Buxton shares its early history with the other villages of Hatteras Island, as the location for early Native American tribes, the Croatans. The tribes thrived on fresh seafood and abundant wildlife for well over a thousand years.
As the settlers began to trickle into the area, the maritime forest of Buxton Woods was used as a source of lumber. In fact, there was even a small railway built on the island to aid in the harvesting of the lumber. The trestle bridge on the sound side island can still be seen today.
As ocean travel gained more traction, the US Lifesaving Stations were established. In 1870, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was built and was the tallest lighthouse in the US and the tallest brick lighthouse in the world. A first order Fresnel light was installed, ensuring a safe travel for mariners for decades to come. By the late 1990s, beachfront erosion had threatened the existence of the lighthouse which, was in serious danger of being undermined by the ocean. While the lighthouse was no longer in use, it was by this point considered a National Treasure. In 1999 the lighthouse was successfully moved 2,870 feet inland to its present location; a rather startling and controversial engineering feat at the time.
Benefits of Buxton
Buxton is one of the largest villages on Hatteras but still maintains its small town seafaring charm. As of the 2010 census, there is a year round population of 1,273. Of course, in the vacation season the number of travelers exceed the number of residents with over a million visitors to the lighthouse each year.
Known worldwide as a premier surfing location with some of the largest and most consistent wave action on the east coast; Buxton is a major surfing destination. The ESA Mid-Atlantic Surfing Championships surfing tournaments are held on the island in the early May at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Buxton is also an ideal site for all types of water sports on the ocean and sound side of the Island. There is the famous Canadian Hole and Kite Point for kiteboarding, windsurfing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and more.
Anglers flock to “The Point” or “Cape Point” to enjoy the best surf fishing location in the world. The point is a small stretch of sand that’s located on the “tip” of Hatteras Island, and lies inshore of where the two major North Atlantic currents meet. The species caught here are large drum, pompano, sharks, mullets, bluefish, and more, depending on the season. Located just past the lighthouse and you will know you are near when you pass the fish cleaning tables.
There are many 4WD beach access ramps for driving onto the beach. It is the recommended way to get all your gear out there but a beach driving permit is required and can be obtained from the National Park Service office on Lighthouse Road. Each vehicle must have its own permit. Vehicles must be registered, licensed, insured, and have a current safety inspection. Vehicles must have low-pressure tire gauge, shovel, jack and jack support board. Due to bird and turtle nesting seasons, some accesses may be closed. Refer to current access ramps and beach closings by visiting National Park Service page daily beach access map.
There are miles of hiking trails in Buxton. There are trails near the lighthouse as well as trails through the heavily wooded Buxton Woods. Some of the trails can be challenging with sand dunes, marshes, ponds and thick woods. There is no better way to appreciate nature and the coastal ecosystem.
If you crave a simple life but still want to be close to shopping, restaurants and the common necessities; then Buxton is the place for you.