Kitty Hawk is the first town on the OBX that visitors encounter after crossing the Wright Memorial Bridge, and it is one of the oldest settled areas on the Outer Banks. Based on area, it is the largest of all the incorporated towns in Dare County, with the majority being residential and far removed from the commercial districts.
- Where To Stay in Kitty Hawk
- Kitty Hawk Attractions
- History of Kitty Hawk, NC
- Where Is Kitty Hawk?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Where to Stay on the Outer Banks in Kitty Hawk
Attractions to Kitty Hawk
Kitty Hawk is a fairly central town on the Outer Banks and offers an abundance of things to do for visitors. Including our favorite thing to do on the OBX … go to the beach! Here is a list of exciting things to do in Kitty Hawk, NC.
The Beach: The Kitty Hawk beaches tend to be narrow in comparison to our northern beaches. However, unlike Duck and Southern Shores, these are public beaches with access points throughout the town. There are several beach accesses that offer public parking along Beach Road in Kitty Hawk.
The Sound: To the west, Kitty Hawk borders the Albemarle Sound, a wide and relatively shallow body of water. For boaters, there is a boat ramp and water access located at 4190 Bob Perry Road, which is the location of the Kitty Hawk recycling center. The site also has a small picnic area and a public boat ramp. There are a number of outfitters that offer guided kayak tours of the sound and the canals and creeks along the shore. These tours can be an excellent introduction to the ecology of the area and are a great way to experience a part of the Outer Banks that is often overlooked.
Kitty Hawk Woods: Kitty Hawk Woods is almost 2300 acres (3.6 square miles) of maritime forest located in the middle of town. Beautiful and remote, this is a truly unique Outer Banks experience and well worth a visit.
Sandy Run Park: Sandy Run Park is a beautiful park with an easily navigated boardwalk and walking path that is a half mile loop. The trail bisects a wetland pond and marsh and includes an observation tower, a boat launch and picnic areas. The trail is suitable for children of any age. The park is located on The Woods Road, about two miles from the intersection with US 158.
Golf: Sea Scape Golf Links is an 18-hole links style course that traverses a number of different environments, from greens at the top of relict sand dunes to maritime forests. A par 70 course, it gives experienced golfers a bit of a challenge with shot placement, but isn’t so difficult that novice players will be discouraged.
Brief History of Kitty Hawk, NC
At one time Kitty Hawk covered a much larger area than it does today, encompassing what is now Kill Devil Hills to the south and Southern Shores and Duck to the north. Until 1919 it was part of Currituck County (the county immediately to the north) and was a voting district called Kitty Hawk Township.
When the Wright Brothers first arrived on the Outer Banks in 1900, Wilbur and Orville Wright set up camp on a large sand dune known as Kill Devil Hill. At the time, they were still in Kitty Hawk Township, which explains why Kitty Hawk is listed as the location of the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight.
Early settlers that lived in Kitty Hawk got by in the same manner as everyone else on the Outer Banks, through subsistence farming, fishing, and guiding for local hunt clubs.
In 1931 the first bridge across the Albemarle Sound was completed. It was a rickety wooden toll bridge, located almost exactly where the current Wright Brothers Memorial Bridge is today. That, coupled with the completion of a causeway connecting the beach communities to Manteo, justified North Carolina paving a road between the two bridges. For the first time the Outer Banks were directly linked by road to the outside world.
In 1966 the first span of the Wright Memorial Bridge was completed, and sustained growth and economic activity followed quickly. By 1981, with Southern Shores to the north and Kill Devil Hills to the south incorporating as towns, it made little sense to remain an unincorporated part of the county, and the town of Kitty Hawk took over its own affairs.
Where on the OBX is Kitty Hawk?
Finding Kitty Hawk is simple, although navigating the town may prove to be a bit more difficult. When arriving from the north, the town of Kitty Hawk is immediately reached after exiting from the Wright Memorial Bridge on US 158. Almost the entire business district of Kitty Hawk exists along US 158 (the Bypass) or NC 12 (Beach Road). Typically, restaurants and retail businesses are located along both highways.
Frequently Asked Questions
How far is Kitty Hawk from the other towns of the Outer Banks?
North To South
- Kitty Hawk to Corolla — about 40 minutes
- Kitty Hawk to Duck — about 15 minutes
- Kitty Hawk to Southern Shores — about 12 minutes
- Kitty Hawk to Kill Devil Hills — about 10 minutes
- Kitty Hawk to Nags Head — about 15 minutes.
Please note: These times are estimations and could be longer based on seasonal traffic.
Is there public parking in Kitty Hawk?
There are several public parking areas in Kitty Hawk, many with nearby public beach accesses. From north to south, streets with public parking and beach accesses are as follows: Byrd, Fonck, Maynard, Bennett, Luke, Eckner, Bleriot, Wilkins, Hawks, Balchen, Lillian.
Are dogs allowed on the beach in Kitty Hawk?
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, your dog must be on a leash if on the beach between 10am and 6pm. The leash cannot exceed 12’. Please note: Not all towns enforce the same rules when it comes to dogs on the beach
Can you drive on the beach in Kitty Hawk?
Driving on the beach is prohibited in Kitty Hawk.
Why Is It Called Kitty Hawk, NC?
The most likely source for the naming of Kitty Hawk comes from the Algonquin word Chickehauk which seems to have been a Native American village in the area. What we do know as fact is that in the early 1700s, this region was listed as Chickehawk on area maps, and by the end of the century was recorded on deeds as Kittyhuk or Kitty Hawk.
What is the Best Time to Visit Kitty Hawk?
While many would say “there is no bad time to visit the beach”, we understand there are better times than others. Keeping in mind that everyone is different, we will just go through each season starting with the most popular — summer! Summertime on the Outer Banks is exactly how you’d expect a beach destination to be in the warmest months of the year. It is a bit more crowded than the rest of the year, but you’re nearly guaranteed the best beach days, the sunniest skies, and the warmest weather (remember, there are no guarantees when it comes to Mother Nature). Spring and fall, the shoulder seasons, are not to be overlooked though. They also offer up some epic beach days, fall more so than spring. The beauty of these seasons is that the beaches and roads are less crowded than the summer. Winter on the OBX is, again, how you’d expect a beach destination to be in the coldest months of the year. A lot of locations have closed for a couple months to get some R&R after a busy season and to gear up for another year. Winter nearly empties the beaches (with the exception of that one-off slightly warmer, sunshine-filled winter day).
How Do I Get to Kitty Hawk?
Navigating your way to Kitty Hawk from the East is as simple as driving over the Wright Memorial Bridge, and you’re there! Kitty Hawk is the first town you come into after your tires cross the bridge. Getting to Kitty Hawk from the South requires you to travel through a couple other towns on the Outer Banks. Make your way across the bridge from Roanoke Island, drive through Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills.