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Memorial Day weekend: Enjoy the Cape Hatteras National Seashore

National Park Service staff at Cape Hatteras National Seashore are looking forward to welcoming visitors this Memorial Day weekend.

The national seashore offers a variety of recreational activities, including beach recreation; off-road vehicle (ORV) use; fishing from the surf, boats and piers; lighthouse climbing; interpretive programs with a park ranger; camping; hiking; kayaking; water sports; and wildlife viewing.

memorial day weekend

Cape Chronicle/NPS photo

Programs with a Park Ranger

Over Memorial Day weekend, ranger-led programs are offered at these locations:

Hatteras Island

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Climbing. Daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

20th Anniversary: the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Move! Daily at 10:30 a.m.

Learn about the monumental move that happened right here in 1999 when the entire light station was moved 2,900 feet away from the threat of a changing shoreline. Meet at Hatteras Island Visitor Center Pavilion.

Shaping this Barrier Island. Daily at 3:30 p.m.

War, wind, hurricanes, and ocean currents have all had impacts on the shores of Cape Hatteras. Learn about some of these events and the changes they have made to the island. Meet at Hatteras Island Visitor Center.

Fish with a Ranger, Monday (Memorial Day), 8 to 9:30 a.m. in Buxton and Tuesday (May 28) from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in Rodanthe. Poles provided. Participants bring the bait. To pre-register beginning the Saturday prior to the program, call 252-475-9622. Note: Specify location for program.

Bodie Island: Bodie Island Lighthouse Climbing, daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Ocracoke Island

Pirates. Monday (Memorial Day). 1 p.m. Learn about Blackbeard and others. Meet at the Ocracoke Visitor Center Amphitheater.

Barrier Island Nature. Monday (Memorial Day). 3 p.m.

This is a talk about the wild side of the park. Meet at the Ocracoke Visitor Center.

Ocracoke After Dark, Monday (Memorial Day). 8:45 p.m.

Bring blankets and chairs for an evening of stargazing on the beach! Bring bug spray and meet at the Ocracoke Day Use Area Beach.

For more interpretive programs, visit the Cape Hatteras National Seashore website nps.gov/caha and select Plan your Visit.

Lifeguarded Beaches

Four beach locations along the seashore are staffed with lifeguards starting Memorial Day weekend. Beach wheelchairs are available at lifeguarded beaches which are the safest places to swim. Lifeguarded beach locations are:

Bodie Island: Coquina Beach Access, located across from the Bodie Island Lighthouse site.

Hatteras Island: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Beach Access, adjacent to the Old Cape Hatteras Lighthouse site.

Hatteras Island: Frisco Beach Access, located just south of Frisco Village.

Ocracoke Island: Ocracoke Beach Access, 1.5 miles south of the NPS campground.

Off-Road Vehicle Travel

– Currently over 25 miles of oceanside ORV beach routes are available for visitors to enjoy. An area near the tip of Cape Point is temporarily closed to protect nesting shorebirds; however, ORV users can still access a large area towards Cape Point and north of Ramp 43. Additionally, many miles in front of the villages are open for non-motorized activities, along with many more miles spread across the Seashore.

– ORV permits can be purchased online at recreation.gov or in-person at the following permit offices: Bodie Island Visitor Center, Hatteras Island Visitor Center, and Ocracoke Island Visitor Center.

– Before driving on ORV routes, lower tire pressure at least 20 psi. The softer the sand, the lower the pressure. Reinflate tires to normal pressure as soon as possible after returning to paved roads. Many local businesses have air pumps.

Buxton Beach Access

On May 24, a new beach access opens at the end of Old Lighthouse Road in Buxton. When the Buxton Beach Access opens, a 50-car parking area, portable restrooms and a non-slip wheelchair beach access mat will be available. The site previously served as a U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard base.

Passenger Ferry

The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division recently started a passenger-only ferry service between Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands. The Ocracoke Express Passenger Ferry runs seven days a week through Sept. 5. The trip is 70 minutes long between Hatteras Village and Ocracoke. More info can be found at ncdot.gov/divisions/ferry and click the button for Ocracoke Express.


The Seashore has four campgrounds. All of the campgrounds have tent, trailer and motorhome sites. The Oregon Inlet Campground has water and electric at 47 camping sites. Full details at nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/campgrounds.

Share your Memorial Day weekend memories with the National Park Service on social media. Cape Hatteras National Seashore is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



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