Visiting Portsmouth Village

Wooden bridge leading to a church and houses on the right, and houses on the left. Trees and blue cloudy sky in the distance.
Road leading to the Methodist Church and multiple houses in the village.

NPS Photo/ S.Godin

What was once a bustling sea village now stands as a testament to times gone by. Exhibits on "lightering", community life, and survival in this village can be seen in the Theodore and Annie Salter House and Visitor Center, the School, the Post Office and General Store, and the U.S. Life-Saving Station. Volunteers staff these buildings from mid-April to late October.


History of Portsmouth Village

Portsmouth Village has gone through many changes from being a bustling sea village, to having an active Life Saving Station, to facing horrendous storms. Today, many of the houses and buildings remain, are open seasonally for visitors to explore. If you are unable to visit the island, you can explore the village and learn the history of Portsmouth below. 

Things to Remember

  • Portsmouth Village is only accessible by boat. A list of the authorized ferry services can be found on the Ferry page.
  • Public facilities are limited. Restrooms can be found in the Theodore and Annie Salter House. There are compost toilets on the road past the Life Saving Station.
  • The buildings are not wheel chair accessible. Village trails can be difficult to walk due to standing water and sandy soils.
  • Be sure to bring insect repellent, drinking water, food, sunscreen, adequate clothing, a hat, and good walking shoes. Be prepared for the notorious mosquitoes and unpredictable weather.
  • Portsmouth Village is a protected historic and archeological site
  • Camping is allowed on the open beach, but not in the historic district. More information is available on the Camping page.
  • Driving is not permitted within the historic district.
    More information is available on the Beach Driving page.
  • Pets must remain on a six-foot leash at all times in the village as well as the rest of the national seashore.
    More information is available on the Pets page.
  • To protect the historic artifacts, metal detectors are not allowed within the national seashore.
  • Damaging, destroying, excavating, and removing of historic ruins, artifacts, or objects of antiquity on public lands is strictly prohibited

Last updated: April 22, 2024

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131 Charles St
Harkers Island, NC 28531


252 728-2250

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