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Cape Hatteras National Seashore picture in Outer Banks
Hatteras Lighthouse picture in Outer Banks
Cape Hatteras National Seashore picture in Outer Banks
Hatteras Lighthouse picture in Outer Banks

Key Info

Price & Hours

  • Free
  • 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

Details

  • Beaches Type
  • Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.5
Overall
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  • Value
    5.0
  • Facilities
    4.0
  • Atmosphere
    4.0

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The Cape Hatteras National Seashore stretches for miles and tempts visitors with its well-kept sands and rolling waves. While many visitors come to soak up the sun along the Atlantic's sands, you should devote some time to the seashore's other attractions, most notably the lighthouse.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest in the United States, has long protected passing ships from the fierce currents and hidden sand bars that earned the area the nickname "the graveyard of the Atlantic." You should also keep an eye out for Cape Hatteras' wildlife: A wide array of birds can be found here, mingling with sea turtles along the golden shores.

Recent visitors said a visit to the top of the lighthouse is a unique experience and they recommended visiting the park at low tide if you'd like to walk along the beach

The north entrance to Cape Hatteras is located in Nags Head at the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 and NC Highway 12, while the southern gate can be found off NC Highway 12 just north of Ocracoke Village. The seashore and visitors centers (at Bodie Island, Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island) are open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Keep in mind that lighthouses are only open from the third Friday in April to Columbus Day. You don't have to pay to explore Cape Hatteras National Seashore, but fees are required should you wish to climb Cape Hatteras Lighthouse ($8 for adults and $4 for children younger than 12) or camp overnight in the park. For more information, visit the National Park Service's website.

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#1 Outer Banks Beaches The beaches in the Outer Banks stretch for more than 100 miles along barrier islands that frame the eastern coast of North Carolina. These sands are known for their cleanliness ... Read more » karenfoleyphotography / Getty Images

#2 Jockey's Ridge State Park The most popular part of Nags Head (aside from the oceanfront) is Jockey's Ridge State Park, home to the tallest sand dune on the east coast. You can reach ... Read more » Devon Gustin / Getty Images

#3 Cape Hatteras National Seashore The Cape Hatteras National Seashore stretches for miles and tempts visitors with its well-kept sands and rolling waves. While many visitors come to soak up the sun along the Atlantic ... Read more » wbritten / Getty Images

#4 Wright Brothers National Memorial If you flew to the Outer Banks, you have the Wright Brothers to thank. In 1900, the two moved here from Ohio for the area's steady winds to pursue ... Read more » Photosbyjam / Getty Images

#5 Currituck Beach Lighthouse Before 1875, ships sailing by the North Carolina coast faced an 80-mile "blind spot" between Bodie Island and Virginia's Cape Henry. Then the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla was ... Read more » Jens_Lambert_Photography / Getty Images

#6 Bodie Island Lighthouse This thrice-built, black-and-white lighthouse sits south of Nags Head on Bodie Island. The first incarnation fell due to poor construction, the second was destroyed during the Civil War and the ... Read more » Stephen Herzog Photography / Getty Images

#7 Roanoke Island Festival Park Located in Manteo, the Roanoke Island Festival Park takes visitors back in time to the 1500s and the settlement of Roanoke. Inside the park, you can board the Elizabeth II ... Read more » Courtesy of Roanoke Island Festival Park

#8 North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island If you want to see what animals you're sharing the water with when you're splashing around on the Outer Banks beaches, head to Roanoke to the North Carolina ... Read more » Sean Russell / Getty Images

Outer Banks beaches picture in Outer Banks
Sand Dunes picture in Outer Banks
Cape Hatteras National Seashore picture in Outer Banks
Wright Brothers National Memorial picture in Outer Banks
Currituck Beach Lighthouse picture in Outer Banks
Bodie Island Lighthouse picture in Outer Banks
Roanoke Island Festival Park picture in Outer Banks
North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island picture in Outer Banks
Outer Banks beaches picture in Outer Banks
Sand Dunes picture in Outer Banks
Cape Hatteras National Seashore picture in Outer Banks
Wright Brothers National Memorial picture in Outer Banks
Currituck Beach Lighthouse picture in Outer Banks
Bodie Island Lighthouse picture in Outer Banks
Roanoke Island Festival Park picture in Outer Banks
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All the beaches in the Outer Banks are free and open to the public, with multiple beach access points and plenty of parking available.  karenfoleyphotography / Getty Images

You'll find sand dunes galore at Jockey's Ridge State Park. Devon Gustin / Getty Images

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest brick lighthouse in America.  wbritten / Getty Images

The Wright Brothers' first flight took place in Kill Devil Hills. Photosbyjam / Getty Images

The Currituck Beach Lighthouse has 220 steps leading up to the top.  Jens_Lambert_Photography / Getty Images

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Courtesy of Roanoke Island Festival Park

Seals, sharks and otters are just a few of the animals housed in exhibits at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. Sean Russell / Getty Images

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