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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 tours are held on Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to noon. The three-hour tour is held on Thursday from 9 a.m.-noon. Cost for each 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 Things to Do section for more information.

Crystal Dawn Head Boat

Pirate's Cove Yacht Club & 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.

Grandpa's Charters

OBX Marina
708 Harbor Road
OBX Marina
Manteo
(252) 473-1475
(866) 473-1475
(252) 305-8862

See how the local seafood is caught. On this tour, the captain pulls a small, commercial-type shrimp net behind the boat. Passengers get to sort the catch and examine the shrimp, fish and crabs that are harvested — and they get to take home anything that's of legal size. This is a fantastic, hands-on experience for all ages and a great way to learn about life in the sea. Outer Banks Cruises/Captain Johnny Dolphin Tours is the booking agent for this tour; call them and they'll help you arrange your tour.

Island Farm

1140 N. US Highway 64
Manteo
(252) 473-6500

A living history site, Island Farm interprets daily life on Roanoke Island in the mid-1800s. Visitors feel as if they’ve stepped back more than 150 years as they explore the farm and see interpreters dressed in period attire carrying out the daily activities of the time – tending animals, blacksmithing, hoeing corn, doing laundry, making corn cakes. Hands-on activities and demonstrations may include woodworking, textile work, cooking demonstrations, ox-drawn wagon rides, 19th-century toys and games and farm and garden work. Visitors take self-guided tours of the Etheridge House and Farm, interacting with interpreters along the way. Activities vary daily and by season and are weather dependent. Special events are held in the Spring and Fall. Standard admission costs $8 per person with children 5 and younger admitted for free. They are open April through November. Note that they're closed on Thanksgiving Day. 

Jill Louise Headboat

OBX Marina
708 Harbor Drive
OBX Marina
Wanchese
(252) 453-9501

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!

Kitty Hawk Kites

785L Sunset Boulevard
TimBuck II Shopping Village
Corolla
(252) 453-8845
819 Ocean Trail
Monteray Plaza
Corolla
(252) 453-3685
1216 Duck Road
Wee Winks Square
Duck
(252) 261-4450
3933 N. Croatan Highway
The Bypass, MP 12.5
Nags Head
(252) 449-2210
307 Queen Elizabeth Street
Manteo
(252) 473-2357
24505 N.C. Highway 12
Waves Village
Rodanthe
(252) 987-2297
39432 N.C. Highway 12
Island Shops
Avon
(252) 995-6060
5848 Hatteras Landing
Hatteras Village
(252) 986-1446
(877) 359-8447

Kitty Hawk Kites specializes in kites, from the single-lines for kids to high-tech stunt varieties. The stores also sell fun things like flags, toys, boomerangs and games. You’ll find the Outer Banks’ largest selection of beach sportswear and footwear from Crocs, Sanuk, Chaco, Southern Fried and Life Is Good apparel, the coolest selection of T-shirts, sweatshirts, outdoor clothing, sunglasses, sandals and more. KHK stores also offer toys and gifts that you won’t find anywhere else on the Outer Banks. Kitty Hawk Kites has 13 locations from Corolla to Ocracoke. 

One of the Outer Banks’ foremost recreation outfitters, Kitty Hawk Kites offers more than 20 adventure activities, including hang gliding, kayak and SUP tours and rentals, dolphin tours, parasailing, Jet skis and more. And in Rodanthe, the Waves Village Watersports Resort is where you can take a kiteboarding lesson, buy and rent kiteboarding gear, rent a kayak or standup paddleboard.

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 78 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 2015 season runs from May 29 through August 22, Monday through Saturday nights at 7:30 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.

Throughout the year, other events are presented at Waterside Theatre. Psychopath brings screams during the Halloween season, the summer Live at the Waterside concert series presents top notch musicians, Haunted History tours introduce you to ghosts of Roanoke Island's past residents and guests of the Comedy Tonight series laugh their way through evening shows.

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.

Manteo Self-Guided Walking Tour Book

(252) 473-1111

Manteo is much more than a modern vacation resort. It’s a place with an interesting past. In the downtown and waterfront area, you can see remnants of days gone by — and a great way to experience this history is with OneBoat Guides’Manteo Walking Tour. The book features an easy-to-follow map and format that guides you through Manteo, showing historic photographs, pointing out historical details and landmarks and relating anecdotes along the way.

OneBoat Outer Banks also features walking and driving tours to Corolla, Nags Head, Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Village. The books are available on the Outer Banks in bookstores, gift shops, grocery stores, attractions and specialty shops. Or you can call (252) 473-1111 to order a copy in advance of your visit and have it shipped to you. Look for their distinctive covers with historic photographs. Have fun exploring the history of the Outer Banks!

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.  

OBX Marina

708 Harbor Drive, Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park
Wanchese
(252) 473-9991

OBX Marina offers centralized booking for offshore and inshore charter fishing equipped with a fleet of 15 charter boats. They have several boats in their fleet, and their booking service provides hassle-free, book-where-you-board convenience. OBX Marina offers many varieties of fishing charters, from full-day excursions to the Gulf Stream to half-day, light-tackle trips in the sound. They also offer several specialty fishing trips, including shrimping and crabbing charters. Feeling adventurous? How about a shark trip? OBX Marina even runs an overnight shark trip. You'll find everything you need for a day of fishing at their ship's store, from beverages, ice and snacks to bait, tackle, rods and reels. They also stock boating accessories, can fill your tank with gas or diesel fuel and carry maintenance supplies plus sunglasses, T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats (see Shopping). Ask about OBX Marina's parasailing and Jet skis operations, two offerings that began in 2014. OBX Marina was also recently home base for a spin-off of National Geographic's hit reality series "Wicked Tuna." "Wicked Tuna: North vs. South" fished Outer Banks waters from this Wanchese marina as part of filming for its 2014 season. The locally filmed shows will be aired later this year.

 

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.

 

Pirate's Cove Yacht Club & Marina

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

Just about every afternoon between 4 and 5 p.m. a dozen or more sport fishing boats return from the Gulf Stream to the Pirate’s Cove Marina to unload their catches of tuna, dolphin, wahoo and other deep-sea fish. If you’re interested in seeing the fish before they’re cleaned, head down to the docks and watch the mates hurl the whopping creatures onto the docks. Kids love this, and the anglers are usually friendly about sharing their experiences of the day.

If you’re more of a hands-on type, escape from the same old beach routine and head over to Pirates Cove Marina and Yacht Club to 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, gifts and one of the best selections of sunglasses on the Outer Banks.

Roanoke Island Festival Park

1 Festival Park, Across from the Manteo Waterfront
Manteo
(252) 475-1500

Did you know that the first Roanoke Island settlements predate the Jamestown settlement of 1607? The Roanoke Island settlements took place 20 years earlier, between 1585 and 1587. Though the Roanoke Island colonies didn’t prove successful as far as longevity, they were the foundations of English-speaking life in America and provided much-needed information about the New World that helped the later colonies succeed. Roanoke Island Festival Park is one place to learn about these first English settlements and the impact they had on the Native Americans who were already residing here in the 16th century. The state-run park and cultural center is just across the bridge from the downtown Manteo waterfront on its own 25-acre island. Be prepared for a day of fun, as there is a lot to do and see here.

Elizabeth II — The centerpiece of the park is the 69-foot Elizabeth II, a 16th-century sailing ship. It’s a representation of a particular 16th-century English merchant ship, Elizabeth, one of seven in Sir Walter Raleigh’s 1585 expedition to establish England’s first New World colony. Costumed interpreters speaking Old English greet visitors to the ship with sea tales, legends and historical facts and answer questions about 16th-century seafaring. Kids love walking around on the decks and crawling down below to see what life was like on the ship. The Elizabeth II’s tender, Silver Chalice, is 24 feet long and carries up to 15 crew members.

Settlement Site – The Settlement Site is where guests get to interact with costumed interpreters portraying the colonist men and women as they settled into life in the New World. Visitors can try their hand at blacksmithing, woodworking, 16th-century games and more. See how the first English settlers lived when they arrived in the New World. Try on some of their armor, learn some 16th-century warfare techniques and some of the arts and crafts needed to make life tolerable on Roanoke Island more than 400 years ago.

American Indian Town  – Explore coastal Algonquian culture and history in the American Indian Town. The town represents an American Indian community similar to what the English explorers investigated and surveyed during their voyages to Roanoke Island and the surrounding area in the late 16th century. Visitors follow paths that wind through the park. Homes, agricultural areas and work shelters line the paths. Two longhouses represent the historical homes of American Indians from the region. One of the longhouses stretches more than 30 feet long and interprets the home of a leader from the community. A smaller and partially completed longhouse includes an interactive component that invites visitors to help complete the structure. Both areas contain interactive exhibits that focus on the developing relationship between the American Indian and English people during the late 16th century. The ceremonial dance circle is also located here. The exhibit has a planting and harvesting area where visitors can learn the advanced nuances of American Indian farming techniques. Three work shelters include activities like cordage (rope) making, mat and basket weaving, net mending, food preparation, tanning hides, fishing, boat building and gathering.

Fossil Search — Find ancient treasures, including shark’s teeth and coral, from a time long before the colonists arrived.

The Adventure Museum —The newly renovated Adventure Museum features highly interactive, multi-sensory, hands-on exhibits fun for the entire family. Try your hand at pulling cargo on and off a 16th-century ship using your strength to go up and down with the ropes! Find the costume trunk and be part of Colonial Life. Bring the camera! Learn how 16th-century sea captains made the most of wind and water currents as they sailed to the New World. See the routes they took to Roanoke Island. Visit the touch screens and read theories of what happened to the 1587 Roanoke Island Colony — and then decide what you think happened! Revisit the legend of Blackbeard and dress up like a pirate. Live the life of a soldier in their Civil War exhibit, and discover the Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony.

Pavilion — The Outdoor Pavilion and surrounding grounds offer a perfect place to enjoy a picnic and concert. Events are scheduled year round. It is also rented as a wedding venue.

Film Theater — The film The Legend of Two-Path is shown several times a day in the 242-seat Film Theater. It tells the Native Americans’ perspective of how the arrival of the colonists changed their lives. Special performances are also held here year round.

Boardwalks and Grounds — Enjoy wildlife in a natural setting while walking the Boardwalk that runs throughout the park. Along the landscaped walks, native shrubs and flowers thrive in the sound and marsh. The Boardwalk joins the Roanoke Voyages Trail, which bisects Roanoke Island. 

Outer Banks History Center — The Outer Banks History Center, (252) 473-2655, is a public research facility with a friendly staff that is willing to help you find historic photographs and documents, research information and more. Their gallery features a history-related show each year, and their reading room offers scores of up-to-date periodicals. See the separate listing for the center for details.

The cost for admission to Roanoke Island Festival Park, which includes all venues, is $10 for adults and $7 for ages 6 to 17. Children 5 and younger get in free. Tickets are good for two consecutive days. 

Special events are ongoing at Festival Park all year. See www.outerbanksthisweek.com for details.

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.