The Outer Banks is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic because of the thousands of ships that have wrecked along its shores. Some of these wrecks are much closer to the beach than you would imagine, in shallow waters around 15-20 feet deep. When the ocean water is clear, which has been often this summer, these wreck sites are great places to explore by kayak or stand-up paddle board!
When to Go
The ocean on the Outer Banks fluctuates in clarity based on many factors like tides, currents, and wind speed and direction. Typically, lighter winds and a lack of storms equals clearer waters. This summer we have had a lot of consistently clear days. This is the perfect time to explore the shipwrecks right off the beach. Some people chose to scuba dive or snorkel the wrecks, but many enjoy kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding to the wrecks and observing them from above.
Where to Go
Carl Gerhard – Kill Devil Hills, MP 7
Shipwrecked in September 1929, the Carl Gerhard was a freighter was lost at sea, not realizing how close to the coast it was and ran into the already shipwrecked Kyzickes tanker tearing it into two large parts. These two shipwrecks are commonly referred to as The Triangle Wreck because the stem and bow of the Kyzickes and the hulk of the Carl Gerhard form the shape of a triangle. The Carl Gerhard is about 200 yards offshore in approximately 20 feet of water.
Kyzickes – Kill Devil Hills, MP 7
The Kyzickes was a Greek tanker heading to Spain from Baltimore in December 1927. It shipwrecked after its hull ruptured in a storm and began taking on a large amount of water. The Kyzickes drifted south and eventually ran into the shoals in Kill Devil Hills. The wreck sits in about 15-20 feet of water, about 200 yards offshore. Park at 2nd street to access The Triangle Wreck.
Huron – Nags Head, MP 11.5
Shipwrecked on November 24, 1877, the USS Huron is a gunship steamer with a sail that ran aground after unknowingly coming too close to shore during a storm. Huron now sits in approximately 20 feet of water, about 150 yards off shore.
Explorer – Nags Head, MP 11
The Explorer was a tugboat that sunk on December 12, 1919. It is approximately 100 yards north of the Huron wreck site. The Explorer sits in around 20 feet of water, about 150 yards offshore.
Oriental – Pea Island, 3 miles south of the Bonner Bridge
The Oriental, also known as the Boiler Wreck, is a steamer that ran aground in 1861 because of heavy fog. Parts of the steamer are sometimes visible above the water surface, making it easy to locate. The Oriental sits in 15-20 feet of water, about 100-150 yards off the beach. Go to the beach across the street from the Pea Island Visitor Center for the closest access.
Rent a Board or Kayak
If you are ready to start your shipwreck adventure by kayak or stand-up paddle board, visit our watersports equipment rentals to book your kayak or SUP rentals. We offer a single ocean kayak and a double ocean kayak. We have three stand-up paddle board options: the 10’4 Standard SUP, the 11’4 XL SUP, and the 9’ Soft SUP.