Cape Hatteras National Seashore

#3 in Best Things To Do in Outer Banks
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
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Price & Hours

9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily


Beaches, Free Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore stretches for more than 70 miles and tempts visitors with its well-kept sands, picturesque lighthouses 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 Cape Hatteras 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 (more than 360 species) 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. Others called the seashore a "national treasure" and recommended setting aside a day to complete the scenic drive.

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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