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Rodanthe has gained notoriety as the setting for Nichols Sparks' popular novel and subsequent film "Nights in Rodanthe." However, Rodanthe has long been the setting for incredible stories, such as daring oceanfront rescues, dangerous hurricanes, and, more recently, spectacular beach holidays. Rodanthe visitors can expect the romance of wind-swept beaches and quiet coastal cottages, as well as modern Outer Banks facilities like celebrated kiteboarding schools and launching spots, and local gift shops and locally run restaurants. For a romantic vacation that's miles away from the real world, with some of the best water sports access on the East Coast, Rodanthe is definitely worth a visit.

Rodanthe, NC morning shoreline


Where to stay in Rodanthe

Vacation Rentals


Rodanthe Attractions

Fishing in the beautiful Pea Island Wildlife Refuge

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge - Just North of Rodanthe (and South of Nags Head) lies the 13 mile-long, 30,000 acre Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is famous for hosting 400 species of birds and other wildlife. Birding, kayaking, wildlife education for kids, fishing and crabbing.

Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station

Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station - Commissioned by the federal government in 1871 to save the lives of sailors off the dangerous Outer Banks coast, this and six other lifesaving stations would become the foundation of the United States Coast Guard. Visitors can tour the grounds to see how the lifesavers lived and the equipment they used.

Rodanthe Pier

Rodanthe Fishing Pier - Conveniently located to visitors of the tri-villages (Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo), this pier has hosted anglers for decades The pier was recently reconstructed with 170' added, and the pier house offers bait, tackle, drinks, snacks and more.

Windsurfing in Rodanthe, NC

Pamlico Sound - Watersports are huge on Hatteras Island, and visitors to Rodanthe swarm to the Pamlico Sound for its breezy conditions. You'll find some of the country's best kiteboarding and windsurfing conditions here.

Kitty Hawk Kites in Rodanthe NC

The Beach - If you dream of secluded beaches, look no further than the tri-village beaches. 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 Rodanthe.
  • 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 Rodanthe.
  • 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 and UTV'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.

Upcoming Rodanthe Events

Kids Days in Waves
  • July 17th, 2024 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Let the youngest members in the vacationing party have a ball while enjoying a morning or afternoon break off the beach with this fun-filled day that’s designed just for them. The...

Anniversary of the Mirlo Rescue
  • August 16th, 2024

Come celebrate one of the most important events in Life-Saving local history with this special day at the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site in the heart of Rodanthe. The...

Wings Over Water
  • October 22nd, 2024 - October 27th, 2024

The Outer Banks, and the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge in particular, is known as one of the best bird watching destinations in the world, and the annual Wings Over Water celebrates...


Herbert C. Bonner Bridge from the Northern tip of Hatteras Island

Rodanthe History

Newcomers to the Outer Banks may notice the integration of the word "Chicamacomico" in reference to the town, in either local conversations or on sign names and brown historical markers along quiet NC Highway 12. The town was originally named Chicamacomico until 1874, when the United States Post Office separated the populated area into three distinct villages, and gave "Rodanthe" its current name.

Long before the Post Office stepped in, however, the town was already nationally recognized as one of the country's greatest lifesaving stations on the East Coast. The Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station was, in fact, the very first station established along the coast of North Carolina, and proved to be a heroic and dedicated branch of the lifesaving service, which is now the modern US Coast Guard. Many folks, local and otherwise, even attest that the small Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station helped prove the necessity of a national coastal military branch, and essentially founded the current Coast Guard.

Rodanthe Pier

Tales of heroism are in no short supply in Rodanthe, but one of the most popular legends revolves around the doomed British Tanker, The Mirlo, which in 1918, was bombarded with torpedoes by a passing German U-Boat. In the aftermath, six Chicamacomico crew men jumped into the water, and rescued 47 out of the 57 passengers on board, earning the crew the Golf Life Saving Medal from the United Kingdom, and the Grand Cross of the American Cross of Honor from the United States.

The Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station was decommissioned in 1954 to make way for the newly established US Coast Guard, but because of its history in instrumental role in modern lifesaving techniques, the station was preserved and is now home to one of the area's most treasured landmarks.

The famous Nights in Rodanthe House

Today, visitors are invited to explore the original Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station. The complex includes the main building, which acts as a small museum and souvenir store, as well as many outbuildings such as a storage equipment house, original bunkers, a cook's quarters, and other storage or sleeping rooms that were necessary for the original workforce.

While these structures are no longer in active service, visitors can still see the skills and maneuvers that made the station a national lifesaving landmark during seasonal "drills" using original apparatus and equipment. In these public presentations, modern US Coast Guard Service men and women carry out a deep ocean rescue using the same equipment as their late nineteenth-century colleagues. Seasonal demonstrations are free and available to the general public. The Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station grounds, museum, and gift shop are available to the public seasonally, Tuesday through Saturday, from Easter to Thanksgiving. All Hatteras Island visitors are encouraged to stop by, investigate, and obtain a better understanding of the innate toughness that the local Outer Banks community is known for.

Shopping and Activities on the Pamlico Sound

Rodanthe Today

Not too far from the Lifesaving Station's ground, across the street on NC Highway 12, spring and fall visitors will notice a clutter of brightly colored and exceptionally large kites gliding over the Pamlico Sound. The tri-village areas of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo have become synonymous with kiteboarding, as the open miles of Pamlico Sound have become perfect playgrounds for kiteboarders of all skill levels. Other water sports enthusiasts, such as kayakers, windsurfers, and stand-up paddle boarders are also welcome to get their toes wet in the water, and enjoy the local water sports scene.

Man-made dunes line NC 12 through the tri-villages of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo

Just north of Rodanthe, the desolate beaches and soundside marshlands attract a variety of outdoor lovers from all backgrounds, most notably, surfers and birders.

The "S-Curves," a stretch of NC Highway 12 that lies just outside of the village has been a training ground for experienced East Coast surfers for decades. On a hot summer day when the waves are big, it's not unusual to spot dozens of cars and even camera crews parked along this stretch of highway, enjoying the action in the Atlantic waves. Nationally recognized as one of the Eastern Seaboard's best ocean breaks, surfers come from miles around to test their skills against dozens of homegrown local surfers. The result is an oceanfront show that even non-surfers can enjoy from the comfort of beach chairs on the uncrowded beaches.

Miles of empty beaches await in the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge

Fishermen will also find plenty of fun in Rodanthe, with exceptional fishing both off the beaches, and from the Rodanthe Fishing Pier. The pier has suffered some damage throughout the years with the occasional passing hurricane, but it has always recovered and reopened to welcome seasonal anglers who want to drop a line in the deep Atlantic waters. From the side of the pier, anglers can expect to real in mullet, pompano, cobia, drum, and even occasional small sharks.

The 13 miles stretch of land from the town border of Rodanthe to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge comprises the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. One of the most famous East Coast vacation destinations for birders, the refuge features over 400 varieties of year-round and migratory species of birds, ranging from Great Blue Herons to the exceptionally rare White Pelicans. The refuge features a small visitors' center, as well as a series of nature trails that guide visitors from the parks' outskirts on NC Highway 12 deep into the maritime forests, marshlands, and Pamlico Sound bordering beaches.

Morning in RodantheThe Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge has become so renowned, in fact, that it is home to one of the birder community's most treasured annual festivals, the "Wings Over Water" event. This week-long event allows visiting birders to explore the grounds with local experts, by foot, kayak, or guided boat, and celebrate and compare notes with other avid birders. Open to everyone, visitors are encouraged to check out the Wings Over Water's website to see what educational and entertaining sessions on are the program, and how to sign up and join in on the fun.

As for accommodations, Rodanthe has a small number of campgrounds for vacationers who want to rustically relax and enjoy the beach life, as well as a number of gorgeous vacation rental homes. Rental homes in Rodanthe range from the small coastal cottage to the sprawling beachfront mansion, complete with a private pool, rec room, theater room, hot tub, and all the comforts of home. These vacation rental homes are available for weekly rental, or partial-week rentals for last minute reservations, and are represented by local Hatteras Island property management companies. (And yes, believe it or not, you can even rent the "Night in Rodanthe" home too.)

For beach-goers, it should also be noted that the town of Rodanthe is part of the National Park Service's (NPS) Cape Hatteras National Seashore, so all federal park guidelines should be followed. Pets, bonfires, and even beach driving are all allowed, however, there are restrictions and rules in all arenas. A visit to the NPS's website before your vacation will outline all the guidelines in relation to the Hatteras Island seashore, and will ensure you're up to date on the local Do's and Don'ts.

For a beach vacation that is literally miles away from the rest of the world, filled with stormy romance and plenty of on-the-water fun for everyone in the family, it's hard to beat Rodanthe. The romantic little town that has spurned dozens of sea-worthy adventure stories is also a dream vacation destination for families who adore a good quiet beach, and a lot of history. On your next Outer Banks vacation, take a trip to Rodanthe, and see why this little town has inspired storytellers to spread the word of all of Rodanthe's romantic and fun-filled possibilities.

Rodanthe Pier

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Rodanthe, NC?

Rodanthe is on Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks. It is the northernmost town on Hatteras Island, and borders the town of Waves to the south, as well as the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to the north.

How do you get to Rodanthe, NC?

Rodanthe is located 23 miles south of Whalebone Junction, which is where US 64 and US 158 connect. It can be reached via NC Highway 12 South.

How do you pronounce Rodanthe?

Rodanthe is pronounced as a three syllable word with a long “O” and “E” sound – “Row-Danth-ee.”

Where is Chicamacomico?

Chicamacomico is the historic name of Rodanthe, and refers to the original Native American inhabitants that lived in this northern section of Hatteras Island. Today, the word “Chicamacomico” can be found throughout the town in street names and local landmarks, like the historic Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station.

What is there to do in Rodanthe, NC?

Rodanthe is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and as such, it is best known for its exceptional oceanfront and soundfront beaches. The town is a popular destination for surfing, kiteboarding, windsurfing, kayaking, swimming, fishing, and just enjoying the shoreline. Rodanthe also has a number of shops and restaurants, as well as an amusement center and a local museum, the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station.

Where was Nights in Rodanthe filmed?

Several scenes of Nights in Rodanthe were filmed in the town of Rodanthe on Hatteras Island. The “Inn at Rodanthe” bed and breakfast where the movie takes place is actually a vacation rental home in the community called “Serendipity.” Additional scenes were shot at the Rodanthe Pier, and at local stores like the former JoBob’s Trading Post.

Where is the Nights in Rodanthe house?

The Nights in Rodanthe House, known in the book and movie as the “Inn at Rodanthe,” is located on Beacon Road in the town of Rodanthe. It is currently a vacation home that can be rented on a weekly basis.

Where are the beach accesses in Rodanthe, NC?

Because Rodanthe is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, all beaches in the community are open to the public. Multiple beach accesses are located at the end of oceanfront streets in town, and at community landmarks like the Rodanthe Pier.

What are the attractions in Rodanthe, NC?

Rodanthe is home to the historic Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station, one of the first life-saving stations on the Outer Banks, as well as the “Inn at Rodanthe” where the film Nights in Rodanthe was set. Rodanthe also borders the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, and is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Where do you stay in Rodanthe, NC?

Visitors to Rodanthe can stay at one of the town’s many vacation rental homes or condos, or at one of the town’s campgrounds and RV parks. There are no motels or hotels in Rodanthe.

What can you do on a rainy day in Rodanthe, NC?

Rodanthe has an amusement center which features a laser tag arena, an arcade, and other activities for visitors of all ages. On a rainy day, visitors can also tour local attractions like the historic Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station. The town also has a number of shops and restaurants, and is located 30 minutes away from central Outer Banks attractions like the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

Where can you surf in Rodanthe, NC?

Rodanthe has two popular surfing destinations: the S-Curves and the Rodanthe Pier. The S-Curves refers to the curvy stretch of NC Highway 12 just north of town, while the Rodanthe Pier is located in the center of Rodanthe.

Where can you kiteboard in Rodanthe?

Rodanthe has numerous kiteboarding centers and soundside access points throughout the town. Kiteboarding in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pamlico Sound is popular in Rodanthe.

Are pets allowed on the beach in Rodanthe, NC?

Pets are allows on the Rodanthe beaches provided they are leashed at all times, as Rodanthe is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Can I drive on the beach in Rodanthe, NC?

ORV ramps are found just south of the tri-villages, (Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo), and 4WD vehicles can access the beach via ramps 23, 25, and 27. Seasonal closures may apply. Visitors can often drive on the beaches in Rodanthe in the winter months, generally from October to March.

Do you need a permit to drive on the Rodanthe beaches?

4WD vehicles must obtain a beach driving permit to drive on the beaches in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Permits can be picked up in person at the National Park Service stations near Oregon Inlet or the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, or can be obtained online.

Are beach bonfires allowed in Rodanthe?

Beach bonfires are permitted throughout the town of Rodanthe, NC. A permit is required, and can be obtained through the National Park Service’s website or local ranger stations.

When is the best time to visit Rodanthe?

Rodanthe is most popular in the summer months, when businesses, shops, and restaurants are open, and the beaches are warm and sunny.

What are the average air temperatures each month in Rodanthe?

January - high: 52°, low: 36°F 

February - high: 54°, low: 38°F 

March - high: 60°, low: 43°F 

April - high: 69°, low: 52°F 

May - high: 77°, low: 59°F 

June - high: 84°, low: 69°F 

July - high: 88°, low: 73°F 

August - high: 86°, low: 72°F 

September - high: 81°, low: 68°F 

October - high: 72°, low: 58°F 

November - high: 64°, low: 49°F 

December - high: 56°, low: 40°F 


Rodanthe Photos

Rodanthe, NC oceanfront house

Oceanfront homes in Rodanthe, NC

Rodanthe pier


Awful Arthur's Oyster Bar

Welcome to the home of the happy oyster where for over 35 years the oyster has been our world. The Outer Banks only authentic oyster bar is the place to enjoy sensational fare from the sea washed down with your favorite brew or cocktail. We serve by the peck, pound, and dozen, raw or steamed to perfection. Kicked back casual, down to earth friendly staff, and reasonable prices make Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar the all-time favorite of locals and travelers alike.

The idea wasn’t to set out and establish a new concept restaurant on the Outer Banks, but that’s exactly what Awful Arthur’s owner Jo Whitehead and her late husband, Jay, accomplished more than 35 years ago when they opened the area’s first authentic oyster bar.


Awful Arthur’s opened in May 1984 on the Outer Banks. “We embraced the concept of an authentic copper top bar with the idea of it being a major drawing card and it still is,” explains Whitehead. “I get oysters wherever they are local. We follow the warm waters.” 


Just across from the ocean, in Kill Devil Hills, oyster season is year-round at Awful Arthur’s. Diners can take a seat at the copper-topped bar to observe the staff shucking oysters, served raw or steamed, along with shrimp, crab legs and clams all steamed to perfection. 


It’s not just the raw bar that’s earned Awful Arthur’s both local and national recognition, including being named one of America’s greatest oyster bars by Coastal Living magazine. The restaurant is a seafood-lover’s paradise, offering the freshest catches available.

Ben Franklin

Stop by Nags Head's Ben Franklin at Mile Post 10 on the Bypass where you will find everything you need for the beach! From Clothing, T-shirts and Swimwear to Boards, Chairs, Umbrellas and Tackle. You'll find it all…and of course, we have the best selection of Souvenirs anywhere on the Outer Banks. Enjoy your vacation! Independently owned by a member of one of the Outer Banks’ oldest families, the Ben Franklin store is stocked with just about everything a visitor would need to go to the beach.


Ben Franklin stores were once part of a five-and-dime retail empire, with about 2,500 locations across the country in its heyday. As decades passed and the times and customers began to change, many closed their doors, leading to fewer than 150 of these nostalgic shops. Nags Head Ben Franklin, however, has withstood the test of time and adapted to the needs of its customers to provide a memorable shopping experience on the Outer Banks.


Debbie Terry Tolson, manager of the Ben Franklin location in Nags Head, recalls working with former owner Tommie Daniels. Daniels’ father, Moncie Daniels, started the business in downtown Manteo in the early 1900s. The Daniels family has been a longstanding fixture in the Outer Banks business community—Moncie even sold gas to the Wright brothers in 1903.


Tommie, with an excellent business mind, saw the opportunity the new Bypass presented and, in 1977, he opened the Nags Head location of Ben Franklin. He was one of the first businesses on the Bypass,” Tolson says.In addition to a new location, the Ben Franklin store saw a new group of customers.


“People would come from all around because Tommie had a little bit of everything—it was more like a five and 10 then,” Tolson explains. “As he went to the beach, he began to get more tourists, so he started catering more and more to visitors.”


Today, the 21,000-square-foot souvenir shop quickly catches the attention of anyone driving by thanks to the ocean-themed mural that decorates the façade of the building, painted by local artist Rob Snyder. This Ben Franklin location has become the must-stop shop for both first-time visitors to the area and generations of families who escape to the Outer Banks annually.


Tolson credits the great prices and friendly customer service to the success of the location, which keeps families returning.“People come in all the time and tell me, ‘my grandmother or my grandfather used to bring me here and now I’m bringing my children,’” she shares. “One of my favorite parts about working here is seeing the people come back year after year.”

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