Corolla is an unincorporated community located in Poplar Branch township , Currituck County, North Carolina, along the northern Outer Banks. It has a permanent population of about 500 people, however the population surges into the thousands during the summer vacation season. Corolla is home to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, one of the seven North Carolina coastal lighthouses.
Corolla is home to about 119 wild Spanish Mustangs. The wild horses are located on horse sanctuary of 12,000 acres (49 km²) located north of the populated areas of Corolla. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund is a public charity whose mission is to protect and preserve the herd.
The town of Corolla began as a community known as Jones Hill. It was also known as Whalehead or Currituck Beach. Early settlers made a living from fishing and hunting as well as from salvage from shipwrecks and service as guides to hunters. Construction of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse resulted in a stabilization of the economy with a new influx of jobs. Currituck was an American Indian term for geese. The area had at the time a large wild geese population.
The town officially took the name Corolla in 1895 when a post office opened in the community. The name was chosen to refer to the botanic term for the petals of a flower.
Development of Currituck's Northern Outer Banks began in 1967 when investors from Sandbridge, Virginia, put together an investment group to purchase the undeveloped land. The first subdivision plotted was Carova with 1,993 lots. The lots were originally priced at $11,500; as of 2006, some of these lots are worth up to $500,000.
The investors planned for a road to come through from Virginia Beach, Virginia, to allow access to the lots, however these plans were abandoned in 1973 when the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge south of Sandbridge was closed to all vehicular traffic, except by permit. Development pushed south through the 1970s, creating well over 1,000 additional lots in several subdivisions. In 1984 the residents of Corolla succeeded in their attempts to gain a public access road from the south and the state began paving the extension of NC-12 towards the north.
While there are of course permanent residents in Corolla, Corolla is primarily a summer vacation community. In fact, many of the houses are built with six to eight bedrooms making this location a favorite for multi-family vacations or reunions.