memories to last a lifetime. The marina offers inshore, nearshore, and offshore charters, along with shrimping/crabbing and dive charters. All licenses, bait, and tackle are included with charters, and all-inclusive packages for your group can be arranged. After your adventure, bring your cleaned catch to Landing Grill and let them cook it for you – a wonderful way to end your day.