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outer banks season 3
outer banks season 3
Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix
Culture > Entertainment

A Full Breakdown Of All The Treasure In ‘Outer Banks,’ From Season 1 To Now

Is it just me or does there seem to be a golden hue in the air? That’s right, it’s Outer Banks season. The much-anticipated Season 3 of the show premiered on Netflix on Feb. 23, and it’s about to be fans’ entire personality for the next few weeks (it’s me, I’m the fan). 

The Poguelandia friend group left us on a cliffhanger when they were stranded on a deserted island at the end of Season 2. After a wild treasure hunt that didn’t exactly go as planned, fans and Pogues alike were left with one question: Where does do group go from here? Well, it seems that the Pogues’ adventure-seeking tendencies weren’t over. Warning: Spoilers for Outer Banks Season 3 follow. In Season 3, the group made their way back to the OBX, but it wasn’t long until they were off on a new treasure hunt thanks to Big John being back and more treasure-obsessed than ever. This time, the goal was to find El Dorado: a city of gold. 

Now, after three seasons of joining the Pogues on all their adventures, you might have trouble keeping track of all the treasure — I’m right there with you. No need to worry, though, because I’m here to break it all down for you from the Royal Merchant in Season 1 to the latest discoveries of Season 3. 

outer banks season 3
Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix

The first season follows the story of the Royal Merchant, a famous shipwreck. 

With Big John being alive and well, you might have forgotten how he “died” in the first place. Like father like son, Big John was always on the search for the treasure ingrained in the Outer Banks’ history, which all started with the Royal Merchant. The show’s Royal Merchant was a legendary shipwreck that sank in the 1800s near Outer Banks, North Carolina. It was rumored to have gold bars worth $400 million, which is why the islanders were always on the hunt to find the sunken ship. The shipwreck is based on a real treasuring-bearing ship called the Merchant Royal that was last seen in the 17th century off the English coast. 

Big John seemingly teamed up with Ward Cameron, Sarah Cameron’s dad, to find the Royal Merchant and its payout, but as we know, he can’t be trusted. Big John told his partner he knows the location of the treasure, but in exchange for his knowledge, he wanted a bigger percentage of the gold. With this ultimatum, Ward attempted to kill Big John by throwing him overboard off a boat. 

Ward thought he got away with murder, but Big John ended up washing up on shore. While trying to remain conscious, he wrote “Redfield” onto a compass that was a family heirloom. John B and his friends ended up discovering the antique on a sunken boat after a hurricane pushed them toward it, but the compass was soon surrendered to the local police. John B found out then that “Redfield” was his great-great-grandmother’s maiden name. Following the clues, they visited her grave where the friend group found a package from Big John that contained the Royal Merchant’s ship manifest and coordinates to the wreck’s location. 

Well, the coordinates were a dead end to the gold, but the manifest was the real clue. Sarah’s house was called “Tanneyhill Plantation,” which had ties to a name on the manifest. John B put two and two together and realized Denmark Tanny, a name on the manifest, was the original owner of the Camerons’ house and a former slave on the Royal Merchant. Tanney ended up surviving the shipwreck and keeping the gold. 

outer banks season 3
Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix

Tanney’s history leads to the gold of the Royal Merchant, and more.

John B and Sarah took a trip to Chapel Hill after their realization in Season 1. While in Chapel Hill, they found Tanney’s diary, which had a letter to his son dated back to the day of Tanney’s execution. The letter led them to a local house where the gold was located. You would think the treasure hunt ends there, but the gold was taken by none other than Ward, and he flew it out to the Bahamas. So, John B and Sarah embarked on a new journey to get the gold back. 

That’s where Season 1 left us, but Season 2 picked up right where we left off. While John B and Sarah were trying to steal the gold back, viewers got introduced to a new layer of the Denmark Tanney story. Pope was approached by Carla Limbrey, a wealthy woman from Charleston, who invited him to her mansion. It was there that she revealed she was also on the hunt for Tanney’s treasure, but not the gold. Oh, and she may have let it slip that Pope is related to Tanney. 

Limbrey was on the hunt for a key that leads to the Cross of Santo Domingo, a valuable artifact that was also on board the Royal Merchant and was in Tanney’s possession. According to Tanney’s diary, the Cross held an ancient relic with healing capabilities, which is why Limbrey was after it as she has an illness that inhibits her ability to walk. 

Pope ended up finding the key that led to the cross in the ceiling of his great-grandmother’s house. When displayed in the light, the cross revealed the words: “The path to the tomb begins in the Island Room.” Apparently, all roads lead back to the Camerons because the Island Room of their house contains clues that led the group, as well as others after the treasure, to an oak tree on the other side of the island. The Pogue friend group found a spyglass that said, “You’ve come this far. Do not falter. The cross is on the Freedman’s altar.” Ding, ding, ding! The Cross of Santo Domingo was hidden in the beams of a local church. 

Now, the cross is found, but what about the ancient relic inside of it? 

Upon finding the cross, they realized the healing garment was missing, so Limbrey’s search is far from over. Rafe Cameron, Sarah’s brother, stole the cross from the Pogues, and after a failed attempt to try to get Pope’s family heirloom back, they ended up overboard and washed up ashore. Poguelandia is born! Meanwhile, Limbrey visited Big John in Barbados to ask him to find the healing shroud. OK, now we are all up to speed and the Season 3 treasure hunt commences. 

In Season 3, Big John was after a new ultimate treasure: El Dorado. El Dorado was rumored to be a city of gold in South America, originating in the 16th century. Throughout the season, John B and his father worked together to find what Singh, a Caribbean Don, called the “ultimate conquest,” aka El Dorado. A letter from Tanney’s daughter found in Pope’s family house as well as an ancient stone that lights up under the moonlight act as clues in the Pogues and Big John’s conquest. I’ll leave it to you to find out if they ever found the city of gold. 

So, though there are an endless amount of treasure hunts in the show, I’ll leave you with one tip: Wherever there is Denmark Tanney history, treasure is soon to follow. 

Hannah Tolley is a contributing writer under the Entertainment and Culture vertical. She covers entertainment releases, fan theories, pop culture news, and more. Aside from Her Campus, Hannah was also a member of the Florida State University (FSU) Her Campus team. During her time with the chapter, she served as a staff writer for three semesters, where she wrote biweekly pieces across campus, culture, and personal verticals. She also was a content editor for two semesters, where she led a team of 6+ writers and oversaw and edited their articles. Hannah was also an editorial intern for Her Campus during her spring and summer term of her second year in college. As an intern, she worked alongside the full-time edit team to curate timely and evergreen pieces across life, culture, career, and style verticals. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from FSU in May 2023, with a Bachelor of Science in Media/Communication Studies with a minor in English. When she's not dissecting the latest pop culture events, you can find her reading a cheesy romance novel or establishing parasocial relationships with fictional TV characters. She loves to rewatch her favorite shows (Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, and Friends) or spend the day going down a rabbit hole of reality dating shows.