We climbed the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest in the US at 208 feet. The light at the top can be seen 20 nautical miles out at sea and in clear conditions it can be seen from 51 miles away. Years ago, the lighthouse served a vital purpose of warning sailors away from the dangerous Diamond Shoals, sandbars that extend about 14 miles out into the ocean. These caused ships to run aground. To give you an idea of how dangerous this area of the ocean is, about 2000 shipwrecks have been found out there and include ships from the 1500s to the 1900s. It is called the Graveyard of the Atlantic.
Inside the lighthouse, looking down through the center of the spiral steps.
This is the first lighthouse I've visited. It is equal in height to a 12 story building and contains 248 steps. Great exercise! I was sore the next day.
(View from the top to the ground)
The view also includes the natural, beautiful and unspoiled Cape Hatteras National Seashore. With so much development and commercialization on most every beach, it was wonderful to see this virtually untouched beach. It stretches for 75 miles from south of Nags Head to Ocracoke Inlet. Amazing! It's home to lots of wildlife.
The view from the top is spectacular. From here you can see the site where the lighthouse used to sit (below, on the left side of the picture where that big sandy spot remains.) It was moved in 1999 to save it from the encroaching Atlantic and erosion of the shore. As for how this feat was accomplished, I have not researched it. A storm was approaching in this picture.
Here's a great map of the area with all the interesting islands. After you're on the site, click the map to enlarge.
Since we stayed in Kill Devil Hills, we had to drive over 70 miles along these narrow islands to arrive at the lighthouse. We didn't have time to visit all the places we wanted to. If you've been to the Outer Banks, which is your favorite site?