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Roanoke Island Things To Do & Manteo Things To Do

No matter what Roanoke Island things to do you choose during your stay here, one thing is certain, you’ll never be bored. Manteo's recreation is more varied than Wanchese recreation, which is pretty much all fishing centered.

Whether you crave relaxation or high-energy adventure, it’s all here. Roanoke Island things to do include sailing along the sound or taking a dolphin-sighting cruise. Go crabbing from a dock or fight a marlin on an off-shore charter fishing trip. Parasail high above water or take a bike ride along the island. Watch the sun set from the decks of a beautiful boat or zip through the sound on a Jet boat. Stroll along the Manteo boardwalk and enjoy the island’s quaint beauty or enjoy a modern movie in an old-fashioned theater. Join the local kids at the town-built skatepark or take the little ones to the waterfront playground. As you can see, Manteo recreation opportunities run the gamut!

And when you look beyond Manteo things to do to other Roanoke Island recreation possibilities, you’ll find air tours, fishing, backwater kayak tours, head boat excursions, yoga and Pilates classes, spas, scuba trips and more.

See our Attractions section for more about Manteo things to do and all the places to visit on the island, places like the North Carolina Aquarium, Roanoke Island Festival Park, The Elizabethan Gardens and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. Roanoke Island offers numerous special events, festivals, programs, performing arts, summer camps, children’s programs and more all summer long. If you are here in the off season there are still lots of interesting events year round too. See our Annual Events.

Alligator River Canoe Tours

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, Buffalo City Road boat launch, off U.S. Highway 64 (Dare County Mainland)
Manteo
(252) 216-9464

Don’t miss this chance to really get out in the wild! Take a guided canoe tour through the shady blackwater canals deep into the heart of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and learn about the fascinating history of the area along the way. Did you know that in the early 1900s Buffalo City was the largest town in the Outer Banks region? Now it's lost to everyone but the alligators, bears, birds and other native wildlife. Who knows what you will see? From June through August choose either a two-hour or three-hour tour. The two-hour tour is held on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $30/person or $20/children 12 and younger. The three-hour tour is held on Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m.-noon. Cost is $40/person or $25/children 12 and younger. Reservations and footwear are required. Hats, sunscreen, insect repellent and drinking water are recommended. The refuge provides the canoes, paddles, personal flotation devices and leaders, you provide the paddle power! Call for reservations and additional information.

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Milltail Road, off U.S. Highway 64
Manteo
(252) 473-1131

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is a 154,000-acre refuge on the mainland portion of Dare and Hyde counties. It was established in 1984 to preserve and protect a unique wetland habitat type, the pocosin, and its associated wildlife species. Pocosin is a Native American word meaning ‘‘swamp-on-a-hill’’ and is characterized by poorly drained soils high in organic material. The Refuge's diversity of habitat types includes high and low pocosin, bogs, fresh and brackish water marshes, hardwood swamps and Atlantic white cedar swamps. Plant species include pitcher plants and sun dews, low bush cranberries, bays, Atlantic white cedar, pond pine, gums, red maple and a wide variety of herbaceous and shrub species common to the East Coast.

The Refuge is one of the last remaining strongholds for black bear on the Eastern Seaboard, and it is the only place in the world where endangered red wolves exist in the wild. It is home to concentrations of ducks, geese and swans, and its wildlife diversity also includes wading birds, shorebirds, American woodcock, raptors, American alligators, white-tailed deer, raccoons, rabbits, quail, river otters, red-cockaded woodpeckers and neotropical migrant song birds.

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge has great paddling trails, a wildlife drive, two wildlife trails and all types of wildlife and habitat for you to explore. The staff offers several programs throughout the year, including Tram Tours, Canoe Tours, Red Wolf Howling Safaris and the Bear Necessities program about black bears.

The refuge is open year round during daylight hours.

To learn more about Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center. The center’s exhibits offer information about Alligator River and 10 other refuges in northeastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia. This Visitor Center is located on the north end of Roanoke Island, about a quarter-mile past the entrance to Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. The staff that manages Alligator River Refuge also manages Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on Hatteras Island; see our Hatteras site’s Recreation chapter for more information.

Crystal Dawn Head Boat

Pirates Cove Marina
2000 Sailfish Drive
Docks at Pirate's Cove Marina
Nags Head
(252) 473-5577

Whether for head boat fishing or cruises, you will enjoy the 65-foot, big and comfortable Crystal Dawn. You will fish in the inlet or sound for a variety of fish such as flounder, croaker, spot, trout, sea mullet, sea bass and more, depending on the season and conditions. All bait, tackle and licenses are furnished. Cost for head boat fishing is $45 for adults and $35 for children 10 and younger. Roanoke Island Cruises are $20 adults and $15 for children 10 and younger. The vessel is available for private charters, bachelor, bachelorette, family functions and more. Small coolers are welcome.

Jill Louise Headboat

708 Harbor Drive
OBX Marina
Wanchese
(252) 453-9500

A new offering from Corolla Bait and Tackle is the Jill Louise, a 50-foot, stable headboat that can take up to 49 passengers out for inshore and offshore fishing. She cruises at 20 knots, so you reach the fishing grounds quickly and have more time to have your line in the water. She's the only headboat out of Wanchese certified to go up to 100 miles offshore. Another plus is that she's air conditioned -- on those hot, summer days, you'll appreciate this feature. Jill Louise also goes out for daily sunset cruises, and she also does Purple Martin tours in late July and August. If you haven't seen this sunset phenomenon at the old Manns Harbor bridge in Manteo, you're missing an image you'll never forget. On the inshore fishing trips, you can expect to catch croaker, spot, sea mullet, pigfish, flounder, bluefish, puppy drum and trout. The captain is a long-time local who knows these waters well. All you need to bring along is a cooler for your fish, snacks, ice, suntan lotion, sunglasses and a hat!

Lost Colony

1409 National Park Drive (off U.S. Highway 64)
Waterside Theatre
Manteo
(252) 473-6000

More than 400 years ago, 117 men, women and children sailed from Plymouth, England, in an attempt to settle on Roanoke Island. They vanished just two years later. The only clue left behind was the word “CROATOAN” carved in a tree. The Lost Colony is their story. This outdoor drama is the Outer Banks' most long-standing attraction, celebrating its 77th season in 2014!

Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paul Green, The Lost Colony is performed summer nights by a company of more than 100 actors, dancers, singers and technicians in the historic outdoor Waterside Theatre. Come see epic battles and Indian dances. Experience the sorrow and heartbreak of tragedy and loss. Witness the pageantry of the queen and her court, and celebrate the birth of Virginia Dare. There is music, laughter, romance and dance, and Outer Banks locals and visitors have loved it for 77 years.

An Outer Banks tradition and cultural treasure, The Lost Colony educates, enriches and entertains — don’t leave the Outer Banks until you see it.

The 2014 season runs from May 30 through August 22, Mondays at 7:30 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday nights at 8 p.m. Ticket Prices are $30 for adults, $28 for seniors (62 and older), $10 for children ages 12 and younger. Ask about the VIP package at $40 per person.  Kids get in free on Monday nights! Advance reservations are recommended. For tickets, call (252) 473-6000 or purchase online anytime at www.thelostcolony.org.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays on the Outer Banks means Family Fun Night at The Lost Colony. Character Dinners are offered prior to the performance on these evenings throughout the summer. Meet the cast before the show and have the kids’ photos taken with the actors. It’s a night of memories that will last a lifetime, and there’s no fighting traffic or rushing at the restaurant to get to the theater on time.

A trip to The Lost Colony also offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy a restaurant on Roanoke Island. Roanoke Island restaurants are less crowded than the beach restaurants on summer nights.

North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island

374 Airport Road
Manteo
(252) 475-2300
Toll Free
(800) 832-3474 x4

The North Carolina Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions on the Outer Banks. Yes, it's perfect for a rainy day, but you will also appreciate the cool, quiet environment when you've had enough of the sun. Explore the “Waters of the Outer Banks” through aquariums and interactive exhibits. Watch fishes in the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" exhibit. This 285,000 aquarium also features a one-third scale replica of the civil war ironclad USS Monitor. Explore aquatic habitats from grass flats to Gulf Stream waters. Gently stroke a stingray or touch a hermit crab in their “Close Encounters” Gallery. See daily dive shows, alligators, otters, turtles, Operation: Sea Turtle Rescue and their new Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center. Enjoy some of the best views on the island as you stroll down their Soundside Pier and learn about the area's history and environment. Dive with sharks in their Aquarium Shark Dive program -- open to certified divers only. Make your family’s island experience truly “fin-tastic” by participating in one of their special activities or programs, where fun and learning meet! Pre-registration is required.

The Aquarium is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Admission is $10.95 for ages 13 to 61; $9.95 for ages 62 and older; $9.95 for members of the military; $8.95 for children ages 3 to 12; and free for children 2 and younger, pre-registered North Carolina school groups and North Carolina Aquarium Society members. For information on renting the Aquarium for special events such as weddings or receptions, purchasing tickets and registering for programs online, visit www.ncaquariums.com. The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is a Member Site of the Historic Albemarle Tour.  

Outer Banks Charter Fishing Adventures/Corolla Bait and Tackle

Thicket Lump Marina
1070 Ocean Trail
Corolla
(252) 453-9500
603 Currituck Drive
The Shoppes at the Currituck Club
Corolla
(252) 453-9690

Corolla Bait and Tackle offers two-hour sunset cruises where you take a relaxing cruise around the sound and see Monkey Island, birds and other wildlife. They also offer a pontoon-boat trip to the winery at Knott’s Island. You enjoy a short boat trip across the sound, participate in a wine tasting at the beautiful vineyards then motor back to Corolla. Be sure to bring binoculars, snacks and drinks. Want a little more action? Ask about the full range of fishing trips offered here; for more information see Fishing. Keith Cummings, owner of Corolla Bait and Tackle, also provides guided fishing opportunities. He’s a pro, and he loves sharing his fishing knowledge.

Pirate Adventures of the Outer Banks

Downtown Manteo Waterfront
Manteo
(252) 473-2007

Pirate costumes, face painting, a real pirate ship, messages in bottles, water cannons, stinky pirate enemies and sunken treasure — need we say more to convince you that this is the ultimate kid-pleasing adventure? Starting Memorial Day weekend, the <i>Sea Gypsy IV</i> sails seven days a week, six times a day: 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Face painting and dress up begin 30 minutes prior to departure time, so get there early. Cost is $23/person, $12 for children age 2 and younger. On Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays take advantage of discounted rates of $18/person with $12 for children age 2 and younger. Reservations are strongly recommended.

 

Pirates Cove Marina

1 Sailfish Drive
Nags Head/Manteo Causeway
Manteo
(252) 473-3906
(800) 367-4728

Escape from the same old beach routine and head over to Pirates Cove Marina and Yacht Club. Experience the thrill of a lifetime fishing from one of their offshore charter boats. Your adrenaline will be pumping listening to the scream of the drag while you are reeling in your tuna, dolphin, wahoo and marlin. Or book a near-shore trip and drop deep to catch tile fish, sea bass, trigger fish and grouper, or troll for Spanish mackerel and bluefish. No matter what you choose, Pirates Cove’s charter fleet will show you a great time. Back at the docks you can stop by the Pirates Cove Ships Store, where you'll find a great selection of T-shirts, resort wear and one of the best selections of sunglasses on the Outer Banks.

Roanoke Island Festival Park Performance Series

1 Festival Park Road
Manteo
(252) 475-1506

Some of North Carolina’s best young talent performs at Roanoke Island Festival Park during the summer children’s shows. Performing arts departments from all campuses of the University of North Carolina system are invited to participate, and these performances promise great entertainment for people of all ages. Visit their website at www.roanokeisland.com for a complete listing or check the By Day and Nightlife listings at www.outerbanksthisweek.com.