Hatteras Guide Sections:
Hatteras Island's Southernmost community, Hatteras village is best known for fishing, tourism, history and its remote, pristine beaches. But if you had to define Hatteras village in a word, it would be "fishing."
It started out that way, back in the 1700s when the first settlers relied on the abundance of one of the largest estuarine systems in the world for their sustenance. Eventually the small fishing village evolved into a major sports fishing destination and is now known as the "blue marlin capital of he world." Only 15 miles from the Gulf Stream, the area offers some of the best charter fishing off the North Carolina Coast.
But you don't have to have a boat to fish in Hatteras, which boasts that surf fishing along its beaches is "like no other anywhere else in the world." The beaches offer pedestrian and vehicular access, and every September the village hosts an Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament, with over 90 teams competing. And there's a number of other water sports to enjoy, both ocean and sound side, particularly surfing. The shore's proximity to where the cold water Labrador Current collides with the warm water Gulf Stream results in some of the largest waves available on the East Coast. On the west side of the village, the Pamlico Sound offers plenty of other water activities, including swimming, windsurfing, kiteboarding, canoeing and kayaking.
Vacation rental homes are the most popular way to stay in the Outer Banks. Rental homes are available in Hatteras from:
Hatteras Landing - The focus of Hatteras Village is Hatteras Landing, a soundfront complex offering shops, restaurnts, live music and a self-service marina. Located at the Southern end of Hatteras Island next to the NCDOT Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry terminal, visitors will find bicycle and moped rentals, fishing charter boats, and great sunset views.
Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum - The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is one of the newer attractions along Hatteras Island, but it is also one of its most comprehensive, covering centuries of maritime history within its distinctive, ship-haul style structure. Located at the very edge of Hatteras Village, adjacent to the Hatteras / Ocracoke Ferry Docks, this museum pays homage to the shipwrecks, US Lifesaving Service crews, hurricanes, and other local legacies that have made the island the historic gold mine that it is today. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the First Order Fresnel Light that originally topped the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, or learn about the first all-African American lifesaving crew in history that rose to fame after their courageous rescue of the E.S. Newman. With all these stories perfectly detailed within the museum, in addition to a fantastic on-site gift shop and beach access located just across the street, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is a must see for anyone who wants to dive into the fascinating stories of Hatteras Island's dangerous and centuries-old relationship with the sea.
Hatteras/Ocaracoke Ferry - Ocracoke Island is only accessable via boat or airplane, and most people take their cars via the official NCDOT ferry. Schedules and fees are available online.
Fishing - Hatteras is synonymous with fishing. Surf fishing, fishing charters, deep sea fishing, fishing tournaments, etc. You'll find it all here.
The Beach - If you dream of secluded beaches, look no further than Hatteras Island. The beaches of Hatteras Island are managed by the National Park Service as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Here are some things to know about Rodanthe beach policies:
- Pets are allowed on a leash no longer than 6ft, year-round. Pets are prohibited on designated swimming beaches. Service animals are allowed at all times.
- Fireworks are not permitted in Hatteras.
- Beach fire permits are required. Print, sign and keep your paper permit with you (permits available here). From May 1 to November 15, beach bonfires are only allowed at Coquina Beach, the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras, and the Ocracoke day use area. From November 16 - April 30, Beach fires are allowed throughout the park. Fires are allowed from 6am - 10pm. An adult must be present. Fires must be on greater than 3 feet in diameter. Fires must be built and maintained below the high-tide mark and 50 feet from any vegetation. Fires cannot be left unattended, and must be extinguished upon end of use. The area must be cleaned up.
- Beer is allowed on the beach. Wine and liquor are not officially permitted. Please drink responsibly.
- Metal detecting is NOT allowed within National Parks.
- There are no lifeguard stations in Hatteras.
- It is illegal to walk on the dunes, and it is also illegal to pick live sea oats growing on the beaches.
- Fill in any holes you dig. Holes in the sand can be a hazard.
- Be mindful of Noise. Most communities consider a violation of the noise ordinance to be any sound that can be heard from inside a nearby residence, and any load noise after approximately 11:00 p.m.
- No glass on the beach. Be mindful of glass bottles. Alcohol is allowed on all beaches, but if at all possible, stick to cans and plastic to save future beach-goers from any bare foot injuries.
- Surf fishing is allowed. A fishing license is required in North Carolina and can be obtained before your vacation via the NC Marine Fisheries and Wildlife website, or a fishing license can be purchased at most any tackle shop on the Outer Banks.
- 4x4 Driving on the Beach - The beaches of Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island are managed by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Permits are required, and can be purchased online and sent via mail, or in person at one of the following locations: Coquina Beach office, Cape Hatteras Light Station, and the Ocracoke Visitor Center. Each vehicle must have its own permit. Vehicles must be registered, licensed, insured, and have a current safety inspection if required in home state/country. Vehicles must have low-pressure tire gauge, shovel, jack and jack support board. A spare tire, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, trash bags, flashlight and tow straps are recommended. ATV's are not permitted. Night driving is generally allowed from November 16 through April 30. See current access ramps and beach closings by visiting this page and clicking on the "daily beach access map". Obey all posted signs.
Day at the Docks - Shoulder season Hatteras Island visitors who happen to come to the Outer Banks on vacation in mid-September are in for a treat. Every year, the docks along the small village of Hatteras burst with activity, with crabbing and fishing demonstrations, dozens if not hundreds of boats circling the harbor, and a chowder contest to end all Outer Banks' chowder contests. This culmination of waterfront activities, shows, and educational seminars is all part of Day at the Docks, an annual festival that celebrates the life of the Hatteras Island watermen. Admission is free, and Hatteras Island vacationers won't have too much trouble tracking down the event. As NC Highway 12 winds through Hatteras towards the Ocracoke ferry docks, the streets suddenly become covered with colorful banners, a dozen tents, and crowds of happy families enjoying the scene. Held rain or shine every year on a mid-September weekend, this is one festival that anyone with an inherent love of great seafood, fishing, or Hatteras Island will truly appreciate.
Wings Over Water - Mid October each year, wildlife enthusiasts gather in the Outer Banks to enjoy the mild shoulder season weather and lower lodging rates. The main attractions are 400 species of migrating birds in wildlife preserves. Guided birding trips, kayak tours and art classes are very popular during this week-long event.
Hatteras Village Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament - Early September - The Hatteras Village Civic Association sponsors this Surf Fishing Tournament with over 90 participating teams. The event is open to anyone interested in a fun filled weekend.
Capital City Four Wheelers Surf Fishingin Tournament - Third weekend in October - 50 people sign up each year for this saltwater fishing tournament. Proceeds go to charitable organizations.
Hatteras Grand Slam - Early July - It started as a bet, and now more than ten years later this tournament offers large prizes and great competition. Open to anyone regardless of boat style.
Though the focus of fishing changed over the years, it remains a major source of revenue for the village and has become the backbone of its tourism industry. Locals consider the commercial and charter fleets based at Hatteras village as its "anchor" as well as "the core that unites" all seven Hatteras Island communities. To celebrate the industry's importance in the "Spirit of Hatteras," every year this close-knit community sets aside a "Day at the Dock," when boats parade into the harbor for a ceremonial "Blessing of the Fleets."
Even for those who don't fish or get in the water at all, there's still good reason to keep going south after you visit the island's famous lighthouse in Buxton - and stop before crossing over to Ocracoke. The most recent and one of the most interesting attractions for many visitors is the new and expanding Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, located adjacent to the Hatteras Inlet ferry terminal. The facility displays some of the country's most important maritime artifacts from an area with one of the highest densities of shipwrecks in the world.
Whether you want to fish, soak-in the sun or the area's extensive history, mingle with this small amicable community or just be alone on a remote beach, Hatteras Village has it all. And most important, you can take your time getting around to whatever it is. The village's official website makes a point to let you know, "Here, time is slow and gracious... a companion, not a master."