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Hatteras Island Customs & Courtesies

Reading through the ordinances and regulations below will ensure that you have a safe and fun visit to Hatteras Island. It is important to know the regulations regarding driving, beach use, fireworks, bonfires, and protecting our natural habitat. As always, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the regulations and ordinances below. Or visit our Hatteras Area Guide for more information on planning your vacation to the Outer Banks.

Explore Hatteras

  • Bonfires are permitted on the beach with the distance no further back from the water than the median high tide.  Here you can find the Beach Fire Permit which must be kept on hand while having a bonfire
  • Jet skis may not be launched from any NPS land or waters. Jet skis can be launched only from private soundfront homes or public launches.
  • Unlike the interstate highways leading to the Outer Banks, our posted speed limits are strictly enforced, so please slow down and enjoy your vacation with safety in mind. NC law does not permit passing on the right on a two-lane road, even when the shoulder is wide enough. If you are behind a car making a left hand turn, we suggest you wait until that car has made its turn rather than passing on the right.
  • The law requires that you turn on your headlights anytime it is necessary to use your windshield wipers, including when it is raining.
  • Buckle up - it's the law in the Outer Banks. Seat belts are required for all passengers, and all children under the age of 5 must be in an approved child restraint. Please visit here for information on North Carolina seatbelt laws.
  • The law requires that all motorcycles burn their headlights at all times and that the driver and passenger wear a helmet. No more than two persons are allowed to ride a motorcycle at the same time.
  • When riding a bicycle, ride with the traffic and make sure to use designated bicycle lanes. Pedestrians should walk or jog against the traffic. For information about North Carolina bike helmet laws please visit here.
  • Due to the soft, sandy soil conditions along roadsides, please do not pull your car off the road onto the shoulder unless you are in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. You may get stuck and need to be towed.
  • All fireworks are illegal on Hatteras Island and are subject to stiff fines as well as confiscation of goods. Possessing fireworks of any kind, including sparklers, on any of Midgett Realty's managed properties are grounds for eviction. Additionally, effective June 1, 2007, the sale, possession or use of fireworks is completely banned on Hatteras Island. Violators are subject to a fine imposed by Dare County.
  • If you are vacationing during the time the sea oats are in bloom, please enjoy their beauty. However, do not pick them. They are protected by federal law and they protect our dunes from erosion. On-the-spot tickets for up to $500 will be written by the National Park Service for violators.
  • The National Park Service has released a final ruling for the off-road vehicle (ORV) use for Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  The rule became effective as of Wednesday, February 15, 2012.  The final rule establishes required permits for ORV use on the beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  To obtain an ORV permit, you must complete a 7-minute educational video program, and acknowledge in writing that you understand and agree to abide by the rules governing ORV use at the Seashore, and pay the appropriate permit fee.
  • There will be weekly and annual permits available for purchase. You may purchase a 7 day permit for $50, or an annual permit for $120, at either of the 3 permit office locations.  The ORV permit offices are located at Coquina Beach, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Center (Buxton), and the Ocracoke Visitor Center.  You must purchase a permit for each ORV you plan on driving on designated routes.  You must purchase a permit in person at one of their designated permitting sites.  To view the final rule in the Federal Register, click here; this link will help to explain key elements in the rule.  For frequently asked questions, an ORV route map, and the 7-minute educational video, click here.
  • Midgett Realty is fortunate to have many foreign visitors as guests in our Hatteras Rentals. We would like to share the difference in customs in regard to restaurant personnel. In the US, the wait staff at restaurants earn approximately $2 per hour and rely on tips to make a living. They should indeed earn their tips, and it is customary to leave a 20% tip for good service.
  • The placement of unattended property on the beach, such as, but not limited to chairs, toys umbrellas, canopies, coolers, etc. is prohibited between sunset and sunrise. This restriction ensures the safety and enjoyment of the beach by all users and is consistent with local ordinances in nearby towns. Chairs, umbrellas, canopies, coolers, etc. can be harmful to people and wildlife. People walking at night, public safety personnel who may have to drive on the beach at night, sea turtles that must make their way to nesting areas and hatchlings to the water to survive depend on safe and obstruction free beach conditions.