In real life, the barrier islands off of North Carolina, known as the Outer Banks or OBX, are a popular vacation destination. On Netflix's new teen thriller Outer Banks, they refer to it as "paradise on Earth," but it's also the waterfront setting for a harrowing treasure hunt. The good news is, fans of the show can have a more low-key as-seen-on-TV adventure by visiting the filming locations from Outer Banks IRL — but there's a catch.
The series, which follows John B. Routledge (Chase Stokes) as he tries to find his dad who went missing while looking for buried treasure, wasn't filmed in the real Outer Banks. It was shot in Charleston, South Carolina.
Originally Outer Banks was set to be a local production in Wilmington, NC, which is where Dawson's Creek was filmed. However, the filming was moved due to North Carolina's support, at the time, of 2016's anti-trans HB2, also known as the "Bathroom Bill," which makes it illegal to use a restroom that does not line up with the sex you were assigned at birth, according to the Wilmington Star-News. (Last year, North Carolina reached a settlement ruling that transgender people cannot be prevented from using the bathrooms that match their gender identity in public buildings.)
“When we wrote it, it was 100 percent Wilmington in our heads,” co-creator, writer and director Jonas Pate told the Wilmington Star-News. “We wanted to film it here. But Netflix made the right decision to insist on inclusivity and we completely agree with them.”
However, it wasn't easy to make the switch since Outer Banks was supposed to be "a postcard to North Carolina’s coast." While Charleston shares some similarities with Wilmington, the move led Outer Banks creators to use their imagination.
The show is set "on a fictional town and island on the Outer Banks, so we could really create whatever visual landscape we wanted," Pate explained. "Charleston is beautiful, but it is a rapidly growing city, so we had to cherry pick pieces of it. Take these narrow snapshots and piece them together to create this fictional world of ours.”
Pate and his co-creators, his brother Josh Pate and Shannon Burke, were able to keep nods to North Carolina including Chapel Hill, Masonboro Island, and Snow's Cut in Carolina Beach, which is the inspiration for The Cut, where John B and his Pogue friends live. But the fictional world was set in Charleston locales like James Island, Mount Pleasant's historic Old Village, and Jones Island, the largest island in the state of South Carolina, which is home to the Angel Oak, which is believed to be one of the oldest living oak trees east of the Mississippi River. The red and white striped Morris Island Lighthouse, which was built in 1767 and later rebuilt in 1876 after being destroyed in the Civil War, is also on full display throughout the series.
An escape to the locales of the Outer Banks might not take you to the show's namesake, but it will still lead you someplace nice.