Cape Hatteras National Seashore


Stretched over 70 miles of barrier islands, Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a fascinating combination of natural and cultural resources, and provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities. A haven for recreation and reflection, these islands are constantly changing by tide, storm, current, and wind. The plants, wildlife and people who live here adapt continually. You see it in the daily lives and hear it in the telling of their stories. And there are many story places - sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime woods - come explore them all! The park's fishing and surfing are considered the best on the east coast. Swimming, crabbing, surf fishing, surfing, shell collecting, bird and wildlife watching, sightseeing - Cape Hatteras has this and more. By foot, bicycle or vehicle, explore the park and create lasting memories for yourself and your family to be treasured in years to come. These dynamic barrier islands and their diverse habitats offer many exceptional experiences. Once dubbed the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" for its treacherous currents, shoals, and storms, Cape Hatteras has a wealth of history relating to shipwrecks, lighthouses, and the U.S. Lifesaving Service. These dynamic islands provide a variety of habitats and are a valuable wintering area for migrating waterfowl.


Seasonality / Weather

Hatteras weather is notoriously unpredictable and can change quickly. The exposed nature of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse (open the third Friday in April through Columbus Day in October), and especially the balcony, precludes the safe use of the structure in certain conditions. Therefore, to keep visitors and staff safe, the lighthouse may close due to the following weather conditions: thunderstorms, high winds, rain, high heat, extreme cold, tornados or waterspouts, and hurricanes.



There are three major accesses to NC Highway 12, which is the only major route through the park. From the north, US Highway 158 accesses the Outer Banks at Kitty Hawk, and then intersects NC Highway 12 at the park's northern entrance below Nags Head, NC. From the west U.S. Highway 64-264 comes over Roanoke Island, and intersects NC Highway 12 at the park's northern entrance. NC Highway 12 may be used from the south (ferry transportation and reservations required; call 1-800-BY FERRY) from Morehead City/Beaufort NC area.


The Norfolk, VA (ORF) Airport is 100 miles distance. Raleigh-Durham, NC (RDU) Airport is 200 miles distance.