If you’re planning an Outer Banks Vacation, viewing the Outer Banks Lighthouses should be on your list. We even put together a map to make it easy for you!
The lighthouses located on North Carolina’s barrier islands, better known as the Outer Banks, have been beacons of light that have guided ships through the treacherous “Graveyard of the Atlantic” for over 150 years and somehow they’ve made it through the raging gales and hurricanes to welcome visitors.
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Today, you’ll find five lighthouses that sit along this 200-mile long stretch including the tallest lighthouse in the United States and second-oldest operating lighthouse in the nation.
Outer Banks Lighthouse Map
You can add this handy map to your phone and it will give you step by step directions to each of the lighthouses from Currituck in the north all the way to Ocracoke.
Visit Each of the Outer Banks Lighthouses
It’s best to spread out viewing the lighthouses over a couple of days when traveling from Currituck Beach Lighthouse to Ocracoke Lighthouse. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of things to do in the Outer Banks and you can discover for yourself what has delighted visitors to North Carolina’s Outer Banks and kept them coming back for years.
Currituck Beach Lighthouse
Completed in 1875, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse was the last brick and mortar lighthouse ever built in North Carolina. It’s unpainted red brick exterior served to distinguish it from other lighthouses along the coast.
Pre-Covid visitors were welcome to climb the tower to view the Currituck Sound, Atlantic Ocean and northern Outer Banks.
The lighthouse is located in Corolla. To reach the lighthouse, visitors should cross Currituck Sound via the Wright Memorial Bridge. Head north on NC 12, and the lighthouse is on the left. While in the Corolla area, visitors can rent jeeps to explore the beach on Cordova which is famous for the wild horses that roam the area.
Address: 1101 Corolla Village Road Corolla, NC 27927
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Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse
If you’re not careful, you’ll overlook this lighthouse. This structure isn’t highly visible and rather than being placed near the shoreline, you’ll find the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse tucked away on the waterfront of Downtown Manteo.
This lighthouse is also not the original lighthouse. The replica that stands in this location was constructed and dedicated in 2005 and modeled after the third lighthouse to stand in this location. That lighthouse was originally built in 1877, decommissioned in the 1950’s and was lost while moving it to private property. In 1999, the town of Manteo began plans to reconstruct the lighthouse for their centennial celebration but was held up due to funding and hurricanes, mainly Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
The lighthouse is managed by the North Carolina Maritime Museum who offer occasional classes. The interior welcomes visitors with local exhibits of maritime history.
Address: 104 Fernando St. Manteo, NC 27954
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Bodie Island Lighthouse
The round brick tower, completed in 1872, is painted with horizontal black and white bands, and topped with a black lantern. The attached 2-story keeper’s quarter is a visitor center, museum and gift shop.
Owned by the National Park Service since 2000, the Bodie Island Lighthouse is located on Bodie Island on NC 12 between Nags Head and Oregon Inlet. Both the lighthouse and the island are pronounced “body.”
This lighthouse still functions as an operational lighthouse. During non-Covid times visitors have the opportunity to climb the 200 steps to the top of the lighthouse which provides unparalleled views of Bodie Island, the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound.
While visiting the lighthouse, make sure to take a walk along the boardwalk which offers more amazing views.
Address: 8210 Bodie Island Lighthouse Nags Head, NC 27959
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Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The distinctive black and white spiral pattern makes Cape Hatteras not only one of the most famous lighthouses in the United States but also a widely-recognized building in North Carolina. At 150 ft., it is the tallest lighthouse in the United States and one of the tallest in the world. The 1870 lighthouse has an octagonal base of unpainted red brick and a lantern painted black.
The lighthouse has been recognized as a National Historic Landmark and is owned by the National Park Service. Prior to the pandemic, visitors could tour the Visitor Center and climb the 257 stairs to the top of the lighthouse.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse can be reached from NC 12 in the town of Buxton. The lighthouse was moved 2900 feet southwest in 1999 as part of a $12 million relocation and restoration project to escape beach erosion.
Address: 46379 Lighthouse Road Buxton, NC 27920
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The Ocracoke Lighthouse’s white body and black lantern stand on land also occupied by a 2-story brick keeper’s house which is now private property. Completed in 1823, the lighthouse is owned by the National Park Service and is the second oldest operating lighthouse in the United States.
The Ocracoke Lighthouse site is free to see. Keep in mind that parking at the site is extremely limited (it only fits about 4 vehicles). While the tower is closed to climbing, pre-Covid the base was open during the summer season when volunteers were available to man it.
Ocracoke Island Lighthouse is located in Ocracoke just off of NC 12 on Lighthouse Road. To reach Ocracoke Island, take one of the three state ferries that service the island.
Address: 360 Lighthouse Road Ocracoke, NC 27960
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