Kitty Hawk Guide Sections

Kitty Hawk Listings

Many visitors remark on the unusual town names to be found on the Outer Banks, and one of the names that causes the most head-scratching is Kitty Hawk. A small but popular vacation town in the busy central Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk was originally deemed "Chickahawk" by its original Native American residents, meaning a "place to hunt geese." Over the generations, the name changed slightly, the area became more developed, and the town became the popular tourist destination it is today.

Kitty Hawk Pier

Outer Banks vacationers find that Kitty Hawk has a little something for everyone, including fantastic beaches, plenty of shops and restaurants, and even a large section of maritime forest where visitors can enjoy quiet nature trails, and spot all those geese that the original Native Americans were referring to.

Homes in Kitty Hawk

Where to stay in Kitty Hawk

Vacation Rental Companies

Hotels

Rental homes line the beach in Kitty Hawk

Attractions and Activities

Kitty Hawk offers a sample of everything that makes the Outer Banks a great vacation destination. Visitors will find nature preserves, great shopping and restaurants all located centrally.

Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve - The Kitty Hawk Coastal Reserve - Offers visitors over 1800 acres of forests and marshes to explore. As a result, nature lovers can explore virtually desolate trails and enjoy an afternoon of bird watching, and critter watching. Kitty Hawk Woods is an ideal locale to spot dozens if not hundreds of native Outer Banks species, including white-tailed deer, gray foxes, and even occasional otters, thriving in their natural habitat.

The Beach - The beach in Kitty Hawk is still the #1 attraction for visitors. Here are some things to know about Kitty Hawk beach policies:

  • Dogs are allowed on the beach year-round. From the Friday before Memorial Day until the day after Labor Day, they must be on a (maximum) 6ft leash between 10am and 6pm. All other times of the year, dogs must be on a (maximum) 12ft leash. Dogs may be taken off the leash during the off-season only if they are controlled by their owners and do not disturb others. Owners must be within 30feet of an unleashed dog, and have a leash with them at all times.
  • Fireworks and beach bonfires are not permitted in Kitty Hawk.
  • Beer is allowed on the beach. Wine and liquor are not officially permitted. Please drink responsibly.
  • Metal detecting is allowed.
  • Red flags = no swimming. When you see red flags flying, dangerous conditions are present and swimming is prohibited.
  • It is illegal to walk on 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. 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 is not permitted in Kitty Hawk

Shopping - In addition to boutique shopping, Kitty Hawk boasts more big-box retail and grocery stores than any other town in the Outer Banks.

Dining - Options include all-you-can-eat fresh, local seafood buffets, steaks, outstanding BBQ, local donuts and ice cream. And the atmospheres range from flip-flop casual to upscale relaxed. There truly is something for every appetite in Kitty Hawk.

To the North

To the South

History of Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk has been attractive to visitors for a long time. Two brothers from Ohio chose the area as an ideal spot to launch a series of glider tests from 1900-1903. The first flight took off from Kill Devil Hills, but the Wright Brothers selected Kitty Hawk as their place to reside and test, and even to announce their final success. After the triumphant launch of the first powered flight in December 1903, the Wrights walked to the Weather Bureau office in neighboring Kitty Hawk where they sent out a telegram announcing the news. (As expected with an accomplishment of this magnitude, the first person they telegrammed was their father, who was reportedly and understandably very proud.)

Kitty Hawk Pier at the Hilton Garden Inn

The Current Landscape

Today, Kitty Hawk is a mixture of accommodations including a luxury resort and hotel, a collection of small motels, and a number of both oceanside and soundside vacation rental homes and unimposing condos. Vacationers can opt to stay near the action on the beach, where the beach road features a small number of shops, restaurants and night spots, or closer to the Currituck Sound, bordering the Kitty Hawk Woods and miles of open sound waters.

Wright Memorial Bridge to the Currituck Mainland

On the oceanside, vacationers will find 7 public beach accesses, including three that are lifeguarded from Memorial Day to Labor Day, along with a roving lifeguard ATV patrol that covers the town in the busy summer season. Visitors are free to explore the miles of open beaches, but are advised to follow the local town beach ordinances, including no glass on the beach, no beach bonfires, and no swimming when the red "Dangerous Conditions" flags are waving. All of these rules are in place for visitors' safety, and to ensure everyone on the shore enjoys a great time.

Take a stroll up the beach to check out the Kitty Hawk Pier. Damaged by Hurricane Isabel in 2003, the pier has since been remodeled and revitalized and serves as a venue for special events and lunching guests of the nearby resort. Kitty Hawk is also home to the Aycock Brown Visitors' Center, the main visitors' center for vacationers entering the Outer Banks from the north, and a fantastic resource for newcomers to the OBX with plenty of publications, pamphlets, and local experts on hand to answer questions.

On the outskirts of town, a couple miles from the beach, visitors will even find several large chain stores, including grocery stores, shopping centers, and a soundside watersports center for waterfront adventures of all mediums, such as kayaking, parasailing, sailing, and even kiteboarding. Mariners will also find a handful of public boat ramps on the soundside of town, as well as a collection of every-day services, including banks, a post office, and even an Urgent Care medical center.

In short, for vacationers and residents alike, Kitty Hawk has a sample of everything Outer Banks. From charming shops to large shopping plazas, beach-side dives to more formal restaurants, and water in all directions, Kitty Hawk can easily accommodate all tastes. The first beach town that northern vacationers encounter after the Wright Memorial Bridge is also, clearly, a perfect sample of what the Outer Banks is all about: Fun, sun, and plenty of nature and history.

Photos of Kitty Hawk

   Aycock Brown Welcome Center  A hotel in Kitty Hawk 

Captain Johnny's Dolphin Tours

Captain Johnny's Dolphin Tours

Enjoy what Captain Stuart Wescott calls a guaranteed dolphin watch tour June through October. Not only scenic, the tour on the Captain Johnny is incredibly educational. Learn about the bottlenose dolphins that frequent our waters.  See them mate and birth on many cruises, and enjoy their playful behavior. 

Whalehead in Historic Corolla

Whalehead in Historic Corolla

The prestigious Whalehead in Historic Corolla has been a dominant attraction to Corolla visitors since it was renovated and opened to the public in 2002. As part of the Historic Corolla Park, the Whalehead in Historic Corolla serves as a northern Outer Banks icon, and a living testament to Corolla and Duck's heyday as a secluded oceanfront retreat for the country's wealthy hunters and conservationists.

Paradise Dolphin Cruises

Paradise Dolphin Cruises

Welcome to Paradise Dolphin Tours.  We are committed to offering you one of the most amazing experiences of your life.  So climb aboard THe Kokomo, our 40 passenger catarmaran and get ready to see some of the mose beautiful wildlife you have ever seen!

Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station

Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station

The Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station is one of Rodanthe's greatest treasures. This historical lifesaving station has been a popular attraction for Hatteras Island visitors for decades, and stands on the very edge of the small town of Rodanthe. Over the years, this station has been battered by hurricanes, ocean and soundside flooding, and ferocious gusts of winds, and yet it is still standing, and serves as a proud reminder of Hatteras Island and the Outer Banks' rich lifesaving history.

Best Western Ocean Reef Suites

Best Western Ocean Reef Suites


Stay at this all-suites, beachfront Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina hotel providing full-service amenities and convenient access to key area attractions. Located on the rustic Eastern coast of North Carolina, the BEST WESTERN Ocean Reef Suites offers beautiful beachfront views, superior customer service and comfortable accommodations at an affordable price. This all-suites Kill Devil Hills hotel features well-appointed suites equipped with cable satellite television and free high-speed Internet access. Hotel guests are welcome to a complimentary continental breakfast each morning before taking advantage of other hotel amenities including a seasonal outdoor heated swimming pool and spa, steam room, exercise facility and limited business services.

Hotel guests can spend a relaxing day along the Atlantic Ocean fishing, kayaking or just laying at the beach. This Outer Banks hotel also provides convenient access to several local golf courses and hang gliding at Jockey's Ridge State Park. Just one mile from the hotel, guests can explore the Wright Brothers National Park and Memorial or take a short drive to visit the Fort Raleigh Historic Site and the Lost Colony. Hotel guests will also enjoy a day of sightseeing at local lighthouses including Cape Hatteras and Currituck Beach. The BEST WESTERN Ocean Reef Suites is also a short 20 mile drive from the North Carolina Aquarium and the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens.

The friendly, helpful staff at the BEST WESTERN Ocean Reef Suites is ready to ensure a fun-filled memorable stay in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Make a reservation today and save! Enjoy your stay,

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

The Roanoke Marshes lighthouse is often one of the most overlooked of the Outer Banks lighthouses, simply because of its small stature, limited visibility and remote location tucked away at the quiet east end of the Manteo waterfront.

Black Pelican

Black Pelican

Black Pelican oceanfront restaurant is one of the Outer Banks’ premier restaurants serving lunch and dinner daily. Black Pelican is where you can enjoy fresh seafood, steaks, vegetarian dishes, sandwiches and some of the barrier island’s best wood-fired pizzas complete with a beautiful ocean view from the dining rooms and outdoor deck. The restaurant is big enough to handle large parties, but the setting is intimate enough for a cozy date.

Hang Gliding

Hang Gliding

Flight takes many forms on the Outer Banks, from the thousands of migratory birds that travel along these barrier islands to and from their winter destinations, to aviation pioneers like the Wright Brothers who launched the world's first airplane off the sand dunes of Kill Devil Hills. Visitors can also experience the Outer Banks' inherent love of all things aerial by taking flight themselves with a day of Hang Gliding.

The Paper Canoe

The Paper Canoe

The owners and staff of The Paper Canoe work hard to “make your vacation taste better.” This charming restaurant near Sanderling is best known for its stunning waterfront setting, its always evolving menu and its fresh ingredients, including local-caught seafood and home-grown vegetables from the chef’s own backyard. This dedication to its dishes, “prepared simply and with passion,” is coupled with PC’s commitment to your dining experience, “from the time you walk in the door.” Featured are their handmade pastas, wood-fired pizzas and other rustic wood oven specialties along with “an ever-changing chalkboard of daily selections.”