Corolla in the Wild

August 11, 2023

The Corolla beaches are practically synonymous with the Wild Mustangs that frolic on our shores. Every year, visitors from all over the country come to see these beautiful creatures in their element. Guided tours and access to the 4×4 beaches give you the full experience, and if you’re lucky you may spot a new foal or two among the herd. Spend enough time in the Currituck Outer Banks, however, and you’ll discover many winged and four-footed friends also call this place home.

Corolla is a natural paradise, a true hidden gem of the Atlantic coast. Bring your camera and your binoculars when you book your stay in one of our beautiful beach vacation homes. You never know what you’ll see when you begin your day here.

Running Wild and Free

Our Wild Mustangs are descendants of the horses brought to America by 16th-century Spanish settlers. Presently, the herd numbers around a hundred horses, who roam over 7,500 acres of wildlife refuge. At times, the Mustangs will wander into populated areas of Corolla, which is why it’s important to be mindful of them for their safety and yours. See additional resources about the best way to see the horses.

During your stay, you may spot a few white-tailed deer interacting with the Mustangs in the grassier areas. Be on the lookout, too, for foxes and other wildlife coming out from their natural habitats for a walk on the beach.

Long Distance Swimmers

Two bodies of water border Corolla. Go kayaking or paddleboarding on the Currituck Sound, and you  will definitely encounter all sorts of wildlife, from coastal birds to an array of fish, turtles, and other local inhabitants!

Full aquatic life is also plentiful in the sound and oceanside. Look for the dorsal fins of bottlenose dolphins popping up from the waves as they swim parallel to the shore. Visit Corolla in early winter or early spring, and you may also spot a humpback whale or two during their seasonal migrations. Whale sightings are not as common on our beaches as dolphins, but when they happen it’s certainly a memory to treasure.

Interested in a dolphin watch tour during your stay? Kitty Hawk Kites offers two-hour tours in the Outer Banks.

Creatures in the Sand

Watch where you step when searching for that perfect spot on the beach. Visitors have found sand dwellers like hermit crabs and ghost crabs playing in tidal pools and burrowing holes on the beach. In spring, sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. Volunteers from N.E.S.T. will patrol the beaches around this time to ensure their safety. Maintain a safe distance from tagged nests, and if you happen to be around when the turtles hatch you’ll witness an inspiring sight as the babies begin their trek to the sea!

Look Up in the Sky

Currituck County is for the birds, literally! Gulls and ospreys glide over our beaches daily, but if you’re a serious birdwatcher plan a day at Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge. Majestic swans, bald eagles, mallards and many more winged species roost in the nearby wetlands. A nature walk along the Audubon Sanctuary and Center at Pine Island is another recommended spot for birding. Over 170 different species have been recorded in the area, everything from the elegant egret to adorable little swallows. Take plenty of photos and leave only footprints.

What unusual and beautiful creatures have you encountered on a trip to Corolla? We enjoy seeing vacation photos. Be sure to tag us on Facebook or Instagram when you show them off. If you’ve yet to come visit, now is the time to plan your fall and winter trip. Download our visitors guide and see what the offseason has to offer.