Virginia Beach vs. Outer Banks

Basically located at the same long barrier, Virginia Beach and Outer Banks offer the best of the Carolinas. With picturesque beaches, pristine nature, and watersports, these two rest at the top of the lists.
Virginia Beach vs. Outer Banks

Table of Contents

Virginia Beach is perfect for adventurous families and curious adults. Pristine Outer Banks are perfect for history buffs and island lovers. Together, they create the most astounding coast in Southeastern US. With their connection, it would make sense to visit both.

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach, which is renowned for its magnificent beaches, is a paradise for summer visitors. It is perfect for families who come to swim in the water and enjoy the weather. It’s a terrific place to take a vacation or retreat because of the laid-back ambiance and slow pace.

What Makes Virginia Beach Unique?

ViBe Creative District

This is a lovely, dynamic, and diversified beach community. It has become an important gathering place for artists and other creatives. Virginia Beach’s ViBe Creative District is the city’s center for culture and the arts. It piques the interest of both locals and visitors in Virginia Beach, and it provides a platform for these artists to express their interests.

While it is centered around art and creativity, the ViBe Creative District is also home to several boutiques and coffee shops. You can also find the Chesapeake Bay Distillery here. There are also artisan shops, vintage collectibles, art studios, and antique furniture stores. You can even find culinary arts organizations here.

Some of the most fascinating things you’ll find in the district are several brilliant and colorful murals. They are painted by local artists throughout the neighborhood. The murals, which span a mile in length, are unique, fascinating, and fantastic for pictures.

Recent visitors commended the district’s busy streets. They even commented that it is worth getting out of the automobile, even if you are just passing by the neighborhood.

True to its dynamic energy and creative spirit ViBe Creative District hosts weekly and monthly events. You can expect that no matter when you’ll visit Virginia Beach, there is always something going on. The city hosts the yearly Mural Festival in August. It is an annual creative event where ten artists participate and create ten brand-new murals for ten days.

Another one is the Art of Humanity festival, which takes place in April. This event features live music and performances and talks to promote peace and nonviolence. You can also have your face painted in various fun ways.

Virginia Beach Boardwalk

The Virginia Oceanfront Boardwalk is a wonder of 28 feet wide (8.5 m) and stretches 3 miles (4.8 km), from 2nd to 40th Street. It is located by the water and features an amusement park, a multitude of maritime activities, a designated cycling route, and museums. Instead of using standard wooden planks, Virginia Beach’s famous boardwalk is made of concrete.

A stroll along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk to take in the sights is a fantastic way to start the day. Imagine having all three miles of lovely benches and Colonial-style streetlights. It also offers cycling and walking paths along the Boulevard early in the day.

The boardwalk also hosts several events and festivals throughout the year. But on most days, you may see street performers entertaining visitors and locals.

Similar to other East Coast beach resorts, the boardwalk is packed. It has several dining establishments and hotels as well as a white-sand beach.

Many of the side streets that lead to Atlantic Avenue are adorned with maritime sculptures. They make the perfect attractions for art lovers. A must-see is a 12-ton, 24-foot-tall (7.3 m) bronze statue of King Neptune.

You can see this marvel at the entrance to Neptune Festival Park on 31st Street as if guarding the park. For all of your Instagram pictures and selfies, the King Neptune statue is the best accessory.

First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park is a 2,888-acre (1169 ha) park close to Cape Henry. It is a large jam-packed historical park that offers both history education and recreation. The name of First Landing State Park refers to the spot where English colonists first set foot in America more than 400 years ago.

Today, both locals and visitors enjoy spending time in the park. You can opt to unwind on the beach, embark on a forest hike, or go kayaking. You can also learn about the earliest settlers’ history, camp by the sea, or even rent a cottage in the woods.

The Chesapeake Bay’s open beach stretches for 1.5 miles, and behind it are campgrounds with views of the ocean. The site is surrounded by lush vegetation lining the water’s edge. The park offers rentals for jet skis, paddleboards, boats, and kayaks if you want to go outside and participate in some watersports.

The park contains freshwater ponds, beaches, dunes, forests, a tidal marsh, and a cypress swamp. You can also have miles of hiking and beach trails that meander through various landscapes. The most visited state park in Virginia is home to the maritime forest community, one of the most endangered ecosystem types on earth.

A street called Shore Drive separates the beachside and the forest side of First Landing. On the inshore first side of Shore Drive, you can find camping cabins and a huge network of trails that meander between tall pine and cypress trees. Every trail offers a unique vantage point. You can find sand dunes along Broad Bay’s shoreline on the beachside.

The Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab

Virginia Beach also takes pride in a very interesting dish, thanks to its local marine life. Your Virginia Beach experience wouldn’t be complete without dining at one of the area’s crab shacks. These spots are known for serving Chesapeake Bay blue crab. Both neighborhood crab shacks and a range of upscale dining establishments serve this succulent, sweet meat.

They may have soft meat and a unique taste, but they are smaller than other crabs. Unlike king-size ones, these crabs might be difficult to ingest and dissect. You should have napkins available because things can get messy.

The bay is home to a wealth of blue crabs, easily making it one of its staples. From early spring through a large portion of fall, thousands of people flock to the lake to catch some of these marine crawlers. Thanks to their special sweet meat, blue crabs are in demand in the region.

There are many different ways to dish out blue crabs. They can be grilled or made into soup, depending on who you ask. However, the most popular regional cooking technique is steaming. This perfectly preserves their taste and softens the carapace, especially the meat.

Outer Banks

Everyone can enjoy the tranquil and fascinating activities offered by the Outer Banks. The area’s calm beaches are its main attraction; it is ideal for families with young children. There are towns, though, where surfing is ingrained in the culture. Additionally, the islands serve as a witness to the very beginning of US history for history aficionados.

What Makes Outer Banks Unique?

A Line of Barrier Islands

The Outer Banks is quite a unique arrangement of islands fronting the Atlantic Ocean right at the Eat Coast. The “banks” are a string of islands and towns that first witnessed the earliest tides of US history. Each of these islands and towns features its unique peculiarities. The seaside and historical charms of the Outer Banks are perhaps the darling of South Carolina.

If you want to get to know the Outer Banks the best way, it is recommended to start around the largest islands first. The largest islands from north to south are Bodie Island, Pea Island, Hatteras Island, Ocracoke Island, Portsmouth Island, and the Core Banks.

Apart from the bigger main islands are smaller islands, isles, and inlets that further color the beauty of the entire stretch. Due to natural circumstances brought about by time and climate, it’s difficult to estimate how many islands are in the area. They have changed several times over many decades.

With so many islands and islets in its roster, the Outer Banks also feature quite a wealth of interesting towns. Most of these towns are big on tourism, thanks to their natural beauty, history, and modern development.

You can travel from north to south and easily witness how incredibly diverse and quirky the Outer Banks are. You may pass through towns with a resort-like atmosphere, upscaled and plush. Some of which may even make you feel at home with a bit of a surfing-town vibe. There are even some that are treasure troves of history. Some are so steeped in mystery and spookiness that urban legends, the stuff of TV shows, have grown out.

Watersports Galore

Due to easy access to the coasts of its numerous villages, the Outer Banks offers a wide variety of watersports and activities. There are nearly endless opportunities for activities along the lengthy beaches. You will have a fantastic time on any of the barrier islands, whether you decide to go kayaking or surfing.


One of the top surfing spots on the East Coast, if not the entire country, is the Outer Banks. Because there are so many beaches nearby that have excellent surf breaks and waves, surfing is a must-do if you’re in the area. To catch the greatest waves, go to the most recommended locations like Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills.


The consistency of the wind and waves of the Outer Banks will undoubtedly appeal to many kiteboarding fans. The area has many locations and beaches with the best kiteboarding conditions on the East Coast.

If you already have experience with kiteboarding, you can rent equipment from Kitty Hawk Kites. But the curious and adventurous beginners can enroll in a lesson at the kiteboarding school at Kitty Hawk Kites.

Jet Skiing

There are several spots in the Outer Banks where jet skiing is perfect. But jet skiing is most enjoyable close to Roanoke Sound, just off Roanoke Island. One of the many nearby rental companies has single- or double-seater units. The best equipment, however, can be found at Kitty Hawk Watersports, which is highly recommended.


The best parasailing experiences on the Outer Banks are available as long as the sun sits high. All ages of visitors can participate in many of these tours. You can soar above the ocean as a boat tugs and takes you around the waters of the Outer Banks. This activity offers amazing views of the entire coast for miles.


Kayaking is one of the most popular water activities on the Outer Banks. However, it is more of a fun recreational activity than a watersport. Rowing and exploring the sounds, inlets, creeks, and streams that line North Carolina’s coastline is quite an experience.

It offers an amazing perspective of the Outer Banks and coastal South Carolina. Kayak rentals are available in some locations in Nags Head and on Manteo. It can be safely enjoyed by both the young and old.

Historically Rich

Much of the US East Coast had seen the beginning of history unfold as the first colonial settlers first landed here. The Outer Banks perhaps has its great share of historical events here and there, in and around its many faces, as the coast faces the Atlantic, sitting right across from developing Europe. The coastlines of South Carolina had witnessed how the US was before it had 50 states.

Perhaps the most unsettling tale is the fabled vanishing of the first English colony in America. The original settlers of Roanoke Island mysteriously disappeared. That’s only three years after the colony was established. They disappeared, and no one has been able to explain how; the case is still open. The Roanoke colony is now referred to as the Lost Colony due to the persistent mystery surrounding it.

The Outer Banks is a great location for historical events as well. The famous Wright Brothers accomplished their historic first flight in December 1903. History records showed that the brothers’ first successful attempt at flight occurred near the village of Kill Devil Hills.

The audacious brothers decided to make their great attempt here because of the area’s steady breezes and welcoming locals. In the same place today, you can visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial to relive the momentous occasion.

While the Outer Banks may not have the same caliber as Miami or LA, the islands hold such a historical value. This is mostly thanks to the wealth of peculiar events that have made their mark in history.

The first distress signal from the Titanic was received by the Hatteras Weather Station on Hatteras Island. One of the most fascinating tales is that of Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which sank in the waters near the Outer Banks.

But if you want to take a better more intimate glimpse of the history, head to the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. The earliest, if not the first English colony in America in the late 1500s is commemorated and honored here. The opportunity to learn more about American history is excellent, and it’s a gorgeous spot to visit.

The Beaches

With miles and miles of white-sand coasts and several islands lined up, you can expect to have quite the vast array of options in the Outer Banks. The region has more than 100 miles (160 km) of swimmable white-sand shoreline allowing for a considerable variety of beaches.

Beautiful, serene beaches and areas with lots of activities are also available. Each of the nearby towns and beaches has its own special features and qualities. There is something out there for everyone, no matter what your preferences are.

These lovely white-sand stretches are known for their cleanliness and family-friendly atmosphere. From Corolla Island to Ocracoke Island, this South Carolina darling is home to a variety of exquisite beaches. Not to mention, some of which are the most famous in the country.

Here are some of the best:

Corolla Beach

Due to its herd of wild Spanish mustangs, Corolla Beach is one of the Outer Banks’ busiest beach spots. The picturesque seashore gives the rare Corolla wild Spanish mustangs, which have been in the region since the 1500s, a place to wander.

The Colonial Spanish Mustangs are the most well-known animals in the area and very fascinating to visitors. The best thing is that the horses may be used for guided trips.

Kill Devil Hills

Thanks to its miles of public beaches, Kill Devil Hills is one of the best places to escape to the beach on the Outer Banks. The beaches in Kill Devil Hills have something for everyone. You can spend time with your family sunbathing and building sandcastles, or if you like the thrill of surfing, snorkeling, or surf fishing, they’re available too.

It includes wonderful activities that parents and kids can do together. When not at the beach, you can head to the Paradise Fun Park and engage in activities like mini-golf, bumper cars, and go-karting.

Hatteras Island

There are numerous tiny towns and beaches on Hatteras Island, a barrier island with a lengthy coastline. Due to its nearby conveniences and small-town charm, the location is best for relaxing beach vacations with the family. The beaches of Hatteras Island are open and quieter. You can find everything you need there as well as amenities like surf shops and beachfront dining.

There is absolutely nothing on Hatteras Island that won’t meet someone’s individual requirements. There is literally something for everyone. All of your needs will be completely satisfied, and you will leave happy.

Is Virginia Beach Better Than Outer Banks?

When it comes to enriching experiences, Outer Banks is the better option. Both destinations can give you quite the R&R experience, especially with beautiful pristine beaches and quirky towns. But Outer Banks goes beyond the usual tourist charm.

The island chain of Outer Banks presents both the value of nature and US history. It allows you to appreciate nature via the many adventures available, and the birth of the nation itself. The Outer Banks has so much to offer.


Is Virginia Beach Part of the Outer Banks?

Virginia Beach is a city in Virginia, it is completely separate from Outer Banks. The latter is a string of islands right along the coast of North Carolina.

Is Virginia Beach Connected to Outer Banks?

Geographically speaking, Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks are both barrier islands made up of a series of reefs and sandbars. The northernmost point of that geographic structure is Virginia Beach.

Virginia Beach to Outer Banks

You can get to Outer Banks from Virginia Beach by one of three common ways, or a combination of all three. You can drive, fly, or take a train.

Can You Drive From Virginia Beach to the Outer Banks?

With a 147.7-mile distance (237.8 km) between them, you can easily drive from Virginia Beach to Outer Banks.

Can You Drive on the Beach From Virginia Beach to the Outer Banks?

While they’re both connected, you can’t just drive on the beach.

Virginia Beach to Outer Banks by Ferry

Despite being connected, there are no ferries that will take you between Virginia Beach and Outer Banks.

Virginia Beach to Outer Banks by Boat

Just like the lack of ferries, there are no commercial boats that could take you in between.