History of Buxton, NC
Immediately west of the coastline’s famous Cape Hatteras, the village of Buxton, NC, lies on the widest part of Hatteras Island. This section of the island contains something very rare — a densely vegetated maritime forest known as Buxton Woods (formerly known as Cape Hatteras Woods), which stretches through present-day Buxton and Frisco. It is also the highest point on the island. As the highest, widest and most densely vegetated area of Hatteras Island, it is a safe haven that has always been one of the most heavily populated areas. A post office was established at the eastern edge of the woods in 1873, and it was named The Cape. The name of the post office was changed to Buxton, NC, in 1882.
Native Americans lived year-round throughout this wooded area. It is believed that the Native American colony stretched from the northern end of present-day Buxton Outer Banks all the way through the southern end of present-day Frisco.
Before the paved highway was built through the island, Buxton, NC’s sand roads meandered through the woods under canopies of trees, leading to dwellings, the schoolhouse, general stores and churches. Today, most everything in Buxton Outer Banks is centered on the main road, but there are still some homes tucked back in the woods. Part of the woods is now the Buxton Woods Coastal Preserve, and it’s a popular but protected Buxton attraction.
If one thing identifies Buxton, NC, it has to be the famous black-and-white, spiral-striped Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The lighthouse has become the icon of the island, representing the hopeful, stalwart, survivalist attitude that is so pervasive among the people of Hatteras. This is one of the most famous lighthouses in the nation, especially since it survived a controversial, precarious move in 1999. Now in the hands of the National Park Service, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is open to the public.
Buxton, NC — Surfers, Old-school Motels and Modern Mansions
But Buxton Outer Banks is also known as a surfer’s haven. The Eastern Surfing Association began holding its annual championships at the lighthouse in 1972, exposing the area to surfers from along the East Coast, and Mother Ocean has drawn them here ever since. Buxton recreation includes other activities – miniature golf, arcades, hiking, boating and any other sport you can do on, in or around the water.
Because of the many thousands who make daytrips to visit the lighthouse as well as those who choose Buxton, NC, as their home away from home, the services to support these visitors are many. Buxton restaurants are some of the most varied on Hatteras Island, from simple pizza joints to waterfront eateries offering inventive seafood recipes, and Buxton shopping run from simple souvenirs to one of the most fashion-forward women’s clothing shops on the Outer Banks as well as a book store you’ll want to spend hours in.
Buxton Outer Banks also has more old-school motels left than any other area here. These places have become treasures in and of themselves since most of them have been torn down and replaced with modern oceanfront mansions in other areas of the Outer Banks. These Buxton accommodations give present-day visitors a sense of the simple vacation paradise Hatteras Island was in years past. Of course, Buxton vacation homes, both big and small, add to the options as do the highest concentration of campgrounds on the Banks.
Buxton and Beach Driving
You’d have to know almost nothing about Hatteras Island to be unaware of the recent controversies over beach driving, and Buxton, NC, has been squarely in the middle of it since The Cape, one of the most popular fishing areas, accessible only by ORVs (that’s off-road vehicles), is here. A compromise, of sorts, was reached between the National Park Service and those opposing the ORV restrictions during 2012. Driving on the beach is allowed in many areas of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. However, a permit is required, and some areas of the beach are closed to driving completely or during the bird-breeding and sea turtle nesting seasons (mid-March to late August for birds and as late as November for sea turtles). Check here for Off-Road Vehicle Use information in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore: http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/off-road-vehicle-use.htm