First of all, I have never seen such waves in my life as I saw there. I haven't spent a lot of time by the ocean, but these were what I would consider scary waves. It just seems like the ocean really wants to reclaim this little strip of land. That didn't deter surfers who were out there having a presumably good time.
Three lighthouses are located in and near Cape Hatteras National Seashore. We couldn't go inside any of them. Personally, I think it's pretty hard to beat the Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota.
Bodie Island Lighthouse
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The wind was just brutal when it wasn't raining. My car got sandblasted in some places, to my dismay. We got out of the wind by taking a nature trail, where we learned about primary and secondary dunes. Secondary dunes are better, in my opinion, because you get trees and less wind.
While in Cape Hatteras, I was able to spot several life list birds: green-winged teal, American black duck, northern gannet, Bonaparte's gull, and ring-necked duck. I also saw loons, swans, and a tricolored heron, among others.
Oh, and thousands of cormorants.
I saw zero green-and-gray park rangers while we were in Cape Hatteras. I don't think that is a good thing. The locals in the Outer Banks have a sense of hostility toward the National Park Service. One resident had a grim reaper lawn decoration indicating the NPS was there to harvest Hatteras. The animosity stems from, as I understood it from conversations I heard, changes in regulations for off-road vehicle use. The park needs to regulate off-road vehicles because of resource protection issues like nesting birds and turtles, but off-road vehicle use is a long-time tradition and popular use for the park. Apparently the fees for the ORV permits are high. It's a classic case of "use versus protection" without an easy answer. I have always been trained that protection comes first, while allowing for use. I won't offer suggestions how I think this situation could be better.
We got out of the Outer Banks by a ferry to the mainland. However, the ferry we intended to take was not available due to "mechanical problems," so we ended up at a different landing than we wanted. It wasn't a problem, but it did mean for a longer drive to Wilmington, NC, our destination for the day.
Seagulls drafting the ferry.
Willet at Wrightsville Beach, NC
Finally a chance to play in the sand!