Radio Hatteras - Cape Hatteras Motel

“Keeping It Local” – Meet the Press, Hatteras Style

For many visitors, being on vacation also means disconnecting from the outside world — no TV, no radio and sometimes even a break from social media. But for others, it’s fun to be able to tap into the local scene and on Hatteras Island we have two very fine island-specific media outlets to enjoy. Radio Hatteras (101.5 WHDZ FM in Buxton and just recently 99.9 WHDX in Waves) is a community-supported non-profit endeavor run by a group of committed volunteers. The station provides an eclectic mix of musical programming featuring nearly all genres and often provides nightly specials like “Electric Beach” or “Bluegrass.”  There are also slots for local musicians. But the station is especially important to islanders during times of bad weather, when reports from other parts of the state or even Dare County, don’t provide island-specific information.


The station’s mission is “to provide island-specific broadcast radio communications that enhance the safety and quality of life of Hatteras Island residents, visitors, and property owners.”  With live streaming capabilities on-line Radio Hatteras you can find out what is happening to your property or your favorite vacation get-away when travel to the island may be difficult or impossible. This is an especially valuable resource for monitoring current road conditions when highway NC 12 is impacted by weather, bridge construction and any other events. The station also provides important announcements for visitors during the summer season and special programs like “To the Point” provide an in-depth look into issues impacting the area. Hosted by Irene Nolan of the Island Free Press, this program gives everyone a better understanding of what it is like to live here all year – a question we are asked often.


Speaking of Irene Nolan, she is the editor of our on-line newspaper, Island Free Press. On this site you can find local news, commentary, beach access and park issues, classified ads, real estate and business updates, fishing reports and more. The site is supported by local businesses and is a great way to feel like a local (and be better informed) all during the year. You can subscribe to the Island Free Press through e-mail and have it dropped into your inbox once a week, or like Radio Hatteras, you can “friend” the Island Free Press on Facebook and get updated regularly as items are published.


Both of these ventures take a significant amount of effort to produce and we are fortunate to have something so local. While we love Raleigh and Norfolk, and even the upper reaches of  Bodie Island, nothing beats knowing what is really happening in your own backyard.


Irene Nolan, Island Free Press - Cape Hatteras Motel

Learn About Sea Turtles With A Real NPS Ranger - Cape Hatteras Motel

Learn About Sea Turtles Like A Ninja From A Real NPS Ranger On Hatteras Island

ATTENTION ALL KIDS … of all ages!!

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is offering a fun way to learn about sea turtles. Every Tuesday through Friday until September 5th, a kid-friendly park ranger activity will be conducted on the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse grounds. Meet at the Keepers of the Light Amphitheater at 11:30am.

Learn like a ninja and have a great time with a National Park Ranger!

Learn more about sea turtles and other great events, dining spots and activities at the official Outer Banks Events Calendar.

Learn About Sea Turtles Like A Ninja From A Real NPS Ranger - Cape Hatteras Motel

Fessendon Center - Cape Hatteras Motel

More To These Beaches Than Sand On Hatteras Island

Sometimes they are faded, and sometimes you drive right past them and they don’t really register with your consciousness. But along our Outer Banks you will find numerous historical placards along the highway denoting a special time or place related to the island’s history. They remind all of us that there is so much more to this area than meets the eye. It might be worth a few minutes to stop and read them, to learn a bit more about the rich history of this sandbar.

Just a few hundred yards from the motel in either direction you will find two of these signs – one commemorating the radio transmission of Fesseden (our local recreation center is the Fessenden Center – did you know that?) and the other relates to the location of the notorious Diamond Shoals after which the local restaurant is named. Further on down the island you will see mention of Billy Mitchell (the Frisco airstrip is named in his honor) and another commemorates the Monitor Sanctuary. From the earliest native American settlements, to the Civil War, to the World Wars, until recent times, the strategic location of Hatteras has been a part of many significant historical events. It’s fascinating to learn more about the people who helped shape Hatteras Island from the time of the Croatoan until today. There are several excellent places to visit, and it really is worth a bit of time to step off the beach and explore.

On our recommended list are: the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras Village, the old Weather Service Office in Hatteras, the Native American Museum in Frisco, the Lighthouse Keepers Museum in Buxton, the British Cemetery in Buxton and the Chicamacomico Rescue Station in Rodanthe. If you visit Ocracoke, the Waterman’s Museum at Silver Lake provides a captivating look at the fishing industry of old, and there is a British Cemetery there as well. For the very hearty adventurer, a day trip to Portsmouth Island is a once in a lifetime look at a once thriving maritime community now abandoned. There is also a wealth of books (both fiction and non-fiction) available at most gift shops and the bookstore, many of which are by local authors with generations-long connections to the Outer Banks.  We weren’t always a vacation destination. In fact, in terms of history, that’s a very recent development. People lived, worked, fished, farmed, and yes, even raised cattle on this island well into the 20th century. Their dogged determination through years of hurricanes, nor’easters, and true isolation have helped shape the island as it is today.

Make your vacation a bit deeper and richer this year by taking a moment to think back to what made Hatteras Island. It will be the best souvenir you can bring home!

Rocking Chair Mystique - Cape Hatteras Motel

Hatteras Island Rocking Chair Mystique

We are fortunate to be known for many things at our motel including great views and helpful, friendly service. But perhaps more than anything, our guests know us, and love us, for our rocking chairs.

Southern airports have long been known for their rockers (think Charlotte, NC) where weary travelers can rest for a moment between connections either looking ahead to a new adventure or reminiscing of the one just past.

For the Cape Hatteras Motel, rocking chairs represent the essence of an Outer Banks stay. A vacation’s worth of memories located in a piece of wooden furniture. Throughout the summer we notice our rockers being used for all sorts of memory-making:

1- First on the list would be beverages consumed in the rockers – steaming fresh coffee in the mornings as the sun rises, iced tea during a break on a hot afternoon, and of course the adult beverage of choice as the day winds down.

2- Rockers are also a great spot to catch up on reading – newspapers, best sellers, light summer fare, or brochures on interesting yet-to-be-tried OBX activities.

3- Rockers make great places to catch a nap. This is especially true on a day when a bit of light rain falls onto the beach and the sounds of the wind and rain are positively spell-binding.

4- Little ones love to nestle onto parents and grandparents laps for naps, or for important discussions that only young children can have about what they are seeing and learning at the beach.

5- Rockers make a safe place to watch off-shore thunderstorms when the thunder rolls along the sea and the lightening becomes the best fireworks show around.

6- But perhaps the most important function of the rocking chair is to rock cares away. When a visitor can leave the world behind and dream new dreams, find peace of mind, or just do absolutely nothing at all then we have achieved our goal of providing the perfect space for the perfect vacation.

Bros Sandwich Shack Avon - Cape Hatteras Motel

Nat Geo & Yelp Say Bros Sandwich Shack In Avon #1 American Burger

“From its humble beginnings as a scrappy street food, the burger rose to a position of global dominance as the most instantly recognizable sandwich on Earth. Its influence—like that of the United States, which is generally considered the hamburger’s birthplace—is felt the world over.”

Read how National Geographic Travel and Yelp helped identify America’s Best Burgers.

#1 = Bros Sandwich Shack

Hatteras Beach Dads - Cape Hatteras Motel

Hatteras Beach Dads

Beach Dads are everyone’s super heroes. With Fathers’ Day weekend coming up this the perfect time to honor the guys who make our vacations extra special.

Beach Dads are the men who love to wear funky clothes on vacation; shirts and shorts that suddenly emerge from the darkest corners of the closets where they reside during the rest of the year. And they like to wear hats — lots of cool and interesting hats not seen at any other times or places. Footwear is a whole different topic, but yes, we love our Dads with socks and sandals too!

Beach Dads know how to make sand castles, fly kites, put bait on hooks, and find ghost crabs with flashlights. They are expert car-packers and know all the crazy songs to sing coming down Highway 12. Whether your memories are of Dad looking at a map to find the best route here from faraway places, or your Dad uses a GPS today (which usually can’t find us!), Dads tend to be the drivers for most of the journey. They know exactly which restaurants have the best lunches and snacks, they remember all the gas stations where they always stop, and sometimes they miraculously drive all night so that when you open your eyes, you’re almost here!

When you first ventured into the water, Beach Dad held onto you for dear life as you learned to play in, and respect, the ocean.  Beach Dad taught you about tides, and how to find the Big Dipper in the beautiful, dark Hatteras sky. Beach Dads with four-wheel drives locate the perfect spot to spend the day on the beach.  Beach Dads can grill the best burgers, catch the biggest fish, and tell the best stories.

Beach Dad mellows out by the end of the vacation, and it’s so good to see Beach Dad and Beach Mom really relax.  Dads who work hard all year deserve a break, and an OBX vacation often is the perfect place for that wonderful vacation. But just like Beach Moms, whether you have a Beach Dad, a Mountain Dad, a Lake Dad, a City Dad or a Dad who is now just a precious memory – be sure to pause on Fathers’ Day and say “thank you’ – in person or in your heart.

Happy Fathers’ Day from all of us at Cape Hatteras Motel!

Hatteras Island Rain - Cape Hatteras Motel

When It Rains It Pours On Hatteras Island

Water, water everywhere – and we’re not just talking about the ocean and sound! That’s how it is on an island when heavy rains come along. It doesn’t have to be a tropical storm, hurricane or nor’easter to create flooding issues. Even a few days of persistent summer thunderstorms can create problems. It is a part of life on a sandbar, where you are situated a few inches above sea level if that. Generally water recedes in a day or two, and life is impacted little if at all. But during the rain, there are some tips on how to prevent any real problems from occurring and most of those tips revolve around, you guessed it – common sense (see last week’s Blog Post for more on that!)

Highway 12 on Hatteras Island from Pea Island South is notorious for flooding. Obey the posted speed limit but when conditions warrant, do drive more slowly. When roads flood, the two lanes really act as one lane in the middle and so it is the courteous, and sensible thing to do, to drive slowly and not create massive wakes and spray for oncoming drivers or nearby pedestrians. Don’t try to pass! The chances of hydroplaning and loss of control of your vehicle are greatly increased when you are going at an unsafe rate of speed for the conditions.

Know the difference between rain flooding and sound or ocean tide. Rain is almost all fresh water, although there can be some salt from the air mixed in. Sound and ocean over-wash are definitely salt water and can do serious damage to your vehicle. If you must travel into over-wash, drive very, very slowly, and be sure to wash your vehicle as soon as possible after your trip. If you are in a very small car (one that is very low to the ground) you may want to think about waiting a while before you venture through the deeper flooding if possible.

There are a number of social media sites that monitor conditions on Highway 12, including NCDOT12 on Facebook. It’s not a bad idea to check their posts if you think you might be driving into some flooding. You can also help them by posting any difficult or unusual situations you may encounter. It is pretty rare these days for the Highway to close completely.

The great thing is that sand is porous and it will absorb the water.  For those of you from the northern parts of the country, it is not unlike driving in the ice and snow. Just take your time. We will be right here at journey’s end, and we want you here safely!

patience, common sense, courtesy - Cape Hatteras Motel

Pack These 3 For Cape Hatteras & Leave Troubles Far Behind

Visitors to the Outer Banks often become repeat visitors. The spell of OBX is a hard one to break! And so when vacation time rolls around, packing is pretty much a drill. Bathing suits, beach towels, sunscreen, summer reading materials and favorite beverages are on the top of the list. But the start of the summer season is a great time to review that list once more – with family – and talk about three other items that should be packed in the virtual suitcase. These are items that can’t be seen – except through actions – but they will go a long way in making the vacation enjoyable for you, your family, and everyone with whom you come in contact.

The first is patience. Hatteras Island is a small Island. Highway 12 is the only road on and off. In the summer, especially on weekends, traffic is heavy. Speed limits in the villages drop to 35 mph and in some places 25 mph. Many visitors are uncertain about where to go and can make sudden stops and turns. Further north on Saturday and Sunday mornings, traffic can be especially heavy. Planning a trip to Ocracoke means a very early departure, as ferry waits of an hour or more can put a crimp in even the best planned day trip. Lines in the shops can be lengthy and while we have miles and miles of beaches, you likely will have beach neighbors. So patience is truly a virtue. Try to remember you are here for vacation, and try to find the positive in every situation. In a long line of traffic, look at bumper stickers and license plates, sing along with the radio, or actually look at the scenery outside your car window. Try to schedule the day to avoid peak shopping and driving times. Meet your beach neighbors and make new friends.

The second item is common sense. It is surprising how many visitors do things or say things on vacation that they would never, ever consider doing at home. Not only can this involve interactions with others, but also making decisions about personal safety. Hatteras may seem like another world but the same social rules and laws of nature apply here as they do elsewhere. The ocean is unpredictable. Currents are stronger than you are. Period. Our trees may look magical but they won’t protect you from lightening. People here have feelings. Private property means just that. And Park rules and regulations do apply to us all – even if we don’t always agree with them. Don’t risk your life or your holiday by making poor choices.

And finally, pack a bit of courtesy. Remember your Grandma telling you you’ll get what you need more quickly using honey instead of vinegar? It’s true. Being in a motel, or at a campsite, or on the beach with a bunch of strangers sometimes can truly test your patience. But remember everyone is here for the same reason, and unless your neighbor is truly rocking the boat, try to rise above it. If laws are being broken or you feel threatened, by all means contact the authorities. But 99.9% of the time, just moving elsewhere and/or giving the situation some time and space will do the trick and things will return to normal.

Everyone wants a relaxing vacation. Being in a shared space means we all – visitors and locals alike — need to work together to keep things running smoothly. Vacations are supposed to be memorable. By packing these three things along with your suitcases, travel bags and backpacks, you will make it memorable – for all the right reasons!

Rusty's Restaurant Hungry for Hatteras - Cape Hatteras Motel

Hungry For Hatteras?

We have to smile when guests ask us if there are any good seafood restaurants on the island. After all, not only are we a sport fishing capital, but also the island’s history is all about the fish!  Commercial fishing was, and is, a way of life for many, many islanders and their families. The lives and stories of the watermen are a rich part of our culture here.

But back to the original question about where to go for seafood when on vacation. Here are some things we tell our guests to help them locate the restaurant that will serve the food they want at the right price point. Truly, on Hatteras Island, the restaurants all serve good seafood.  It’s what they do. So it really is a matter of what you are looking for. Is it a special occasion?  There are a few white table cloth restaurants with bars and wine lists that are perfect for a birthday, anniversary, proposal, or any other special event.

Are you interested in a sunset?  While we do not have oceanfront dining on the island, soundside choices are plentiful and every sunset is beautiful in its own way. Are you traveling with small children? Several restaurants have kid-friendly menus and early dining allows families to get in and out quickly before the later crowds settle in.  Do you want to eat where the locals eat? Some of our year-round establishments are favorites with those of us who do enjoy eating out on the off-season. Do you yearn for fried fish, French fries, hush puppies and slaw? There are places that cater to real down home southern cooking without frills.

Some places are experimenting a bit more with their menus and offer seafood with global twists and fusion cuisines.  Always ask for the fresh, local catch. Shrimp and scallops are usually plentiful and softshell crabs in season are awesome. Oysters from our waters are usually harvested in the cooler months but can be enjoyed at other times of the year and they are wonderful. From light and flaky flounder to more hearty blue fish or meaty tuna, there all sorts of fish to try. Be bold and taste something you haven’t tried before. Fresh fish are amazingly flavorful and healthy and with all the preparations that local chefs utilize, you can enjoy something different all the time.

And of course we do realize that many people do not enjoy seafood or have allergies, so rest assured there are plenty of meat choices, increasing vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options, to-die-for pizza places, and many, many restaurants serve homemade desserts.

One thing is for certain, you will not go hungry here on Hatteras Island. Bon apetit!


Photo from Rusty’s Surf & Turf

Locate Restaurants & Specials from Corolla to Hatteras on the Restaurant page of Outer Banks Events Calendar.


NC 12 Scenic Byway - Cape Hatteras Motel

Hwy NC 12 Designated National Scenic Byway

Just this weekend, new signs appeared along Highway 12 indicating that our highway is now a National Scenic By-way. We are proud of this designation and hope that when you drive down the island from Oregon Inlet heading south, you will really enjoy the drive.  All too often, the scenery and the atmosphere of the island are lost in the rush to get to the motel. It was a smart person indeed who noted that the journey often is more important than the destination. In this case, we would argue the journey is equally as important, because the highway helps you put life on the island in context. There is more to see than just a ribbon of highway sandwiched between dunes and the Sound.

A National Scenic By-way is a highway that has been recognized by the US Department of Transportation for one or more of six “intrinsic qualities” – archeological, cultural, historical, natural, recreational or scenic. Happily, areas of Hatteras Island can boast all of those. As you pass through the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, there is a chance to observe wildlife, especially birds, throughout the year. At the rest area, a quick walk over the dunes gives you a view of the wreck of the “Oriental” – its stack still can be seen just breaking through the surface of the water.  This year the Pea Island area is also the site of construction for the replacement bridge where Hurricane Irene broke through and created a new, temporary inlet a few years back.

While the construction zone may not be scenic, it is a reminder of the shifting nature of barrier islands and its vulnerability during all types of storms – hurricanes and nor’easters included. Coming into the Tri-Villages area of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo you can often see the colorful kite sails of kiteboarders in the Pamlico Sound. Kiteboarding and wind surfing have become more and more popular and these three which filled with shops catering to these sports. The Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station is well worth a visit for learning more about  the history of the lifesaving stations (which were the forerunners of today’s Coast Guard) as well as an insight into life on the island years ago. Needless to say it was a far cry from what we enjoy today. You can get a real appreciation for how brave and hardy these individuals were and how traditions like “Old Christmas” took hold.

As you head from the Tri-Villages to Avon, it is interesting to reflect on how narrow the island is in sections. There are a number of parking turn-outs in this section of highway and a quick peek over the top of a dune can often give you miles of seashore to take in all on your own.  Avon of course was historically known as “Kinnakeet.” The actual harbor town is off the highway and worth a quick side trip when you have a moment. Coming into Buxton, again the sound can be filled with kiters and windsurfers, but this area now also boasts several family beach areas. Not so many years ago the soundside was the forgotten step- sister of the ocean and only fishermen enjoyed its waters.

As you drive along through Buxton past the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and head on through Frisco and Hatteras, you can get a bit more of a feel of the role watermen once played, and continue to play, in the culture and economy of Hatteras Island. There are museums and docks and harbors that all show and tell these important stories.  We’ve heard many people complain that the hour drive from Whalebone Junction to Buxton is “boring.” We say, enjoy the National Scenic By-way for what it offers, and that hour will flash by very quickly. Before you know it you will be here at the Cape Hatteras Motel, a bit wiser for your journey!