HATTERAS ISLAND ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS
No matter what your definition of vacation and adventure are, Hatteras Island offers both. From leisurely beach walks collecting shells to scuba diving the Graveyard of the Atlantic, flying across the Pamlico Sound on a kite board, deep sea fishing, historical exploration and everything in between, your ideal coastal escape is waiting for you here.
The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras Village is a unique museum dedicated to preserving and interpreting the rich maritime history of the Outer Banks. This area of coastal North Carolina got its name The Graveyard of the Atlantic from the more than 2,000 known shipwrecks that rest off of the Outer Banks. A section of the museum is open and a portion of its collections are on display, though portions of the museum’s interior are still under construction. Some artifacts available in the museum include the “Lost Lens” from the first Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the Enigma machine from the U-85 (the first U-boat sunk by the Allies), Billy Mitchell’s historic bombing achievements off the Cape Hatteras coast, the Union gunboat Huron, the famous Ghost ship Carroll A. Deering, ship models and more.
Location: End of Hwy. 12 in Hatteras Village next to the Ferry Terminal.
Contact Information: (252) 986-2995
The Frisco Native American Museum is home to a nationally recognized collection of Native American artifacts, exhibits and natural history displays. Visitors enjoy galleries filled with native art, all of which offer information on Native Americans from across the United States, as well as artifacts from the first inhabitants of Hatteras Island. This museum is designated as a North Carolina Environmental Education Center and a Historic Albemarle Tour site, and it’s also home to a newly-opened bird observation room and several acres of nature trails winding through a lush maritime forest. Trails include exhibits and accommodations for visually impaired persons (VIPS.)
Location: Hwy 12, Village of Frisco
Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday – Sunday. Mondays by appointment. Winter hours adjusted.
Admission: $5 per person, $15 per family, $3 for Seniors
Services: Guided tours and lectures for school and youth groups are available with notice.
Facilities: Newly expanded history center and bookstore.
Contact Information: (252) 995-4440
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is open seasonally from the third Friday in April through Columbus Day for self-guided climbs, but the grounds are open year round. There are 257 steps from the ground to the balcony with handrail only on one side, two-way traffic, and a landing every 31 steps, and with no air conditioning, often high humidity and no elevator, the climb is strenuous! But those who are healthy enough to climb to the top will enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Hatteras Island.
Third Friday in April – Thursday before Memorial Day: 9 AM – 4:30 PM
Memorial Day Weekend – Labor Day: 9 AM – 5:30 PM
Day after Labor Day – Columbus Day: 9 AM – 4:30 PM
Special night climbing tours are offered weekly during the summer months on Thursdays from the end of May to the beginning of September.
Climbing tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for senior citizens (62 or older), children (11 and under, and at least 42″ tall), and visitors with disabilities. Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis and can only be purchased in-person at the site the day of the climb. There are no advance ticket sales for regular climbs.
Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station in Rodanthe is the most complete site of remaining life-saving stations in North Carolina and one of the nation’s most complete sites. The station’s purpose is to restore, preserve, protect, educate and interpret the rich history of these valiant men and their dedication to the U.S. Life-Saving Service. They are open to the public from mid-April through November and host tours, programs, reenactments and special events.
Tours and Museum Gift Shop Hours:
April – November: Monday to Friday, 10 AM – 5 PM
Location: NC Highway 12 in the village of Rodanthe, on Hatteras Island at the MP 39.5
Hours: Open mid-April through November. Call (252) 987-1552 for schedule.
$6.00 Adult (18 – 61)
$4.00 Seniors (62+)
$4.00 Youth (6 – 17)
$5.00 Group Rate/Tour rate (per person rate, 20+ in group) – includes orientation & program
Children 5 and under are free
Contact Information: (252) 987-1552
Saxon Cut Road & Kohler Road
Hatteras, NC 27943
The first US Weather Bureau Station managed by the Army Signal Service’s on Hatteras Island was established at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarter in 1874; was moved to the Hatteras Life Saving Station in 1880 and later transferred to a Hatteras Village private residence in 1883. On July 1, 1891 the US Weather Bureau was established in the Department of Agriculture by the transfer from the Army Signal Corps, meteorological service. In 1901 the first official building was constructed for the United States Weather Bureau on Hatteras Island. The station manned by an observer and a maintenance man was equipped with telegraph communication to the District Forecast Center in Washington, D.C. Hourly checks were made of the temperature, humidity, wind velocity, solar radiation, barometric pressure and precipitation. An important part of the national weather network, the station received information from lifesaving stations, issued coastal forecasts and storm warnings.
This historic site is not open to the public, though you can stop by and view the outside of this unique piece of history.
Surfing lessons at HIB are 2 hours long and include beach instruction, but most of the time will be spent in the water. They will provide you with a board to use during the lesson, and if the water is a little cold for you, they’ll set you up with a wet suit as well for no additional charge. All you have to do is get a good night sleep the night before, get your swimsuit on, put on a little sunscreen and show up ready for a great time! Group, semi-private and private lessons are available.
25410 N.C. Highway 12, Waves
The classic surf shop located in an old cottage. It’s been a fixture to the Island surf scene for more than 30 years. They sell new and used boards and surf-related gear and rent surf, body boards, skim boards, and beach gear. The Sail Shop services everything for your kite boarding, windsurfing, paddleboarding, and kayak needs. Both sites offer lessons and rentals, as well as a wide range of gear for sale.
N.C. Highway 12, Rodanthe
(252) 441-4124, (877) FLY-THIS
Whether you want to learn the sport or refine your skills, Kitty Hawk Kites’ Kiteboarding Center offers several types of classes, including private and group lessons. Their fast-track kiteboarding camp is two days of group instruction. This center is on the sound, so lessons are on site. Kayak rentals and SUP rentals are also offered here. There’s a restaurant on site in case you need to refuel.
39450 N.C. Highway 12, Avon
25706 N.C. Highway 12, Waves
(252) 987-6000; (866) REAL-548
If you’re thinking of becoming a kiteboarder, surfer or advancing your current skills, REAL lessons and camps are your ticket to accelerated, safe and progressive instruction. REAL’s Zero 2 Hero kiteboarding and surfing camps have been rated by Outside magazine as one of the Top Ten Adventure Camps in the world. The new REAL flagship store is an 18,000-square-foot aquaplex with specific areas for the retail store, school, rental shop, and restaurant. Also included in this new space is an additional 4,000-square-foot deck facing the Pamlico Sound, allowing views of all the kiteboarding action and the sunsets on the sound. The REAL rental shop offers everything you need for kiting, surfing or SUP. Ask about REAL’s instructional DVDs for these sports.
40168 N.C. Highway 12, Avon
Ride Hatteras offers windsurfing and kiteboarding lessons for beginner, intermediate or advanced riders. Equipment is tailored to meet the needs of the student and the wind conditions of the day. They also offer surfing lessons for all ages. Kids’ lessons are available, and class sizes are small. You can rent equipment for windsurfing, surfing, body boarding and skim boarding here, and they sell other essential gear.
Funding was provided to national park sites to help restore natural and cultural landscapes, provide outstanding educational and recreational opportunities for park visitors and prepare the parks for the upcoming centennial of the National Park Service in 2016. In addition to regular climbing hours, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse offers a Moonlight Climb, a guided night tour of the lighthouse offered twice every Thursday evening (a pre-registration program – see the park website for details). Evening campfire programs are offered at the Seashore on Wednesday evenings. A special Seashore evening program, Night Life, will include an exploration of star gazing and tide-line bio-luminescent plankton along with a discussion of why dark nights are valuable to both people and wildlife. The summer program schedules also include many other history talks, nature walks, and recreational programs such as surf fishing, cast netting, crabbing, seining, and snorkeling. Program schedules are available online and at any park visitor center and Outer Banks Visitors Bureau Welcome Center.
Equine Adventures explores trails through the only maritime forest on the Outer Banks, including Buxton Woods, the NC Coastal Reserve, and the National Park Service. As you come out of the woods and cross the last sand dune before the beach, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and Cape Point are just off to the left. Miles of pristine beaches await you and your horses! See the natural beauty of Hatteras Island from a completely different perspective.
41001 NC Highway 12
Avon, NC 27915
Stretching about 600 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, the recently renovated Avon Fishing Pier offers excellent fishing plus a pier house store selling fishing gear, bait and tackle, drinks, sandwiches, gifts and T-shirts. You can also rent fishing gear if you need it. Ask about the October drum tournament and the August children’s tournament. The Avon Pier closes in the winter months.
51684 NC Highway 12
Frisco, NC 27936
Frisco Cove Marina and Campground is located halfway between the Hatteras Lighthouse and the Hatteras – Ocracoke Ferry in Frisco. Available services include boat repairs, boat ramp (fee), dockage and slip rentals. Bait, ice and tackle are sold.
57976 NC Highway 12
Foster’s Quay at the Village Marina
Hatteras, NC 27943
The Albatross Fleet has been in business in Hatteras Village since 1937. Captain Ernie Foster offers full-day Gulf Stream charters or half-day charters. The boats are historic Hatteras-style with twin turbo diesel engines and complete electronics. Guides are second generation. Foster’s Quay is the docking site of the Albatross fleet fishing charters. It’s right between Oden’s and Village Marina.
58058 NC Highway 12
Hatteras, NC 27943
Hatteras Harbor Marina offers charter boat fishing, unique gifts and fishing supplies, as well as a Hatteras Harbor Deli. Either offshore or inshore, Hatteras has it all, and no one takes fishing more seriously than the captains and mates of the Hatteras Harbor Marina Charter Fleet. The largest and most experienced in the area, the fleet enjoys short runs to the gulf stream where an abundance of fish is caught year round. From marlin, sailfish, tuna, dolphin and wahoo offshore to speckled trout, flounder, striped bass and red drum inshore, our fleet is ready to serve your needs. Bring the entire family and enjoy uncrowded pristine beaches amid a relaxed family atmosphere where southern hospitality is at its best!
58848 Marina Way
Hatteras, NC 27943
Hatteras Landing is open and looking forward to seeing you! This year, when you bring your family to Hatteras Island for all the natural beauty and historic intrigue, plan to make Hatteras Landing a part of your island excursion, where fine shops, fabulous eateries and a first-class hotel overlook a full-service marina. They are conveniently located next to the Hatteras – Ocracoke ferry docks at the south end of Hatteras. The charter fleet at Hatteras Landing Marina offers a variety of fishing options to meet the specific needs of our anglers and the species of fish they wish to target.
57896 NC Highway 12
Hatteras, NC 27943
A variety of offshore fishing charters are available, departing daily from Oden’s Dock.
58646 NC Highway 12
Hatteras, NC 27943
Teach’s Lair Marina has a brand new facility with a store, Billfish Bar and Grill restaurant, charter docks, fish cleaning service and more! Come in for snacks, drinks and check out the new Pelican’s Roost store upstairs, filled with clothing and unique nautical gifts. There is a fee per launch for boats.
57980 NC Highway 12
Hatteras, NC 27943
The Village Marina, Motel & Campground offers efficiency apartments, soundfront RV and tent sites, a marina store and gift shop, boat slips, boat storage, boat ramp, bait, tackle and fuel. The folks at Village Marina call this the best dinky marina anywhere. Small it is, yet Village offers slip rentals with water and electric hookups, a boat ramp, gas and a ship’s store.
24251 Atlantic Drive
Rodanthe, NC 27968
This 850-foot fishing pier, locally called the Rodanthe Pier, offers some of the best fishing on Hatteras Island. Daily, weekly and seasonal passes are available, and the pier is open from April through November. The pier house offers bait, tackle sales and rentals, snacks, drinks, beach supplies, souvenirs, restrooms and a game room.
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, a 6,000-acre wildlife haven located between Oregon Inlet and Rodanthe, is located 5 miles south of Oregon Inlet. More than 360 species of birds call the refuge home, and visitors can enjoy seeing a large variety of wading, shore and upland birds from spring to autumn. For your convenience, the observation platforms are located near the parking areas. Public interpretive programs are scheduled weekly during the summer and fall.
Location: Between Oregon Inlet and Rodanthe. Refuge Visitors Center is located five miles south of the inlet.
Hours: Refuge open daily during daylight hours.
Admission: Free. Guided canoe tours are available for a fee.
Services: Public interpretive programs are scheduled weekly during the summer and fall.
Contact Information: (252) 987-2394 or (252) 987-1118
NC Highway 12, Buxton
The largest remaining maritime forest in the Southeast consists of pine- and oak-covered dune ridges and maritime swamp forest. It’s a rare ecosystem for a barrier island, and most visitors don’t even realize it exists. The N.C. Division of Coastal Management maintains a 968-acre portion of the woods for research, education and recreation and offers some great hiking trails for the public to use to experience this amazing ecosystem. You might see one of 360 species of birds, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons, plus gray fox, white-tailed deer, mink, river otter, box turtles, salamanders or other creatures.
46375 Lighthouse Road, Buxton
Part of the National Park and Cape Hatteras National Seashore at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Enjoy a hike in the beautiful woods of Buxton with views of the lighthouse. Near the lighthouse is a three-quarter-mile trail through the maritime forest of Buxton Woods. When heading toward the lighthouse, turn right on the road that heads toward the Cape Point Campground. A pine-needle-covered path leads back into the forest. Along the way there are informational signs about the maritime forest ecosystem and the health of Buxton Woods. You’ll pass a naturally occurring freshwater pond called Jennette’s Sedge. This is a mostly flat, easy walk, though it’s not recommended for the disabled due to uneven terrain.
Windsurfing and Kite Boarding
Hatteras Island’s location and terrain make for the ideal conditions for some of the best windsurfing and kite boarding on the East Coast and, some say, in the world. With the strongest southwest winds coming in the peak summer months, the Island is a paradise for water sport lovers and watchers vacationing here.
SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) is one of the fastest growing outdoor sports on the planet, a great activity that’s easy to learn and super fun in the marsh, canals, sound and even the ocean. What better way to have a front row seat to a Hatteras Island sunset! Rentals and guided eco-tours are available.
Kayaking is another popular option–On an island that’s not more than a mile or so wide and sixty miles long, there is a lot of water and a lot of exploring to do. With the abundance of amazingly unique wildlife in the Outer Banks and magnificent waterways for every skill level, you won’t regret bringing or renting a kayak or even taking one of the eco or historic kayak tours available here.
Some of the best surfing can be enjoyed here in the Outer Banks. There are many breaks along these barrier islands, but many of the best are around Cape Hatteras. Warm water and beautiful seascape make this a perfect place to catch some waves and sun.
The Outer Banks is a perfect place for sailing. With constant winds, a shallow sound and little boat traffic, the sailing conditions are ideal. Set off into the Pamlico Sound from Hatteras Island and see no other boats for hours at the time.
Parasailing is another exciting and popular option here, and the view is breath taking. You will lift up to 500 feet up in the air where you’ll have the ability see for miles over the barrier islands with a view of both the sound and the ocean.
The Outer Banks beaches are perfect for shelling and beachcombing. The best times to look for shells are after high tide and after a storm, especially in the morning before people begin gathering on the beach, and during the winter months. Check with the NC Aquarium about programs on shell collecting and educational field trips.
Most sections of the seashore do not have lifeguards, restrooms, or other services available. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, lifeguards are usually posted at Coquina Beach on Bodie Island, Cape Hatteras Beach near the old lighthouse site, and the Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach. Red warning flags are posted at beaches with lifeguards when swimming conditions are hazardous. Within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge (seven miles from Oregon Inlet) offers good bird watching and beaches for swimming and fishing.
All you need is a length of cord with suitable bait, chicken necks or fish heads do nicely, tied to one end. Throw the bait into the water, wait a few minutes then, pull on the line gently to see if you get a nibble. Other methods use circular crab nets and collapsible crab traps. Crabs can be caught in local sound waters from late spring into early fall, but the best time is May, June and July.
Some of the best fishing on the East Coast is found here on the Outer Banks. For the surfcaster, there are over 130 miles of accessible beach, and for those who enjoy pier fishing, there are two fishing piers on Hatteras Island: Avon and Rodanthe. If you don’t have your own equipment, many bait and tackle shops offer rentals. Headboat fishing is a great family activity. There are inshore, half-day charters for cobia, amberjack and king mackerel, among others, and for the more adventurous, there are offshore, full-day charters to the Gulf Stream where anglers can catch marlin, tuna, wahoo and dolphin. Featuring some of the nation’s best angling waters, the Outer Banks is a sport fisherman’s paradise.
Bicycling here is like nowhere else. With the surf, sun, sand, and space, you’ll find it’s some of the most amazing biking around. The beach is all public and open to everyone, with public change rooms at several regional beach access areas in the northern section. The Outer Banks and Hatteras Island should be on every bicyclist’s list of East Coast rides. You can ride 120 miles from Corolla and Duck at the north end to Hatteras and Ocracoke at the south end, with a relaxing 60-minute free ferry ride from Hatteras to Ocracoke to rest the legs. The Outer Banks is relatively flat, with the only hills being a few bridges. You’ll see yellow “Share the Road” signs all through Dare and Currituck Counties on NC 168, US 158, and NC 12. There is almost always a 5-15 mph wind. When the wind is from the east, it blows up some salt spray, so the bikes need a good bath after they leave the Outer Banks.
There’s nothing that quite compares to horseback riding on the beach or coastal hideaways. You can enjoy horseback riding here courtesy of local stables that welcome the public. Explore trails through the only maritime forest on the Outer Banks: Buxton Woods NC Coastal Reserve. Ride out past the sand dunes to the gorgeous beauty of the beach. Some trails go by the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and Cape Point. Miles of pristine beaches await you.
46860 NC Highway 12
Buxton, NC 27920
This is the place for summer fun. The 18-hole mini-golf course is nestled under shady oaks. Afterward a friendly round, cool down with the delicious frozen custard.
Frisco Mini Golf & Go Karts
50215 Trent Lake Lane
Frisco, NC 27936
Frisco Mini Golf & Go Karts offers something for everyone with its 18-hole miniature golf course, go karts, an air wet slide, dinosaur moon bounce and game room with pool tables, air hockey and video games. Also on site is a concession area with snacks like ice cream, nachos, hot dogs and drinks, as well as an outdoor deck with plenty of seating.
Geocaching is sweeping the nation, and there are plenty of caches right here on Hatteras Island! Geocaching is an engaging, family-friendly, treasure hunting activity that is perfect for all ages and gets you into nature on the hunt for fun. All you need is a GPS unit and computer access to get the coordinates for the caches hidden all over our country and even internationally. Caches are located throughout the villages in unique spots that may be out in plain sight or in completely unusual locations. Left behind by visitors from all over the world, geocaches are a great way to “meet” vacationers from all across the country who have caught on to this distinctive and interesting web trend. On your next Outer Beaches vacation and visit to Hatteras Island, add a little excitement and activity to your daily trips to the beach. Get into Geocaching and search for fun scattered along this North Carolina barrier island.