Lighthouses of North Carolina

                                                                         The Ocracoke Light

North Carolina’s lighthouses are famous and a very popular destination for tourists.  There are five lighthouses on the northern Outer Banks, listed from north to south:  Currituck Beach (in Corolla); Bodie Island (northern Hatteras area); Hatteras (southern Hatteras Island); Ocracoke (on Ocracoke Island and pictured above); Cape Lookout (the furthest south, and it is part of a national seashore park.  It is accessible only by private ferry).  These are all still operating.  We have visited all of them except Cape Lookout.  

Further south, at Cape Fear, there are four more, not all of which are still in operation.  Here is a link to a map showing the lighthouse locations:  Several of the lighthouses bear distinctive patterns called daymarks, that allow sailors to distinguish between the lighthouses and thus to determine their location.  For sailing at night, each light shines with a distinctive frequency and pattern, once again, enabling sailors to establish their position. 

The Currituck Beach Light is brick structure which is open to the public, so one can climb to the top.

The Bodie (pronounced ‘body’) Island light is also open to the public.  You can climb up a short way inside.  There is a gift shop in the large building, and the small keeper’s house is also open.  The lighthouse underwent restoration in 2010.

The Hatteras light is near the south end of Hatteras Island.   There is a visitors’ center and museum of the sea located on the grounds.  The lighthouse is open for climbing during the summer.  However, the climb is equivalent to twelve stories and there is a handrail on only one side, although there is two-way traffic on the stair.  The lighthouse was relocated in 1999-2000, due to beach erosion.

The light we have visited several times is the one at Ocracoke, even though it is not open to the public.  It is in a beautiful location and always worth a visit.  You never know what you will see there.  On our latest (2011) visit we encountered a nutria, enjoying a meal at the edge of the lawn.  The ferry ride to Ocracoke is always fun, and the island is the most unspoiled of the populated barrier islands.  It still retains much of its fishing village quaintness, and large portions of the island are unspoiled since they are part of the Hatteras Island National Seashore.

Lighthouses are an important part of our country’s maritime history, and are fun places to visit.

005 Susan & Harry at Ocracoke Lighthouse (7-16-08) - 2 copy.jpg

                                                    Our engagement picture, taken at Ocracoke Light

Originally posted July 30, 2011

© Susan L. Stone 2015