The warm salt air breeze in the air; white powder sand between your toes; pods of dolphins swimming twenty feet from the shore; pelicans diving for the catch of the day; the darkest skies on the east coast providing a full feature, all night star cinema; spending time with loved ones; and of course, a cold beer. We had a wonderful weekend in Cape Hatteras.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore is located just below Nags Head in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s a beautiful place to unwind and enjoy the unspoiled Carolina seashore. The National Park Service manages 70 miles of the barrier islands coastline, and even takes care of the Bodie Island Lighthouse. Chad’s mother was visiting Charlotte from the scorching hot desert of Phoenix, Arizona. She had never been camping before so we thought the Outer Banks would be the perfect place for her to experience camping for the first time. There is a campground called Oregon Inlet that you can setup camp for around $20. It’s a nice campground and well taken care of. There are clean bathrooms and pull handle showers available. The camping ground is setup just over the sand dunes, so you aren’t camping on the beach itself, but it’s a short trail walk to the beach on the other side.
The beach is lovely here. It’s unspoiled by high rise condos, resorts, and commercial life. You feel more of a connection with the environment and the scenery instantly puts you at ease. The first morning we made it out of the tent in time to catch sunrise. We were shocked by how many dolphins were swimming right off the shore. They say Oregon Inlet is one of the best fishing locations on the east coast, and the sea life was putting on a full show. We sat there all morning in awe of the fins easing in and out of the water, and watching the pelicans dive bombing into the sea for their breakfast.
A storm blew in the night before, we had to wake up and batten down the hatches of our tent, and unfortunately the winds must have blown in an army of jellyfish.
Interesting jellyfish facts:
- Jellies don’t have brains.
- Jellies can clone themselves.
- Some Jellies glow in the dark.
- If stung by a jellyfish, DO NOT put ice on it.
- If stung you should put vinegar on it.
A shot of the coast line. If you purchase an off road permit ($50) you can drive your vehicle onto the beach. It’s a win/win in our opinion since it’s fun to driving on the beach, and lets be honest, it’s nice not having to lug all of your beach gear down to the spot you pick. The National Park Service does monitor the beach area to ensure you had a permit. If you don’t they can write you a ticket. Permits are available at Bodie Island Lighthouse.
A long list of rare coastal birds use the grounds to nest and raise their young. It’s also a turtle nesting ground. Every year female sea turtles return to the beaches where they were hatched. The mission: to dig a little nursery into the sand that will be used to hatch the next generation of sea turtles. She comes onto the beach, digs a hole with her flippers, covers the nest, and returns to the ocean. A couple of months later, the nest comes to life as baby turtles struggle out of their shells, out of their nest, and race across the hazard filled beach by the cover of moonlight to their new ocean home.
Bodie Island Lighthouse is a short drive from the campground. We love that it is still fully functioning and lights up the treacherous waves of the Graveyard of the Atlantic.
Visitors are allowed to take the stairs to the top of the lighthouse but their is an admission fee. Tickets are for sale inside of the old care keeper’s house for $10. It’s quite the view looking up from the bottom.
A puddle view of the lighthouse.
Dolphins swimming down the coast. The pelicans keep a close eye on them, for the chance of swooping in on some free food.
If we only saw this, we wouldn’t have gotten in the water. It looks like a Jaws poster.
We had a great time and will definitely be back to spend some more time in the Outer Banks. If you are ever in the area, make some time to stop here and enjoy the scenery.