Explore the

National Seashores

There are two national seashores along the North Carolina Coast, Cape Hatteras National Seashore along the Outer Banks and Cape Lookout National Seashore along the Crystal Coast. These seashores provide a refuge for wildlife and ample outdoor adventure opportunities for visitors. Four lighthouses, a herd of wild horses, and hundreds of miles of beaches and shoreline to explore await visitors. As you explore this area, you can drive our National Scenic Byways for a truly breathtaking experience.

Discover More about the National Seashores of North Carolina.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Along the Outer Banks and encompassing more than 30,000 acres, it was designated the country’s first national seashore in 1937. It includes natural areas, three lighthouses and other historic attractions, picturesque communities and plenty of opportunities to explore the flora, fauna, and history.

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Along the Crystal Coast, it includes the North Core, South Core and Shackleford Banks. The park includes 56 miles of undeveloped beach. Open to camping, kayaking and other paddle sports, surfing, fishing, exploring, lighthouse climbing and wildlife watching. Nature and solitude abound.

Pristine Beaches

Pristine Beaches

Open to all who adore a pristine, secluded and undeveloped seashore, both national seashores offers some of the very best sunning, surfing, fishing, shelling and all around beach-going activities. You’ll have plenty of room to spread out and take in completely unobstructed ocean views.

Wild Horses of Shackleford

Wild Horses of Shackleford

For more than 400 years the protected wild horses of Shackleford Banks have frolicked on pristine deserted beaches. Seeing these unbridled beauties known as the Shackleford horses, or “Banker ponies,” is a sight you won’t soon forget. Visit the island by ferry from Harkers Island and Beaufort.

Hatteras Lighthouses

Hatteras Lighthouses

There are three historic lighthouses located on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore — the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Bodie Island Lighthouse, and the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse. The Cape Hatteras and Bodie Island Lighthouse allow self-guided climbs and offer a unique experience and great views.

Fishing Fun

Fishing Fun

The National Seashores offer the angler a variety of excellent fishing opportunities. Catch all kinds of fish from the surf, piers, and freshwater ponds as well as from boats in the inlets, the sound, and offshore in the Gulf Stream.

Pea Island
Wildlife Refuge

Pea Island
Wildlife Refuge

The 6,000-acre refuge is a haven for more than 360 species of birds. From spring to autumn, a large variety of wading, shore and upland birds can be seen. The observation platforms are near parking areas.

Portsmouth Island

Portsmouth Island

Because of its' hard-to-get-to location, and lack of modern amenities, Portsmouth Island remains one of the last wild frontiers of the Outer Banks, attracting vacationers who have no problem roughing it, love being out in the wild, and simply want a 13-miles stretch of shoreline to call their own personal playground.

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