The best beaches are in and the “Lighthouse Beach” in Buxton has made Dr. Beach’s list of top 10 beaches for 2022. With Ocracoke Island’s Lifeguarded Beach, also on Cape Hatteras National Seashore, holding the top spot, the Outer Banks is holding firm as the nation’s hottest spot to visit again and again.
Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, aka “Dr. Beach”, is a Professor and Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at the Florida International University. Adding author, TV host and co-producer of the 1992 film “Vanishing Lands” to his resume, he has been using his extensive education and expertise to rank America’s top beaches since 1991 using 50 criteria to do so.
A Little History:
Once the site of the nation’s tallest lighthouse, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was moved in 1999 from the Lighthouse Beach, its home since its completion in 1870. Hotly debated among locals, visitors, politicians, environmentalists, enthusiasts and the United States Government’s National Park Service, the entire light station was moved a mere 2,900 feet to secure its structure due to the threat of natural erosion. Directly in front of the lighthouse’s old location was the first of three jetties that were previously installed to help prevent said erosion, coining this infamous surf spot by locals and avid surfers alike as “the first jetty” or "the first".
Aside from laying on one of the most pristine beaches on the East Coast with the Graveyard of the Atlantic in front of you and one of the most historic lighthouses at your back, two more major perks are parking and a lifeguard. Two sizeable parking lots flank this beach, allowing for plenty of room for families and surfers alike. While surfers tend to gravitate to the northernmost lot closer to the first jetty, those interested in an extra pair of eyes to help keep their swimmers safe, are often more satisfied at the southernmost lot, where a seasonal lifeguard is posted from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
What You Need to Know:
One of the things that makes Hatteras Island so unique is its casual coolness. Don’t expect reservations at a fancy Michelin star restaurant or to play golf on an expansive green. This isn’t that type of vacation destination. This is the laid back, take it at your own pace, swimming, beachcombing, exploring local culture vacation. While there may be no Michelin stars resting on these shores, there are numerous authentic eateries that offer the richest flavors on the East Coast. The best part? Flips flops and casual attire are accepted at every single one.
Beach walks, bike rides, kayak tours, fishing. Ocean swimming, soundside paddleboarding, kiteboarding. Surfing, boating, pool floating. Eating, shopping, touring, and exploring. This is the best of the East Coast.
Dress code? Casual.