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Cape Hatteras National Seashore sees May jump in visitors

Cape Hatteras National Seashore experienced a 13-percent increase in total recreational visits this May compared to last year.

Last month, 248,423 traveled to the national seashore on the Outer Banks, making it the busiest May since 2003.

So far in 2018, the seashore has hosted 740,751 recreational visits, up approximately 13 percent from the same period last year.

Past yearly visit counts include:

2018 – 740,751

2017 – 652,437

2016 – 623,641

2015 – 563,663

2014 – 547,647

Visitation estimates are collected by counting southbound vehicles just north of the Bonner Bridge and using a multiplier to estimate the total number of passengers heading south. Those estimates are added to the number of passengers going to Ocracoke Island from Cedar Island and Swan Quarter.

The seashore offers a swimming, sunbathing, shell collecting, off-road vehicle use; fishing from the surf, boats and piers; waterfowl hunting in season; lighthouse climbing, interpretive programs with a park ranger; camping; hiking; kayaking; watersports like surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding and wildlife viewing.

Swimmers are encouraged to take advantage of the park’s three beach locations staffed with lifeguards from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Lifeguards are on duty from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Lifeguard beach locations are:

– Coquina Beach, located near Bodie Island Lighthouse in South Nags Head

– Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Beach, located near the old Cape Hatteras Lighthouse site in Buxton

– Ocracoke Day Use Beach, located on Ocracoke Island