But there is more to these islands than just wind. History abounds: The first colonists from England settled here - and mysteriously disappeared, a historical footnote celebrated at Fort Raleigh on Roanoke Island (easily toured by bike path). And Blackbeard the pirate, who often sought refuge at Ocracoke, was killed here in 1718. But the soul of these islands is the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (the nation's first), stretching from Nags Head south to Ocracoke Island. The miles of unspoiled beaches are the perfect prescription for unhurried beach walks, shelling, fishing, surfing (some of the best on the East Coast), or just watching the birds fly by.