North Carolina Beaches

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Buxton, North Carolina

The beauty and serenity of the beaches of North Carolina, whether they are west coast or east coast shorelines, are known worldwide.  The North Carolina Beaches create a special character to the beaches both on land side and on the ocean side

North Carolina Beaches
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The waters off North Carolina have been the scene of so many shipwrecks that it is called The Graveyard of the Atlantic. For this reason, North Carolina has many lighthouses and light towers along its coastline and on the Outer Banks as well.

These low lying islands echoing the coast of North Carolina are the site of most of the beaches in the state.  In the northern section of the Outer Banks, the waters are too wide to make arrival by automobile easy to arrange.  In the south, the sound is more easily crossed by roads, bridges and causeways.

The mainland coastline consists of an astonishing number of marshlands, dunes, hills, bayous and forests.  This variety is what makes the beaches of North Carolina so interesting to visit.  Certainly the history of much of North Carolina is tied closely with many of the major historical events of America.  The Fort Raleigh Historical site commemorates the location of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.  The Wright brothers made their first history shattering flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  America’s largest natural sand dune is protected in the northern part of the state.

Most of the Atlantic edge of the barrier islands is part of either the Cape Hatteras or the Cape Lookout National Seashore.  These protected areas preserve more than one-half of the North Carolina beaches for the public.  In addition to the National Seashore beaches, no less than seven wildlife refuges in North Carolina protect additional land for the use and enjoyment of the public.

Beach access in North Carolina is regulated by law, although this is a constant source of strife between members of the public attempting to gain access to public beaches and the landowners who fight to keep trespassers from crossing private land.  The State of North Carolina has taken a proactive role, aided by the work of the Corps or Engineers in repairing and renovating shorelines.

The Outer Banks islands where the most awe inspiring stretches of sand and water occur are made up of the islands of Bodie Island, Hatteras Island, Ocracoke Island and Roanoke Island.

Bodie Island has several points of interest, including the Bodie Lighthouse available for tours.  It’s still a working lighthouse

Hatteras Island is one of the longest in the United States, measuring 42 miles, and contains most of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Roanoke Island is best known as the birthplace of Virginia Dare, the first child born of English parents in the New World.  Fort Raleigh Historical Site commemorates this area.

Ocracoke Island is the southernmost of the inhabited Outer Banks Islands, but is only accessible by ferry or air.  Still, hundreds of visitors arrive each summer to visit the lighthouse, enjoy the beaches or shop at the local businesses.  Fewer than 800 permanent residents live on the island and it is mostly idle during the winter months.