Everything You Need To Know About The Outer Banks Lighthouses

08/16/2023 | by Joseph Mitchell | Outer Banks Attractions and Activities Outer Banks Outdoor Recreation

Explore the OBX lighthouses and learn about their history

When it comes to amazing and inspiring vacation destinations, there is a seemingly endless list of reasons to pack your bags and enjoy a getaway to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. From the stunning landscapes and incredible wildlife to the great dining, shopping, gallery hopping, and exploring what’s available to pursue, it’s a place where it’s simple to customize your stay according to style. It’s also a destination where those with a passion for maritime culture and rich history can find the best of both waiting to be discovered. Oftentimes, they’re most readily accessible in the form of historic lighthouses that dot the shoreline. The following are a few across the Outer Banks that you’re going to want to set aside time to encounter for yourself the next time you’re here.

For more ways to explore the Outer Banks during your trip, be sure to download our complimentary Vacation Guide!

Ocracoke Island Lighthouse

ocracoke-lighthouseStanding just 65 feet tall, the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse is a unique landmark to visit thanks to its title as the second oldest lighthouse in the U.S. and North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse in operation. It’s a popular site thanks to its charming stature, rich history, and a beacon that illuminates 14 miles out into the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The Ocracoke Island Lighthouse dates back to construction in 1822 with an opening date in 1823. While the Forth Order Lens has since been replaced, the lighthouse remains as it was at the time of its creation. It was automated in the early 1900s and continued to successfully assist mariners in navigating a tricky Ocracoke Inlet. Today, it’s a must-see stop in the Outer Banks. While the lighthouse is not open to climbers, it’s a wonderful photo opportunity that you’ll certainly want to take advantage of while you’re here. Bringing a bike along for the journey is highly recommended as the area around the lighthouse is packed with great trails to explore that offer up new views on the lighthouse itself.

Currituck Beach Lighthouse

Situated in the heart of Corolla, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse is easy to find thanks to its prime location near the historic Whalehead Club. These days, the 162-foot towering structure still works as a guide for passing mariners. It hosts a First Order Fresnel light which is visible for 18 nautical miles and rotates in 20-second increments. The bold red exterior of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse makes it a fan-favorite among photographers. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse began operation in 1875 and was electrified in 1933. In 1980, restoration efforts were put in place to upgrade the next-door keepers’ home as well as all of the lighthouse grounds. These days, guests can come and see and enjoy the results, take pictures, and enjoy pairing modern fun with historic marvels.

The Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

Every lighthouse across the Outer Banks comes with a rich story to tell and the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse is no exception to the rule. It’s a relatively small lighthouse in the area that’s tucked away on the east end of the Manteo waterfront, but a visit is sure to delight! A trip

to downtown Manteo offers up a clear path and great views of the lighthouse which is situated a mere 40 yards from the Roanoke Sound. Visitors are often captivated by the unique white exterior complete with red shingled roofing and black shutters. The Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse embodies the classic coastal style and aesthetic and provides an eye-catching detail to enjoy when visitors are strolling the boardwalk. One interesting fact to note is that when you visit the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, you’ll be encountering a replica of the original. The replica was constructed to reflect the exact details of the original lighthouse that was first lit in 1877, but eventually fell into disrepair. Learn more about the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse.

Bodie Island Lighthouse

Bodie Lighthouse in Winter with Storm CloudsIn 1837, Lieutenant Napoleon L. Coste was sent out by the U.S. government to locate a spot for a new lighthouse. The mission was to find a location where a lighthouse could be built that would reduce the number of shipwrecks and casualties on the shorelines of the Outer Banks. As a result, the Bodie Island Lighthouse came into existence. This stunning lighthouse dazzles visitors with its’ horizontal black and white façade and enjoys a place south of Nags Head. It’s easy to spot from the road if you’re traveling towards Hatteras Island and recent restoration provides travelers with opportunities to visit and climb the lighthouse to the observation deck. Be prepared to tackle 214 steps, all the while knowing that the reward lies in the amazing view up top. Learn more about Bodie Island Lighthouse.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Another landmark lighthouse that the Outer Banks calls its own is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The original Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was constructed in 1794 and began operation in 1803. Unfortunately, the building materials used to create the lighthouse weren’t durable enough to withstand the rugged coastal conditions and a second lighthouse was built in 1870. This is the same lighthouse visitors can enjoy today that stands over 200 feet tall. It’s estimated that over 175,000 visitors come to see this lighthouse each year and take photos of its candy-striped black and white exterior. Most of the time, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is open for guests to climb as it hosts 257 steps leading to the observation deck. However, it’s important to keep in mind that current restoration projects have closed the lighthouse for climbing through the end of 2023. Learn more about Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Book Your Stay Today

Ballast Point 45Now is the very best time to enjoy time away in the scenic Outer Banks of North Carolina. No matter when you arrive, how long you have to spare in the name of fun or how many others you travel alongside, having amazing accommodations in place can elevate the experience even further. That’s where Pirate’s Cove Realty comes in. We offer guests access to luxurious, comfortable, and stylish vacation rentals in the Outer Banks that take your trip to the next level of excellence with every booking. Our team of property professionals is happy to handle the details of your stay so that you can focus on the well-deserved fun ahead. Browse our properties to learn more about our many exciting and inviting property options and how we can help you turn your travel plans into a reality soon. We look forward to seeing you in the Outer Banks this year! See our pet friendly vacation rentals in Outer banks here!