Hatteras Island

Hatteras Island, NC is part of the Outer Banks on North Carolina’s coastline. It is a beautiful, once-wild place, with history and culture wrapped around scenic waters and beaches. The first flight was taken in the Outer Banks and a whole colony was seemingly lost to time in Roanoke. Hatteras Island offers untamed nature, a quiet respite away from the rest of the Outer Banks.

Hatteras Island

Hatteras Island, NC comprises seven villages and two lighthouses. The towns and villages (Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras Village) all exist close together and in concert with the ocean’s ripples and waves. This stretch of coastline is part of the longest islands in the continental United States. It is not as popular as other areas, but beachgoers and nature lovers come here to explore and see a historic but scenic area for themselves. On Hatteras Island, NC there are no resorts, amusement parks, or famous boardwalks. Vacationers will enjoy miles of space to spread out, beaches with room to explore, and enough amenities to enjoy without feeling overwhelmed by choice. Stay in any number of accommodations or eat fresh food at a local spot near the beach. Enjoy the shoreline and wild landscape by biking, surfing, kayaking, or any number of activities available here and nearby in other towns on the Outer Banks. 

Hatteras Island

Hatteras Island, NC is a narrow and sparsely populated region of the Outer Banks. The island stretches vertically, away from the coast, which is only about a mile or so wide with some narrow and large sections. Flooding can be a problem in some parts. Hatteras Island is near the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Pamlico Sound to the west with plenty of dunes and water in between.

Hatteras Island Attractions

Hatteras Island, NC has tons of stuff to keep people busy who like nature, adventure, water sports, or just relaxing historic tours. Here are a few of the best attractions on Hatteras Island:

Bodie Island Lighthouse

Cape Hatteras National Seashore begins at Whalebone Junction or ‘Bodie,’ pronounced ‘body’ Island. Bodie Island has marshes and woods along with protected beaches along with a lighthouse. This is one of three that guards the seashore. Climb the lighthouse from the third Friday in April through Columbus Day in early October but they are self-guided.

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

look for this 13 mile sanctuary for birds, turtles, and other marine life just over the Oregon Inlet south from Nags Head. Meander the walking trails with observation platforms to get a better view. Stop in the visitor center for info on the park.


many beach houses have private access but there are access points in every village along with paths through dunes or residential access. Coquina Beach Day Use Area has parking, showers, and restrooms. The Salvo Day Use Area has picnic tables and a path to the beach through the dunes. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has campgrounds nearby with many ways to access the water. Lifeguards will be at Coquina Beach, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Beach and Frisco Beach from 9 to 5 pm. Observe precautions for water conditions.

Off Road Vehicles

Surfers and adventurers love to drive off road vehicles on the beaches in Outer Banks, where permitted. Some sections on Hatteras Island are permissible with a permit from the National Parks Service. There is a fee of $50 for a 10-day permit or $120  for a 1-year permit.

Horseback riding

ride a horse on the beach and experience the coastline in a new way. Horseback riding along the Outer Banks can be done with your own horse or by guided tour. Look into Equine Adventures, Hatteras Island Horseback, Lighthouse Horse Rides or Outer Banks Horseback for more information on trail rides.


enjoy the coastline by surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, and more in Hatteras Island. Real Watersports keeps a shop with kiteboards, surfboards, and more for watersports along with offering lessons for all ages. Try your hand at kiteboarding with your feet strapped to a board and get pulled across the water.


surfcasting, fly fishing, inshore or offshore fishing, and more are all part of the tradition on Hatteras Island. Keep the food you catch or eat some fish in a restaurant. Fish anywhere on the island but obtain a Coastal Recreational Fishing License first. Use Rodanthe Fishing Pier or Avon Fishing Pier for angling and getting some great trout, flounder, and more.

Kids Activities

When you bring kids to the island, you will find many ways to enjoy the shoreline and its natural beauty. Here are just a few of them:

Mini-Golf: Buxton and Frisco feature 18 holes for families to play with on-site concessions. There are also on-site arcades, pizza and more.

Go-Karts: check out Frisco with a seasonal go-kart track. The track borders a mini-golf course and small arcade for fun away from the beach.

Avon Arts: bring kids to try painting their own pottery at Studio 12. They host seasonal arts classes for making tiles or painting beach scenes. The towns of Avon and Rodanthe also have bead shops to drink and create jewelry. 

Museums: museums are great for families and individuals. Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station in Rodanthe, Frisco Native American Museum and the Graveyard of the Atlantic are great places for hands-on exhibits and interactive displays.

Try out the many tours, cruises, lessons, or camps available for families with kids to enjoy. Local nature places can support families in learning about fishing and crabbing or doing crafts and learning birdwatching. Some rangers can offer tours for kids and families who want to enjoy scouting for animals and learning about the history of Hatteras Island.

Shopping and Dining

For people who want to shop on the island, they won’t find outlet stores or chain boutiques. There are casual and nice stores to stop at. Grocery stores can supply food and other goods visitors and locals need. Hardware and Auto Parts stores can also be helpful for needed supplies. Shoppers can also look for apparel at boutiques that are casual or more beachy with t-shirts and flip flops. Gift and souvenir shops dot the island also with locally owned stores offering one-of-a-kind treasures. Buxton has a bookstore with unique reads, there are art galleries with local artists featured in various mediums, and thrift shops for bargain hunters. There is something for everyone to buy when visiting the shops in Hatteras Island.

Enjoy some great restaurants in seven villages all along Hatteras Island. Eat casual food, seafood, try steak, Italian or pizza and local cuisine all in one place. Visitors who want fresh catches of the day just have to inquire as to what’s been reeled in. The freshest fare is available every single day. A number of restaurants offer seasonal entertainment for visitors also. Check local establishments for schedules.

Hatteras Island F.A.Q.

Hatteras Island is located in the southern Outer Banks. The Atlantic Ocean borders it on the east and the west borders it around Pamlico Sound. Access the island north via NC Highway 12. From the south, take the Hatteras/Ocracoke ferry which is a free one-hour ferry that carries cars from the northern edge of Ocracoke Island.

There may be seasonal lifeguards during the day on certain beaches. Check out Old Lighthouse Beach and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The lifeguards are seasonal because they don’t usually patrol in quiet seasons in winter when fewer people are on the coastline. Visitors still need to be very cautious about swimming or being near the water regardless of whether or not they see lifeguards.

Vacation rentals make up a large percentage of places to stay. Rented weekly, they can suit one person up to large groups. The island has many motels and campgrounds also. Look at Waves, Rodanthe, and Salvo.

Hatteras Island is a great spot to pick up some shells. Deserted beaches and isolated areas make for great shelling. Popular spots include Hatteras Inlet, Frisco, and Hatteras beaches. “Shelly Island” is off the coast of Cape Point in Buxton with great chances to find beautiful ocean shells for your collection.