For bird lovers, the Outer Banks is hard to beat. This delicate chain of barrier islands is not only home to dozens of different native shorebirds, but also thousands of migrating birds who make a rest stop on the Outer Banks every year. Add to this the fact that the islands have hundreds of miles of deserted beaches, maritime forest, and marshlands for species to quietly flourish, and it's clear that the Outer Banks is literally for the birds.
An authentic Outer Banks treasure, this shell shop is one of the oldest family-owned stores in Nags Head, and it is without a doubt one of the most interesting. Opened in 1954 by Woodrow Stetson, a Coast Guardsman, and his wife Lucretia, the building burned down in 1965 and was rebuilt at the same location where it is today --- and is still operated by the same family. Visiting Shipwreck, located off the Nags Head-Manteo causeway, is like going to an art museum because the shells are like works of art. Imported from exotic locales all over the world including the Philippines, Tahiti, Australia, Indonesia and Thailand, all the shells are real.Check out the stunning (and valuable) Chamber Nautilus and the half Nautilus. Only Mother Ocean could create such a beauty. The store is worth a stop just to see the variety of spectacular shells that wash up on the world’s beaches (some of them, like Conch shells and Sand Dollars, can be found off the Outer Banks). The shells are displayed neatly on shelves, so you can pick them up and look closely before making a choice of what to buy. There is also a good selection of coral, which has become exceedingly rare and won’t be available for long. (Sea horses no longer are, the owner said.) The three large rooms are stuffed with fascinating sea-related items, including driftwood art; seashell mirrors, lamps, wind chimes and curtains; shark’s teeth and fish décor. In the back room, there’s an old bathtub filled with small shells for sale by the cupful. There is also a selection of fossils and rocks for sale, right near the massive whale jawbone hanging from the ceiling.