The Outer Banks is a series of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, renowned for its beautiful beaches and stunning coastal views. But along with these sights come some other unique attractions: lighthouses! These literal beacons have been guiding ships in and out of the area since 1846, when the first one was built on Currituck Beach. Since then, four additional lighthouses have been added to the region—Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, Bodie Island Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and Ocracoke Island Lighthouse—each offering visitors a glimpse into this fascinating history. Whether you’re an avid lighthouse enthusiast or just looking for something different to do while visiting the Outer Banks, these five lighthouses are sure to provide hours of interesting exploration.
Currituck Beach Lighthouse
As previously mentioned, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse is the oldest of the five Outer Banks lighthouses, having been built in 1846. Situated on the northernmost point of Corolla Island, this majestic structure stands 162 feet tall and still operates as an operational lighthouse to this day. I guess the old saying applies here “the don’t build them like they used to” – this lighthouse has withstood the test of time.
Its construction was a joint effort between the United States and England, with the latter providing much of the financial support. The lighthouse was originally equipped with a first-order Fresnel lens which allowed it to be seen up to 20 miles away out at sea. The lighthouse is best known for its distinct black and white spiral pattern (it’s a true iconic look).
Address: 1101 Corolla Village Rd, Corolla, NC 27927
Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse
The Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse is a beacon that stands tall in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Built in 1877, it is located at the northern end of Roanoke Island, near Manteo. It was designed to be a navigational aid for vessels navigating the sound between Roanoke and Bodie islands. The lighthouse has a unique octagonal design and stands 37 feet tall.
The structure is constructed of brick with a cast-iron lantern at the top, which contains the original fourth-order Fresnel lens. This lens was fitted with an oil lamp and reflectors to create a bright light that could be seen for up to 19 miles away out.
Address: 104 Fernando St, Manteo, NC 27954
Bodie Island Lighthouse
Bodie Island Lighthouse is another of the five Outer Banks lighthouses. Located south of Nags Head on the northern end of Bodie Island, this lighthouse stands 156 feet tall and was constructed in 1872.
Address: 8210 Bodie Island Lighthouse Rd, Nags Head, NC 27959
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is one of the most famous lighthouses in America. It stands tall at 208 feet and is located on the southern tip of Hatteras Island, North Carolina. Its bright beam can be seen from up to 20 miles away. People come from all over to see this iconic lighthouse.
Address: 46379 Lighthouse Rd, Buxton, NC 27920
Ocracoke Island Lighthouse
Located at the far end of Ocracoke Island, this lighthouse stands a staggering 56 feet tall and has been guiding ships safely into its harbor since 1823. Like many other lighthouses, it features a unique black-and-white spiral pattern, but what sets it apart from the others is its rich maritime history.
Not only does this lighthouse function as an aid to navigation, but it has also played a key role in protecting vessels from storms and real pirates!
Address: 360 Lighthouse Rd, Ocracoke, NC 27960
Start Your Lighthouse Adventure
We encourage visitors from all around to come check out these amazing structures for themselves and experience first hand their beauty and charm! So, book your vacation to the Outer Banks and explore these truly massive relics of history.