- Kids entertaining themselves without electronics
- Watching the dolphins
Prepare in advance
Find out if the campground you plan to visit requires reservations in advance. Then, start a list of things you might possibly need. Keep in mind that you can't count on the comforts of your home, no electricity means no video games. Also, include a first aid kit.
Good to know
Rain, in some areas, can be unpredictable. Have a plan in case the weather deteriorates. Be prepared to endure the sun for long periods of time, there is not a lot of shade. There is no lifeguard on duty and this area of the beach has warning signs for frequent, strong currents.
I like to go to the beach either early in the morning or late in the evening. While a sunny day is great, the sun can be merciless in the Outer Banks.
Recommended time of the year
We have been visiting Cape Hatteras for the past four years and I have found that going around mid-July is the best chance to have almost perfect weather.
Camping is pretty cheap overall. You just need to have a tent and be able to provide your own food. Eating sandwiches for breakfast and having hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch or dinner will do and will save you money. Bring plenty of snacks and water as well.
About This Day
Planning an Outer Banks family vacation? Why not camp on the beach? Cape Hatteras National Seashore offers some fun family activities. First, set up camp at Cape Point Campground. Then, take a ride on the Cape Hatteras Ferry to Ocracoke to see the lighthouse and the horses. Perhaps grab some ice cream too while there. Enjoy a leisurely drive along NC-12 to see some of the best Outer Banks beaches for families as well.
Cape Point Campground has plenty of space for tents. Your space will be assigned upon arrival. There are bathrooms and showers available for your convenience, but depending on your assigned spot you might have to walk a bit. The campground was almost empty and we were lucky to find a spot near the common area. There were some other campers, but since they were so dispersed, it felt like we were the only ones. In the evening, there was a storm, and it was rather sudden, so we got in the car to wait it out. Here and along this itinerary you will discover some of the best Outer Banks beaches for families. Just mind the riptides!
DIRECTIONS Coming from North Carolina (Currituck), take US-158 East and NC-12 South to Lighthouse Road in Buxton, then drive along Lighthouse Road.
TIP Have an alternate plan in case of dangerous weather. I'm pretty sure park rangers would have made us evacuate the area in case the weather deteriorated too much, but we did not have a place to go.
If you are lucky like us, you will drive directly onto the next ferry ready for departure and will leave within 15 minutes. The ride will take an hour to arrive at Ocracoke Island, but keep your eyes open, we caught glimpses of a few dolphins along the route. We also passed a crab sanctuary, hard to see the crabs, but there are a lot of birds roaming the inlet. We also entertained ourselves by saying goodbye to the ferries coming in the opposite direction.
DIRECTIONS From the campground, follow Lighthouse Road to NC-12 South, continue on NC-12 until the end. This road ends on the Ferry Terminal.
TIP Take this ride as a learning opportunity, you'll have a complete hour full of questions related to dolphins, crabs, birds and how ferries can carry cars. Do some research and be ready to answer all these questions.
The Ocracoke Lighthouse is a longstanding structure by the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, this is just a structure that you can only look at from the outside. It is located almost in the backyard of a private property. There is a path next to the private entrance where you can walk up to the lighthouse. Make sure you don't block the private entrance and read the signs first. Both entrances are side by side and it can be a little confusing, you might end up walking into a private residence. This wasn't an experience for the kids and to make up for that we stopped off at an ice cream shop on our way back to the ferry.
DIRECTIONS Once you arrive in Ocracoke, drive out of the ferry and continue to travel south on NC-12. The lighthouse is located in the southern part of the island.
TIP If you decide to visit Ocracoke from Hatteras plan to do something else to pass the time, like going to a beach, eating ice cream or seeing the horses. It's neat, but there is not much to do at the lighthouse.