09/26/13

What Are Your Top Five Things To Do On Hatteras Island?

We all know that there are so many wonderful things to do here on Hatteras Island. Our pristine, family-friendly beaches and quaint villages offer a variety of activities for you and your family to enjoy while visiting us.

The Huffington Post recently listed its top “5 Free Things to do on Hatteras Island.” It is no surprise that spending time enjoying the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is top on the list. There is nothing quite like a day at the beach for exploring, relaxing, and playing in the surf!

The Huffington Post list also includes: a trip to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum where admission is free, although donations are encouraged; attending programs offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge; visiting Cape Hatteras and Bodie Island Lighthouses (there is a fee to climb them, but not to walk around the grounds); and taking a free ferry ride from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island for the day.

We would love to hear what you and your family like to do while visiting us! What are your Top 5 Things to do on Hatteras Island? Please share them with us on our Surf or Sound Facebook and Twitter pages, and follow us on Pinterest to see of few of ours!

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04/11/13

Bodie Island Lighthouse Opens April 19th

Starting Friday, April 19th, Bodie Island Lighthouse will open to the general public for climbing tours for the first time ever!

The lighthouse, currently located on National Park Service property, was operated and maintained by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) until the year 2000. At that time the USCG tranferred the lighthouse over to the National Park Service and three years later, the USCG transferred over the first-order Fresnal lens as well. A chat with a few Outer Banks natives might reveal a time when the USCG informally allowed “locals” to the climb this familiar, horizontally striped black and white beacon.
A recent renovation of the lighthouse and its first-order Fresnal lens was completed and guided tours will be conducted daily from 9am to 5:45pm, starting April 19th, 2013 through Columbus Day, October 14th, 2013. On April 19th, the National Park Service invites local community members and visitors to tour/climb the lighthouse at no charge. Free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and can only be obtained in-person, on-site, that day.

Be sure to add the Bodie Island Ligthhouse to your vacation itinerary for a memorable and unique experience!

Bodie Island Lighthouse Tour Information:

Guided tours for the Bodie Island Lighthouse will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for senior citizens (62 or older), children 11 years of age and under, and for those holding a National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Access Pass. Tour tickets may be purchased on site the day of the tour or may be reserved in advance.

Tours start every 35 minutes and are 45 minutes in length. Each guided tour is limited to 22 people. Children must be at least 42″ tall. Children under 12 must be escorted by a person at least 16 years old. For additional tour information, check the park website at www.nps.gov/caha. Tour start times are 9:00 a.m., 9:35 a.m., 10:10 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 11:20 a.m., 11:55 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:05 p.m., 1:40 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 2:50 p.m., 3:25 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 4:35 p.m., 5:10 p.m., and 5:45 p.m. daily, seven days a week.

Day of Tour Tickets: 50% of all tours for each day will be sold on site. Day of tour tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and can only be purchased in-person at the site the day of the tour. Day of tour tickets will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. starting April 19.
Reserved Tickets: 50% of all tours for each day will be sold in advance. Reservations for a tour can only be made between one to seven days in advance of the tour date by calling (252) 475-9417. The reservation office opens on April 22 and is open 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., seven days a week. Reservations cannot be made the same day as the tour date.


03/8/13

Bodie Island Lighthouse Set to Open Spring 2013

The National Park Service plans to open Bodie Island Lighthouse (pronounced “body”) to the general public for guided climbing tours in late April to early May 2013. Bodie Island Lighthouse, located north of Oregon Inlet, has undergone an 18-month long restoration project aimed to restore and preserve this historical beacon and make it accessible to the general public after being closed for many, many years.

The beacon you see today as you enter the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, north of Oregon Inlet, was rebuilt in 1871 after being demolished during the Civil War in 1861 by retreating Confederate troops who feared the Union would use it to their advantage for navigation. Upon reconstruction, Bodie Island Lighthouse was partly built using materials left over from the “newest” Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Currituck Beach Lighthouse is considered its architectural twin.

Today this familiar black and white, horizontally striped structure stands 156 feet tall and is equipped with a first-order Fresnal lens. Its 160,000 candlepower beacon shines 19 miles over the ocean to safely guide mariners around the coast and through the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

Stay tuned for the much anticipated opening date of the Bodie Island Lighthouse! In the meantime, visit the Bodie Island Lighthouse Visitors Center located in the Double Keepers’ Quarters, just 6 miles south of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore entrance.


01/22/13

Cownose Rays

Are you intrigued by the rays that cruise the waters of the eastern seaboard?

Join Mr. Robert Fisher of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science on Monday, February 11th at 7pm at the Fessenden Center in Buxton or on Tuesday, February 12th at 7pm at the Ocracoke Community Center. Mr. Fisher will discuss his research on the Cownose Ray which will include displays, underwater video, and other imagery.

Take advantage of this free program to learn more about our fascinating coastal environment!


11/27/12

2013 Beach Driving Permits

The National Park Service has announced that they will begin issuing 2013 annual Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) permits on Saturday, December 1st and weekly permits on Tuesday, January 1st. ORV permits can be obtained at any of the three NPS ORV permit offices located at Coquina Beach, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Center (Buxton), and the Ocracoke Visitor Center. These offices will be open year-round, seven days a week, except Christmas Day, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with expanded hours on weekends and holidays during the summer season.

The cost of an annual permit (valid for the calendar year) is $120. A 7-day ORV permit (valid from the date issued) will cost $50.

Click here to view the most recent map of designated ORV routes.

What does this mean for you, our vacation guests?

To drive an ORV on the beach, a permit will need to be purchased and a 7-minute video will need to be watched at any of the three NPS ORV permit offices located at Coquina Beach, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Center (Buxton), and the Ocracoke Visitor Center

One permit is necessary per vehicle someone intends to drive on the beach.

You can purchase a full year permit for $120 (calendar year) or a 7-day permit for $50 (7 days from date of purchase).

Driving will only be permitted in specified areas, and those areas are subject to closures due to “resource protection” or if the capacity limit for the area has been met. Click here to view the most recent ORV Routes map.

The National Park Service website has been updated with FAQ’s. Click here to view their website.


Frequently Asked Questions


Do I need a permit to operate a vehicle off road?

Yes. To obtain an ORV permit, you must complete a short education program, acknowledge in writing that you understand and agree to abide by the rules governing ORV use at the Seashore, and pay the applicable permit fee. Both weekly (7-day, valid from the date of issuance) and annual (calendar year) ORV permits will be available.


Is there a limit to the number of ORV permits available?

No. There will be no limit to the number of permits that the Superintendent could issue. However, use restrictions may limit the number of vehicles on a particular route at one time.
Several of my family members have ORVs that we would like to use on Seashore beaches.


Do we need to get a permit for each vehicle?

Yes. You will need to get a permit for each vehicle that you want to use for driving on designated ORV routes. You must display the proof of permit, in a manner and location specified by the Superintendent, on each vehicle that you operate on designated ORV routes within the Seashore. (The proof of permit may be a color coded windshield sticker, hang tag for the rear-view mirror, or some other indicator provided by NPS.)


Where can I operate my vehicle off road?

Once you obtain an ORV permit, you may operate a vehicle off road only on designated routes. Maps of designated ORV routes will be available in the Office of the Superintendent and on the Seashore website.


Does the ORV permit guarantee that all designated ORV routes will be open for me to use?

No. In addition to the referenced seasonal restrictions, ORV routes are subject to temporary resource and safety closures. However, past experience indicates that substantial portions of the beach designated as ORV routes will remain open for ORV use even when other sections are temporarily closed.


Are there any requirements for my vehicle?

Yes. To receive a permit to operate a vehicle on designated ORV routes, your vehicle must:
Be registered, licensed, and insured for highway use and comply with inspection requirements for the state, country, or province where the vehicle is registered
Have no more than two axles and be equipped with tires that are listed or approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation as described on their website. Click here to assess your tire grade.
Be equipped with a low-pressure tire gauge, shovel, jack, and jack support board.


Can I drive on designated ORV routes at night?

Yes, but not at all times on all routes.

From November 16 through April 30: ORVs will be allowed on designated ORV routes 24 hours a day, subject to the terms and conditions established under an ORV permit.

From May 1 through September 14: Designated ORV routes in potential sea turtle nesting habitat (ocean intertidal zone, ocean backshore, and dunes) will be closed to ORVs from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m.

From September 15 through November 15: Designated ORV routes in potential sea turtle nesting habitat (ocean intertidal zone, ocean backshore, and dunes) will remain closed to ORVs from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m., however, the Superintendent may reopen portions of designated ORV routes at night if there are no turtle nests remaining. This is a minor change to the dates in the ROD. NPS has decided it will be easier for the public to understand and more convenient to administer if the night-driving dates coincided with some of the seasonal ORV route dates. Therefore, night driving may be allowed beginning on September 15 instead of September 16. Routes that are subject to these night-driving restrictions, as well as routes or portions of routes identified as having no turtle nests remaining, will be shown on maps available in the Office of the Superintendent and on the Seashore Web site.


Is a separate permit required for night driving?

No. It will be covered by the ORV permit required to drive on the designated ORV routes in the Seashore.


I have a family member who is disabled or mobility-impaired. Can I use my ORV to drive that family member to the beach where we are gathering, even if it is not designated as an ORV route?

Yes, if you obtain a special-use permit for that purpose. The special-use permit will allow you to transport mobility-impaired individuals to a predetermined location in a beach area in front of a village that is not otherwise open to ORV use. You will be subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the permit. Additionally, you should keep in mind that with a standard ORV permit you will have access to many miles of beach open to ORVs year-round or seasonally. In those areas, vehicles may simply be parked in the ORV corridor.


Basic Definitions

ORV corridor means the actual physical limits of the designated ORV route in the Seashore. On the landward side, the ORV corridor on Seashore beaches will be marked when possible by posts that are located seaward of the toe of the dune or the vegetation line. On the seaward side, the corridor runs to the water line, which will not be marked by posts unless necessary. Where the ocean beach is at least 30 meters wide above the high tide line, the landward side of the corridor will be posted at least 10 meters seaward of the toe of the dune.

ORV permits: ORV permits are a form of NPS special park use permits, which are issued and administered by the Superintendent and for which the NPS charges a fee to recover its administrative costs.
(i) A permit issued by the Superintendent is required to operate a vehicle on designated ORV routes at the Seashore.
(ii) Operation of a motor vehicle authorized under an ORV permit is limited to those routes designated in the ORV routes chart.
(iii) There is no limit to the number of ORV permits that the Superintendent may issue.
(iv) Annual ORV permits are valid for the calendar year for which they are issued. Seven-day ORV permits are valid from the date of issue.
(v) In order to obtain a permit, an applicant must comply with vehicle and equipment requirements, complete a short education program in a manner and location specified by the Superintendent, acknowledge in writing an understanding of the rules governing ORV use at the Seashore, and pay the permit fee.
(vi) Each permit holder must affix the proof of permit, in a manner and location specified by the Superintendent, to the vehicle covered by the permit for use off-road.

Click here to view the most current ORV route access status.


10/2/12

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse closes on Oct. 8th for the 2012 season

Columbus Day, October 8th, will mark the last day to climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse for the 2012 season. Tickets can be purchased on site the day of the climb, starting at 8:15am. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3.50 for senior citizens (62 or older), children (11 and under and at least 42″ tall), and those holding a National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Access Pass. This time of year, climbs are made every 10 minutes between the hours of 9am and 4:30pm.

Be sure to come prepared! The climb to the top consists of 248 spiral stairs, which is the equivalent of a 12 story building.

“Built in 1870, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse protects one of the most hazardous sections of the Atlantic Coast. Offshore of Cape Hatteras, the Gulf Stream collides with the Virginia Drift, a branch of the Labrador Current from Canada. These powerful current forces southbound ships into a dangerous twelve-mile long sandbar called the Diamond Shoals. Hundreds and possibly thousands of shipwrecks in this area have given it the reputation as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic“‘. -NPS

Join one of 120,000 people to date who have climbed the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse this year!

*The lighthouse will reopen for the 2013 season on Friday, April 19th.


09/18/12

Possible Suspensions or Delays on Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry Route

Below is information provided to us by the NCDOT today regarding possible suspensions or delays on the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route. Please use the contact information at the end of the press release below if you are planning to travel this ferry route over the next few weeks.

RALEIGH — Travelers using the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route could encounter delays, load weight restrictions and possible suspensions due to extreme shoaling of the Hatteras Inlet channel for the immediate future.

A threat of severe weather when a cold front moves through Tuesday, wind-driven tides and the narrow channel situation has created a safety issue that requires constant monitoring by the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division.

The inlet was side-cast dredged back in May to address an immediate need and is slated to be pipeline dredged in several weeks by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Visitors to our area need to be apprised of the situation,” stressed Deputy Ferry Director Jed Dixon. He is calling upon local residents, businesses, restaurants, motels and vacation home rental agencies to assist in spreading the word.

Because of the shoaling issue, the Ferry Division today is running only its smaller Hatteras Class boats, which draw less water and are easier to maneuver in the shallow passage.

For up-to-date status on the situation at Hatteras, travelers can sign-up to receive messages on Twitter by going to www.twitter.com/ncdot_ferry or call the Hatteras terminal at 252-986-2353 for updates.

*** NCDOT***


09/14/12

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Night Driving Reopens on September 16

Per the new Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan, night driving routes for ORV use will reopen at midnight on September 16 and remain open through November 15, where no turtle nests remain or to the first posted closure in that route.

222 sea turtle nests were identified on National Seashore beaches during the 2012 nesting season. There are approximately 60 remaining nests to date. Due to this record breaking number, please be mindful of sea turtle nest protection areas in effect and note that closure conditions may change on short notice, to include ORV, pedestrian, and pet entry. Closed areas will be clearly marked with “symbolic fencing” consisting of wooden or carsonite posts, closure signs, string, and black filter fencing.

ORV routes that will be open to night driving on September 16 are as follows: North of Ramp 4, South of Ramp 44, West of Ramp 44, the Pole Road to Hatteras Inlet, and South of Ramp 67.

On November 1, the seasonally closed village beaches of Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo, Avon, and the Ocracoke Day Use Area will reopen to ORV use under terms specified in the new ORV Management Plan for Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

A permit is required for any off-road vehicle use in Cape Hatteras National Seashore. ORV permits can be obtained at any of the three National Park Service permit offices located at Coquina Beach, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Center (Buxton), and the Ocracoke Visitor Center. These offices will be open year-round, seven days a week (except Christmas Day), from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with expanded hours on weekends and holidays during the summer season. The cost of an annual ORV permit (valid for the calendar year) is $120. The cost for a 7-day ORV permit (valid from the date issued) is $50. You must bring your driver’s license and vehicle registration with you.

For further information, please call (252) 473-2111 ext, 148 or check out the Google Earth map.


08/10/12

Fan Photo Friday

Today we are celebrating ORV access to Cape Point, one of the most treasured locales on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore!

The designated ORV route is currently open from 7am to 9pm daily, starting 0.4 miles north of Ramp 43 to Ramp 44 and south to Cape Point.

Permits are required for ORV access on the beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.


Thank you to Rita Lucas for posting her photo to our Facebook page!


07/17/12

Rip Current Awareness

What are rip currents?
Rip currents are channels of water that develop in an opening in a sand bar. Though relatively narrow near the beach, rip currents can increase to over 50 yards in width as they extend up to 1000 feet offshore. The velocity of the water can be as high as 5 mph.

How to identify rip currents?
Rip currents can be identified before entering the water. Look for an area of murky water due to sediment mixing as the channel opened in the sandbar. If the rip current has lasted a long time, the color of the water will appear darker than the surrounding water because of the channel carved by the flowing water. Rip currents will also move objects and/or foam steadily seaward and will cause a break in the incoming wave pattern.

What to do if caught in a rip current?

* Remain calm. Remember, rip currents can pull a swimmer away from the shore but not under the water.
* Swim parallel to the shore until you break free, then swim diagonally toward the shore. Do not attempt to swim directly back toward the shore
* If you cannot swim out of the current, float until it weakens, then swim diagonally toward the shore.
* Ask for help by waving your hands.

Please keep in mind the following Safety Tips:

* Stay out of the water during dangerous surf conditions.
* Know how to swim. Non-swimmers should not rely on floats, such as boogie boards, while in deep water.
* Always swim near a lifeguard.
* Locate rip currents before entering the water.
* Tune in to NOAA weather radio and monitor websites (National Weather Service, Eastern Dare County, NC) and local media for updated surf conditions during your stay on the Outer Banks.
* Check with the lifeguards about rip currents and other hazardous conditions.
* Do not attempt to rescue someone caught in a rip current. Notify a lifeguard or, if there is no lifeguard, yell directions on how to escape, throw the victim something that floats, and call 911.

This information was provided by the National Park Service. For more information on rip currents, ask a lifeguard or check the website at http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov.