Bodie Island tends to cause a lot of confusion, for both the pronunciation of its name as well as its precise location. This small strip of the Outer Banks doesn't get a lot of attention, and most North Carolina visitors simply pass through the area on their way to or from the Hatteras and Ocracoke Island resort towns, or make a quick stop for an up-close-and-personal view of the Bodie Island Lighthouse.

Upon closer examination, however, Bodie Island actually has a lot of offer, including incredible beaches and a 4WD beach access ramp, a Visitors Center, miles of migrating wildlife, and easy access to some of the best Gulf Stream fishing on the Outer Banks.

Next time you're passing through or on a mission to tour all four lighthouses on the Outer Banks, consider a longer stop at Bodie Island, and discover this unsung but completely charming section of the Outer Banks.

Bodie Island Lighthouse

The History of Bodie Island

The first misconception most folks have with Bodie Island is the exact pronunciation of its name. Many visitors and even longtime locals pronounce the word "Bodie" with a long Southern "O," as in "BOW - die." The correct way to pronounce it, however, is like the word "Body," but if you get a bit confused, don't worry - the name has been mispronounced for so many decades now that many locals and longtime visitors are still not entirely clear on which version is correct.

The other misunderstanding that Bodie Island creates is the concept that it is an "island," as this hasn't been the case for over 150 years.

At one point, the central and northern Outer Banks had a handful of inlets which separated the concentrated communities from each other, and made Bodie Island an actual "island," completely separated from the northern beaches. However, as storms passed through over the centuries and new inlets were cut just south of Bodie Island and Hatteras Village, the original inlets closed up, creating one long barrier island instead of small island pearls winding down the North Carolina coastline.

The marsh observatory at Bodie Island Lighthouse

As a result, the area commonly known as Bodie Island is simply a peninsula, located just south of Hatteras Island, and ending at the Northern border of Oregon Inlet. The exact length of Bodie Island also causes a bit of dispute, with some experts claiming that due to the closed inlets, Bodie Island technically extends all the way to the Virginia border, as there is no body of water to segregate it from other areas of the Outer Banks.

In most locals' and long-time visitors' minds, however, Bodie Island has exact borders which begin at the Whalebone Junction, (the term used for the intersection of NC Highway 12, US 64, and US 158), and end at Oregon Inlet. This geography is the most accepted parameters of Bodie Island, and though it might cause a little confusion to newcomers, the partnership of confusion and Bodie Island is certainly nothing new, and it's soon accepted with a laid-back shrug.

Entering Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Visiting Bodie Island

As stated, most folks will simply pass through Bodie Island and never quite realized they have been there. After turning onto NC Highway 12, Bodie Island extends all the way to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, approximately 10 miles to the south. In between are virtually empty stretches of beaches, marshes, and wooded soundside maritime forest, but pay attention and you just might be surprised at everything Bodie Island has to offer.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse is certainly the most visible landmark, and the black and white striped structure towers over the landscape. Constructed in 1872 and in operation ever since, the lighthouse has been almost recognizable to Outer Banks visitors in recent years, as the tall conical structure was covered with fencing, tarps, and giant canvasing as it underwent an extensive restoration to make it more accessible to vacationers. The project began in 2009 with the intent of reinforcing the circular stairs to the top, repairing or replacing the corroded metal decks, repairing bricks and stone throughout the structure, and adding or replacing electrical interior lights.

Because of these extensive efforts, the lighthouse is expected to have a "grand reopening" in 2013 and actually be able to be climbed by visitors for a small fee, similar to the Currituck or Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. In the meantime, however, visitors can still pop by the site for the Visitors Center with extensive local area information, as well as a series of scenic nature trails that run around the perimeter of the lighthouse grounds, or extend all the way to the waterfront with wooden boardwalks and incredible wildlife vistas along the way.

Wildlife lovers don't have to trek down the mile long nature trails by the Bodie Island Lighthouse to explore the area, however. Observant motorists will notice several wooden "stands" set out along the side of NC Highway 12 on this stretch, particularly in marshy areas that border the sound.

Marshes near Bodie Island Lighthouse

These stands were constructed and implemented with bird watchers in mind, as the soundside stretches of Bodie Island, (literally located just across the inlet from the renowned Pea Island Wildlife Refuge), are home to well over 400 species of birds that flock to the area en route to the North or South, depending on the season. From this vantage point, birders can expect to see a number of both shore and migratory birds including Canadian geese, egrets, snowy white ibises, great blue herons, and even graceful white swans. Birders who love an exceptional lookout but don't necessarily want to travel a great length to get there would be well served to spot these area bird stands, pull over, and have a nice long look.

The other major attraction of Bodie Island is Oregon Inlet and the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center. Located next to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge's northern entrance, this marina is a popular spot for charter businesses as well as small commercial fishermen, local tour boats, and private owners. Because of this, it's not unusual to see dozens of boats docked at the marina's innumerable boat slips every morning. Passer-bys who are headed south to Hatteras Island are welcome to pop in and take a look around, both at the variety of boats, and in the local ship's store which has drinks, snacks, and souvenirs for sale, as well as local fishing experts who are happy to answer questions.

In addition, if a charter fishing trip to the Gulf Stream is on your agenda, and you're vacationing in the central Outer Banks towns of Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk or even Southern Shores, chances are your boat will launch from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center. This marina has one of the largest concentrations of privately owned charter boat businesses on the Outer Banks, despite its remote location, as it's an easy run from the docks of the marina to the Oregon Inlet, and subsequently the Gulf Stream.

Bodie Island is also home to one of the Outer Banks' favorite secluded fishing beaches, and the first 4WD access ramp that's located along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ramp 4, also known as "Coquina Beach."

Coquina Beach facilities

Coquina Beach was named after the tiny Coquina seashell, which flourishes on the Outer Banks. Beachgoers often spot their shells in the sandy shell piles that wash up on the beaches, and can occasionally spot live coquinas in the dense sandy patches just under the ocean wash. Coquinas come in a variety of stunning colors and patterns from brown and white horizontal stripes, to buttery yellows and oranges, and even vibrant violets and blues, making each little shell just a bit different. Lucky vacationers on uncrowded beaches in the warm summer months may spot clusters of hundreds of coquinas in the ocean wash, frantically inching towards the surface before burrowing back into the sand again, in intervals of 2-3 minutes. This phenomenon is what reportedly gave Coquina Beach its name, and it remains a well-loved sight by beachcombers and fishermen alike.

This stretch of beach essentially goes all the way to Oregon Inlet, which is seasonally open to both vehicles and pedestrians, depending on threatened bird nesting seasons, and provides some spectacular fishing conditions. Literally located directly under the Bonner Bridge, and offering a good half mile of inlet facing beaches, it's not unusual to spot dozens of vehicles lined up for spectacular shoreline fishing.

Homes along the beach in South Nags Head

Because Oregon Inlet is essentially a gateway for large species passing through the ocean or Pamlico Sound, a number of fantastic game and sport fish can be landed here, including drum, stripers, croaker, bluefish, spots, and even cobias. In addition, the soundside portions of Oregon Inlet make for great wading waters for little ones, and also lead out to a series of fantastic but unmarked kayak or small skiff trails through the marshes. Just be sure not to wander too deep into the inlet's water. The section of inlet in between Bodie and Hatteras Island may at times look placid and clear, but underneath is a deep running current which can outmatch a swimmer of any level. It should also be noted that these beaches are generally open to visitors in the off-season, usually from August until March, well after the breeding seasons have ended.

Bodie Island, and the beaches that lie south of Whalebone Junction, marks the beginning of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (NPS), and as such, visitors who want to explore the beaches via a 4WD vehicle will need to obtain a NPS beach driving permit. In order to do so, a weekly or annual fee is required, and the applicant will also have to fill out appropriate forms and watch a 10 minute video on beach driving. The permit can be obtained at several locales throughout the Outer Banks, including a station adjacent to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and one seasonally operated at Oregon Inlet, next to the beach ramp and camping area.

As for accommodations, restaurants, and resort attractions, Bodie Island doesn't have as much to offer as its central Outer Banks neighbors, but area lovers tend to get by just fine.

The region is home to a long stretch of rental homes that are clustered along the beaches of South Nags Head by the oceanfront. This area is adored by long-time vacationers for its seclusion and feel of being world's away, but still close to the big name attractions of the central Outer Banks. There are no hotels or motels in this area, and no restaurants or convenience stores either, but there is a fishing pier - the aptly named Ocean Pier - which is located in the heart of South Nags Head. At this small spot, visitors can find virtually anything they need in a vacation destination, from cold drinks and quick snacks, tackle and fishing gear, souvenirs and ice, and even a cool, quiet drink on the Ocean Pier's new oceanfront deck. This is the only main business in South Nags Head, but many vacationers find that this suits them just fine, as they can spend vacation days simply relaxing on the beach or on the spacious decks of their vacation rental homes.

Whalebone Junction Visitor Center

From NC Highway 12, these rental homes seem far away, past acres of marshes and sandy brush, but one local Bodie Island accommodation is clearly visible to all travelers passing through, the National Park Service Oregon Inlet Campground. Technically located in South Nags Head, this campground is in the heart of Bodie Island and offers 120 sites for campers, RVs, and tents. Open from April until November, the sites are located just a quick walk away from the beach on the oceanside, tucked along tall sea oats and smaller sand dunes.

ORV Permit office at Coquina Beach

Facilities are generally limited, but the campground does feature public restrooms and seasonally open showers, park grills, as well as NPS staff on hand to answer questions. Campers who treasure a stay in the middle of nowhere, (with some pretty fantastic Bodie Island lighthouse views to boot), will be well served to check out the Oregon Inlet NPS campground. Reservations are not accepted, but information and local NPS guidelines can be found on the park's website.

Beach on Bodie Island

For most vacationers, Bodie Island is simply an area to "pass through" en route to Hatteras Island, or an hour or two afternoon trip to check out the Bodie Island lighthouse, the closest Outer Banks lighthouse for the major vacation towns of Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk.

But underneath the miles of seemingly desolate highway lies fantastic beaches, secluded rental homes, a truly wild campground, and one of the island's busiest marinas for charter boats and local tours. This is all in addition to the fantastic birding, from both the roadside bird stands and Bodie Island's Nature Trails, and the everyday wildlife sightings, with dozens of egrets, small rabbits and white-tailed deer clearly visible from NC Highway 12 during virtually any season.

On your next Outer Banks vacation, why not slow down and spend an afternoon exploring the regions of Bodie Island. With miles of waterfront, pristine and rarely visited beaches, and a couple of big name attractions along the way, this is one section of the Outer Banks that is certainly worth remembering.

       
 

Surf or Sound Realty

Surf or Sound Realty

What is your kind of vacation? Perhaps it is a relaxing day spent sprawled out on the beach under a shady umbrella with the sound of the waves, a good book and drinks in the cooler. Or maybe it is a day spent serenely paddling your kayak on the warm waters of the sound followed by a soothing soak in the hot tub. How about circling the deck chairs under starry skies with best friends after vibrant mealtime conversation over fresh seafood prepared in a gourmet kitchen?

Whether you envision vacationing in an extravagant oceanfront estate, a quiet soundside retreat, or somewhere in between, Surf or Sound Realty has the perfect home to accommodate your kind of vacation.

Surf or Sound Realty is located on Hatteras Island, part of the pristine Cape Hatteras National Seashore just south of Nags Head on The Outer Banks of North Carolina. Regularly found on Top Ten lists for the Best Beaches in America, Hatteras Island’s beaches and villages are quiet, family friendly and picturesque. Since 1978, we have offered weekly premier Hatteras Island vacation rentals from single family beach cottages to expansive oceanfront estates with a wide range of luxury amenities. We make it easy to fit an Outer Banks vacation into your budget with several interest-free;flexible payment plans and multiple payment methods. We make vacationing effortless with options like keyless entry and early check-in.

Serving thousands of happy Outer Banks vacationers every year, we look forward to seeing you at the beach this year! Contact us for more information about our beautiful Hatteras Island Vacation Rentals on the finest beaches of the Outer Banks, NC today!

Ocracoke Harbor

Ocracoke Harbor

The Ocracoke Harbor is easily the busiest quarter mile stretch of Ocracoke Island. Consisting of a small, lagoon-like section of saltwater, and lined by a semi-circle of docks, restaurants, shops, marinas and motels, visitors will find that any and all of the activities on Ocracoke Island can most certainly be found harbor front.

Wild Horse Adventure Tours

Wild Horse Adventure Tours

Wild Horse Adventure Tours has been voted the #1 tour company in the USA by TripAdvisor. Feel the ocean breeze and taste the salty beach air as you cruise the Outer Banks beaches in our exclusive OPEN AIR, 13-passenger Hummers with one of our seasoned guides in search of the Colonial Spanish Mustangs! With the added capabilities of our custom designed open air Hummer H1s, we venture into three previously inaccessible and distinct ecosystems teeming with wildlife of all types! New exclusive rights to the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Swan Beach allow us to view the horses in their natural environment.

Currituck Banks Coastal Estuarine Reserve

Currituck Banks Coastal Estuarine Reserve

Vacationers adore the Outer Banks for its unspoiled stretches of undeveloped shoreline, and some may not initially realize that this sporadic lack of development is completely intentional, and is the result of decades of careful environmental planning. While tourism flourished on the beaches, for generations, locals and visitors alike made inquiries and partnerships with government branches to ensure that certain areas of the Outer Banks would always remain pristine, unspoiled, and open to everyone.

Jimmy's Seafood Buffet

Jimmy's Seafood Buffet

Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet is a great stop for an all you can eat affordable dinner extravaganza. The buffet offers over 100 different items. It even serves Jumbo Alaskan crab legs and Jumbo steamed shrimp, something you will not find on any other buffet in the OBX. The buffet offers a variety of seafood and non seafood options. Try some of Jimmy’s seafood options and load your plate with blackened tuna, Louisiana crawfish, steamed scallops and mussels, fried oysters and deviled crabs. Not in the mood for seafood? Fill your plate with carved and sliced turkey with gravy, steak, cheese pizza and fettuccini alfredo. The buffet also offers a kid section. Let you kids load their plates with chicken tenders, hot dogs, broccoli, curly fries and tacos. Don’t forget dessert! The buffet also offers soft serve ice cream, and a plethora of baked goods. 

Canadian Hole

Canadian Hole

Canadian Hole may be an unfamiliar term to the typical, laid-back Hatteras Islander vacationer, but to windsurfers around the world, the phrase invokes thoughts of an exact, postcard-perfect locale on the Outer Banks, where windsurfing and water sports conditions are truly at their global best, and any given day is a fantastic day to enjoy the ride.

Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar and Wine Bar Cafe'

Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar and Wine Bar Cafe'

What began in 2006 as a gourmet market has evolved into one of the area’s top restaurants featuring an indoor and outdoor Oyster Bar, and Wine Bar with over twenty wines available by the glass. The lunch menu showcases their amazing sandwich creations of house roasted deli meats on fresh baked ciabatta bread and creative condiments, a variety of seafood tacos, and a selection of steamed or crispy fried seafood.  For dinner, choose from a great selection of small plates, fresh local seafood, prime and natural steaks, and of course their famous award-winning crabcakes.  The dining room is surrounded by their extensive wine shop selections, available at regular retail prices with no corkage fee.

Hatteras - Ocracoke Ferry

Hatteras - Ocracoke Ferry

The Hatteras / Ocracoke ferry is one of the most popular of the seven coastal ferry routes that are orchestrated and managed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT.) Open for everyone, with daily runs that occur 365 days a year, the short 40-45 minute island-hopping ferry provides an integral link for Ocracoke Island to the rest of the Outer Banks, and provides visitors of all seasons with an exciting way to enjoy a coastal day trip. For a little bit of completely free entertainment, hop aboard via car, truck, bike or even just on foot, and discover a scenic boat ride that's just as thrilling as discovering the island of Ocracoke itself.

The Bier Box

The Bier Box

Welcome to The Bier Box, a craft beer store.
 We have driven around the North and South Carolina's to bring micro-brews to Corolla. Our focus is to get hand crafted, locally distributed beers to you, the discerning beer lover. We are the only craft beer store in Corolla, and on the Outer Banks that goes to great lengths to get beers that are not distributed by wholesalers. We travel to the craft beer companies, thus ensuring that we have beer no one else does. Check our Specials page for craft beer news and trends.


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.

Pamlico Jack's

Pamlico Jack's

Dubbed a “pirate hideaway," Pamlico Jack’s has fun with the buccaneer theme while still serving up a tasty meal in a beautiful setting. With its location on the Roanoke Sound, it’s pretty much guaranteed that most dinner guests will see a gorgeous sunset. The restaurant serves a full range of appetizers like Atlantic calamari, Caribbean black bean cake and lobster mac ‘n’ cheese. Plus there’s a modest offering of soups and salads (how can you resist the “Walk the plank wedge of lettuce?”)Entrees include fish, chicken, beef and seafood dishes, and even a vegetarian offering. Or if you want something lighter, there are sandwiches, BBQ and burgers. There is also a raw and steamed menu, a children’s menu, specialty drinks and a dessert tray to choose from. The bar offers entertainment in the summer and stays open until about 2 a.m. 

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) may be considered one of the Outer Bank's newest crazes to hit the water, but the sport itself is actually centuries old, originating in the Hawaiian and Polynesian Islands as an easy-going mode of transportation from one waterfront beach to another.