A place to engage your senses

The sound of ocean waves, the starry night sky, or the calm of the salt marshes, you can experience it all. Shaped by the forces of water, wind, and storms these islands are ever changing. The plants, wildlife, and people who live here adapt continually. Whether you are enjoying the beach, kayaking the sound, or climbing the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse there is something for everyone to explore!

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse at Dawn

Climbing the Lighthouses

From the third Friday in April through Columbus Day, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse are open for climbing.

Two least terns on the seashore

Nesting Shorebirds on the Seashore

Each summer, coastal birds find Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches the ideal place to find mates, nest, and raise their young.

A loggerhead sea turtle makes her way back to the ocean after nesting

Sea Turtles on the Seashore

Sea turtles are summertime visitors to Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches. For public nest excavations, call 252–475–9629.

Visitors enjoying the beach after using their vehicle to get out onto the beach.

Off-Road Vehicles

Off-road vehicle use is allowed in certain areas of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, for both sound and ocean access.

Tents and grill at campsites near the dunes.

Camping Near the Ocean

Four campgrounds are located across Cape Hatteras National Seashore, providing an immersive experience of the barrier islands.

Visitors swimming and playing in the surf of the Atlantic Ocean.

Swimming in the Ocean

The ocean is a wonderful place to swim—if you are careful. Know what to expect before you go in the water.

A brown horse, Sacajawea, standing in the grassy, fenced-in pony pasture.

Ocracoke Ponies

Some of the most beloved residents of Ocracoke Island—with ancestors going back to the 1730s—are now cared for by the National Park Service.

A seal rests on the beach down on Ocracoke Island.

Marine Mammals

Please call the Cape Hatteras Stranding Hotline at 252–216–6892 to report any marine mammal sightings—dolphins, whales, and seals.

The Milky Way visible at Bodie Island Lighthouse (©James Jenkins)

Night Sky

Cape Hatteras National Seashore has some of the darkest skies east of the Mississippi River—come wish upon a star!

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Cape Hatteras National Seashore
1401 National Park Drive

Manteo, NC 27954


(252) 475-9000
For general information or inquiries, please contact us via this phone number.

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