The village of Hatteras isn’t located at Cape Hatteras, but approximately 12 miles to the southwest at the southern end of Hatteras Island near Hatteras Inlet. It’s an unincorporated village with a population of approximately 500.
Hatteras Island is a typical barrier island, a thin strip of land that is often broken by hurricanes. Located across Pamlico Sound from the mainland, Cape Hatteras is the farthest southeast point of land in the continental United States north of Florida, and it is the closest point to Bermuda, at approximately 648 miles.
Because it juts into the Atlantic Ocean, Hatteras Island is often struck by hurricanes that miss the rest of the South Atlantic coast. Full-time residents are a hardy lot who have learned to deal with the sometimes brutal weather and aftermath of the named storms and unnamed winter northeasters, and most rely on tourism or fishing in some manner.
Hatteras Inlet is a wide but shallow inlet with a channel that shifts and shoals frequently. It is wise to ask for assistance or to follow a local boat to get through safely to the ocean.
The waters off Cape Hatteras have a double-edge reputation. The bad is being named the Graveyard of the Atlantic for thousands of vessels sunk between Cape Hatteras and Cape Henry, Va., since records began being kept in 1526. The good reputation is for excellent fishing. The warm waters of the Gulf Stream pass approximately 25 miles offshore,s making Cape Hatteras the closest land to the Gulf Stream north of Florida. The cool water of the Labrador Current flows down the Atlantic Coast until it collides with the Gulf Stream off the cape. The merging of these currents creates a fishery as good and as varied as anywhere in the world. Fish of the northern and southern Atlantic are found off Cape Hatteras and usually in abundance.
The village of Hatteras is the closest port to this world-class fishery, and several marinas support an excellent fleet of charter boats to carry fishermen inshore and offshore.