Outer Banks Spotlight on the Village of Buxton
Our Outer Banks travels have brought us to the Village of Buxton on Hatteras Island. How much do you know about this OBX beach destination? Let's find out! There are some big Outer Banks attractions located here on the quiet shores of this quaint maritime locale. Here are the highlights of Buxton, North Carolina. Put it on your OBX itinerary next time you're here and explore it for yourself.
The History of Buxton
The Village of Buxton is located just off of Cape Hatteras and used to be known as simply "The Cape". Buxton is best known for being home to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and for the nationally-known, popular surf fishing spot named Cape Point (more on both of these later in this post).
Like the other OBX towns and villages, Buxton was first home to the Native American tribe of Croatans, which thrived here for more than a few centuries. The Croatans quickly learned that fishing and seafood were abundant in this historic village, and this fact still rings true today. Historians suggest that the original Lost Colonists may have fled to Buxton, in an effort to dodge starvation and the increasingly hostile Native Americans on Roanoke Island.
As European settlers began arriving, the large portions of maritime forest quickly became sought-after sources of lumber, and it wasn't long before a makeshift railway was built along the island to transport large loads of timber, primarily from Buxton Woods. In addition to lumber income, many locals realized that the fishing possibilities in Buxton could also provide a necessary and flourishing livelihood. That's when local seafood became a small export here, too.
Besides being a historic fishing village with abundant seafood, Buxton is probably most famously known as being the center point of the treacherous Diamond Shoals off the coastline of North Carolina. Dubbed the Graveyard of the Atlantic for good reason, with over 300 shipwrecks that line the OBX coastline from Duck to Hatteras Village, it's here that two of the largest off-shore currents meet. The Labrador Current and the Gulf Stream Current run side by side, and occasionally collide with powerful and stormy results.
In response to the natural occurrence of shipwrecks in this area, the US government intervened in the late 1700s and agreed to build a lighthouse for the safety of the passing ships. Sadly, their first two attempts were ineffective since the ships were 15-30 miles offshore and could barely see the light from the beach. These unsuccessful attempts eventually led to the construction of the current Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 1870, the tallest brick lighthouse in the country.
By the late 1990s, beachfront erosion had threatened the very existence of the lighthouse, which was no longer in use by that time but was still considered a National Treasure. In 1999, the lighthouse was successfully moved 2,870 feet inland to its present location. Today, Buxton visitors can walk the grounds around the Hatteras Lighthouse and find a circle of granite stones indicating its original locale, just a feet away from the ocean wash at high tide.
You can read more about the fascinating history and origins of the Village of Buxton here.
The Beaches of Buxton
The beaches of Buxton are managed by the National Park Service (NPS) as part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. You can expect the usual NPS regulations to apply here, and can find out everything you need to know on their website. Beach driving is permitted with proper documentation, leashed pets are allowed except in designated swimming areas, there are no lifeguards, and fires are allowed with a permit.
Cape Point is one of the most famous destinations here, as mentioned earlier. It offers up excellent surf fishing. This large, sweeping sandbar extends out into the Atlantic farther than any other point on the OBX. You're guaranteed to be up-close-and-personal with the area's seafood, fish and other wildlife. How do you get there? Travel down the small paved road past the lighthouse, and you'll come across a series of fish cleaning tables and the 4WD beach access ramp for Cape Point. This is the most popular beach ramp on Hatteras Island, famous with local and visiting anglers for generations as one of the best beach fishing spots on the East Coast. Located at the tip of Hatteras Island, Cape Point lies inshore of where the two major North Atlantic currents meet. You can expect to reel in large drum, pompano, sharks, mullets, bluefish and more, depending on the season.
The Buxton beachfront is a haven for beach lovers, on-the-water enthusiasts, and anglers, of course. It's perfect for anyone who wants to soak up the sun and be out in the natural elements where the sand and surf are your constant companions.
OBX Attractions & Things To Do in Buxton
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: America's tallest brick lighthouse at 208 feet. The National Park Service opens the lighthouse for climbing every spring, and closes it during the winter, though the grounds and museum are accessible year round. Read more about the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and plan your visit here.
Cape Point: A popular surf fishing destination of legendary proportions. Read more about Cape Point here.
Canadian Hole: A Pamlico Sound-side beach that's a hot spot for windsurfing and adjacent to neighboring Kite Point. This area is accessible by public or roadside parking, as well as 4WD ramps that run a half mile down the beach. It's a great spot for kids, too. Read this news article for more information on the popular OBX Canadian Hole here.
Kite Point: A Pamlico Sound-side beach that's a hot spot for kiteboarding and located adjacent to the Canadian Hole. Both places promise a brilliant waterfront display for your viewing or active enjoyment. Read why Kite Point is one of the best kiteboarding spots on the OBX.
Surfing: Right across the street from the Canadian Hole and Kite Point on the sound side is the ocean side where surfing conditions are often quite good. The ESA Mid-Atlantic Surfing Championships are sometimes held here in early May.
Camping: You can camp in Buxton and experience sleeping under the stars while being serenaded by the pounding surf. Read more about campgrounds on Hatteras National Seashore here.
Hiking: Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve is a large expanse of natural maritime forest that dominates this portion of Hatteras Island. Small marked hiking trails border the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse while self-guided, more adventurous trails can be found within Buxton Woods itself. The latter is not recommended for inexperienced hikers as there are dense woods, desolate sand dunes, as well as saltwater ponds and marshes to navigate. Experienced hikers will find it challenging, but incredibly fascinating, as you get a front-row view of the maritime ecosystem and its intricacies.
Watersports: With close and convenient access to both the sound and ocean, you're just a few steps away from OBX watersport adventures of every kind. Enjoy your favorite water activity or try something new.
Where to Stay on the Outer Banks
Outer Banks vacation rentals are the best way to go for accommodations during your stay on the OBX. Choose the location that's right for you combined with all of the comforts of home plus the luxuries of a vacation all in one place. Personalize your stay and make it the best beach vacation ever. Peruse all of Elan Vacations OBX rentals or choose your favorite OBX spot on the map and search from there.
We hope you put Buxton on your list of places to explore next time you're in town. You'll want to check out the Hatteras Lighthouse for sure, but don't forget about all of the other lesser-known but worthy highlights of this quintessential maritime village.
Read all of our Outer Banks Spotlight features found on Elan Vacations blog and learn the highlights of each of our beloved beach towns. Next stop, Frisco. Stay tuned!
What's your favorite thing to do in Buxton, NC on the Outer Banks of North Carolina? We want to know!