Currituck Beach Lighthouse
Corolla, North Carolina
- Site Established: 1873
- Current Bldg. Erected: 1875
- Height of Light Structure: 162 ft.
- Focal Plane of Light: 158 ft.
- Active: Yes
- Lens: 1st Order Fresnel
- Beacon Visibility
Historic Significance Score: 2
Guarding the waterways of Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, near the northern most point of the Outer Banks, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse was lit in December of 1875 to plug an 80 mile dark spot on the Atlantic coastline between the Bodie Island and Cape Henry Lights.
This was a result of a statement by the Lighthouse Board in 1872, stating that ships kept sinking in the shallow waters near the point.
The lighthouse was automated sixty-four years later in 1939.
Currently, the lighthouse is in the process of being transferred under the Lighthouse Preservation Act and the non-profit organization that currently runs the lighthouse, The Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc., is involved in an ownership struggle with the local government, that also desires to own the landmark.
Majesty Score: 5
Currituck Beach Lighthouse has great majesty! At 158 ft. tall, visitors will climb 214 steps to gain access to the top of this enormous beacon. The lighthouse is the last lighthouse on the Outer Banks to keep its natural brick appearance, and tour guides will tell you that there were more than 1 million bricks used to build this great landmark!
Water View Score: 2
Unfortunately, water can not be seen from the base of the lighthouse. It is a quick walk through the adjacent Whalehead Club for views of Currituck Sound.
There is an inviting dock walk right near the entrance of the lighthouse’s larger parking lot that will also take you out to see the sound.
Preservation Score: 5
Once in a state of disrepair in the late 1970’s, the Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc., signed a lease agreement with the the State of North Carolina and have, to their credit, restored this great beacon close to its prior glory. It has taken 2 decades and $1.5 Million to bring the lighthouse this far.
The lighthouse lantern and gallery were restored in 1999 and 2000, by the International Chimney Corporation. The O.B.C.’s efforts now are currently being focused on revitalizing the keeper’s houses in the compound.
Surrounding Area: 5
Recently, a newspaper listed the beaches around Corolla as one of the 10 best undiscovered beaches on the East Coast. The newspaper did not lie!
The drive north on the Outer Banks to get to the Currituck Lighthouse takes you through some absolutely beautiful ocean front communities! The multi-million dollar houses are so high scale and the communities are so well kept it could rival the Hamptons of New York.
The beach front of Corolla also features wild ponies, something that the Hamptons do not have.
The lighthouse property is adjacent to the Whalehead Hunting Club. The Whalehead Club was a hunting club built in 1925, by northern industrialist Edward Collings Knight, Jr. as a gift for his wife.
The name Currituck translated in Native American means the “Land of the Wild Goose” and the club was built there to take advantage of the great Duck hunting near the location. Knight decked out the mansion with all the trimmings (signed Tiffany lamps, carved and corduroy walls, etc.) to make it a lush winter home.
Some of the most beautiful shots of the lighthouse can be obtained from the Whalehead Club property. The photo to the right features the bright pink boat house on the estate that sits on the boat inlet on the estate.
Accessibility Score: 5
Currently, with the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse tower closed for repairs, Currituck Beach Lighthouse has the distinction of being the only lighthouse on the Outer Banks that can be climbed!
The Lighthouse sits in a round, tree enclosed compound that features a keeper’s house and and assistant keeper’s house that was moved to the site in the 1920’s.
The light keeper’s house now serves as a really nice 2 floor museum shop with lighthouse memorabilia. The museum shop’s decor is nicely done and has a very rustic feel to it.
The Currituck Beach Lighthouse and Museum Shop are open daily from Easter through Thanksgiving and there is a fee to climb the tower.
Beacon Score: 5
The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is fortunate enough to have an active First Order Fresnel lens! This is a very rare sight in America. It is really a beautiful seven foot plus lens that you can get close to if you climb the tower.
The lighthouse’s flash interval is 20 seconds total, consisting of 3 seconds on; 17 seconds off. The beacon is lit starting at dusk and maintains lit through the break of dawn. It can be seen for 18 nautical miles.
Overall Score and Overview: 29
A trip to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse is a great one! You will see some of the most ritzy ocean homes and communities on the Outer Banks. After driving through the community of Duck, and visiting the community of Corolla, the area will be on your short list for an oceanfront dream home.
The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is a beauty with great majesty and full access!
It is a great lighthouse visit and a jewel of a national treasure!!