Hatteras & Ocracoke Islands, NC  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Hatteras & Ocracoke Area Features

Welcome to Hatteras Island

Vacationers who are looking for a laid-back yet entertaining atmosphere on the water should head across the Oregon Inlet from South Nags Head to Hatteras Island. This remote destination is known for encapsulating some of the best things the Outer Banks has to offer: history, natural beauty, exciting watersports, and quaint shops that stock items found exclusively in this region. Plus, those who enjoy playing in or on the water will love this island since it offers clean beaches and great fishing off its coasts. Places to explore on Hatteras Island include the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Canadian Hole (famous among kite surfers), and the towns of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and the extremely popular Hatteras Village.

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is one of amazing natural beauty. As part of the National Park Service, this area that extends from Nags Head to Ocracoke Island boasts sparkling beaches, gorgeous sunsets, and lush maritime forests. At night, the pitch-black skies contrast the bright stars for some of the best star-gazing on the East Coast. Here, a plethora of activities can be explored: swimming, hiking, kayaking, fishing, boating and more. Drive your 4-wheel-drive vehicle onto the beach to easily access the water, or enlist the services of a local horseback riding company for an exhilarating tour of the area. Since the beaches of Hatteras are a natural draw, this seashore is definitely one that should be experienced.

For anglers, some of the best fishing in the world is off the coast of Hatteras. And there’s a reason that the sport in Hatteras is so beloved—the Gulf Stream lies only 15 miles off shore. This is a treacherous area with shifting sand dunes that has sunk many sea-voyaging vessels over the centuries, but the wrecks also create wonderful habitats for fish. With modern technology, safety is more assured and  Hatteras is nationally renowned as a destination for anglers of any ability from across the nation. And though surf-fishing or pier fishing can be a rewarding experience on the island, most prefer to try fishing off-shore via a private charter boat rental or by booking a fishing boat cruise. Plus, if you are staying in a vacation home, you’ll probably have an adequately stocked kitchen to prepare your catch for the family dinner. Good luck hooking the big one!

One of the most iconic sights in North Carolina is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse with its swirling black and white stripes that extend 12 stories vertically before reaching the magnificent Fresnel lens. This beacon of light saved many a mariner from the perilous shoals that lurk just off the coast of Hatteras Island. Unfortunately, others were not so lucky. The turbulent waters and weather in conjunction with wartime activities have sunk many a ship—so many in fact, that the coastline of North Carolina is often referred to as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” To commemorate the ships that have come to rest there as well as the humans who lost their lives, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum was established on Hatteras Island. The museum is a treasure trove of interesting stories and historical accounts. It also features fun family activities and unique special events. Visitors recommend both the lighthouse and the museum among the top places to go while in Hatteras.

Hatteras Fun Facts:

  • Every week in the summer, nearly 50,000 people are on Hatteras Island. However, only 4,000 people live there year-round.
  • The island’s widest point is in Buxton and it’s only 3.5 miles across.
  • Half of Hatteras Island is undeveloped, which helps local wild animals and birds thrive. Nearly 400 bird species can be found at the nature reserves here.
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