The red-brick Currituck Beach Lighthouse towers above the landscape in the Historic Corolla village. Visitors to this Outer Banks attraction can climb the winding staircase, 220 steps in all, to the top of the lighthouse for a panoramic view of Currituck Sound, the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Outer Banks. Inside the lighthouse, at the base and on the first two landings, there are museum-quality lighthouse exhibits. On the way up or down, stop to learn about the history of coastal lighthouses, the Fresnel lens, shipwrecks and the lighthouse keepers.
The 162-foot lighthouse was first lit on December 1, 1875. Onsite keepers, who lived in homes at the base of the lighthouse, operated the lighthouse until it was automated in 1937. With automation, the lighthouse no longer required a regular keeper. The lighthouse and its outbuildings fell into disrepair for decades until a nonprofit group called Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc. (OBC) stepped in to save the site in 1980. OBC renovated the keepers’ buildings to re-create their past glories and restored the lighthouse to make it safe to climb. In July 2003 The U.S. Department of the Interior awarded OBC ownership of the lighthouse.
It costs only $10 to climb the lighthouse, and children ages 7 and younger climb for free with an adult supervision. Good news in 2018: They now accept credit and debit cards! The lighthouse is open daily from mid-March through December 1, a free-climb day to commemorate the lighting of the tower over a century ago. Climbing hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays in the summer. During extreme weather, the lighthouse is closed to climbing.
The nearby Double Keepers’ House is used as a private residence, but it makes for great photographs. You can go inside the small Keeper’s House, moved to the site in 1920 from Long Point Light Station in the Currituck Sound, which is now a Museum Shop and stocks everything lighthouse-related you could ever imagine. T-shirts, hats, books, postcards, blankets, taffy, ornaments, jewelry, magnets, figurines and more fill this former keeper’s residence.