There are three visitor centers within Cape Hatteras National Seashore, one for each barrier island. Stop by a visitor center to learn about the ranger programs on offer, lighthouse climbing, local weather conditions, and the history and resources of the area.
Visitor Center Operating Hours
Bodie Island Visitor Center
Approximately six miles south of the seashore's northern entrance is the Bodie Island Visitor Center. This visitor center is located in the historic Bodie Island Lighthouse Double Keepers' Quarters at the end of a short park road off of NC Highway 12 across from Coquina Beach. The visitor center is a great place to get oriented and browse the park store.
Outside the visitor center, a path leads to the 156-foot Bodie Island Lighthouse, which is open for tours spring through autumn. Also nearby is a boardwalk that continues past the lighthouse to a wildlife observation deck on the edge of a freshwater pond where you can peacefully observe area waterfowl and wading birds.
Hatteras Island Visitor Center and Museum of the Sea
About 50 miles south of the seashore's north entrance is the Hatteras Island Visitor Center and Museum of the Sea in Buxton, NC. The visitor center offers orientation information and a park store. Just beyond the visitor center a pavilion for ranger programs and restroom facilities. Ranger programs are scheduled during spring, summer, and autumn months.
The Museum of the Sea is within the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Double Keepers' Quarters. The two-floor museum contains exhibits on Outer Banks history and natural history. A small audiovisual room provides video presentations, available upon request. Between the visitor center and the museum stands the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Ocracoke Island Discovery Center
Near the seashore's southern edge in Ocracoke Village is the Ocracoke Island Discovery Center, located at the end of NC Highway 12 where the road enters the ferry terminal. The Discovery Center offers trip planning information and a variety of educational exhibits. During the summer months, ranger programs are scheduled just outside in the cool shade.
From the Discovery Center, the Ocracoke Lighthouse is visible across Silver Lake. Also visible are the cistern from the previous naval base that occupied this spot and a family cemetery.
Last updated: August 3, 2023