North Carolina Lighthouses
Another great trip with Holiday
Tours visiting all seven of
the coastal lighthouses. This
web site has a very good map of the seven lighthouses covered during our four day
trip August 16 - 20, 2001
My parents and I left Winston-Salem at 3:30 on Thursday
morning to get the bus from Holiday Tours located in Level Cross, NC. We arrived with
plenty of time to spare for our 5 am departure time. After picking up other
passengers in Greensboro and Burlington we stopped for breakfast at a nearby
Hardee's then headed on our way.
You will notice as you go along on my trip that the light
houses are painted in different designs of black and white to allow sailors
the ability to distinguish one lighthouse from
another. Links to each lighthouse will explain the history and physical
information for each one as well as explain the meanings for the various
After about a four hour drive we reached our first lighthouse Oak
Island located on Caswell Beach. After a short time for picture taking
we were back on the bus. After our lunch stop we loaded back on the bus for
the short drive over to Southport to catch the
ferry for our second lighthouse, Old
Baldy, Cape Fear Lighthouse located on
Bald Head Island.
Here is a picture of the type of ferry that took us over and back on the 25
minute ride across the Cape Fear River.
Upon arriving we had to wait for our tour director to get our golf carts for
touring the island that you can see in the foreground of this picture. There are no gasoline powered vehicles allowed on the
island except for the emergency vehicles. Tourists and residents use
bicycles and golf carts. We had six carts that held either four or six passengers.
Several of our tour group members drove the carts. Equipped with a map of
the island we spent several hours riding around the island seeing the
various sites including the Old Baldy.
Myself and several others on the tour chose to climb the lighthouse while the other folks
waited below. The 108 stair climb was hot
and difficult. As you ascended the wooden stairs they became narrower until
there remained only a small ladder of nine rungs left to step into the
Lanthorn, the room that held the lens and lamp. In order to get into the
room you had to negotiate a tiny trap door only 24" x 30".
After three hours of touring the island which is very pretty
with lots of scrub pine and sand dunes we took the 4:30 ferry back across
the water and proceeded to our
hotel located in nearby Wilmington, NC for the night. It was a long day and
we were all in bed asleep by ten o'clock.
Next morning we were up at 6:30, showered, breakfast, and on
the road by 9 am for the two hour ride over to Beaufort,
NC. This stop was a nice extra thrown in to the trip by the tour director because
we had time to make a stop on the way to our ferry for the afternoon
lighthouse. We spent a couple of hours walking around the shops along the
waterfront and eating lunch at one of the local cafes.
Then on to Harker's Island and Cape
Lookout National Seashore. We unloaded at this building which serves as
a small store for buying fishing supplies, cold drinks, souvenirs, ferry
tickets, etc. There is not any food
or drink available on the island. We then loaded onto those boats for a fast
25 minute ride across the water to one of the few Natural Barrier Islands
left on the east coast. Upon arriving at the island we were loaded onto
trucks with very hard wooden benches for our island tour. The first picture
is the shore where they let us off and picked us up on the island. That's my
dad waving from the truck he was riding on.
This lighthouse is
still used today and is not open to the public. There are no paved roads on the island except a short
stretch leading up to the coast guard station for transport of tanks during
WWII. The island is now part of the National
Parks Service and contains lovely stretches of natural beach and wild
We drove 8 miles around the island to this beautiful beach. The tour guide
left us at the beach for a thirty minutes to look for shells and stroll
along the water. He then returned to take us the 8 mile back to the lighthouse
on a different route to see some of the other areas of the island.
The sand roads are rutted and very difficult to drive making our journal
rather bumpy. It was very hot and sunny but a lot of fun. Any trash you take
along with you like drink bottles or food wrappers must be taken back with
you when you leave. That night we drove on to Morehead
City, NC for our nights lodging.
Next morning we were up at 5:30, packed, and had breakfast
to be on the bus by 8:00. Today, we rode over to catch the ferry from Cedar
Island to Ocracoke. We had a about thirty minutes to shop at the gift shop
before getting back on the bus to load onto the ferry. Once the bus was on
the ferry we were allowed to leave the bus and walk around. The 22 mile
crossing of the Pamlico Sound took two hours and fifteen minutes. Air
conditioned lounges are provided as well as benches atop an observation
deck. Many of the adults and children on the ferry were feeding the sea
It was pretty hot on the ferry so we walked around looking
for cool places to stand. You could not see anything but water on either
side. The ferry was moving so slow there was not really much of a breeze.
Fortunately as the ferry steered its coarse toward Ocracoke Island,
picked up and we had a fairly cool ride for the end of the ride.
Once on the island we stopped for lunch at a local cafe and then drove over to the lighthouse for photo opportunities
before getting back on the bus. As with the other lighthouses, this is
one of many that I took.
We then proceed to drive along the Outer
Banks on Route 12
that runs between the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean to our next ferry
which was a short 45 minute ride over to Hatteras Island to see one of the most
famous lights houses in the America.
This is the lighthouse that was moved
to save it from falling into the ocean due to beach erosion. Unfortunately
for us it is closed right now for climbing because of some unsafe stairs.
Instead we had to be content with taking pictures and walking around the
From there we
continued our ride along route 12 to the Bodie
Island Lighthouse. While we could not climb the lighthouse we were able
to go inside and take pictures. These stairs are exactly like the ones that
I will be climbing tomorrow at our last lighthouse we visit. After visiting the museum and gift shop we
loaded the bus for our drive to Kitty Hawk for our nights lodging. We
passed the famous Jockey's
Ridge well known for its hang gliding facilities. We finally arrived at
the hotel around 6:00. It had been a long day but a lot of fun.
The next morning we left our hotel for the short ride over
to Kitty Hawk the site of the famous first airplane flight by the Wright
Brothers. I climbed the hill up to the Wright Brothers Memorial
for a picture and walked around the entire sculpture then back
down to the bus to ride over to the museum and enjoy a thirty minute talk about
the Wright Brothers and how they came to Kitty
Hawk by one of the park rangers.
Afterwards we loaded back on the bus for the beautiful drive
over to our last lighthouse, Currituck
in the small town of Corrolla.
As I mentioned we were able to climb this lighthouse with its 213 steps up
to a viewing
platform at the top. This climb was much easier than Old Baldy. Once at the
top you could see the wonderful forests surrounding the lighthouse and the
small village down below. If you look real close you can see my dad
sitting on that bench beside the house. And of course that is yours truly
taken by one of our nice folks from the tour that also climbed to the top.
So far we had been very lucky with the weather. This morning
it had rained before we got to the lighthouse and as we were finishing up
our tour it began to rain and thunder.
Back on the bus for the drive back to Kitty Hawk for lunch
then on the road for the long trip home. We arrived back at Level Cross at
9:00, loaded the car and set off for home. After dropping off mom and dad at
their house I was home by 10:30 pm.
What a great trip this was. Wonderful scenery, lots of fun,
and a great learning experience. My favorite two lighthouses were Bodie and
Currituck. My favorite island was Harker's where we rode the trucks. All in
all, a great trip. And as usual we met some wonderful people on the tour
bus. We had a family of four with two girls and a lady traveling with her 8
year old son. They certainly added to the fun of the trip with their
enthusiasm and great company.
If you are coming to North Carolina and do not have a trip
planned, I highly recommend the Outer Banks region and visiting some of
these wonderful lighthouses along our coast.
Visit my travel page to see some
of the other trips I have taken in the last few years.
Updated Saturday, April 26, 2003