Buxton is an unincorporated community on Hatteras Island near Cape Hatteras in Dare County, North Carolina. Buxton is linked to other Outer Banks communities such as Avon, Frisco, and Hatteras by the North Carolina Highway 12. Cape Hatteras Light is Buxton’s most recognizable attractions and the tallest brick lighthouse in the country. Hatteras Island Visitor Center and Museum of the Sea is located next to the lighthouse. Shelly Island does not exist anymore, but is famous for being the biggest sand island to disappear in the shortest amount of time in the shifting sandbars off the coast. Hatteras Tours offers island exploration guided by the noted island author, historian and storyteller, Danny Couch. Buxton Village Books is a local bookstore located in a quaint easily recognizable pre-Civil War house in downtown Buxton.

We recommend that you call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.

1.Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
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Cape Hatteras Light on Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks in the town of Buxton, North Carolina is the tallest brick lighthouse in the States and second tallest in the world. The 210-foot structure is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The Outer Banks are barrier islands on the coast of North Carolina between the Atlantic Ocean and the coastal sounds and inlets. The first sandstone lighthouse was authorized in 1794 and completed in 1803, but was found ineffective in protecting ships from the deadly Diamond Shoals, the area of shifting sandbars known for massive storms. The existing Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was first lit in 1870, throwing a beam of light 20 miles into the ocean. Next to the Cape Hatteras Light, in the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Double Keepers' Quarters, is the Hatteras Island Visitor Center and Museum of the Sea, with the exhibits that tell the story of the history, maritime heritage and natural history of the Outer Banks and the lighthouse.

46379 Lighthouse Rd, Buxton, NC 27920

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2.Shelly Island, Buxton, North Carolina

Shelly Island, Buxton, North Carolina
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Shelly Island started its life in April 2017 as a sandbank in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Located in Buxton, North Carolina, off the tip of Cape Point, the island was drastically reduced by Hurricane Maria. At its largest, the crescent-shaped island was about one mile long and over 500 feet wide. The locals named it Shelly Island because of the massive quantities of shells on its shore. But, by early 2018, the island completely disappeared. The island was located a few hundred feet from Hatteras Island, in the area known for the huge storms, named the Graveyard of the Atlantic. While small islands often appeared and disappeared in this area, Shelly Island was significant because it was much larger.

Buxton, Hatteras Island, NC

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3.Hatteras Tours, Buxton, North Carolina

Hatteras Tours, Buxton, North Carolina
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Hatteras Tours promise to make your exploring of the magnificent Outer Banks comfortable, entertaining and very informative. They will take you along famous Highway 12 from Duck to Ocracoke to see all the top landmarks and most exciting attractions. Your guide will be the noted island author, historian and storyteller, Danny Couch, who knows all there is to know about the unique maritime history, heritage, culture and tradition of Hatteras & Ocracoke on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The Hatteras Tours coaches are air conditioned and spacious with high back seats oriented for comfortable observation. The large tinted glass keeps the sun glare away and intercom system with speakers makes listening to the tour guide pleasant and easy.

Buxton, North Carolina

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4.Buxton Village Books, Buxton, North Carolina

Buxton Village Books, Buxton, North Carolina
© Buxton Village Books

For book lovers, visiting Buxton Village Books while visiting Cape Hatteras is a must. Located in a quaint easily recognizable pre-Civil War house in downtown Buxton, its front room still has the shipwreck timbers with which it was originally constructed. Buxton Village Books is an independently owned, full service, coastal bookstore that caters equally to the visitors and their needs and to the locals, supplying them with reading materials. They have a notable section on books about the Outer Banks and especially Hatteras Island with some great titles for all ages and interests. There are books on Hatteras history, Ocracoke, local cookbooks, field guides and books for kids and young adults. In the store, and on their website, they offer all the newest best sellers, contemporary fiction, southern fiction, non-fiction and adventure and young adult titles and more.

47918 NC-12, Buxton, NC 27920, Phone: 252-995-4240

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5.Buxton Woods Reserve

Buxton Woods Reserve
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Forming a part of the N. C. Coastal Reserve, the Buxton Woods Reserve covers 1007 acres on Hatteras Island, on the Southern Outer Banks. The Reserve is surrounded by the largest surviving tract of Maritime Evergreen Forest on the Atlantic Coastline. Nature lovers come to this pristine reserve to get back to nature along a network of hiking trails which offer access to amazing sand dunes, marshes and wetlands, all of which offer habitats for many tropical and sub-tropical species of plants and many birds. Access to the island is via Buxton from the north, or via public ferry from Ocracoke Island, from the south.

Buxton Woods Reserve, 46375 Lighthouse Rd, Buxton, NC 27920, 252 473 2111

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6.Fox Watersports, Buxton, North Carolina

Fox Watersports, Buxton, North Carolina
© Fox Watersports

What started in 1968 in Lantana, Florida as a small space where Ted James was selling his handcrafted surfboards, grew into one of the leaders in the surf industry and a leading manufacturer and retailer of the surfing equipment. Ted moved to Hatteras Islands in 1976 and constructed the building where the Fox Watersports is today. Fox has been the leading source for windsurfing gear on the Outer Banks since the early 80's. They offer not the best windsurfing gear available including the latest from Ezzy, JP Australia, Dakine, Oneill Wetsuits, Chinook and more. Fox has been kitesurfing since the late 90s and designed and built some of the first kiteboards that were able to stay up wind and retrofitted some of the early designs to be more user friendly. They have a great selection of gear from Wainman Hawaii, Dakine, Cabrinha, Aggression and more.

47108 NC-12, Buxton, NC 27920, Phone: 252-995-4102

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7.Orange Blossom Bakery, Buxton, North Carolina

Orange Blossom Bakery, Buxton, North Carolina
© Orange Blossom Bakery

You will learn about the famous Uglies before you even arrive in Buxton, North Carolina. This big cinnamon-laced deep fried fritter with apples and oozing glaze is the trademark and the most famous product of the local bakery Orange Blossoms. The bakery is located in a converted motel and serves famous "apple uglies," pastries, organic coffee and delicious breakfast sandwiches on home made Italian bread since 1979. If you, like so many others, come just for one of the “apple uglies’, you will have to stand in a separate line that sometimes goes around the corner, called “ugly line.” The strange misshapen blob of fried dough is worth every minute you wait in the ‘ugly line.” Orange Blossom Bakery also makes special occasion cakes, even cakes made in the shape of fish for someone who has never caught any.

47206 NC-12, Buxton, NC 27920, Phone: 252-995-4109

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8.Sandbar & Grille, Buxton, North Carolina

Sandbar & Grille, Buxton, North Carolina
© Sandbar & Grille

Sandbar and Grille is a popular seafood restaurant in Buxton, North Carolina, with 22 years of stormy history, literally. After three hurricanes and numerous storms, they are now operating in the third building, two previous ones being blown away by the winds. Located right on the water, with spectacular views of the sea from the spacious dining room and large deck, Sandbar and Grille specializes in the fresh fish and seafood from the local waters. They also offer sandwiches, steaks, pastas, salads and soups. There is a well-equipped arcade games room and live entertainment weekly.

49252 NC-12, Buxton, NC 27920, Phone: 252-995-3413

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8 Best Things to Do in Buxton, North Carolina

Attraction Spotlight: Cape Hatteras Light Station in Buxton

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is located on Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks and protects one of the most dangerous channels of the Atlantic Coast. Located in the town of Buxton, NC the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and serves as protection from to the hazardous twelve-mile long sandbar called Diamond Shoals for southbound ships. The area around the lighthouse has been named the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’ due to the number of shipwrecks that have occurred there.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was commissioned to be built by Congress in 1974 when they recognized the danger posed to southern bound Atlantic shipping. Construction on the lighthouse began in 1799, which was made from sandstone and stood 90 feet tall. The first lamp, which was powered by whale oil, was lit in 1803.

In 1853, after discovering the lighthouse was ineffectual due to being too short and made of unpainted sandstone that blended into the background, the Lighthouse Board decided to add 60 feet to the height of the lighthouse and paint it red and white for better sighting. The tower was retrofitted with a first-order Fresnel lens, which both reflection and refraction to channel light, thus creating a stronger beam.

By the 1860s, the lighthouse was in dire need of extensive repairs once again, and renovations began in 1868, which included being painted in the famous black and white stripe daymark pattern and receiving a light sequence (night mark). The new lighthouse donned a conical design rising from a granite and brick base. The tower light was made from iron and glass and was lit on December 1, 1870. The lamp was later electrified in 1934, providing rotating power and a photocell that turns the light on and off.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1935 due to the threat of beach erosion and transferred to the National Park Service a year later where it became part of the nation’s first National Seashore. A massive storm in 1980 swept the remains of the original lighthouse away, after which the Cape Hatteras Light Station was moved to its present location. Today, the tower lies 1,500 feet from the seashore, along with the Principal Keeper’s Quarters, the Double Keepers’ Quarters, the oil house, and the dwelling cisterns. The National Park Service currently maintains the lighthouse and the keepers’ quarters and the U.S. Coast Guard operates and maintains the automated light.

Today, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse stands at the height of 210 feet tall, making it the tallest brick lighthouse in the world. The light beam from its modern aerobeacon flashes every 7.5 seconds or eight flashes a minute and reaches 19 nautical miles. The last keeper of the lighthouse was Unaka Jennette who closed the light tower due to erosion in 1936.

The Cape Hatteras Light Station is located near Cape Hatteras, which is roughly in the middle of Cape Hatteras National Seashore and is open to the public for self-guided climbs and tours from the third Friday in April to Columbus Day in October. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has 257 steps from the ground to the balcony level with a handrail on one side only and a landing every 31 steps. School Group Climbs and Full Moon Tours need to be booked in advance.

46379 Lighthouse Road, Buxton, North Carolina 27920

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More Ideas: Inn on Pamlico Sound

Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore on North Carolina's Outer Banks, the Inn on Pamlico Sound is a full service boutique hotel offering luxurious accommodations with gorgeous waterfront views, gourmet cuisine, unique event facilities and an array of activities and recreational pursuits.

The Hatteras Island boutique hotel exudes the style of a European hotel and the charm of a quaint North Carolina coastal bed and breakfast and is a perfect venue for all occasions from weddings and anniversaries to corporate retreats and business meetings. Beautifully appointed waterfront lodgings to feature inviting guest rooms with private bathrooms, whirlpool tubs, and expansive decks boasting stunning views. Café Pamlico serves gourmet cuisine in both indoor and outdoor settings, while world-class facilities include a 14-seat home theater, a fully stocked film and book library, pampering in-room spa services, live music and entertainment and an array of recreational activities and watersports.

The home-away-from-home inn is set in the Village of Buxton in the heart of the Outer Banks and ideally located for exploring the region. The waterfront Inn is within walking distance of gorgeous Atlantic Ocean beaches and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, as well as the villages of Avon, Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo to the north and Frisco and Hatteras Village to the south. Slightly further afield are the charming islands of Ocracoke Island, Roanoke Island and Nags Head, which are all well worth a visit.

The Inn on Pamlico Sound offers three classes of guest rooms to cater for all budgets and needs, ranging from Premium Soundview and Soundfront King Rooms and Soundview and Soundfront King Rooms to Garden View, Soundfront and Petite Queen Rooms. Premium Soundview and Soundfront King Rooms have three guest rooms, namely Magnolia, Jasmine and Sea Oats.

Located on the second floor of the Inn and the most luxurious of the Premium Soundview and Soundfront King Rooms, Magnolia is a king-sized corner room with gorgeous panoramic views of the Sound through French doors and large windows. Beautifully decorated with luxurious furnishings and rich salmon accents, Magnolia features a king-size bed and queen-size sleeper sofa, an en-suite bathroom with Italian tiling and two-person whirlpool tub and a spacious sitting area with comfortable sofas, 27" flat screen television with DVD and cable channels and complimentary wireless Internet. A private porch with rocking chairs boasts stunning views.

Camelia is one of the beautifully appointed Soundview and Soundfront King Rooms on the top floor of the Inn and boasts stunning views of the Pamlico from a private corner deck and east-facing windows. Camelia features cathedral ceilings and Brazilian cherry hardwood floors, a king-size gold filigree sleigh bed, an en-suite bathroom Italian tiling and whirlpool tub for two. A comfortable sitting area has a 27" flat screen television with DVD and cable channels and complimentary wireless Internet.

The Morning Glory room is one of the Garden View, Soundfront and Petite Queen Rooms and is decorated in vibrant hues of chartreuse and cream. The bright and sunny room boasts breathtaking views across the sound and features hardwood floors, a king-size bed and en-suite bathroom, and spacious sitting area with rocking chair, 22" flat screen television with DVD and cable channels and complimentary wireless Internet.

Café Pamlico is a casual eatery that serves contemporary coastal cuisine and fine wine in a stylish waterfront setting. Open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu features dishes created with locally sourced ingredients, freshly caught fish, and organic salads and vegetables and is served in one of the intimate dining rooms, at the copper bar, or al fresco-style on one of the outdoor decks overlooking the water. The exceptional food and inspired wine and cocktail program are accompanied by outstanding detail oriented service and gracious, attentive Southern hospitality to offer diners a world-class dining experience.

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Guests are treated to a complimentary gourmet breakfast every morning as part of their stay, as well as snack baskets, freshly baked goodies, candy and chocolates and beverages from well-stocked refrigerators throughout the day.

Amenities and facilities at the Inn on Pamlico Sound include a sparkling waterfront swimming pool with beautiful views over the sound, complimentary bicycles for exploring the region, use of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for water-based adventures, as well as complimentary use of beach chairs, towels and field glasses for bird and wildlife watching.

The Inn features 14-seat home theater and a well-stocked library with a collection of over 2,000 films, a fully stocked reading library with books, magazines and other reading material which can be enjoyed on one of the private decks, porches, and verandas around the property. Guest computers and complimentary wireless Internet are available for guest use.

A variety of watersports are offered on the sound, including windsurfing, kiteboarding, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking and the Inn provides space for equipment storage. The friendly staff at the Inn can arrange windsurfing or kiteboarding lessons, as well as fishing charters and sunset cruises from the nearby marina.

The Inn on Pamlico Sound located in the village of Buxton, on Hatteras Island and is surrounded by the natural beauty of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The little Island and Cape Hatteras National Seashore offers a plethora of things to see and do from biking to beachcombing. The Inn is a short walk away from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and spot where Gulf Stream meets the Labrador Current in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore boasts 70 miles of pristine shoreline which is home to myriad seabirds, dolphins and other marine creatures, beautiful shells and other seashore treasures to discover. A short ferry ride takes you to Ocracoke Island, home of Blackbeard the Pirate or visit the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge for excellent walking and hiking trails, bird watching and panoramic views.

Hatteras Village is home to a variety of galleries that exhibit works by local artists and artisans, as well as shops, boutiques, cafés and restaurants and the little harbor sees fishing boats bringing in their catches every afternoon. Other enjoyable activities in and around the area include horseback riding trails, kiting, charter fishing boats, pottery making, and massage and spa services.

49684 Hwy 12, PO Box 737, Buxton, NC 27920, Phone: 252-995-7030

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