Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Outer Banks

Extending some 70 miles from south of Nags Head to the south end of Ocracoke Island, this fragile necklace of islands remains blissfully free from overdevelopment. Natural attractions include local and migratory waterbirds, marshes, woodlands, dunes and miles of empty beaches; historic lighthouses such as those on Cape Hatteras, Bodie Island and Ocracoke are also part of the park.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Outer Banks attractions

1. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

0.17 MILES

At 193ft (or 198ft to the lighting rod), this striking black-and-white-striped edifice is one of North Carolina's most iconic images. The first version of…

2. Frisco Native America Museum

5.51 MILES

Showcasing historic artifacts about the original inhabitants of the Outer Banks. Collectors' items come from all over the USA and include everything from…

3. Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

10.39 MILES

Exhibits about shipwrecks, piracy and salvaged cargo are highlights at this maritime museum at the end of the road. There have been more than 2000…

4. Ocracoke Pony Pen

20.59 MILES

From the National Park Service's observation deck, you can catch views of Ocracoke's formerly 'wild' ponies, which have been penned in here since the late…

5. Ocracoke Beach

25.94 MILES

Dolphins are commonly spotted on Ocracoke's gorgeous, undeveloped 16-mile stretch of sandy beach. Swimmers should be aware of rip currents. Find parking…

6. David Williams House Museum

27.37 MILES

Built at the turn of the 20th century, this was the home of Captain David Williams and his family and is a good example of how those in Ocracoke lived 100…

7. Ocracoke Lighthouse

27.62 MILES

Built in 1823, this is the oldest lighthouse still operating in North Carolina, though it cannot be climbed. The walls are 5ft thick and the non-rotating…