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Cruising to Coastal Carolina Lighthouses
While the beautiful North Carolina coast has much to offer sun seekers and water enthusiasts, some of the most prized treasures are the magnificent lighthouses you’ll encounter along the way. One of the best ways to experience them is by putting the top down on your rental car, and heading from north to south coastal North Carolina. Here are some amazing towers you’ll see during your NC lighthouse cruise:
- Currituck Beach Light Station. This is the northernmost light on Hwy 12 North (north from 158). Beautifully restored, this lighthouse and its buildings are open daily. Expect to pay a small fee to climb it (kids 8-years-old and younger are free.) Be sure to see the adjoining Whalehead Club, a restored 1930s waterfowl hunt club.
- Bodie Island Light Station. This is just about an hour or so from Currituck on Bodie Island. To get here head south in your rental car to Hwy 12, then take Hwy 158 South to MP 17 where the road rejoins Hwy 12. Head left at Cape Hatteras National Seashore for 10 miles to the Bodie Island Visitor Center and Light Station. Aside from a magnificent lighthouse, you’ll also find a bookstore and exhibits. Bring mosquito repellent!
- Cape Hatteras Light Station. From Bodie Island, you’ll take a 90 minute drive to the village of Buxton and the Cape Hatteras Light Station. Climbing the lighthouse, you’ll pay a small fee. The former keepers’ quarters are now a visitor center with a museum.
- Ocracoke Lighthouse. A 45-minute drive from Buxton will take you to the Ocracoke ferry in Hatteras Village. The ferry ride to the lighthouse is about 45 minutes. This lighthouse is owned by the National Park Service.
- Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Two-and-a-half hours away via the Cedar Island Ferry from Ocracoke, you’ll find this amazing lighthouse on Core Sound Banks, a tranquil island. To get here, take the Cedar Island Ferry from the south end of Ocracoke Island. The ferry crosses over 20 miles of Pamlico Sound before you reach your destination. After you arrive, you’ll drive another 30 minutes to the end of Harkers Island. The light tower and keepers' quarters are near the sound and boast a new visitors’ center with a bookstore and exhibits.
- Bald Head Lighthouse. Nicknamed "Old Baldy," you’ll have to make your way to Southport, N.C. – and then to the ferry dock on Indigo Plantation grounds to reach this island and lighthouse. With several cozy bed and breakfasts nearby, this is a great place to spend the night. Along with the lighthouse is a 1850s reproduction of the keeper's cottage. You can climb the lighthouse for a small fee.
- Oak Island Lighthouse. While on the ferry to Bald Head Island, you’ll spot the light from Oak Island Lighthouse. You can reach Oak Island by heading to Caswell Beach. This beautiful lighthouse also has a walkway/overlook across the road.