The Outer Banks is well known for the beautiful landscapes and natural beauty. Around every corner, there is more nature and recreational activities to enjoy such as hiking in Nags Head Woods, hang-gliding at Jockey’s Ridge, fishing on Pea Island, kite surfing in Buxton, and watching sunrises on the beach and sunsets on the Pamlico or Currituck sounds. The star of all the attractions, that brings flocks of visitors to the Outer Banks, is the beachfront. One of the jewels of the Outer Banks is the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is known throughout the East Coast as a premier location for surf fishing, surfing, and shelling. Cape Point, located in Buxton, is especially a point of interest, as it is the eastern most beach of the Outer Banks. The Cape Point area juts out stretching very close to the Gulf Stream. Recently, Cape Point has made national news with the formation of an island known of Shelly Island.
The unique structure of the Outer Banks creates a vast history dating back to the 1500’s. As a string of peninsulas and islands, the Outer Banks can be occasionally known for the treacherous seas, which in the past has created a large amount of shipwrecks resulting in the nickname “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. Harsh winds, whirling tides, and concealed shoals all come together to create a combination that can be deadly to ships. The distinctiveness of these circumstances also allows for areas of beach to be eroded away as rapidly as they come into sight. The shorelines of the coast are constantly shifting and moving due to currents and storms, causing land to vanish or spread out creating a wider beach.
These sources of tides and currents create sandbars and are believed to have created Shelly Island off of Cape Point. The newest attraction of the Outer Banks has everyone buzzing and excited visitors and locals going to check it out. The crescent shaped island started appearing in April of 2017 and very rapidly formed into an island measuring a mile long and 500 feet wide. The presence of bountiful and beautiful seashells has given Shelly Island its namesake.
Strong rip currents flow between Shelly Island and Cape Point. Visitors should use extreme caution when attempting to get to Shelly Island. Cape Hatteras National Seashore and emergency officials have strongly urged visitors to not attempt to get to the island via swimming or walking. While access may be easier during periods of low tide, high tide can result in people being stranded or having to be rescued. Shelly Island is surrounded by extremely strong currents, so access to the island should be done by kayak, paddleboard, or boat. Many sharks and manta rays have been reported to be seen on the way to the island.
For adventurers wanting to visit Shelly Island, time is of the essence. The Island scattered with beautiful, pristine shells is far from permanent. The ever changing coastlines of the Outer Banks will take away Shelly Island as quickly as it appeared.