The Currituck Outer Banks is made up of two distinct areas – the southern part, usually referred to as Corolla, and the northern part, usually called the Four-Wheel-Drive Area or Carova.
Corolla, Carova and Duck were not always the vacation hotspots that they are today. For a couple of hundred years, Corolla remained an undisturbed home to a few hardy locals, and in the late 1800s, the population grew slightly as lifesaving stations were constructed to help sailors navigate the often treacherous waters off the North Carolina coast. In 1875, the distinctive red brick Currituck Lighthouse was completed and in operation. The lighthouse served as a beacon to numerous sailors cruising the hazardous northern stretch of Diamond Shoals.
Corolla does not have an exact center, its homes and shopping areas are spread out over about 20 miles. The southern end of the Currituck Outer Banks is just about entirely residential and the beachfront is lined with the most enormous homes. You will need to travel further north for real shopping and dining, even though there are a few shops in the lower area.
As you head out of Corolla, the paved road ends and you face a stretch of beach and sand. So you know you have reached Carova. If you are in a four-wheel-drive you can keep going up the beach for another 13 miles, until you are stopped by a gate at the Virginia line. This area, also called ‘Back Country' is home to a national wildlife refuge and a wild-horse sanctuary. There are no paved roads here and wild mustangs roam freely from the ocean to Carova's small residential neighborhoods. No hotels either. Just seclusion.
Corolla and Carova are located on the northernmost end of the Outer Banks 50-mile-long peninsula, resting between Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Although it borders the state of Virginia, the area is not accessible from the Virginia border. While it may sound remote, it's really only a little out of the way.
The nearest airport is Norfolk International Airport which is 100 miles north.
Start out going west on Norview Ave. Stay on Norview Ave and then merge onto I-64 E toward Va Beach/Chesapeake. After 12 miles, Merge onto VA-168 S via EXIT 291B toward US-17 S/Elizabeth City (Portions toll) (Crossing into North Carolina). After 16.5 miles, VA-168 S becomes Caratoke Hwy. 50 miles later, stay straight to go onto N Croatan Hwy/US-158 E. After 1 mile, turn left onto Ocean Blvd. A mile later, Ocean Blvd becomes NC-12. Continue for 20 miles and turn left onto Persimmon St. Then take the 1st right onto Corolla Village Rd. It is approximately a 2 hour drive.
Almost all Corolla shops are individually owned and operated and they all have their own character. You will have no trouble indulging in a spot of retail therapy here, they have several shopping areas. The Shoppes at the Currituck Club, TimBuck II (60 shops), Monteray Plaza and Corolla Light Town Center have a huge selection of shops. Unique, quirky shops easily blend with Ace Hardware. From hammocks to Watermelon popcorn, fishing tackle to kites, bikinis to ice cream, it's all here, and more.
Choosing where to dine in Corolla is an enviable task, the selection is amazing for such a relatively small area. There are a few fast food chains but all the other restaurants are locally owned. From upscale coastal cuisine to a light breakfast, there's a restaurant for every appetite. Seafood is the main event but of course, meats, pasta and vegetarian menus are available too. The most popular catches are mahi mahi, tuna, flounder, rockfish, clams, mussels, scallops, blue crabs, shrimp and oysters. Early summer brings the opportunity to taste the local delicacy of freshly caught soft-shell crabs. Some of the more popular family friendly restaurants include Uncle Ike's Sandbar & Grill, Bambino's Little Italy, Route 12 Steak & Seafood Company, Metropolis, Sundogs Raw Bar & Grill, Salt Water Grill, Agave Roja (Mexican), Corolla Cantina, Fat Crabs Rib Company. For more upscale dining, try Mike Dianna's Grill Room and La Dolce Vita. There are all the usual consistently great pizza restaurants, ice cream, subs available too. There are no restaurants in Carova.
Corolla's moderate climate and mild temperature combine with ocean breezes to create the perfect destination to visit year-round. With weather that remains pleasant, even into the winter months, many outdoor activities can be enjoyed all year. With temperatures averaging in the mid 80s in the summer and about 200 days of sunshine a year, it doesn't get much better than this. Weather changes can be rapid and unpredictable, however, so plan for seasonal changes in weather when visiting. Although the summer months are most popular for vacationing in the area, this is also the time of year that brings most of its severe weather. Storms are typically brief, and are followed by beautiful blue skies.
Spring in Corolla and Carova is known for its consistently breezy refreshing days, budding flowers, and cooler daily temperatures. Temperatures are unpredictable and can vary widely between 50 and 80 degrees so it's best to take a light jacket for the evenings. Shorts and T-shirts are usually good for daytime. While the sound waters can be warm enough for swimming around late April, the ocean waters are not usually warm enough until late May. Ocean temperatures range from 65 to 75 degrees. Normal summer temperatures range from the mid 70's to near 90's, depending on the time of the summer, with temperatures staring to rise in June. Average temperatures can reach 85°, but even on the hottest of summer days you can expect a slight to moderate ocean breeze, giving a welcome refreshing feel.
Fall is a great time to visit if you're going to be enjoying outdoor activities. Ocean temperatures range between 50 and 60 degrees. Air temperatures are usually in the lower 80's in September, and mid- 70's in October.
Winter temperatures are usually cool with the wind making it feel colder. Wind is an everyday occurrence, especially as the time of year. During the day, temperatures average in the lower 50's with nights averaging in the upper 30's.
The wettest month is August with an average rainfall of 5.4 inches. The lowest rainfall is in November and December.
Things To Do
Corolla is a perfect destination for those who want to get away from it all. The miles of unspoiled beach is the main attraction, particularly as there is a noticeable absence of boardwalks. The miles of shoreline has no businesses and driving on the beach is prohibited. However, it is allowed further north at Carova. As would be expected, much of the fun revolves around the beach, as the town is known for great swimming, surfing, fishing, shelling. Naturally, watersports are huge here. You can go parasailing, rent Waverunners, pontoon boats, kayaks, jet skis and standup paddleboards. You can even rent wetsuits to keep you warm if the water is chilly.
Corolla is known as a sportsman's paradise and is home to some world class fishing. Fishing is a major recreational activity, with many miles of open water, both deep and shallow so whether you want to try your hand at surf fishing, crabbing, or you're looking to charter a boat, it's all here. Everything the Corolla fishing enthusiast could need is readily available, from fishing equipment rentals and bait and tackle outlets to fishing charters in the ocean and sound. Charter fishing trips can take you to the sound where you may catch trout, drum, flounder, blues, spanish mackerel, sheepshead, croaker, spot and many more. If you go for ocean charters, you could catch spanish mackerel, king mackerel, amberjack, shark, blues, triggers and more.
Golf enthusiasts will not be disappointed with The Currituck Club which is located actually in Corolla. This 18-hole, par 72 championship course stretches across 6,885 yards of incredibly diverse terrain. Sand dunes, wetlands, maritime forests and shoreline provide guarantee that you don't lose concentration for a second. There is a practice putting green, a driving range and a practice bunker.
Step back in time to when life was simpler and visit Historic Corolla Village. The unpaved sandy streets with live oaks and scrub pines provide a unique way to experience the beauty, history and scenery of this seclude place. The village is home to restored residences that are now home to numerous quaint shops and museums, providing insight into times long past.
Wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs have thrived in this area for 500 years, making them the earliest settlers in the Outer Banks, second only to the native American tribes. While there are various stories regarding the wild horses origins, some say that the horses were left behind by one the first explorers. A Spanish explorer named Lucas Vasquez de Allyon commissioned his army in 1521 to explore and colonize the American eastern seaboard and it is believed that some of his army landed here. Naturally, the Native Americans were not impressed and after some altercations, the invaders fled, leaving behind some of their belongings, including the horses.
This is just one of the many stories. Another is that as the horses are clearly descendents of Spanish Mustangs, they may have been washed ashore by Spanish shipwrecks in the 1500's. This conclusion is based on the appearance of the horses as well as accounts from the 1700's to 1800's of Corolla settlers and visitors who noted seeing them in their journals.
Various companies offer trips and safaris directly to the unspoiled habitat where the wild Spanish mustangs thrive. You will travel through 30 miles of beaches, dune and backcountry sand lanes to discover the area's unique wildlife. Shore life including dolphins, pelicans and osprey and surfing dolphins are almost always present. You might also see the occasional deer.
Set on 39 pristine acres in Historic Corolla, on Currituck Sound, the Whalehead is a beautifully restored 1920's-era Art Nouveau-style mansion. Restored in 1992 to its original glory, the bold yellow residence invites you to explore a fascinating period in Corolla history. The original owners, wealthy Edward Collings Knight Jr. and Marie-Louise LeBel Knight used this ‘cottage' as their winter retreat. The couple shared a passion for hunting waterfowl and as women were not allowed join the all-make hunt clubs, her husband had this very grand residence constructed for her. They used the 21,000 square foot home for hunting, relaxing and entertaining. Many of the original fixtures and details remain and the interior has been painstakingly restored to its former glory, from the coffered ceilings to the cork floors.
Currituck Banks National Estuarine Research Reserve Access Trail is a favorite attraction for nature lovers. While this boardwalk is only two thirds of a mile leading from the road to the sound, it is a joy to behold. It is just a small part of the 960 acre North Carolina Estuarine Research Reserve. Crossing the boardwalk, you will pass through maritime evergreen forest, swamp forest and salty marsh abundant with live oaks, loblolly pines, holly, bayberry, yaupon and wax myrtle. As you near the water, you will meet cattails, sedges, black needle rush and giant cord grass.
Corolla and Carova Vacation Rental Homes
8 Beds7 Baths4200 Sq. ft
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6 Beds6 Baths7206 Sq. ft
( Owner Manager )
|from $1270 per night|
6 Beds5 Baths9800 Sq. ft
( Owner Manager )
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6 Beds6 Baths2800 Sq. ft
( Owner Manager )
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5 Beds4 Baths3200 Sq. ft
( Owner Manager )
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3 Beds2 Baths1000 Sq. ft
( Owner Manager )
|from $112 per night|
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