How to See Bodie Island Lighthouse on the Outer Banks (and 20+ Facts)

Last Updated on November 18, 2022

Disclaimer: This site uses demographic data, email opt-ins, display advertising, and affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure and Privacy Policy pages for further explanation.

A visit to Bodie Island Light Station (colloquially known as Bodie Island Lighthouse) is one of the most popular things to do in the Outer Banks. Not only is this a beautiful place to visit and admire, but the lighthouse is also the closest attraction south of Nags Head and the first on the northern end of Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the Outer Banks Scenic Byway.

We usually try to make at least one stop here, no matter when we’re in this part of North Carolina. It’s just too awesome to miss, and we hope you’re able to stop by and see what we’re talking about.

This guide will share how you can see Bodie Island Lighthouse, along with some interesting facts and the history of this iconic attraction.

We’ve divided this guide into the following sections:

Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do in North Carolina (Your NC Bucket List)

Where is Bodie Island Lighthouse?

Address: 8210 Bodie Island Lighthouse Rd, Nags Head, NC

Bodie Island Lighthouse
  • Bodie Island (pronounced “Body”) is a continuous peninsula on the northern end of the Outer Banks. It stretches for 72 miles from the southern end of Oregon Inlet into Virginia and ends at Virginia Beach.
  • Some may believe The name “Bodie” comes from the large numbers of dead sailors that have washed up on the shores of the Outer Banks (aka the Graveyard of the Atlantic), but that’s not true. The Body family once owned the land that was a separate barrier island from the Currituck Banks.
  • Bodie Island Lighthouse is near the southern end of that peninsula and is near the northern edge of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
  • The lighthouse is about 20 minutes south of Nags Head and Manteo.
  • If you’re traveling north from Hatteras Island, you’ll drive on the Marc Basnight Bridge between Pea Island and Oregon Inlet. You will see the Bodie Island Lighthouse appear to your left as you get closer.

Read More: The NC Tripping North Carolina Travel Map

More Bodie Island Lighthouse Facts

Bodie Island Lighthouse Outer Banks
  • Bodie Island Lighthouse is one of seven coastal lighthouses in North Carolina. Here are the other six.
  • Bodie Island Lighthouse stands 156-feet tall and is painted with horizontal white and black stripes.
  • The original first-order Fresnel lens was supplied by Barbier and Fenestra from Paris, France, in 1871.
  • It flashes for 2.5 seconds on, 2.5 seconds off, and then off again for 22.5 seconds.
  • The methods of running this lighthouse have changed over the years, beginning with lard oil and developing to electricity, but the flash sequence remains the same.

Read More: 125+ Important Facts About North Carolina You Should Know (History, Geography, and More!)

History

Bodie Island Lighthouse marsh
  • As we mentioned, due to the rough sea conditions and thousands of shipwrecks, the Outer Banks has long been known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic.
  • Lighthouses here have been a crucial aid for seafaring vessels and Bodie Island Lighthouse is one of the most important.
  • The first Bodie Island Light Station was built in 1847 on Pea Island. This structure was unsafe due to foundational issues and was later abandoned.
  • In 1859, the second assembled lighthouse had an 80-foot design and a short lifespan.
  • Due to the onset of the Civil War, Confederate troops blew up the lighthouse in 1861 because they feared the Union would use it against the South.
  • The third and current Bodie Island Lighthouse was completed in 1872.
  • Soon after, the keepers’ quarters (duplex) was completed.
  • Electricity arrived at the lighthouse in 1932, ending the needing for on-site keepers.
  • In 1953, all of the property except for the lighthouse itself was transferred to the National Parks Service.
  • Restorations began on the keepers’ quarters, which has since transformed into a ranger office and visitor center for Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
  • The lighthouse has also undergone multiple restoration efforts, as recent as 2022.

Read More: 40+ Fun Outer Banks Facts That You Should Know (History, Geography, Achievements, and More!

How to Visit Today

Bodie Island Lighthouse distance view

Bodie Island Lighthouse remains a navigational aid for seafaring vessels and is open to visitors throughout the year. There are

Due to ongoing restoration efforts, Bodie Island Lighthouse will not be open for climbing until June 2022.

When open, you can typically climb Bodie Island Lighthouse from mid-April to October! Tickets are available via Recreation.gov.

Here’s a breakdown of prices:

  • Adults: $10.00
  • Children aged 12 years old and under 42” tall: $5.00
  • Seniors aged 62 years old and over: $5.00
  • Disabled visitors: $5.00

Read More: Sanderling Resort in Duck (+ 7 Things We Love About It!)

Climbing Bodie Island Lighthouse

Bodie Island Lighthouse blue skies

Here are some tips and safety info to know before you climb:

  • Arrive at the lighthouse at least 5 minutes before your time to climb.
  • There are no refunds for no-shows or late arrivals.
  • The climb is a strenuous one, up 219 steps from the ground level to the top. This is equal to climbing a 10-story building.
  • There is no air conditioning inside the lighthouse, and conditions inside can grow very hot and humid.
  • Water is allowed in a non-glass and sealable container.
  • If you have any heart, respiratory, or other medical conditions, please use your own discretion before climbing.
  • Shoes are required for climbing. No heels and no bare feet.
  • No pets are allowed inside.

The tour may be canceled in the event of the following:

  • Lightning within 10 miles of the lighthouse or if you can hear thunder.
  • The heat index inside the lighthouse reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
  • Constant wind speeds of 35 mph or higher.
  • Wind gusts above 40 mph.
  • Tornado warning in effect.
  • Waterspout sighting.

Bodie Island Nature Trail

Bodie Island Lighthouse trail

The Bodie Island Nature Trail starts behind the lighthouse and is 1/8-mile long. There are restrooms, a water bottle filling station, a drinking fountain, a pet fountain, a bike rack, and a trash and recycling station.

The trail follows a scenic boardwalk through the marshy wetlands. Various species reside in the wetlands and marsh, including crabs, snakes, and more.

Throughout the year, you can see various birds passing through or stopping by. The Outer Banks is part of the Atlantic Flyway, which starts in the eastern Arctic Islands and passes through the East Coast to the Gulf of Mexico.

At the end of the trail, you’ll find benches and an observation deck, where you can sit and admire Bodie Island Lighthouse and its surroundings.

It may take you a while to want to leave, and we completely understand. This is a breathtaking place to see in person!

Read More: 10+ Great Outer Banks Hiking Trails for Kids (and Adults, Too!)

Ready to Visit Bodie Island Lighthouse?

Hatteras Lighthouse Outer Banks

As we mentioned, we love visiting Bodie Island Lighthouse and always try to make time for a stop whenever we’re exploring the Outer Banks. If you’ve spent time at this NC Bucket List-worthy place, we’d love to know what you think about it.

Let us know in the comments section or by email. Don’t forget to share your Outer Banks adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group.

Things to Do Nearby

Pea Island trail
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Bodie Island is in a great spot, just south of Nags Head and at the northern edge of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Here are a few fun places to visit nearby:

  • Jockey’s Ridge State Park (12 miles, 16 minutes away): Jockey’s Ridge is where you’ll find the tallest set of sand dunes on the east coast. This 427-acre wonderland is usually one of our most visited NC state parks.
  • Oregon Inlet Lifesaving Station (7 miles, 10 minutes away): Once a working station, this place is currently abandoned and under the care of the North Carolina Aquariums. You can get a closer look at the station from the Bonner Bridge Pier.
  • Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge (10 miles, 11 minutes away): This animal sanctuary and refuge was established in 1938 that provides a nesting, resting, and wintering habitat for birds. You can watch them via two officially designated paths at Pea Island. This area is also known for some of the best beaches in North Carolina, much less crowded than the others along the Outer Banks!

Read More: Eastern North Carolina Map (with 300+ Amazing Places Listed)

More Outer Banks Travel Guides

Leave a Comment