The 208-foot-tall Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest in the United States. Visitors may climb the 268 steps to its top for a commanding view of the shoreline.Cape Hatteras is a largely untamed string of barrier islands about 70 miles long. This natural wonder has a distinct culture and fascinating history. The dunes, marshes, and woodlands that mark the thin strand of land between North Carolina's coastal sounds and the Atlantic Ocean are a diverse ecosystem defined by the wind and the sea.
Nearly 400 species of birds have been sighted in the Cape Hatteras area. Hawks, shorebirds and songbirds are common in spring and fall; terns and herons populate Cape Hatteras in the summer; and ducks and geese make the area home in winter.
Countless shipwrecks have earned Cape Hatteras a treacherous reputation and the nickname "The Graveyard of the Atlantic." The navigational dangers led to the construction of several lighthouses, including Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and Ocracoke Lighthouse (built in 1823, it's the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina).
While crowds are few and far between, Cape Hatteras is a popular recreational destination. Try the waters on either side of the island -- they are considered some of the best on the entire East Coast for surfing. The cape is also excellent for surf, sound and pier fishing.