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Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Updated on September 11, 2014

Cape Hatteras-America's Lighthouse

Cape Hatteras is one of five lighthouses that dot the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Each of these lighthouses has a very distinctive look. One is natural red brick, one black and white striped, one solid white, one a black and white diamond design and Cape Hatteras is a black and white spiraled design. In reading literature from the lighthouses I found out that this distinctive look is by design. When these lighthouses were built in the 1800's they did not have the navigational guides that are in existence today. The different designs were to help the ships know where they were located along the coast.

In this lens I will share information and photographs from my visit to Cape Hatteras. So sit back and relax and enjoy a pictorial view of Cape Hatteras.

photos by mbgphoto

Entrance to Lighthouse Grounds - lighthouse open to the public

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is open for climbing from mid-April to Columbus day. There is a very nice visitors center and museum. The visitors center/museum and the grounds are open year round and are free to the public.

During our visit in mid-August we were staying about 1 mile away from the lighthouse so we visited it several times. I wanted to take photos of the lighthouse at different times of day. I also wanted to visit after hours to be able to photograph the lighthouse without a lot of people around.

On our first visit the lighthouse was open and there were a lot of people visiting. I was able to visit the museum and get an idea of the angles I wanted to use to photograph the lighthouse.

We returned in the early evening to photograph the lighthouse in the early evening light. This time there were very few visitors since the visitor center had closed at 6 p.m..

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - view from path from visitors center

Cape Hatteras lighthouse is the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States. It is 208 feet tall. It's spiral-striped black and white design have made it a very familiar landmark and it is often given the name of "America's Lighthouse".

The present lighthouse was completed and lit in December of 1870. It was the second lighthouse that was built in the area.

Instructions for Lighthouse Climbers - lighthouse climbing a great experience

Full View of Lighthouse

Outer Banks lighthouse

The lighthouses of the coast played important parts in the Civil War of 1861. The confederate soldiers wanted to make sure that Cape Hatteras did not fall into the hands of the Union, so they took the Fresnel lens out of the lighthouse.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina were important for the Union to keep supplies from getting into the interior of the southern states. Because of structural damage to the lighthouse during the war a new lighthouse was built in 1870. This is the lighthouse that still stands today.

Closeup of Lighthouse - America's Lighthouse

Here is a close up photo of the lighthouse that I took while standing at the base of the lighthouse.

This lighthouse was moved 1/2 mile inland in 1999. There were concerns that the Atlantic ocean was causing deterioration of the lighthouse so it was cut from it's original base and hydraulically lifted onto steel beams and moved to the present location. This process took 23 days.

Information for this lens was gathered from a brochure entitled Maritime History Lighthouses along the Outer Banks. This brochure was distributed by

Lighted Lighthouse Figurine

This wonderful lighted figurine will make a great addition to your lighthouse decor.

Lighthouse viewed through roof of Vistor Center

I liked this view through the rafters of the area in front of the visitors center.

Lighthouse through the Sea Oats

Lighthouse through the Sea Oats
Lighthouse through the Sea Oats

Lighthouse Welcome Sign

I just found this welcome sign at Amazon. The lighthouse looks just like the one on Cape Hatteras.

Wouldn't this make a great welcome sign for a vacation home! Or for that matter...I'd love to have it anywhere. Great price too!

Lighthouse photographed from path to Ocean

Not far from the lighthouse is a path to the ocean. I took this path and then turned around and photographed the lighthouse through the sea oats.

Cape Hatteras-Guiding Light

This photo was taken in the early evening from a tower at the hotel where we were staying. We were about 1 mile away from the lighthouse. I noticed color in the evening sky and grabbed my camera and climbed up the tower.

I was delighted to catch the lighthouse beam and the evening sky! The pink cast to the sky made it a wonderful time to photograph the lighthouse.

I'd love to hear from you.

What is your favorite lighthouse? - stop by and leave a comment

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    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 

      4 years ago from Europe

      I love Cape Hatteras, but when I'm in the neighborhood, I'd rather be fishing off Atlantic Beach.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      5 years ago

      You are my favorite photographer, no doubt about it!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 

      6 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Beautiful images! Cape H lighthouse is one of my top favorites.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 

      6 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Beautiful images! Cape H lighthouse is one of my top favorites.

    • malena10 profile image


      6 years ago

      I love lighthouses, watch them every year when we go to sea. I want to see the interior of any lighthouse.

    • SayGuddaycom profile image


      6 years ago

      Gorgeous. Now featured on say-gudday-to-lighthouses

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 

      7 years ago from Jackson, MS

      Lovely lens! Something dreamy about lighthouses... and a little eerie too. I love the history, and to me, they dot the landscape so beautifully!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love the light houses at Cape Hatteras. I actually can see my light house from my Cape Hatteras Rental.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love this lens, I will be going to the Cape this summer for the first time, thanks for all the info and pics!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I've always found lighthouses fascinating and have no idea why that should be so, except as you pointed out, they are a part of our history. Thanks for sharing this lens, it was good reading.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image


      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      I've just featured this lens on my east coast road trip lens (the North Carolina module).

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is very lovely. Thank you for sharing your passion for lighthouses once again Very cool lens.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image


      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      This was my favorite lighthouse on the east coast that I've visited. Very well done, Squid Angel blessed!

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 

      7 years ago from Ireland

      I visited North Carolina for the first time from Ireland in 2010, and wanted to get up close to the lighthouse. Just managed to see it in the far distance. Congrats on the purle star.

    • pkmcruk profile image


      7 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Congratulations on the Purple Star and added to my Lensography of Purple Stars :-)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is amazing. All of the lighthouses on the Outer Banks are. We visited Cape Hatteras Lighthouse a few years back, along with Bodie Island. Standing right up next to one you realize the immense size of them - they're like skyscrapers.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great pictures! I've lived all my life near lighthouses here in Rhode Island, but other than passing a couple that can be seen from the road, I've never visited any of them. Most of the sites are closed, but I think there's a couple that are still open, maybe even one or two of with towers that are open seasonally. I really should stop taking it for granted, and check them out!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What a great lens!!! 5 stars and fav. I have a couple of pics of the lighthouse on Flickr if you want to use them. I especially loved the sunset photo. Great job!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wonderful photos! My favorite is the one you took with the pink sky! The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is my favorite out of all the lighthouses in the Outer Banks. Gorgeous lens!

    • blue22d profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens and love the pictures. ***** to you. I love lighthouses and Cape Hatteras is beautiful. I want to know how they paint that "hummer". Especially, when the strips are wrapping all around. Wow!

    • KOrazem profile image

      Seeking Pearls 

      9 years ago from Pueblo West

      Love your design ideas and photographs are sensational. What a landmark! 5*

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Truly wonderful lens, Mary Beth. The photos of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse are beautiful!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I love your photos of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and I really enjoyed reading about it. Would you believe that I have never been to Cape Hatteras.

    • AlishaV profile image

      Alisha Vargas 

      9 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      What an interesting lighthouse! I had never heard of it before and can't believe how fascinating it is. I'm still trying to get my head around how they managed to move it though! Wow!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      I'm really getting spoiled to your beautiful pictures! Everything I load one of my photos on a lens now, I think Mary Beth could do these so much better. I missed you while you were away. Glad you're back. Great Lens!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Beautiful, Mary Beth! Love the base of Cape Hatteras...that red really adds to the beauty.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Gorgeous lens! and the story is well told too. My husband has been there.


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