They clash with the rich kids, called the Kooks, while searching for his father and buried treasure. Along the way, he falls in love with a rich girl, reminiscent of the plot of The Notebook.
The show wasn’t filmed in the real Outer Banks because of the “bathroom bill” in North Carolina. Instead, it was filmed in and around Charleston, South Carolina. Season 2 was set in the Bahamas but was actually filmed in Barbados. In fact, you can rent the home used as the Camerons vacation home.
The show incorporates real Charleston names, including Vanderhorst, Heyward, and Rutledge. It also fictionalizes real events like the Denmark Tanny character, based loosely on Denmark Vesey. There are also plenty of North Carolina references.
But it’s also been criticized for its inaccuracies. For example, the drive between any island in the chain to Chapel Hill would take over four hours, despite how it appears on the show. They also describe Gullah as a lost language, which it certainly isn’t.
Despite these issues, the show presents the stunning scenery of the South Carolina coast. A number of locations are used, including private homes that stood in for John B’s house and Topper’s house. These can likely be found online, but we don’t recommend seeking them out.
Also, this post is not spoiler-free!
There are many locations you can visit, but we’ve highlighted the easiest to visit. The ferry to the mainland is the Charleston Maritime Center, while the UNC Archive was filmed at the Gaillard Auditorium. John B. and Sarah pass Washington Square on the way to the real Ben Silver store.
Dunes West was the site of the outdoor movie. The Ravenel Bridge is featured in season 2, along with the one-way streets South of Broad. The repair shop where Pope brought his dad’s truck is the now-closed Carolina Country Store near Georgetown.
Season three was filmed all over Charleston, including Breach Inlet on Sullivan’s Island, where John B and Big John hopped on a jet ski to chase after the bad guys. The Provost Dungeon also stands in for the Charleston Museum’s exterior. St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center on Seabrook Island is where Kie is sent.
The end of the third season also mentions Blackbeard, who famously trolled the waters of the Outer Banks. Read more about pirate history here.
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Table of Contents
Charleston “Outer Banks” Locations from Seasons 1-2
Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area
After filming was completed in the spring of 2019, the boneyard beach featured in Outer Banks, on Hunting Island in Beaufort, was bulldozed. But recent visitors say it has returned to its original state covered in driftwood!
If you’re looking for a similar landscape, you’ll find it at Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management Area on Edisto Island, a former plantation site around 45 minutes south of Charleston. The Patriot was also filmed here.
Bowen’s Island Restaurant
In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene from season 2 episode four, the Pogues pick up beer for a party at John B’s house. Later, Kie and JJ go there to pick up provisions for his dad’s escape. In season three, Rafe goes to the bar here.
But the dockside spot where they got it was actually Bowen’s Island Restaurant, a longtime seafood restaurant on James Island. The eatery is the best place around for fresh oysters and has also been used for films like Dear John. It opened in 1946 by May and Jimmy Bowen and is still in the family.
Creekside Lands Inn
After the hurricane, John B and his friends find a sunken ship and find a hotel key in the wreckage. It brings them to the Summer Winds, a run-down hotel.
The second season actually uses Charleston as a setting, not just a filming location. JJ, Pope, and Kie go to Limbrey’s house, which they claim is on King Street. But in real life, it’s part of what’s called The Battery, the sea wall with some of Charleston’s most lavish houses. It’s also where Sarah and John B dock the boat.
The Edmonston-Alston House was used as her house and is one of the city’s best historic homes. It was built in 1825 for Scottish immigrant Charles Edmondston on the ruins of a fort alongside a sea wall. The modified single house was purchased by rice planter Charles Alston in 1838 and the third story was added.
Lowndes Grove Plantation stood in as Sarah Cameron’s family house in Outer Banks. In real life, it’s a popular wedding venue on the Ashley River. Built in 1786 by John Gibbes, the original home was destroyed and plots of land were subdivided and sold by his ancestors.
The current house was built in the following years and became the home of Congressman William Lowndes, for whom it’s now named. In 1901, the property was the site of the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition.
It was purchased in 2007 for its current use as an events facility. It’s not open to the public unless you’re inquiring about or attending a wedding but you can sometimes snap a photo from behind the gates. Just don’t disturb the neighbors.
The town of McClellanville stands in as “The Cut,” the less wealthy part of fictional Kildare. In real life, the fishing community is located around an hour north of Charleston, on the way to Georgetown. Dating back to the 1860s, it has a number of historic landmarks.
The old Bethel AME Church was used in Outer Banks as the “secret spot” and was recently vandalized by overzealous fans. Please be respectful of these locations and do not trespass.
Morris Island Lighthouse
Folly Beach is seen often on Outer Banks as the inlet where the Pogues find the sunken ship has the iconic Morris Island Lighthouse in the background. Here they’re chased by the bad guys and Kie’s quick thinking saves them. In season three, Sarah and Topper come to the lighthouse after the beach party.
The lighthouse was built of brick in 1876 in place of another that had been destroyed. It was originally on the namesake Morris Island, but the changing currents and Hurricane Hugo led to the complete erosion of surrounding land and structures.
The best views of the lighthouse are from a boat or the Lighthouse Inlet on the eastern tip of the island, where hurricanes washed away homes, leaving only their foundations.
See the lighthouse from the water on Charleston’s Tidal Creeks Eco Boat Cruise with Stop at Morris Island Lighthouse.
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island
Kiawah Island was used a number of times on Outer Banks. It was used as a hotel where JJ worked when the gang went to use the computers. The Ocean Course golf course was also used where Rafe rides the trails and where he later beats up Pope.
The Ocean Clubhouse was the setting for the midsummer ball. Guests of The Sanctuary or Kiawah Island rental homes, as well as golfers, can visit the club. For the full “Kook” experience, dine at the Atlantic Room restaurant or the more casual Ryder Cup Bar, which both have views of the golf course.
In season 2, the Seabrook Island Club was used as JJ’s workplace.
The Old Navy Base
The Old Navy Base in North Charleston is home to a few Outer Banks landmarks. The Eternal Father of the Sea Chapel was the Kildare County Courthouse where John B was sentenced. It was built in 1944 and now operates as a wedding chapel. A few streets away, the jail where John B is held is the old Naval Hospital.
The base operated from 1901 to 1996, when it closed. A number of the buildings have been repurposed and preserved, used as warehouses and for filming, including for Army Wives. The Riverfront Park on the base is now used as a venue for music festivals.
Old Village Mount Pleasant
The Old Village of Mount Pleasant is seen in the background in a number of episodes, including where the police station is located and where John B is dropped off by the sheriff after getting tased. The church in episode 8, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, is also here.
In season 2, the storm drain where the gun gets lost is here. The surf shop is also here. In season 3, JJ rides his bike down a path that ends at the Pitt Street Bridge.
This area is home to some of the city’s oldest businesses, including Pitt Street Pharmacy, along with shops and restaurants. Dating back to 1803, it’s made up of the streets south of Shem Creek on the Cooper River. It was also used in The Notebook.
Palmetto Islands County Park
The observation deck John B. falls from in season one is Palmetto Islands County Park in Mount Pleasant. The over 900-acre park has multiple trails and boardwalks over the marsh, a kayak rental area, a seasonal waterpark, and picnic tables. Admission is $4 per person.
Shem Creek is home to the setting for Kie’s family restaurant and Pope’s dad’s seafood business. The real fishing community was featured in the show with active shrimp boats in the background. Heyward’s Seafood is actually Geechie Seafood, a local seafood vendor.
The restaurant is called The Wreck on the show and in real life, known as a laid-back seafood dive named for a boat that washed up during a hurricane. It’s become a popular restaurant with fans, but be sure to go when they open at 5 pm or they may be out of food.
The best views are from Shem Creek Park, a public park with platforms over the water. You can also see the dolphins and other creatures that inhabit the creek on a kayaking tour.
See Shem Creek with a Shem Creek Walking Bar Tour, Behind the Scenes of Shem Creek Shrimp Walking Tour, or Charleston Harbor Sunset Cruise.
In season 2, Pope goes looking for a family heirloom at his great-grandmother’s former apartment, located above a pharmacy. The scene showcases downtown Summerville, including Guerin’s Pharmacy. The area was first settled around the Revolutionary War and today is known as “Flowertown.” The historic downtown area is full of restaurants, shops, and bars. It’s also recognized as the birthplace of Sweet Tea.
Beaufort “Outer Banks” Locations
Hunting Island Lighthouse
Located to the south in Beaufort is the Hunting Island Lighthouse. Built in the 1800s, it has a similar design to one in Cape Canaveral, Florida. It has been restored and is open to visitors for a $2 admission fee.
In Outer Banks, John B. and Kie come to the lighthouse, which had a sign up about being closed after the hurricane, in search of answers about his dad and the sunken treasure.
Outer Banks-Style Experiences
No matter whether you’re in Charleston or the real Outer Banks, you can have experiences similar to the characters in the Netflix show.
Can’t get enough of the Outer Banks? Book an Outer Banks Film Locations Tour.
Finding Buried Treasure
The coastal area from Florida to Virginia is full of sunken ships and possible treasure. In fact, the Outer Banks area is known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” for the abundance of sunken ships.
You can see many of these underwater treasures through dive operators on the Outer Banks like Dive Hatteras. In Charleston, you can go diving to artificial reefs created by sunken boats with outfitters like Charleston Scuba.
If you’d rather stay on dry land, there are interesting museums to visit. In Charleston, you can see the Hunley, a Civil War submarine that sat on the ocean floor for generations before being recovered. The Charleston Museum also has an incredible selection of artifacts (and was featured in season three). The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum on Hatteras Island has items from Blackbeard’s ship.
Learning About Gullah-Geechee Culture
There are mentions and references to the Gullah people in Outer Banks, but it’s far from a lost culture. The Creole language is still spoken in this region, including on Daufuskie Island in South Carolina and Sapelo Island in Georgia.
Learn about the Geechee people of Beaufort, South Carolina on the Spirit of Old Beaufort Heritage Tour or join the Hilton Head to Daufuskie Island Round-Trip Ferry with 2-Person Golf Cart Rental to visit the island where the Sea Island people still live.
Surfing the Atlantic Ocean
John B. and his pals enjoy surfing the waters of the Outer Banks, which is something you can do in real life. Sign up for Surf Lessons on the Outer Banks to practice your moves.
In Charleston, locals head to The Washout, a popular surf spot on Folly Beach. You can also take a surf lesson in Charleston.
Taking the Ferry
Sarah and John B. make plans to go to the mainland to see a map in the UNC Archives, sneaking onto a ship on the way there. On the way back, they board the ferry. A ferry to Wilmington appears in the third season.
The ferry itself is the Carolina Belle, a harbor tour boat in Charleston. There are also water taxi services that run between downtown Charleston and Mount Pleasant. In real life, you can take the ferries to Ocracoke and Hatteras islands in the Outer Banks.
Have you been to any of these locations? Let us know!
Looking for a place to stay on your Outer Banks show pilgrimage? Andell Inn, Post House Inn, Tides Folly Beach, and Shem Creek Inn are close to the Charleston locations. Anchorage 1770 is ideal for visits to Beaufort. Also enjoy this cozy McClellanville home, available on Airbnb.