Bodie Island Lighthouse is an Outer Banks Treasure

Bodie Island Lighthouse Cape Hatteras National Seashore just before sunrise
Bodie Island Lighthouse just before sunrise

Why are lighthouses so appealing? The visual appeal is obvious but there is more – where else can you go for an all-in-one tour that includes history, ghosts, hundreds of steps, panoramic views, and stories of pirates? All lighthouses seem to have those common features so perhaps that is why we always love to stop and admire lighthouses wherever we travel. Maybe that is also why Bodie Island Lighthouse was our first stop along the way to Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to experience the fall bird migration. 

Quick facts about Bodie Island Lighthouse:

The current lighthouse has two predecessors. Both of the previous lighthouses were built on Pea Island just south of the current location. The first version of the lighthouse was built around 1847 and stood 54 feet tall. It was abandoned in 1859 due to “wobbling” from a poor foundation. The abandoned lighthouse was quickly reconstructed at a nearby location and stood 80 feet tall. The second version had a very short life – it was blown up in 1861 by Confederate troops who feared the Union troops would take it over during the Civil War. 

The third version now stands north of Pea Island. Fun facts: 

  • Began operating on October 1, 1872, with a first-order Fresnel lens
  • The light was electrified in 1932
  • Stands 156 feet tall
  • Has 214 steps inside
  • Has horizontal black and white stripes
  • Pronounced “Body”
  • Shines its light every night 
  • Ghosts? Haunted? Well it does watch over the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” 

Activities to Explore:

Bodie Island Lighthouse is a short drive south of Nags Head, NC as you travel towards Hatteras Island. There is plenty of parking and RVs are welcome. The grounds include a visitor center, lightkeeper house, boardwalk, viewing platform, and bathroom facilities.  

Bodie Island Lighthouse Cape Hatteras National Seashore view from the boardwalk
The view of Bodie Island Lighthouse from the boardwalk

The boardwalk is a short 0.4-mile out-and-back walk to the viewing platform. The viewing platform looks over the surrounding marsh and offers a different perspective of the lighthouse.

Bodie Island Lighthouse Cape Hatteras National Seashore view from Off Island trail
Bodie Island Lighthouse view from Off Island Trail

If you want to explore the area further, go to the south end of the parking area and walk to the Off Island trailhead. Follow the road to the bridge and then turn left to the foot trail. It’s a nice walk through the marsh ecosystem of the Pamlico Sound. It’s also a great place to view the migratory birds on the way to Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge – the next stop on our Hatteras Island National Seashore adventure! 

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