What do you get when you try to find out how much paradise you can fit into the least amount of land possible? The Outer Banks, a 130-mile needle thin strip of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. The circumstances and history of this stretch of seaside land are as quirky as the communities that they’ve birthed - and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Foregoing any large cities, Outer Banks is a series of spectacular beaches and alluring small towns (with fantastically named communities such as Duck, Rodanthe and Nags Head) that possess enough longitude between them to never fully feel the tourist waves of the summer. Dolphin sightings are a common occurrence and spectacular surf-fishing opportunities await in this gorgeous beach retreat. The Outer Banks also possess five distinct historic lighthouses, with the tallest in the nation located in the country’s first National Seashore. OBX, as it’s commonly known, has its share of strange history as well, stretching down the lone Highway 12 connecting the island. The treacherous seas off the Outer Banks have caused thousands of shipwrecks, earning OBX the nickname Graveyard of the Atlantic (now with a commemorative museum of the same name to boot). Roanoke Island was the site of the lost colony that vanished with little trace during the period of early European settlement; now memorialized on the island with museums, heritage sites and live theatrical performances. The town of Kitty Hawk was home to the Wright Brothers’ historic controlled flight, with a memorial standing today to commemorate the achievement in the now town of Kill Devil Hills. You’d be hard pressed to find another destination with this much to offer.