Nags Head is a town rich in history. Legend has it that early 18th century bandits realized how profitable piracy was for seagoing scoundrels such as Blackbeard. These bandits or land pirates used mules (nags with lanterns tied to their necks) to lure ships ashore in stormy weather. Merchant ships would mistakenly think the lights were of other ships closer to shore and run aground where the land pirates waited to pillage their cargoes. And that is how Nags Head got its name.
Nags Head has a year-round population of 2,800 and now has a hospital and YMCA. There are also a variety of shops, restaurants, and rental properties to accommodate the visitors to the area. Many businesses are still owned and operated by the families who have been running them for years. The ocean and shoreline are the major attractions, providing beaches and a series of historic cottages that overlook the beach in sections. To keep that old Nags Head building style alive, the town has adopted architectural standards.
There are three piers, Nags Head Pier, Jennette’s Pier (which is currently under reconstruction), and the Outer Banks Pier for fishing. And the largest sand dune on the East coast, Jockey’s Ridge, is located in Nags Head. Jockey’s Ridge is very popular with hang-gliders and kite-flyers. Nags Head is a resort area that attracts thousands of visitors annually.
Population: 2,800 year-round, 40,000 in summer
Beaches: Public with parking lots and bath houses available