Cape Hatteras Beach
Cape Hatteras is part of the Outer Banks, a group of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina that separate and protect the mainland from the Atlantic Ocean. These islands are well known for their beautiful white sand beaches which seemingly stretch forever along the Atlantic coast. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a 70 mile section of the Outer Banks running from Bodie Island to Ocracoke Island
The Cape Hatteras coast is actually divided into a number of long sandy beaches. You will find places to park by most of these beaches, and the majority of them are free. There are also bathrooms and showers near the parking.
The most popular beaches along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore are Buxton Beach (Old Lighthouse Beach) and Ocracoke Beach. Both have seasonal lifeguard services and Buxton in particular is great for surfing with the famous “S-Curves” break found here. Other beaches worth a look include Salvo Day which is set on the sheltered, sound-side of the island meaning the water is always calm here.
Whichever beach you choose there is plenty to do. You can walk on the beach for miles or just sit under an umbrella and enjoy the breeze. This is a great place for collecting seashells, fishing, hiking and any number of watersports.
Cape Hatteras is internationally reknown for its diving. This is to a large extent due to the number of shipwrecks off the coast here. Known as “The Graveyard of the Atlantic”. Over the years the treacherous waters here have claimed more than 600 ships. These now provide fantastic dive sites and play host to a range of exciting sea life including manta rays, dolphins, various sharks, sea turtles and even some tropical species.
It is possible to drive an off road vehicle onto the beach, but you must have a permit. If you do want to try driving on the beach your vehicle must be four-wheel drive. Also there are only certain stretches where this is allowed along with some restrictions depending on the time of year. These have recently been tightened up in an effort to protect the island’s important wildlife.
If you do visit the Outer Banks it is hard to miss the iconic lighthouse known as the Cape Hatteras Light. Standing at 210 feet, this candy-striped tower dates back to 1870. In 1999 the whole structure was physically moved nearly 3,000 feet inland after erosion threatened the original site.
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