Located near both Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, the gorgeous Cape Hatteras National Seashore is one of the Outer Banks most scenic points of interest. The National Seashore stretches across 70 miles of shoreline, encompasses seven villages on Hatteras Island, and provides visitors with quiet, scenic beaches, as well as some of the prettiest natural drives on the East Coast. If you haven’t visited the Cape Hatteras National Seashore yet, it should be on your next Outer Banks vacation itinerary! Here’s why.
In addition to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, there are many opportunities for scenic ventures in the Outer Banks. For a complete list of the best things to do in the Outer Banks, be sure to download our free OBX Vacation Guide.
Top 5 Ways to Experience the Cape Hatteras National Seashore
1. The Beaches
Spending time on the sandy beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore is without a doubt a memorable experience. You can enjoy walking along the beach, sitting around a beach fire, flying kites in the warm summer breezes, picnicking, searching for shells, and sculpting sand into works of art.
You can even drive your car onto the beach! The Cape Hatteras National Seashore remains one of the last locales on the Eastern Seaboard where visitors can hop in the truck, take to the sand, and explore miles of open shoreline. For the rules and regulations for driving on the beach, you can check out the 4×4-driving guide.
For the most up-to-date information on pedestrian and vehicle beach access, as well as the daily weather forecast and rip current safety information, visit the Cape Hatteras National Seashore facebook page. You can find a map and address of the seashore here.
2. Enjoy Fascinating Bird Watching
Cape Hatteras National Seashore is perfect for bird watching as many species migrate through the area to take advantage of the coastal ecosystem. In fact, over 400 species have been spotted in and around the area! The population of birds here changes with the season, but you can refer to this checklist to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time.
3. Stargaze Under Stunning Skies
The night skies of Cape Hatteras are some of the darkest skies east of the Mississippi River. So, no matter the time of year, you can enjoy incredible stargazing all along Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
If camping isn’t your style, there are two historic lighthouses that offer full moon climbs, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse. These unique experiences provide a chance to look at the night sky from a different perspective. Expect to climb over 200 steps at both lighthouses. There are 257 steps, to be exact, at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It’s the tallest brick lighthouse in North America!
4. See the Ocracoke Ponies
Ocracoke Island, the southern island in Cape Hatteras National Seashore, is home to a herd of banker ponies. You can enjoy a beautiful view of Ocracoke and the herd of ponies from two viewing decks found at the Ocracoke Pony Pens. The Ocracoke ponies have a long and storied history that extends to today’s care of them. You won’t want to miss a look at these majestic creatures during your visit to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore!
If the Ocracoke ponies stirred your interest in wild horses on the Outer Banks, be sure to take a look at our blog on where to find wild horses in Corolla.
5. Go Hatteras Horseback Riding
Why not enjoy Cape Hatteras by horseback? Hatteras Island Horseback Riding offers unique and affordable horseback riding for all ages and skill levels. The rides take place 100% on the beach along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore! There are a few other riding opportunities on Hatteras Island, so take a look at where to enjoy Hatteras horseback riding if you’re interested.
Are You Looking for the Best Place to Stay in the OBX?
Rather than searching for Outer Banks hotels, stay at one of our Shoreline OBX vacation rental properties located just a short drive from the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. You can browse all of our vacation rentals in the Outer Banks, or take a look at the two properties we highlight below.
A lovely oceanfront home in South Nags Head, Presidential Boardwalk is just an 8-minute drive from the Cape Hatteras National Seashore! Enjoy a comfortable home with spacious rooms, ocean views, and a fabulous hot tub.
The home sleeps 22 in six large bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. It’s a great spot for large families or multiple families vacationing together! Presidential Boardwalk is pet-friendly, so feel free to bring your furry friend along!
Amazing Grace is another wonderful oceanfront home in South Nags Head. Although you’ll be just minutes from the National Seashore, you might have trouble leaving the home’s private pool and hot tub! In addition, you’ll love the game room with a pool table, full wet bar, basketball goals, and more.
Amazing Grace features seven bedrooms and six and a half bathrooms and can sleep up to 18 guests. This is a perfect home for a family vacation!
We look forward to hosting you on the perfect Outer Banks vacation. Be sure to select which beach gear you want delivered right to your home!