Hatteras lies on the southwestern end of Hatteras Island. This barrier island is located off the coast North Carolina and features relaxed ocean living, a sleepy local small-town feel, and plenty of water-based activities. Spend your morning swimming and lying on the beach, and then take in the local history during an afternoon at one of the many museums. Rent gear for snorkeling or kayaking to really get into the aquatic experience. After finding your perfect Hatteras vacation rental, put these top attractions on your list of things to do.

1. Visit Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is one of Hatteras’ top attractions. It explores all things aquatic. There are exhibits featuring the evolution of diving with examples of old breathing rigs, local fishing, shipwrecks, and the original lamp of a lighthouse. It’s not all about water, though; the museum has local history as well as some antiques from an old sewing machine to an old oil lamp. The museum offers fun for the kids as well, such as daily scavenger hunts throughout the museum and annual events. There’s maritime crafting, Civil War presentations, and seafood cooking.

2. Go Kayaking With a Rental From Hatteras Watersports

With the Pamlico Sound on one side of Hatteras and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, there’s no reason not to explore the wetlands, marshes, and ocean on a kayak. Stop at Hatteras Watersports for a kayak rental. Opt for your own self-guided adventure or sign up to be part of a tour group. Some of the wildlife you can see include otters, minks, deer, blue crabs, great blue herons, and pelicans.

3. Catch Dinner With a Day Spent With Big Tahuna Charters

Fishing is a must-do while on the island, and Hatteras helps out by providing several fishing charters including Big Tahuna Charters, Hatteras Fishing Charters, and Sea Angel II Fishing Charters. Sea Angel Charters takes you to the best locations for blue marlin, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, and billfish. Although it specializes in sportfishing, it also has fishing tours for the family both inshore and offshore. Big Tahuna Charters heads to the Atlantic Gulf Stream for deep sea fishing. You might pick up a Mahi for dinner.

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4. Take a Day Trip and See Some Pirates at Teach’s Hole Blackbeard Exhibit

Hop aboard the Hatteras Island ferry–cars included–for a ride over to Ocracoke Island. This island boasts the landmark 1823 lighthouse, a quaint village, and a ton of history. While there, visit Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum and Gift Shop, housed in the historical David Williams House. After viewing island life in the early 1900s, check out the outdoor exhibits including an Old Cistern and Blanche fishing boat. If you, or the kids, are into pirates, Teach’s Hole Blackbeard Exhibit is a must-see. The exhibit features Blackbeard history and artwork, videos, and relics.

5. Visit the Hatteras Island Ocean Center

The Hatteras Island Ocean Center is a great place for kids and adults alike to learn about the animals living in the aquatic world. First, familiarize yourself with the ocean at the interactive museum. You can watch videos of an osprey fishing, sea turtles tucked away in their nests, and snakes undergoing a mating ritual. Next, view the sea turtles via the Sea Turtle Talk and Walk Program. Finally, put your new knowledge to good use by going on an Ocean Center-guided paddleboard or kayak tour to see all the wildlife in their natural habitat.

6. Go Horseback Riding With Kitty Hawk Adventures

There’s nothing quite as fun as exploring a beach on horseback, especially when you don’t have to worry about sand in your shoes. Kitty Hawk Adventures offers horseback riding along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and Cape Point. You get to enjoy the natural beauty of the Buxton Woods and coastal beach.

7. Go Snorkeling With Outer Banks Diving

Get a new perspective of Hatteras and the ocean teaming with life by doing some snorkeling or scuba diving. Family Water Adventures offers several adventures including snorkeling, geared toward both kids and adults. Outer Banks Diving takes you below the surface where you can see fish, turtles, and shipwrecks. Dive Hatteras offers both scuba diving and snorkeling. They not only take you to great spots for spotting wildlife, but they also take pictures of your experience, a great souvenir.

8. Enjoy Local Art at the Blue Pelican Gallery or Pea Island Art Gallery

If you want something to commemorate your trip, stop at the Blue Pelican Gallery or Pea Island Art Gallery. Both offer work by local artists that incapsulate island life. Even if you don’t buy anything, viewing the work at Pea Island Art Gallery adds a little culture to your trip. The gallery boasts artwork of all media from oil painting and sculpture to pottery and jewelry. The Blue Pelican Gallery is smaller but features an interesting, eclectic collection of artwork that you can proudly display in your home.

9. Indulge in Some Retail Therapy at Robinson’s General Store

If the art galleries don’t have anything that you want, do some shopping at the little stores and boutiques that dot the island. For instance, Lee Robinson’s General Store isn’t just a cute example of the local architecture, but it also has everything you need for a stay in your Hatteras vacation rental from groceries and snacks to beer and fine wines. You can even browse its collection of gifts.

10. Enjoy a Meal Out at Breakwater Restaurant

With fresh seafood literally just feet away, eating at some of the many eateries is almost mandatory. Breakwater Restaurant offers not only a plethora of seafood, but it also offers it in a waterside setting. Sonny’s Waterfront Restaurant and Quarterdeck Restaurant also have extensive seafood menus. For something a little different, try Rocco’s Pizza or Hatterasman, one features Italian and the other all-American fare.

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