Roanoke Island in Outer Banks, NC  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Roanoke Island, NC
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Outer Banks Area Features

Hatteras Island, NC

Across the Oregon Inlet from south Nags Head is Hatteras Island. Known for great fishing and clean beaches, Hatteras consistently attracts vacationers who are looking for a laid-back yet entertaining atmosphere on the water. The island encapsulates 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. 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.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Beaches are the biggest draw to the Outer Banks, and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is one of amazing natural splendor. 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. It’s recommended that some time is spent in this gem of a park to appreciate all that it has to offer.

Fish Along 50 Miles of Shoreline

Part of the reason the coast of Hatteras Island is so attractive to fishermen is that the Gulf Stream lies only 15 miles off shore. The waters of this natural phenomenon are home to many species of fish that anglers love to catch. Few places have fishing as great as that which can be found off of these local shores. Hatteras is nationally renowned as a destination for fishermen 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 spot on a fishing boat. 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 your catch!

Graveyard of the Atlantic

Farther out in the ocean, 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 the museum as one of the top places to go while on the island.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Perhaps the most iconic sight in this region is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Completed in 1870, this 210’ structure is the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States and one of the most famous in the world. Its swirling black and white stripes extend skyward to reach the magnificent Fresnel lens. This light sends a beacon 20 miles out to sea—giving a warning to all mariners of the perilous Diamond Shoals that lurk just off the coast of Hatteras Island. Interestingly, almost 20 years ago, it too needed to be protected. In 1999, the lighthouse and its adjoining structures made headlines when they were successfully relocated nearly 3,000 feet inland to safeguard them from the encroaching sea. Visitors can still climb the lighthouse most months of the year, but keep in mind that children must be more than 42 inches tall.

To find out more about Hatteras Island, be sure to check out Sunny Day's Guide to Hatteras & Ocracoke.

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