Cape Hatteras lighthouse is one of the most famous lighthouses on the east coast. Many people know it was built in 1870, it is 208 feet (62 m.) tall, the beacon extends 20 miles (33 km.) out to sea, and it was moved a ways inland during the summer of 1999. What is not widely known is that it was originally slated to have diamond markings because it was built to protect ships from the shallow sandbars of Diamond Shoals. Instead, Cape Lookout got the diamond design and Cape Hatteras became known as the big barber shop pole. It is approximately an hour and a half south of Nags Head.
We had one kind of wet rainy day, so we went to the aquarium. This is a small but very nice aquarium - they start you out in the coastal fresh water environment where I got a nice picture of some tree frogs and lizards hiding in the greenery (photo 2). I didn't see all of them there when I took the picture.
Then in the 'Wetlands on the Edge" there were a bunch of alligators (and a snapping turtle which I didn't see), a tank with water turtles (sliders etc) and an otter all visible above and below the water. I found out that "pocosin" is not just the name of a place in Virginia but is something like a marsh or a bog.
Next was the Coastal Gallery which had pictures and videos and audio tapes about the various hurricanes and there was a TV screen with the current location of Tropical Storm Otto.
The Marine Community had a flounder, pompano, bluefish, conger eels etc. After that was the Wreck Room with a 1/3 scale model of the wreck of the U.S.S. Monitor which was sunk off Cape Hatteras. This was the largest tank (285K gal.) and had open ocean fishes like sharks, groupers, cobia and jacks.
Close Encounters has a tank with rays and horseshoe crabs and another one with various sea urchin's/sand dollars, hermit crabs and whelks that you could pick up and play with.
Then in the changing exhibits room they had a display of poisonous animals like sting rays, jelly fish, tarantulas, scorpion fish, diamondback, cottonmouth etc. Not for playing with
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily year-round except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day
Seniors & Active Military: $6
Children: Ages 6-17: $5
5 and under: FREE
Martin Luther King Birthday
Christmas Eve Day
The admission there was $7 for seniors, but we could get a combination pass for $17 that would admit us to the gardens, the aquarium and the festival park.
Then we walked the mile line trail in the garden. This is a garden in honor of the first colonists. It has many modern plants, so I don't know where the Elizabethan part comes in. They do have some iris, but most of the garden is very heavily shaded, so I can't imagine that they do very well there.
The Gardens are home to hundreds of species of wildflowers, trees, herbs, and shrubs, as well as a substantial collection of valuable antique garden ornaments and ancient statuary. Rhododendron, tulips, azaleas and dogwoods peak in late April. Magnolias, lilies, and hydrangeas reach bloom in late July. And marigolds, impatiens, and hibiscus provide brilliant autumn color.
Elizabethan Gardens Hours:
January: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., seven days a week; Closed New Years Day
February: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., seven days a week
March: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., seven days a week
April: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., seven days a week
May: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., seven days a week
June: 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday - Saturday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Sundays
July: 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday - Saturday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Sundays
August: 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday - Saturday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Sundays
September: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., seven days a week
October: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., seven days a week
November: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., seven days a week; Closed Thanksgiving Day
December: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., seven days a week; Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
First we walked around the visitor's center and saw the videotape about the settlement, plus we looked at the display about the Lost Colony drama which is put on in the summer. Apparently Andy Griffith was in it when he was young, and we were told that he is coming back here on Friday to do the lighting of the Xmas tree and perform.
After that, we walked out to the 'fort' which is a puny thing - smaller than Fort Necessity!! And THAT was SMALL. Bob doesn't believe that it is the real fort - it isn't big enough to have even a small group of people in it. Fort Necessity at least had room for some buildings.
First we saw a movie about the first few English ships that came to Roanoke Island and involved three native American's from three tribes - Manteo, Skyco and Wanchese. (Those are the three towns on the island.) The Elizabeth II was down in Wanchese having been hauled for repairs.
We walked around the reconstructed village, watched the blacksmith make a nail, and went out to the dock where the ship had been. The populace of the village tried to talk in Elizabethean English (one of them said that the 'k' that we normally leave silent was pronounced then, like k-not and k-now)
2005 Admission Prices
Adult $8 Student (6-17) $5
Child (5 & under) Free
Roanoke Island Festival Park Hours of Operation
* Roanoke Island Festival Park will be closed from January 1 - February 17 for annual ship and facility maintenance.*
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. February 18 - March 31
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 1 - June 15
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 16 - August 15
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. August 16 - October 31
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. November 1 - December 31 (Closed November 24 and December 23,24,25)
Admission to the Park includes Elizabeth II sailing vessel, the Settlement Site, the Roanoke Adventure Museum, The Legend of Two Path film, the History Garden, daily scheduled programs and more. There is no admission ticket purchase necessary to enjoy shopping for treasures in The Museum Store, viewing the exhibits in the Roanoke Island Festival Park Art Gallery, hunting for fossils in the Fossil Pit, walking along the soundside boardwalks, or relaxing or picnicking on the grounds.
A replica of an 1877 screwpile lighthouse that was located offshore in Croatan Sound was dedicated on September 25, 2004. It was decommisioned by the US Coast Guard in 1955. It has a short tower with the lantern on roof of the 1 1/2 story wooden keeper's house. An attempt to move the structure to the mainland by an individual destroyed it beyond repair.
This is a model of the lighthouse in the museum at the Festival Park. The original contains exhibits highlighting Roanoke Island's maritime heritage, including a history of the Marshes Lighthouse and its keepers. It is located along the waterfront walk of "Shallowbag Bay" just off the east end of Queen Elizabeth Street in Manteo on what used to be called the "sewer-pier" back in the early 1990s. The sewer treatment facility no longer exists and the pier has been completely renovated
Tuesday - Saturday, 9am - 5pm
I went to Roanoke Island Festival Park with my school group. It is very boring, and the tour guides are VERY rude and inappriopriate. One tour guide, on the Elizabeth 2, called one of the children, an 8th grader, a smart***. All the eighth grader did was ask him, "Are you a pirate?" And he went ballistic. He also slammed the teachers by yelling at them saying that they "are doing a great job raising such sarcastic and snarky children" (sarcastically). I suggest he needs to walk the plank. Only go here if you want your kids to have a boring, un-entertaining experience with tour guides who say mean and inappropriate things. This is hurting the nice image of the Roanoke people. As an out-of-towner this park is reflecting the island's nice image, and nice people's image.
A lighthouse that one can visit on the Outer Banks is the 150 ft tall Bodie Island Light 4 miles north of Oregon Inlet. Hatteras is farther south, and Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla is north.
Bodie Light is encircled by two black and three white bands. It is an active lighthouse which is equipped with the original first-order Fresnel lens. The 160,000 candlepower beacon flashes 19 miles over the ocean in the on for 2.5 seconds and then off for the same period pattern.
Originally built on Pea Island in 1847, and rebuilt with improvements in 1859, the 80 foot tower was blown up in 1862 by Confederate troops to prevent its use as a position marker by the Union forces.
On October 1, 1872, the present tower was put into operation and is the third lighthouse built here. According to a lightkeeper on duty at the time, shortly after this light was activated, a flock of wild geese flew into the lantern, causing severe damage to the lens. It was quickly repaired, and a wire screen was placed around the light to prevent further mishap. It was also necessary to put a lightening rod on the tower.
The light was electrified in 1932, which ended the need for an on-site keeper. Finally, all of the light station’s property except the tower itself were transferred to the National Park Service in 1953. Still a functioning U.S. Coast Guard navigational aid, the tower is closed to the public.
One of the attractions of this lighthouse is that it isn't open to be climbed, so I don't have to feel guilty about not climbing it. It is all surrounded with that orange plastic web fencing at ground level - apparently because pieces sometimes fall off of it - which is another reason that it can't be climbed I guess.
Although the tower is not open for climbing, the lighthouse keeper cottage is now a museum, and there are ccessible restrooms, a visitor center, walking paths, and a unique bookstore.
Open All Year 9am - 6pm in summer, 9am - 5 pm rest of year
5/31/04 - 9/6/04 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
9/7/04 - 5/29/05 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Enjoy the local wildlife. I usually see egrits, sea turtles, snakes and nutria in and around the various bodies of water.