Lighthouses are a captivating feature of the U. S. coast. The lighthouses along the North Carolina coastline are full of rich history dating back to and even before the Civil War.
Adventurous travelers will find a lighthouse about every 40 miles as you drive the North Carolina coast. Each beacon tells it’s own story. If you are not afraid of heights or climbing lots and lots of steps, you can do so at most of these beacons.
Bodie Island Lighthouse
Located at at the northern end of Cape Hatteras in the Outer Banks Bodie Island Lighthouse has quite the history. The current lighthouse is the third one at this location. Read the storied history of the first two here.
Open from late April until early October you can climb the 214 steps to the top. The former keepers house is now a Visitors Center. A must see if you are vacationing at Nags Head.
Currituck Beach Lighthouse
North Carolina’s northernmost lighthouse dates back to 1875. Located at Corolla which is a vacation destination loaded with beach cottages ready to rent for those seeking a quiet beach getaway without all the fuss.
Climb 241 steps of the 158 foot tall brick lighthouse from March until late November.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The 208-foot Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States. This is mostly due to the need caused by an ocean current which forces southbound ships into a trecherous twelve-mile long sandbar called Diamond Shoals. The area is referred to as the Graveyard of the Atlantic due to the many, many shipwrecks in the area.
The original lighthouse wasn’t tall enough. Another coastal icon full of rich history. The original planning dates back to 1794.
Cape Lookout Lighthouse
Cape Lookout Lighthouse which is solar generated, is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Accessible by personal boat or private ferry, this is the southern most part of the Outer Banks.
Pack a picnic and enjoy your day in the park and on the undeveloped beaches. The park is open to the public every day of the year, 24 hours a day. The Light Station Visitor Center is open from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM, 7 days per week from April to November.
Climb the 207 stairs to the top from late May until late September.
Considered to be the second oldest active lighthouse in the nation, Ocracoke is the oldest active lighthouse in North Carolina. The Ocracoke Lighthouse stands 75 feet tall and is not open for climbing.
Located at Ocracoke North Carolina, Ocracoke Village is at the southern end of the Outer Banks. A nice place to visit for fishermen, bird watchers and nature lovers.
The Oak Island Lighthouse is located at the town of Caswell Beach N.C., does not have the spiral staircase common to most lighthouses. Instead there is a series of ships ladders! You can arrange a climb if you dare, up the 131 steps! Reservations are required for a climb to the top tour. Go here for more information.
Price’s Creek Lighthouse
Price’s Creek Lighthouse, only 20 feet tall, is not available for touring to the public but you can see it from a ferry ride. The history dates back to the Civil War when the lighthouse served as a Confederate signal station. Read more about it in Tales of the Silver Coast: A Secret History of North Carolina’s Brunswick County (affiliate link) The history is fascinating.
You can possibly view the lighthouse from the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry accessible when visiting Southport North Carolina.
Bald Head Lighthouse
The Bald Head Lighthouse, nicknamed “Old Baldy” is North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse. Built in 1817 and standing 110 ft. tall with 108 steps, if you climb Old Baldy you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Cape Fear.
Located on Bald Island and only accessible by boat. Plan your trip in advance. The passenger ferry in Southport makes daily trips to the island.
Would you enjoy staying in the former Keepers Cottage? There are three available for vacation rental right here. They are called Captain Charlie’s 1, 2 and 3. Pretty cool place to stay in a peaceful serene atmosphere.
- Bodie Island Lighthouse
- Currituck Beach Lighthouse (site is currently down)
- Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
- Cape Lookout Lighthouse
- Ocracoke Lighthouse
- Oak Island Lighthouse
- Price’s Creek Lighthouse
- Bald Head Lighthouse