South of Nags Head near the bottom of the Outer Banks where the land starts bending inward are two scenic islands with well-known trademarks, lighthouses. Hatteras has several quaint villages to stay in or explore as well as Hatteras Island Resort. Ocracoke has only one town; only two streets run the length of the town of Ocracoke.
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge covers the northern tip of Hatteras Island and offers wildlife displays and self guided walks. Next are the Northern Villages of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo, small and uncommercialized. Hatteras Island Resort offers cottages and rooms at the foot of a fishing pier near an Australian-themed restaurant, Down Under. The next town, Avon, is the busiest on the island?it has a grocery store.
Buxton is home to the most famous U.S. lighthouse, Cape Hatteras. The 1870 lighthouse was moved inland in 1999 due to the eroding shoreline. Cape Hatteras National Seashore lines the beach here. Buxton Woods has 500 acres of maritime forest with a nature trail for hiking. Accommodations on Hatteras include local motels, condos, a B & B that is close to the lighthouse and vacation rentals.
Frisco, the next town down the road, features the Native American Museum and Natural History Center. Stop by Channel Bass, a popular restaurant serving seafood and steak. The last island town, Hatteras, has a new 19,000 square foot Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, beside the ferry landing, which features interactive displays. Accommodations here include guesthouses, small inns and camping.
Ocracoke Island is a peaceful place to linger. Ocracoke is not a full service town but it has a character all its own. Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum, in a former Coast Guard captain's home, features exhibits about local history and culture. Teach's Hole Blackbeard Exhibit is a theater/museum/gift shop teaching the local history of pirating and the most famous pirate, Blackbeard.
Ocracoke Lighthouse is the oldest still in use in the state and dates to 1823. The rest of the island is devoted to Cape Hatteras National Seashore where hiking, biking, boating, camping, fishing and shelling are popular. Accommodations here include Blackbeard's Lodge, the oldest restaurant/hotel on the island. Other options include B & B's and camping. Dining includes the Island Inn Dining Room and nightlife centers on Howard's Pub & Raw Bar.
Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island are located roughly five and one-half hours southeast of Raleigh, NC, Hatteras off 64 E and NC 12 S and Ocracoke off NC 45 and NC 12.