5 Beautiful Outer Banks Lighthouses To See That You Should Try

Over many decades, the Outer Banks’ lighthouses have become symbols of American culture. The personification of hope, strength, and love. For safety on the water, they all wear different clothes. Five beautiful lighthouses with a lot of history and culture can be found on the Outer Banks.

A trip to any of the Outer Banks’ lighthouses is like taking a step back in time. They are both a celebration of the area’s maritime history and a sobering reminder of the dangers of the constantly changing tides. Anyone who loves the past, loves buildings, loves the sea, or loves the land can find a place to call their own here.

Each lighthouse on the Outer Banks has its own history. The long history of mythology surrounding these tall spires gives them an air of mystery and importance. If you climb to the top of these strong buildings, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the coast and a new way to look at the famous Outer Banks.

At these beautiful seaside landmarks, there is something for everyone to enjoy, from tricky spiral stairs to interesting educational displays to amazing wildlife. All of them are interesting in their own way, giving off a sense of mystery and nostalgia with a nautical touch. Here is a list of all the Outer Banks lighthouses that we think you should visit.

How Many Outer Banks Lighthouses Are There?

Technically, the Outer Banks are home to four different lighthouses: the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse, the Bodie Island Lighthouse, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and the Currituck Island Lighthouse.

Since Roanoke Island is close to the Outer Banks, the Roanoke Marshese Lighthouses are often included.

Outer Banks Lighthouses

Only five of the Outer Banks’ lighthouses are on this list, since there are exactly five in the whole area. The lighthouse in Corolla is the farthest north, and the one in Ocracoke is the farthest south.

Outer Banks Lighthouses To Check Out

Currituck Beach Lighthouse

This 162-foot-tall Outer Banks lighthouse is one of the most impressive buildings in all of North Carolina. It looks beautiful in the background of the town of Corolla.

On purpose, none of the million bricks that went into building it were painted. Part of the reason for this was so that its bright red color would make it stand out from the other towers on the Outer Banks.

To get to the top, you have to climb 220 stairs, but the view of the Currituck Sound, the Atlantic Ocean, and Corolla is well worth it.

At this height, the wind could be pretty strong, so make sure to bring clothes that can handle that. As you go up, there are several places to stop and rest. Don’t run up the well-known stairs.

The Currituck Beach Lighthouse was built to fix a 40-mile blind spot on the Carolina coast that made it hard for ships to find their way. It was built in 1875, and it is still in good shape today. It can be seen 18 nautical miles away, and its first order Fresnel lens turns once every 20 seconds.

Outer Banks Lighthouses

On the grounds is a beautiful Victorian-style house that used to be the lightkeeper’s home but is now an information center and gift shop.

At the base of the lighthouse and on the first two landings, there are great displays that tell you more about this beautiful beacon. The grounds are well-kept, and you can see a lot of the sea from them.

Bodie Island Lighthouse

The Bodie Island Lighthouse is easy to spot because it is just south of Nags Head and has a distinctive black-and-white-striped color scheme that sticks out above the trees on the sound. The building is 156 feet tall and was just fixed up.

Make sure to say it the right way if you want to seem like a local who knows what’s up, just like “body.” This place was chosen for the lighthouse because more ships have gone down here than anywhere else in the Outer Banks.

But it took two failed attempts before the Bodie Island landmark that we know and love today was finally built in 1832. In 1932, the light was turned on by electricity, which meant that a full-time lighthouse keeper was no longer needed.

To get to the top, you have to climb 214 steps. The light shines 19 miles away and turns once every 27.5 seconds. It is also one of the easiest lighthouses to get to in the banks.

It is surrounded by a marine forest, marshes, and saltwater ponds, which make it a natural paradise. Because of this, a lot of native animals can be seen visiting the lighthouse.

Nature lovers, unite! A nice nature walk takes you across the marshes to a high platform where you can look out over the area. Here are some great photo opportunities that you can share with your fans.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse is beautiful at all times of day. Your camera will love it at sunrise, sunset, and when the moon is shining brightly.

Tradition says that this island got its name from all the bodies that were lost in terrible shipwrecks and made it known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. It is one of the best Outer Banks lighthouses to see because it is beautiful and has a sad history.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Cape Hatteras is one of the most well-known and recognizable lighthouses in North Carolina and the world. Its black and white candy cane design makes it especially easy to spot.

Outer Banks Lighthouses

It stands watch over a dangerous part of the coast, and at 208 feet, it’s the tallest lighthouse in America and the tallest brick lighthouse ever built.

It is the tallest lighthouse in North Carolina. It is also the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was built in 1870, and its light can be seen 20 miles out into the ocean.

At first, this lighthouse’s lamp was powered by whale oil. After a short time, it was switched to kerosene, and then to a first order Fresnel lens. This used refraction and reflection to make a beam that was much stronger, which was something that sailors really needed.

Fun fact: Because of erosion, it had to be moved a half mile inland in 1999. This was a great feat of engineering. So far, it is the tallest brick building that has been moved that far.

The 257 steps to the top are worth it, and it’s a great thing to do after a day at the nearby Outer Banks beaches. From here, you can see some beautiful things. It gets the most tourists every year, but it’s known for being a calm and not-too-busy place.

It’s a great example of a classic Outer Banks lighthouse that everyone should see. Some people think that the stripes on the tower create an optical illusion that makes it look like the tower is leaning even though it is not.

It has a self-guided tour and a lot of docents who are ready to answer any questions you might have. There is a museum and gift shop on site where you can look at and learn from mementos and other things.

There is easy access to the beach, and if you worked up an appetite on the long hike, there are many great places to eat nearby.

Ocracoke Island Lighthouse

One of the most romantic things to do in North Carolina is to see the state’s oldest working lighthouse. Built in 1823, it is also the second oldest lighthouse in the whole country. At 65 feet tall, it is by far the smallest of the banks, but many people still love it.

When it shines brightly on clear seas, its light can be seen 14 km away. Even though you can’t climb it and there aren’t any displays or gift shops, the gardens are fun to look around and still have a lot of their original beauty.

See if you can find the old keeper’s quarters for the lighthouse hidden among the trees. The town of Ocracoke is a beautiful place to stop and shop or grab a bite to eat, so don’t forget to do so.

To get there, you’ll have to take a boat, which is a great adventure in and of itself. There are also a lot of ways to take pictures here, so get your camera ready. It’s the only white lighthouse in the area, which makes it stand out and look beautiful.

Its bright light doesn’t really flash or spin at all. This is because it’s mostly used to guide boats in the Ocracoke Inlet and Pamlico Sound, where it doesn’t need to be as tall or strong.

Most people say that this was Blackbeard’s favorite place to stop, so there are a lot of stories about his exciting adventures. The stripes on a lighthouse are used as a “day mark,” which is a way for ships passing by to tell which lighthouses they can see during the day.

At night, the different flashes of light do the same thing. But in the case of Ocracoke, which is a very unusual place, it’s the lack of both.

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

Some people don’t pay attention to the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, but it has a lot to offer anyone who wants to see it. It has a white bottom, black shutters, and a red brick roof.

It is hidden in the Roanoke Sound at the east end of the island. The water’s edge is beautiful, and there is a wooden boardwalk around the building for peaceful strolls. It is a beautiful coastal tour that is great for watching the sun set.

In the 1800s, there were two more lighthouses with the same name, but they were lost because they stopped working or fell apart. The first one was both a home for the keeper and a light tower that helped ships find their way.

Near the south end of the island, it was a screw pile building. Some people say that’s why it looks more like a beach house than a traditional lighthouse.

Outer Banks Lighthouses

Fascinatingly, the third one, which was built in 1877, was a copy of the first one. In the 1950s, as other technologies improved, it was no longer needed, so it was sold to a private owner. In a bad attempt to get it somewhere else, the owner lost it in the sound.

The current replica was built in 2004 to show Manteo’s maritime history and how important it was. On the inside, there are displays about the area, including artifacts from the seafaring past and information about the natural area today. It’s likely the newest and most unique lighthouse on the Outer Banks.

Its front is 37 feet tall because it was only meant to protect the inland river and ports when it was first built. It is now used by ships going into Shallowbag Bay as a way to find their way.

The Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse is a hidden gem along the banks. It is a sight to see. Try to find Pirates Cove from the boardwalk it is on among the wide views of the nearby shores.

How To Get To And Around The Outer Banks

Flying In

Different airports make it easy to get to the Outer Banks. Depending on where you want to go, you can fly to either Norfolk International Airport (ORF) or Raleigh International Airport (RDU), which are the two main international airports in the area (RDU).

RDU is about four hours away by car and has the most direct flights from other cities in the US. O

RF is only two hours away and is the most popular alternative, but it is a smaller airport, so direct flights may be harder to get. From either of these airports, it’s easy to rent a car and finish the trip on the road once you get there.

There are also many smaller regional airports that will get you closer to the islands and drop you off directly, if that’s what you want.

Try Dare County Regional Airport, Ocracoke Island Airport, Kitty Hawk Airport, or Currituck County Regional Airport, all of which are open to the public.

Rental Car

Getting to the Outer Banks and getting around once you’re there is easiest if you have a car. It gives you the most freedom to choose your own adventure and stop along the way, and it’s the easiest way to see all the cute coastal towns and famous OBX lighthouses.

There are only a few roads that go north and south along the coast, so it’s easy to get to the banks no matter which way you choose.

NC 12 and US 158 are the two main roads that go north and south. Go as far east as you can, stopping before you reach water.

Many of the drives are beautiful and fun to take. But we don’t recommend traveling on Saturdays because that’s when traffic is usually the worst, especially in the summer.

Outer Banks Lighthouses

By Ferry

Once you get to the Outer Banks, taking a ferry is one of the most exciting and beautiful ways to get from one island to the next. The NC DOT ferry schedule and services will tell you everything you need to know about the most recent changes.

There are 13 stops along the coast of North Carolina, and seven regular trips go between them. These include Cedar Island – Ocracoke, Swan Quarter – Ocracoke, Bayview – Aurora, Currituck – Knotts Island, South Port – Fort Fisher, Cherry Branch – Minnesott Beach, and Hatteras – Ocracoke.

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