Cape Hatteras is located at the edge of the Outer Banks along North Carolina’s eastern shoreline. This bend in Hatteras Island’s meandering shoreline is lined by shallow sand bars and somewhat turbulent waters where the Gulf Stream meets the northern currents. Hatteras Island is part of a string of barrier islands that together make up the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This outdoor wonderland is one of the best places around for surfing, swimming, and soaking up the sun. The Cape Hatteras beaches are beautiful places to take a beach vacation as well and can be found in several communities here. The pictures of the Outer Banks from this area are simply stunning.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
This scenic unit of the National Park service stretches some 75 miles from the Ocracoke Inlet to South Nags Head Island. In total, this land is a nature reserve, recreational park, beach, and so much more. Many people come here to spend time at the beach ready to go for a swim or a stroll along the shore. Park ranger tours and visitor centers help preserve and share the unique history of this scenic area. Several campgrounds are spread throughout the park, so you can spend the night under the stars and close to the beach. Sprinkled along the national park, you’ll find several towns and islands with everything you need to turn a visit to the beach into a full vacation along Cape Hatteras.
This community on northern tip of Hatteras Island was the star of a Nicholas Sparks novel and a movie with Diane Lane and Richard Gere. Along with neighbors Waves and Salvo, Rodanthe is a scenic location for a quiet hideaway and home to some of the prettiest North Carolina beaches. The white-sand beaches are clean and wide, good for a stroll or swimming in the surf. These Hatteras beaches are popular places for kiteboarding and kayaking—local outfitters and resorts provide visitors with equipment and guides for all types of beach adventures.
Other Hatteras beaches rim the long barrier island, including in the community of Buxton. Once called the Cape, Buxton is the home of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The National Park Service leads tours of this black-and-white lighthouse that has become the symbol of the Carolina shore. It’s also an extremely popular spot for surf fishing, thanks to the sand bar that stretches farther out into the Atlantic Ocean than any other point on the Outer Banks. Depending on the tides and conditions, you might have the chance to see shipwrecks. This stretch of North Carolina beaches has gained the nickname of the Graveyard of the Atlantic for good reason.
Another one of the Cape Hatteras beaches that is popular with anglers, Avon is nestled on the western edge of the island, just north of Buxton. A long fishing pier reaches out into the sound, providing access to some great game fishing, especially the red drum. Kiteboarders also love these Hatteras beaches, while windsurfers glide along the waters of the Pamlico Sound.
Encompassed entirely by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, tiny Ocracoke Island is as scenic as it is welcoming. Just a short ferry ride away from Hatteras Island, this island lies at the southernmost point of the Outer Banks. Its beaches are clean and quiet, perfect for swimming and strolling. Some are watched over by lifeguards, while others are unguarded. These beaches also offer their share of outdoor recreation, including kayaking and parasailing.