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Currituck Beach Lighthouse on the Outer Banks (How to See It and Climb to the Top!)

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on March 25, 2024.

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Currituck Beach Lighthouse (sometimes just referred to as ‘Corolla Lighthouse’ is the northernmost of North Carolina’s coastal lighthouses. Like its neighbors to the south, this lighthouse stands out for at least a few reasons.

Its unpainted brick exterior and epic views that await at the top are two of many things we love about Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Whether you’re staying in the Corolla area or have an OBX lighthouse adventure planned, we think this one should be on your list.

Our guide shares how you can see the lighthouse and climb it, along with some nearby Corolla attractions and things to do throughout the Outer Banks detail the history and facts about the Currituck Lighthouse as well as how you can climb this lighthouse yourself!

Here’s how we’ve organized this guide to the famous Corolla NC lighthouse:

  • Facts About Currituck Beach Lighthouse
  • The History of Currituck Beach Lighthouse
  • Outer Banks Conservationists
  • How to See Currituck Beach Lighthouse Today
  • Admission Info
  • Climbing Currituck Beach Lighthouse
  • Ready to Visit (and Climb) Currituck Beach Lighthouse?
  • Things To Do Nearby (Corolla Attractions)

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

Facts About Currituck Beach Lighthouse

Currituck Beach Lighthouse

Currituck Beach Lighthouse is not just fun to look up to and climb today. It’s also packed with some interesting facts and history. Here are some tidbits about the lighthouse today:

  • Currituck Beach Lighthouse is a “first order” lighthouse, meaning it houses the largest Fresnel lens size.
  • The lighthouse, when flashing, can be seen from 18 nautical miles away. 
  • Currituck Lighthouse Steps – the lighthouse features a beautiful spiral staircase consisting of 214 stairs to the top.
  • A self-guided climb can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, and there are nine landings for resting and viewing.
  • Currituck Lighthouse height and weight: The lighthouse weighs 6 million pounds, was built with more than 1 million bricks, and stands 162 feet tall.
  • At its base, the lighthouse wall is 5 feet 8 inches thick. The wall at Currituck Beach Lighthouse’s parapet is 3 feet thick.
  • It is the last major bright lighthouse to be built in North Carolina.
  • The unpainted brick exterior distinguishes Currituck from other lighthouses.

Read More: 125+ Interesting Facts About North Carolina

The History of Currituck Beach Lighthouse

Corolla Lighthouse view from the top

Lighthouses are largely intertwined with the history of the Outer Banks, and that’s especially true regarding Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Here are the most important things to know about Currituck Lighthouse’s history:

  • Construction began on Currituck Beach Lighthouse in 1872, in response to the many shipwrecks occurring outside from view of other lighthouses.
  • The lighthouse was completed three years later, on December 1, 1875.
  • An oil lamp with five concentric wicks originally lit this lighthouse. The keeper’s assistant carried fuel up to the top and maintained the wicks, the lenses, and the flash mechanism.
  • In 1876, a Victorian-style lighthouse keepers’ home was built next to the lighthouse. The keepers’ home is intended for the main keeper, two assistant keepers, and their families. 
  • Electricity came to Currituck Beach Lighthouse in the 1930s. Automation of turn-on and turn-off times followed in 1937.
  • As a result, keepers were no longer needed and the lighthouse became uninhabited.
  • Left to the elements, the weather and some vandalism left the lighthouse and surrounding buildings in poor shape.
  • In 1980, the non-profit organization Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc. saw that the lighthouse keeper’s home was quickly deteriorating. The organization worked to restore the original home and the grounds of the Lighthouse.
  • Many of the buildings and grounds have been restored and serve as gift shops, storage areas, and information centers.
  • Because of the intricacy and detail involved, conservation efforts continue today. 

Read More: Outer Banks Facts That You Should Know

Outer Banks Conservationists

Corolla Ligthouse view of whalehead

We mentioned the Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc. (OBC), the organization that took over the care and restoration of Currituck Beach Lighthouse.

This wonderful organization deserves a special mention, as they continue to look over the lighthouse, its grounds, and also, Island Farm in Manteo.

OBC’s conservation efforts are never-ending and worthy of our support.

Read More: 30+ Amazing NC Coastal Towns (+ Things to Do in Each One!)

How to See Currituck Beach Lighthouse Today

Address: 1101 Corolla Village Rd, Corolla, NC

Thanks to OBC, we can all visit Currituck Beach Lighthouse and its surrounding buildings. The lighthouse sits next to Historic Corolla Park.

Parking is free but tickets are required to climb the lighthouse.

Read More: Map of Outer Banks NC Attractions (175+ Great Places Listed!)

Admission Info

  • The Currituck Lighthouse hours are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (weather permitting) from early spring through Thanksgiving Weekend each year.
  • Tickets to climb the Currituck Lighthouse are purchased at the front door of the lighthouse.
  • Cash, checks, and credit cards are accepted for ticket purchases.
  • We highly recommend you arrive early because lines quickly form for aspiring climbers. Once you see the views from the top, you’ll see why.

Read More: How to Enjoy the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island (7 Important Tips!)

How much does it cost to climb Currituck Lighthouse?

The Currituck lighthouse cost is $13/person (plus tax) for people four years and up. Kids under three are admitted free of charge with an adult. You can also purchase a season pass that includes access to both Currituck Beach Lighthouse and Island Farm.

Climbing Currituck Beach Lighthouse

Corolla Ligthouse stairs

After you enter the lighthouse, you’ll see some interesting exhibits lining the walls and on the first landing. Exhibits throughout the lighthouse share info about coastal lighthouses and their history, the keepers, shipwrecks, and the Fresnel Lens.

So, how long does it take to climb Currituck lighthouse?

It depends on your fitness level and how long you want to spend at the top. Overall, we anticipate spending about 1-2 hours climbing the lighthouse and enjoying the views.

You’ll begin climbing the lighthouse’s stairs, with nine landings along the way for rest and views outside to show your upward progress. You can sometimes look down from above and see the winding staircases that you’ve been following.

At the top, you’ll reach the narrow walkway (parapet) at the base of the light. This may induce any fear of heights you may have and I will admit that it’s not for the squeamish.

However, the views make the climb worth all the fear that may come up. You can enjoy a look at Corolla Village, Currituck Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean.

The top of the lighthouse is just like any beautiful mountain peak. What goes up must come down.

The way down from the top might bring back those fears of heights. There will be moments when you’re looking down through half-transparent staircases and steep drops below.

My method is to take deep breaths and count my steps, but you may have a different way of coping. As we mentioned, the views from the top are worth all the fear that comes with high places.

The Currituck Beach Lighthouse Museum

Corolla Lighthouse in OBX

The Currituck Beach Lighthouse Museum is housed in the original Keeper’s Quarters across from the lighthouse. This building showcases artifacts, photos, and memorabilia from the roughly 150 years that this lighthouse has been standing.

Read More: The NC Museum of History in Raleigh (+7 Things We Love About It!)

Gift Shop

There is a gift shop attached to the museum. You can buy souvenirs to take home, including t-shirts, hats, postcards, books, taffy, holiday ornaments, jewelry, and lighthouse-related items. 

Ready to Visit (and Climb) Currituck Beach Lighthouse?

We have a hard time thinking of a place with better views than this corolla NC Lighthouse. Whether you come alone, with your family, or group tour, we think you’re going to love this place.

You can even get married at Currituck Beach Lighthouse, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a unique place to tie the knot.

If you’ve gotten married here or have just climbed to the top, we’d love to know what you think of Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Feel free to let us know in the comments or by email.

Don’t forget to share your Outer Banks adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group. Before you do that, though, here are some more things to do near Currituck Beach Lighthouse.

Things To Do Nearby (Corolla Attractions)

Corolla Wildlife Museum

Each of the Outer Banks towns has something wonderful to see and do! That is especially the case in Corolla, which is packed with fun things to do before or after your lighthouse climb!

Historic Corolla Village

Currituck Beach Lighthouse (Corolla Lighthouse) is a part of Historic Corolla Village, which includes the following attractions:

  • Corolla Wild Horse Museum
  • Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education
  • Whalehead

The village is free to enter and includes 39 acres of lush, beautiful space. It’s a fantastic place to walk, bike, or attend an event. 

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

Historic Whalehead

Things to do in Corolla Whalehouse

The Currituck Lighthouse history is fascinating, but there are other historical landmarks in Corolla to see!

Speaking of Whalehead, the restored 1920s Art Nouveau-style mansion has been converted into a museum.

Bold yellow paint makes the building hard to miss, and over the years it has been carefully restored to its 1920s glory, back when the original owners built it as a hunting retreat.

The museum is open Monday to Friday, with regular tours throughout much of the year (ticket required) and special events. They include the following:

  • Christmas Candlelight Tours
  • Ghost Tours
  • Behind the Scenes Tours

To make a reservation, you can contact Whalehead at 252-453-9040.

Read More: Cape Lookout National Seashore (How to Get There + the 10 Best Things to Do!)

Wild Horse Tours in Corolla

Outer Banks Wild Horses Corolla

Many people also come to Corolla for wild horse tours. Multiple companies will take you out, with prices roughly $50 for adults and $20 for children ages 12 and under.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a 501(c)3 non-profit, puts all the money spent on their horse tours back towards the care of those wild horses.

They have three different tours to choose from, including the Mustang Champion (2-hour trip with others), Mustang Defender (private trip for two people), and Charter Membership (private trip for up to 4 people).

Additional Wild Horse Tour Companies include:

Read More: The Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort

Corolla Restaurants

Whether you’re staying in Corolla or just visited for the day, you’ll need to grab something to eat. Here are a few restaurants to check out:

  • Lighthouse Bagels: Lighthouse Bagels serves massive, perfectly chewy bagels that rival some of the best delis up north!
  • Corolla Cantina: A local favorite, Corolla Cantina offers Baja-style food and drinks in a laid-back setting. Enjoy fresh, house-made salsa and guacamole, entrees like nachos, Baja fish burritos, jumbo lump crab cakes, and fish tacos.
  • North Banks: Serving the northern end of the barrier islands for over twenty years, North Banks serves delicious seafood with local produce and ingredients.

Stay tuned as we continue eating our way through Corolla.

Read More: 30 Amazing Outer Banks Restaurants for Your Next Beach Trip

More NC Lighthouses

As we mentioned, Currituck Beach Lighthouse is the northernmost coastal lighthouse in North Carolina. Here are the other six that you’ll find along our coast, ordered from north to south and east to west:

Beyond Currituck Beach Lighthouse (OBX Travel Guides)

Our OBX NC travel guide collection has featured Currituck Beach Lighthouse and other attractions, like aquariums, historic sites, beaches, and more. Here are a few examples.

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