Hatteras Island - a magical place to vacation Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Pamlico Sound to the west, Hatteras Island is one of the most treasured regions of the entire Outer Banks. With miles of pristine, undeveloped beaches and plenty of marshland and maritime forests, outdoor enthusiasts will find no shortage of places to explore on this barrier island.

Unlike many of the neighboring beach towns to the north, the uncrowded villages that make up Hatteras Island—Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras—are relatively small and home to only a few thousand year-round residents. For those who seek the peace and tranquility that accompanies life on a barrier island, this 50-mile-long, uncrowded stretch of sand and sea oats is absolute perfection. 

Stroll through the wide array of quaint shops and galleries that dot the coastline, or stop in one of the many unique, locally owned restaurants to sample the freshest and finest fare that Hatteras Island has to offer.

Recreationists will be hard-pressed to find a better location on the entire eastern seaboard to participate in a variety of popular watersports ranging from windsurfing and standup paddleboarding to surfing, kayaking and kiteboarding. In fact, Hatteras Island is well-known for its status as one of the best places in the United States for kiteboarding—whether you choose the shallow waters of the Pamlico Sound or the ocean waves on the opposite side of the island.  

If you’d rather witness wildlife in its natural habitat than peruse local shops or take on a new watersport, take a tour of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1938, the refuge encompasses nearly 6,000 acres of land and more than 25,000 acres of Proclamation Boundary waters. Here you will find upwards of 365 species of birds, 25 species of mammals, 24 species of reptiles and five species of amphibians. Stop by the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge visitor center to enjoy programs that focus on wildlife and environmental education, photography, interpretation and fishing.  

For the history buff in your party, a trip to one of the local museums situated on Hatteras Island is an absolute must. The Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site and Museum in Rodanthe—which dates back to the 1870s—features two stations and five outbuildings, where visitors can view artifacts and learn about the rich history of the men who dedicated their lives to saving the lives of others on the Outer Banks. The facility is open to the public from mid-April through November and offers tours, programs, reenactments and special events.  

A bit further south, the Frisco Native American Museum and Natural History Center provides a place for visitors to discover a wealth of information about some of Hatteras Island’s earliest inhabitants. This non-profit educational foundation preserves an assortment of Native American artifacts, art and culture. A series of natural trails also wind throughout the property, providing visitors with a chance to view area wildlife and explore a fossil pile full of shark teeth and fossilized shells uncovered during deep-sea dredging activities.  

Perhaps the most popular attraction on all of Hatteras Island is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which is located near Cape Point in Buxton. This iconic black-and-white striped structure was completed in December 1870 and stands 208 feet tall—making it the tallest lighthouse in the United States. More than 175,000 visitors make the journey to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse each year, many of whom embark on the 257-step trek up the spiral staircase to the top. The rotating beam of light that shines from atop the structure can be seen for more than 20 miles, helping sailors of the past and present to navigate the treacherous waters and shallow shoals of the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

 


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