35 Best Things to Do in Cape Hatteras (Tours, Fun, Museums, Food & More)

Cape Hatteras is a popular island located on the outer banks of North Carolina.

Cape Hatteras Light Station
Image Source: NPS website

It is one of the best places in NC with lots of fun things to do with the entire family as it is dotted with the best beaches, best restaurants, nature trails and lots of water activities as well as outdoor activities.

#1 Climb Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

46379 Lighthouse Rd, Buxton, NC 27920 | Website

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse made of brick in the United States.  It is the perfect place to enjoy stunning panoramic views of the beach. 

It’s also one of the most popular attractions along North Carolina’s Outer Banks. You can even climb to the top of the lighthouse for amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean and the other islands.

Cape Hatteras Light Station
Image Source: NPS website

And if you’d like a little history on the lighthouse, in 1842, Congress passed legislation authorizing the building of a federal lighthouse on Hatteras Island.

Construction began in 1844 and took nearly 10 years to complete. In 1855, the original light was replaced with a 13th-order Fresnel lens, making it the second-largest Fresnel lens in the world.

Today, there are three active lights located on Hatteras Island, each housing a fourth-order Fresnel lens.

They are operated by the Coast Guard and maintained by the National Park Service. 

#2 Visit the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

59200 Museum Drive, Hatteras, NC 279 | Website

The Graveyard of the North Carolina Maritime Museum is a place where will the whole family enjoy an interesting program.

Image Source: The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum website

They even have a printable scavenger hunt for the kids to use while you’re there. exhibits are different every year.

#3 Hatteras Island Ocean Center

57204 NC Highway 12, Hatteras, NC 27943| Website

Hatteras Island Ocean Center is a place for the whole family. They offer Kayak tours, Turtle Patrol in which visitors discover turtles and their life circle, Marsh Madness, Birding the Barrier Island, and many more educational and fun tours.

kayaking at North Carolina
Image Source: Hatteras Island Ocean Center website

Students, volunteers, local organizations, and schools are welcome at Hatteras Island Ocean Center.

#4 Day Trip to Ocracoke Island

Hatteras, North Carolina | Website

Ocracoke Island Attractions are

It’s such a fun experience to take the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry from one island to the next (the only way to get from one island to the other).

Image Source: Ocracoke Island website

#5 Observe the Wildlife at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

Hatteras | Website

A refuge is an incredible place for bird watching and even if you’re not a bird watcher, you’ll still enjoy seeing some of the unique birds.

#6 Frisco Mini Golf & Go-Karts

50212 Trent Lake Lane and N.C. Highway 12, Frisco | Website

Frisco Mini Golf & Go-Karts is a recreational activity center. Offer for the whole family is a mini-golf course with waterfalls fish ponds, two go-kart tracks for adult drivers, and bumper cars for teenagers.

Kids can drive with their parents.  

#7 Kayaking in Hatteras

Website

Kayaking in Hatteras in the Pamlico Sound is fun for the whole family. Some of the launch sites are Oregon Inlet Kayak Launch, Pea Island Launch, Salvo Sound Access, and Haulover Sound Access.

Those are the easiest launches. It is possible to rent a kayak locally.

Pamlico Sound is a pleasant place. Be careful of strong currents and waves. Dress adequately. 

#8 Browse the Pea Island Art Gallery

27766 Highway 12, Salvo, NC 27972 | Website

The Pea Island Art Gallery is permanently closing on October 28th at 5 PM. 

#9 Diamond Shoals Restaurant and Seafood Market

46843 NC Hwy 12, Buxton, NC 27953 | Website

Everybody who visits Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, NC will be one mile from this restaurant.

They are well known as a restaurant with fantastic food. Their number one dish is clam Chowder.

For people, sushi lovers there is also a sushi bar. This restaurant serves only fresh fish from Hatteras Island.

Their seafood market is offered fresh fish every day. Fresh and tasty seafood is ready daily.

#10 Hatteras Island Beach Horseback Riding

59200 Museum Dr. Hatteras NC, 27943 | Website

Hatteras Island Beach Horseback Riding is great fun for all people who enjoy horseback riding. Beautiful Hatteras Beach is an area where is possible to have a fantastic time riding with a group or family.

Image Source: Hatteras island website

The weight limit is 200lb. Helmets are recommended. Two horses are on the beach and time on the beach with these beautiful creatures will be an experience for life.

#11 Frisco Native American Museum

53536 North Carolina Hwy 12, Frisco, NC 27936 | Website

Frisco Native American Museum offers insights into the Native American way of life. They often organize classes and have guest speakers.

Some of the classes are:

  • Learn Pine Needle Basketry,
  • Native Savory Recipes,
  • Make a Dreamcatcher,
  • Native Sweet Recipes, and
  • Native Small Meal Recipes.
  • This Museum was created to preserve Native American artifacts, art, and culture. The Redbubble store is offering interesting items.

#12 Climb a Sand Dune

Hatteras, NC | Website

Sand Dunes at Hatteras, NC, are formed by wind, sea, and rain. This is a fantastic attraction. To prevent erosion stabilizing plants are positioned all around the area.

Visitors can climb Jockey’s Ridge, sand mountain, dunes of Shackleford Banks, and father south of Sunset Beach. Amazing sites are waiting for the whole family. 

#13 Explore Buxton Woods Trail

6375 Lighthouse Rd, Buxton, NC 27920 | Website

Buxton Wood Trail is an easy trail 1.3 km long loop near Buxton, NC. The difference between the bottom and the top is 9m. It takes 15 minutes to finish this easy hiking tour. This is a whole family activity.

Image Source: All Trails website

The trail starts ts at the picnic area thru Buxton Woods and goes back.

On this trail, visitors can find

  • saltwater,
  • freshwater ponds,
  • pines and oaks,
  • maritime forest,
  • red-tailed foxes,
  • raccoons,
  • river otters,
  • mink,
  • deer,
  • squirrels,
  • forest-dwelling, and
  • marsh-dwelling.

    Kids enjoy this trail. Dogs are allowed to walk but only on leash. 

#14 Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

59200 Museum Drive, Hatteras, NC 279 | Website

The Graveyard of the North Carolina Maritime Museum is a place where will the whole family enjoy an interesting program.

They even have a printable scavenger hunt for the kids to use while you’re there. exhibits are different every year.

#15 Go Kiteboarding (or Watch Others Kiteboard)

Website

In the Kiteboard club Hatteras, it is possible to take kiteboard lessons. They offer accommodation, kite camps, and oil board lessons.

Kite Club Hatteras
Image Source: Kite Club Hatteras website

It is great fun to kiteboard. Some people like to watch kites and others like to experience real kiteboarding. At Hatteras is possible. For people who like to learn that, it is possible after only two days of learning to go kiteboard.

#16 Orange Blossom Bakery

47206 Highway 12, Buxton, NC | Website

Orange Blossom Bakery offers its famous delicious Uglies. They have apple ugly, Chocolate Covered Ugly.

Donuts are something that everybody likes, but donuts at Orange Blossom Bakery are best.

They are making

  • Donath Holes,
  • Glazed,
  • Single Dip, or Double Dip.
  • Pastries and Muffins at Orange Blossom Bakery are fantastic.
  • Apple turnover,
  • Walnut Sticky Bun,
  • Cinnamon Roll,
  • Rum Raisin Cinnamon Roll,
  • Cinnamon Twist,
  • Cheese Danish, and
  • Assorted Muffins are specials that are imperative for all visitors to try. 

#17 Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve

Website

Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve is on the Southern Outer Bank on Hatteras Island. This is the area of the Dedicated Nature Preserve.

The largest remains of the Maritime Evergreen Forest on the Atlantic coast are on Hatteras Island.

Hatteras Island visitors and citizens are drinking water from Buxton Woods. There are dunes.

The views from the dunes are stunning. This forest contains dwarf palmetto.

#18 Drive an Off-Road Vehicle on the Beach

Website

Drive an Off-Road Vehicle on the Beach is possible in off-road vehicles. Seashore ocean beaches and sound side waters are areas where off-road vehicles drive.

Off-road maps are important for all drivers. Regulations are important to follow during this activity. Licensing and safety rules are a must to follow. 

#19 Go Diving 

Hatteras, NC. | Website

For all visitors to Hatteras, NC, diving is not to be missed. The Atlantic Ocean and Cape Hatteras are unique experiences Diamond Shoals are visible in the NASA photo shows. Golf Stream brings warm water from the south, and Labrador Stream brings cold water from the north.

This is the reason for the diversity of life in the sea surrounding Hatteras Iceland. Divers can find Giant Manta Rays, Sharks, Sea Turtles, Dolphins, and many more different tropical creatures.

#20 Take a Yoga Class

Frisco, Hatteras, NC. | Website

Hatteras Yoga offers a unique experience of Yoga on this beautiful island where the Atlantic Ocean and warm Golf Stream meet the cold Labrador Stream. Relax and have a Yoga Class in the town of Frisco in the southern Outer Banks. 

#21 Visit the Pamlico Sound

The Outer Banks, Hatteras, NC. | Website

The Pamlico Sound is located from the borders of Manteo and the Dare County Mainland to Portsmouth Island and the Cape Lookout National Seashore, on the whole, Outer Banks.

Visitors of Hatteras island have a great view of the Pamlico Sound from the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge and from NC Highway 12.

Image Source: Pamlico Sound website

This is an area fantastic for kiting, windsurfing, hang gliding, kayaking, paddle boarding, parasailing, and, more different watersports. 

#22 Hatteras Island Visitor Center

46375 Lighthouse Rd, Buxton, NC 27920 | Website

Hatteras Island Visitor Center is one of three visitor centers on Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This center offers information about ranger programs, lighthouse climbing, local weather conditions, history of Hatteras island.

This center is open from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm and 10:15 pm to 5 pm from mid-April to October. Check working hours before going to the visitor center.

#23 Go Fishing

Hatteras, NC. | Website

Fishing is one of the main things to do in Cape Hatteras. And you have a lot of fishing options to choose from like surf fishing, deep sea fishing, taking a fishing charter, or even participating in one of the local fishing tournaments depending on when you visit.

Image Source: NPS website

Underwater photography taken there are amazing.  Diving Hatteras shipwrecks will be a unique experience for people who loves to take underwater photos, spearfishing, and enjoy the underwater life.

#24 Go Windsurfing at The Canadian Hole

Hatteras, NC. | Website

The Canadian Hole is spot on the outer banks of Hatteras Island. This is the most popular spot for windsurfing. Today official name of this spot is the day-used area, but it is well known as The Canadian Hole.

The best time for windsurfing in this area is spring and fall. On the south is a spot popular for kiters. The Canadian whole is well equipped with parking, toilets, and changing rooms. 

#25 Go Camping

24798 NC HWY 12, Rodanthe, NC  27968 | Website

Camp Hatteras is on the Outer Banks, 24 miles South of Nags Head, where is Lighthouse, the Wright Brothers Memorial, and Blackbeard the Pirate.

Visitors can be accommodated on the Oceanfront side or the Soundfront side.

The campground offers Tent Sites and Park Model Rentals. The campground offers accommodation for groups and single-family visitors.

The dog park is available to people with dogs.

#26 Take a Hang Gliding Lesson At Kitty Hawk Kites

58848 Hatteras Landing, Hatteras, NC, 27943 | Website

For all visitors to Hatteras Island, Hang Gliding could be great fun. It is possible to learn Hang Gliding on Island.

The Outer Banks is an area with a constant wind just strong enough for hang gliding. Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head is the best spot for this activity.

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Dunes are from 80ft to 100 ft and hang gliders are launched from the top of the dunes. Views of the Roanoke Sound are spectacular.

To learn to glide is enough for one lesson of 3 hours. Experienced teachers will help every visitor to learn to hang glide. 

#27 Go Horseback Riding on the Beach

59200 Museum Dr. Hatteras NC, 27943 | Website

Hatteras Island Beach Horseback Riding is great fun for all people who enjoy horseback riding. Beautiful Hatteras Beach is an area where is possible to have a fantastic time riding with a group or family.

The weight limit is 200lb. Helmets are recommended. Two horses are on the beach and time on the beach with these beautiful creatures will be an experience for life.

#28 Visit an Escape Room with a Lighthouse Theme

Website

Escape Room with Lighthouse Theme is a new attraction on Hatteras island. For all visitors seeking fun and love to solve puzzles and mysteries, this is the right place. Groups of 2 to 6 people can take this adventure.

An escape room is a great adventure for visitors but kids under 5 are not allowed to enter. 

#29 Visit the Hatteras Island Toy Store

46928 North Carolina Hwy 12, Buxton, NC 27920 | Website

The Hatteras Island Toy Store is the only toy store on the island. We visit every time we come because it’s such a cute and unique toy store. They even have chocolate (which is amazingly delicious by the way) and kids can pick up candy by the pound.

#30 Enjoy Some Delicious Ice Cream or Custard

Hatteras, NC.

If you’re in the mood for something sweet, the island has several amazing ice cream shops. Try some of our favorites like Happy Belly Ice Cream, Fatts Treats & Tours, or Uncle Eddy’s Homemade Custard. 

#31 Visit a Salt Marsh

Hatteras Island, NC. | Website

Hatteras Village Park is a salt marsh with a nice wooden trail over it so it’s a nice, easy, and relaxing place to visit. This is also a great park for seeing the island’s wildlife.

#32 Coffee, Ice Cream & Jewelry Making

47039 Buxton Back Rd, Buxton, NC 27953 | Website

Beads & Grinds is a favorite place of all Hatteras visitors. Working hours are from 7 am to 5 pm every day.

Beads & Grinds
Image Source: Beads & Grinds website

Don’t miss roasted Cape Hatteras coffee. Visitors are offered cappuccinos, iced lattes, and lemonade. Also, Beads and Grinds offer custom handmade jewelry, fine beads, and local artwork.

#33 Eat at The Quarterdeck Restaurant

54214 North Carolina Hwy 12, Frisco, NC 27936 | Website

The Quarterdeck is a great restaurant for the whole family. They have excellent southern fried chicken, slaw, and key lime pie, plus plenty of seafood options like crab, scallops, crab cake, oysters, and more.

The kids are entertained here and enjoy the food here. What’s nice is this restaurant is more of a hidden gem for locals than it is for tourists. So shh, don’t tell anyone!

#34 Visit the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site

23645 North Carolina Hwy 12, Rodanthe, NC 27968 | Website

Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site is a museum and site located in the Village of Rodanthe on the Outer Banks.

Image Source: Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station website

Old Life Station is a place where visitors can find artifacts and information on how a group of brave men and members of Life-Saving Service operate on saving people’s lives. 

#35 Take a Tour: Shelling, Shark Teeth, Dolphins & More

Family Water Adventures offers some really neat experiences in Cape Hatteras.

While you can do the regular tours like fishing, paddle boarding, and snorkeling, you can also do tours like:

What else could you do on Hatteras Island, North Carolina? Kayaking (yes, you read that right), Shelling, Looking for Shark Teeth, Clamming, Hermit Crabs, and more.

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Michaela Lee

Michaela lives in Northern Virginia and is a mom of 2 young kids. She enjoys writing, reading and going new places with her family.

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