Thing To Do

Villages of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo, North Carolina

The three Hatteras Island villages which are closest to central Outer Banks attractions, such as the Wright Brothers memorial, the NC Aquarium, and The Lost Colony, run together without borders, as one continuous village. Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo are simply charming, with lots of beautiful vacation rental homes, exceptional sound access for kiteboarding and windsurfing lovers, proximity to the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge for bird watchers, and miles and miles of gorgeous beaches. Hollywood paid homage to the area in the 2008 major motion picture, “Nights in Rodanthe”. The quaint desolate setting was the ideal backdrop for Nicholas Spark’s acclaimed book. Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station is also a key attraction for Hatteras Island visitors, and is a revered predecessor of the modern day Coast Guard.

Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo Attractions

  • Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station
  • Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
  • Rodanthe Fishing Pier
  • "The Slick" kiteboarding area

Originally, the “tri-villages,” as some locals call this area, were actually two villages: Chicamacomico and Clarksville. Chicamacomico was an Algonquin word meaning, ‘sinking down sand.’ In 1874, the same year the lifesaving station was established, the U.S. Post Office changed the name to Rodanthe, and later renamed the southern part of Rodanthe to “Waves”.

Legend has it that during the Civil War, a Union ship sailed past neighboring Clarksville, and the captain asked the name of the village. No one knew, so the captain asked the crew to give them a “cannon salvo,” or a cannon salute. The Salvo name stuck, and in 1901, the village officially changed the name. For decades, Salvo was also known as being home to the smallest U.S. Post office in the country. The building was built in 1901 and destroyed by a fire in 1992. An exact replica still stands in Salvo for visitors to enjoy.

Besides proximity to the busier central Outer Banks attractions, these villages also border the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, which runs between Rodanthe and the Bonner Bridge. The refuge has over 13 miles of wetlands, marshes, and beaches, and over 360 species of migrating birds flock to this area annually.

Perhaps most important, the tri-villages offer exceptional water access. In the vacation rental homes in this area, it is not uncommon to stand on a top level deck and enjoy picturesque views of both the ocean and sound. As such, this area has become renowned for water sports enthusiasts, such as kiteboarders and windsurfers, who enjoy exceptional sound access and numerous launching points, sometimes right from the backyard of a soundfront rental home. Surfers and ocean lovers can also enjoy some of the best waves on the East Coast.

With a few shops and restaurants, but no major chain grocery stores, Rodanthe Waves and Salvo visitors enjoy a picturesque small town feeling, with miles of water, and plenty of outdoor entertainment. For water and nature lovers who enjoy a little peace and quiet from the comfort of a beautiful vacation rental home, Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo is the place to be.

Nags Head, NC ~ A Fun Day Trip!!!

For a fun excursion off the island, many visitors enjoy a day exploring Hatteras Island’s northern neighbors, the towns of Nags Head, Manteo, Kill Devil Hills, and Kitty Hawk. This collection of towns known as the Central Outer Banks offer plenty of family friendly activities for young and young at heart, and is an enjoyable day trip for Hatteras Island vacationers. If you decide to go, there is a collection of “must-see” attractions just waiting to be discovered.

Shopping and Dining:

With a variety of stores and restaurants, you can spend your entire day trip with a little bit of shopping therapy, a quick meal and an evening of fine dining. Bargain hunters will love the Tanger Outlet Center, located at the southern end of Nags Head (known as South Nags Head) and with dozens of local and family-owned restaurants to choose from, there’s ample opportunity to sample North Carolina seafood.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head:

This 426-acre park in Nags Head is hard to miss, as it is home to the largest natural living sand dune on the East Coast. There are two self-guided trails and nature programs available year-round, and adventurous visitors can try hang gliding and kite flying, thanks to Kitty Hawk Kites’ flagship store just across the street.

Bodie Island Lighthouse:

The Bodie Island lighthouse is located just north of the Bonner Bridge, and the 156-foot tall horizontally-striped lighthouse is definitely worth a visit. While not open for climbing, the lighthouse grounds feature a visitor's center in the old keeper's quarters with exhibits, an Eastern National Bookstore, and a self-guided nature trail that winds through the soundside forests and marshes.

The Wright Brothers Memorial in Kill Devil Hills:

The statuesque monument that towers over the town of Kill Devil Hills marks the site of the Wright Brothers' first controlled powered flight on December 17, 1903. Climb to the top of the hill for an up close look at the pylon, or explore the neighboring Visitors’ Center, which features full-scale reproductions of the 1903 Wright Flyer and interpretive presentations. A pavilion boasts an exhibit hall with special exhibits, including a replica of the 1902 Wright Glider. This is also the site of the Centennial of Flight celebration in 2003 that was attended by President George W. Bush and saluted by a wing-dipping flyover of Air Force One.

The North Carolina Aquarium in Manteo:

The theme of this aquarium, the "Waters of The Outer Banks," allows visitors to journey from coastal freshwaters to the deep Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy watching river otters play, American alligators lounge, and stingrays glide in the aquarium’s “touch tank.” Of course, one of the largest attractions, (literally), is the 285,000-gallon "Graveyard of the Atlantic" tank containing a one-third scale replica of the USS Monitor, and dozens of large marine residents, including a variety of sharks.

Roanoke Island Festival Park on Roanoke Island:

Discover this interactive family attraction that celebrates the first English settlement in America. Located adjacent to Manteo, the 25-acre island park features plenty of waterfront strolling opportunities, and the Elizabeth II, a representation of one of the seven English ships from the Roanoke Voyage of 1585. Tour the ship, and be greeted by Costumed Elizabethan sailors who introduce visitors to sixteenth century seafaring life. The park's stage is also host to many outdoor concerts and a summer performance series by the North Carolina School of the Arts.

The Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island:

Located just north of Manteo and adjacent to Fort Raleigh National Historic Park, this 16th century pleasure garden was created by The Garden Club of North Carolina as a living memorial to the original Lost Colonists. A perfect attraction for spring and summer visitors, the Elizabethan Gardens feature a thatched gazebo, Shakespearean herb garden, flower bordered walkways, antique garden statuary, and formal sunken gardens.

While Hatteras Island visitors love the fact that the hustle and bustle of the Northern Outer Banks feels worlds away, an excursion to these attractions is just a short drive up the beach, and definitely well worth the trip.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse ~ America's Lighthouse

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on Hatteras Island, North Carolina, enjoys the distinction of being the tallest lighthouse in the country, and one of the most recognized lighthouses in the world thanks to its pattern of black and white candy cane stripes. Often referred to as America's Lighthouse, the fully-functioning lighthouse still flashes a nightly beacon that rotates every 7 seconds and can be seen up to 20 miles out to sea. Chances are, if you look closely from the deck of your vacation rental home, you’ll be able to catch the rotation of the beam of light as it circles Hatteras Island.

Quick Lighthouse Facts

  • The lighthouse is the tallest in America, at 210 ft. tall
  • It was designed to assist sailors navigating the treacherous Diamond Shoals
  • There are 269 steps to climb
  • The lighthouse was moved in 1999 to avoid erosion

Because of the treacherous Diamond Shoals, the intersecting and ever-changing currents off of Buxton’s Cape Point, a lighthouse was imperative for ships passing this stretch of the Outer Banks. Hundreds and possibly thousands of shipwrecks in this area have given it the nickname of “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. In 1797, Congress responded and authorized the building of a lighthouse. This first lighthouse was completed in 1803, and was considered poorly constructed from its first day of service. At only 90 feet, the beacon’s reach and visibility were simply inadequate.

In 1854, the original lighthouse was renovated to stand 150 feet tall, and a Fresnel lens, one of the best at the time, was installed. This did little good, as the lighthouse, (constructed out of sandstone), continued to get cracks, and an entirely new lighthouse was recommended.

Legend has it that during the design process of the new lighthouse, an engineer in charge of the lighthouse’s design had originally intended to give it a black diamond print, as an indication of the dangerous Diamond Shoals it bordered. Instead, the engineer accidentally mixed up the plans, and Cape Lookout’s lighthouse now sports the black diamond design. Hatteras Island’s lighthouse received the black and white candy cane stripes instead.

The new Hatteras lighthouse, the one that stands today, was activated in December 1870. Towering at 210 ft and located 1,500 ft from the water’s edge, it served as an imperative navigational aid for ships for decades. Comprised of 1,250,000 bricks with an iron infrastructure, the lighthouse has withstood generations of hurricanes with minimal damage.

Erosion, however, was one weather phenomenon that even the lighthouse could not withstand. In the summer of 1999, the Cape Hatteras Light was moved from its original location 2900 ft. back into Buxton woods to its present location. The move took a total of 23 days (including 2 days when there was no forward progress) reaching its new home on July 9th. Despite both local and visitor concerns, the move resulted in no significant damage to the well-loved national landmark.

Today, visitors are welcome to make the long 269 step climb (the equivalent of a 12 story building) to the very top of the lighthouse, where they are greeted with phenomenal bird’s eye views of Hatteras Island and the Atlantic Ocean. The lighthouse is open for climbing daily from April through October, 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. Tickets are available at the lighthouse ticket booth and can be purchased on the day of your climb. An adjacent visitor’s center, museum and gift shop allows visitors to learn more about both the lighthouse and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and the park also has nearby picnic areas and self-guided walking trails through Buxton’s maritime forest. Visit the National Park Service official Cape Hatteras Lighthouse website for information about climbing the lighthouse.

As one of the 4 remarkable lighthouses that dot the landscape of the Outer Banks, the Cape Hatteras Light simply stands out for its size, its notoriety, and its amazing views that can be explored and enjoyed by all Hatteras Island visitors.