06/12/09

Free Things to Do on Hatteras Island

One of the best aspects of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is that a day at the beach on Hatteras Island doesn’t cost a thing. There are plenty of free public accesses all along the 70 miles of National Seashore, with lots of parking, and even shower and restroom facilities. Most folks can also find free easy beach access right outside the door of their vacation rental home, but no matter where you hit the beach, you’ll never have to pay for a long, sunny day on the sand.

The experiences and memories you family will collect on your Hatteras Island vacation are obviously priceless, and the beautiful award winning beaches keep people coming back year after year for another sunny vacation, but there are a number of family activities off the shore that are free, fun, and all right here on the Outer Banks.

Take a trip to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras Village, where exploring the island’s checkered maritime history is free of charge, (although donations are accepted.) While you’re in Hatteras Village, stop by the historical Hatteras Weather Bureau Station, an original Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarter’s in 1884, and then later a flagship weather station overseen by the US Coast Guard. You can also swing by the Hatteras Island Library for story hour and other fun seasonal events, all without spending a dime.

Hop on the free ferry to Ocracoke Island for a day trip to quaint Ocracoke Village, or head over to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and see what fun programs of the day are being offered by the National Park Service. The park service provides a seasonal variety of free fun programs that explore the National Seashore, like children’s crabbing or historical sessions on the Lighthouse. For a complete list of programs and events, visit the National Park Service’s online calendar.

If you’re taking a day trip to explore the Northern beaches, try Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, a 426 acre sand dune system that’s about 90 feet tall and mecca for kite flying, sunsets or just rolling down the giant sand hills. In Manteo, America got its start at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, where England’s first colony settled here at Roanoke Island from 1584-1587. Their disappearance is one of our history’s most enduring mysteries, and this waterfront park is free to explore.

Take your friends and loved ones to Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge just outside of Rodanthe, and see one of the most popular stops for birds on the Atlantic Flyway. Hundreds of species of birds have been documented here. It’s free to enter, and the kids will love the turtle pond or looking through the free binoculars at the observation platforms overlooking miles of refuge.

Of course, there are miles of ocean and sound beaches, maritime forests, saltwater canals and ponds, and quaint villages to explore during your trip. Look for shells, hunt for ghost crabs, try a bit of body boarding, take some amazing waterfront sunset photos, or just relax on the deck of your vacation home with a cool drink. On Hatteras Island, it’s crystal clear that the best things in the beach life are free.

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