If any one thing represents all of Hatteras Island, it has to be the famous black-and-white, spiral-striped Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The lighthouse has become the icon of the island, representing the hopeful, stalwart, survivalist attitude that is so pervasive among the people of Hatteras. This is one of the most famous lighthouses in the nation, especially since it survived a controversial, precarious move in 1999. Now in the hands of the National Park Service, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is open to the public.
Visitors 42 inches and taller can climb the spiral staircase up to the top of the lighthouse for an unforgettable view of the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Hatteras and Buxton. For the 2016 season, the climb costs $8 for adults and $4 for children 11 years of age and younger, seniors ages 62 and older and persons with a disability. The lighthouse is open from the third Friday in April through Columbus Day. Lighthouse tours begin at 9 a.m. daily and run every 10 minutes with a limit of 30 visitors per tour. The last tickets of the day are sold at 4:40 p.m. This is a very popular attraction and no advance tickets are sold, so the best thing to do is to get there early (before noon) and visit the ticket booth to buy a ticket, which will state the time of your tour. The ticket booth opens at 8:15 a.m. Be sure to be at the gate five minutes before your tour time. A museum about lighthouses and the history of the Outer Banks is located inside the historic Double Keepers’ Quarters Building just across the lawn from the lighthouse. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
FYI: The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Cape Hatteras National Seashore, along with Wright Brothers National Memorial, are designated Federal Recreation Fee Areas. Eighty percent of the funds generated by park fees are used to improve visitor facilities within the Outer Banks Group. The remaining 20 percent support projects in other National Park Service areas.