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8 May 2023
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Travel Tips

Hatteras Island is a long barrier island on the southern end of the Outer Banks. Hatteras Island is made up of several small townships and communities including Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras. Each area is unique with its own quirks and things to do, promising lots of Outer Banks history, beautiful beaches filled with undeveloped coastline, and memories to last a lifetime. So whether you're staying in one of our spectacular Hatteras Island vacation rentals or you're spending your week further north, here's a list of the top 10 must-do things on Hatteras Island!

1. Visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

There are few things more iconic to the Outer Banks than the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. This lighthouse is steeped in local history and lore, making it a must-see during your next trip to Hatteras Island. While the lighthouse is currently closed to climbing for reservations (as of 2023), it's still worth the drive down to explore the museum and get a glimpse of this historic feature. Not only is the lighthouse hundreds of years old, but it was literally moved in 1999 to prevent the ocean from washing it away. Now you can walk the grounds, learn more about the history of seafaring on the Outer Banks, and enjoy a truly iconic landscape with the lighthouse in the backdrop. And don't forget to keep an eye out for the ghost cat, as well, as it meanders the grounds looking for the light keeper. 

2. Go Fishing at Cape Point

Cape Point is known around the world for its amazing fishing opportunities, beautiful weather, and unique location that ensures a wide variety of fish species in the waters just off the coast throughout the year. Located just on the 4WD area past the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, Cape Point is perfectly situated for a successful fishing trip where you can find sheepshead, mullet, and more to fill up that cooler during your next vacation. Be sure to stop by one of the local bait and tackle shops to get your gear ready to go. Don't forget to check TW's local fishing forecast and ask your local fisherman for advice - they're always ready to help!

3. Take the Ferry to Ocracoke

While you're vacationing on Hatteras Island, you'll definitely want to take the vehicular ferry over to Ocracoke Island. Drive your car right onto the free ferry and enjoy the 45-minute ride across the water. The ferry runs from 5:00 am to midnight every day of the year and loads about 10 minutes before leaving. During the summer, plan for a little bit of a wait before getting a spot on the ferry, anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours, but it's more than worth it. Enjoy the trip over and take plenty of pictures as you pass by Hatteras Inlet. Mornings and evening are a great time to get unforgettable waterfront views from the ferry. Once you're in Ocracoke, there are countless beautiful beaches, fun shops, and eclectic restaurants to fill your day with amazing adventures. Check out the current ferry schedule here.

4. Go Kiteboarding at Canadian Hole

If you're looking for something to do during your Hatteras Island vacation that is quintessentially Hatteras, you have to go kiteboarding at Canadian Hole! This sound access is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and offers plenty of parking, restrooms, and showers that make this a great spot for families and kids of all ages to enjoy the spectacular waters and warm, sandy beaches. But for the thrill-seeker among you, Canadian Hole is also known for its prime location for kiteboarding and other watersports where you can take advantage of the perfectly positioned winds and currents that work alongside relatively shallow waters to create an amazing practice ground. 

5. Take a Fishing Charter

If surf fishing isn't your cup of tea, maybe try out a fishing charter! Let an experienced, licensed captain take you out on the waters of the Atlantic for your own Wicked Tuna adventure. At Hatteras Landing & Teach's Lair Marinas, you'll find plenty of captains willing to take you out to enjoy the fishing trip of a lifetime. Take a half day or full day trip out into the Gulf Stream where you'll be amazing at the size of the fish you catch. And if you're looking for something a little more onshore or you want to start further north, several fishing chaters in Manteo, Wanchese, and South Nags Head will also take you out into the Gulf Stream where you can take advantage of those fish-filled Hatteras waters. Whatever you're looking for, there's sure to be a captain on the Outer Banks ready to help you find it.

6. Visit the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum & Frisco Native American Museum

Not only is Hatteras Island the perfect spot for an adventure on the Outer Banks, but it's also home to some of the most important history on the beach! While you're in town, be sure to stop by the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum and the Frisco Native American Museum for a step back in time as you explore the history of the shores off Cape Hatteras and learn more about the indigenous people who lived on the island long before English colonization. Be sure to check out the memorial for the Hotel De'Afrique commemorating the first safe haven for African Americans in North Carolina during the Civil War at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum! As a Seaside Vacations guest, you can also enjoy 20% off all purchases from the Frisco Native American Museum Gift Shop as part of our Club Seaside program.

7. See a Reenactment at the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station

Just a short drive away from Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet and Airstation Elizabeth City, the Coast Guard has a long history with the Coast Guard going back to the branch's founding. Located in Rodanthe, the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station is one of the most complete, remaining life-saving stations in North Carolina. The building now serves as a museum and educational center, offering events and live-action reenactments throughout the summer. The museum is open from 10:00AM to 5:00PM, Monday through Friday. Check the museum website for additional event information!

8. Look for Birds in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

For something fun and a little different to do during your Hatteras Island vacation, try your had at birdwatching at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. This protected wildlife area is one of the best places to birdwatch in North Carolina and has more than 5,000 acres of preserve. There are multiple wildlife habitats in the preserve, ensuring a wide variety of birds as well as deer and other mammals that you might see during your hike. The refuge also offers weekly birding walk, tours, and events throughout the year, so you'll always be able to find something exciting during your visit. Check out our Guide to Outer Banks Birdwatching for tips, tricks, and the species of birds you can expect to see on the Outer Banks.

9. Spend an Afternoon at the Avon Pier

If surf fishing or offshore fishing aren't in your schedule but you still want the chance to catch some saltwater fish, head down to the Avon Pier for a day of fishing, snacks, and fun for the whole family. The great thing about spending an afternoon at the Avon Pier or any of the piers on the Outer Banks is that you don't have to worry about getting a fishing license - your entry to the pier covers a blanket license! And not looking to purchase a pole or make a long-term investment? You can rent gear, as well, making your saltwater angler dreams easier than ever to achieve. 

10. Go to the Beach!

And last, but certainly not least, one of the things you absolutely HAVE to do during your Hatteras Island vacation is get to the beach! The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is known around the country for its beautiful, untouched beaches, remote locations, and endless stretches of sand that are perfect for curling up under an umbrella with your favorite beach read or splashing in the waves with a boogie board. There are plenty of spots to go beachcombing or simply relax with a snack while you listen to the sounds of the ocean lull you into a sense of ultimate relaxation away from the stress and worries of the world. 


Book Your Outer Banks Vacation Today!

So whether you're hoping to come for a short stay getaway or you're excited to introduce the kiddos to some important North Carolina history while recreating memories of your childhood beach vacation, we've got the perfect place for you to stay while you're in town. Check out our available rentals on Hatteras Island and book your next Hatteras Island vacation today!

Keep an eye on our specials and deals and book now before your dream Outer Banks beach house fills up for the summer. Give our wonderful Guest Services Team a call today at (866) 884-0267 or take a look at our available rentals to get started planning your next historic adventure to the Outer Banks. And don't forget about our layaway plan, which makes booking your dream vacation easier than ever. So don't wait. We're booking Outer Banks vacation rentals year-round and we're excited to help you create memories to last a lifetime. We're here to help make your OBX vacation fun, exciting, and hassle-free. Give us a call today!

We'll see you at the beach!

Thinking of buying a home on Hatteras Island? Looking to increase your rental income? Get your complementary rental projection today and learn more about our team here.