Fodor's Expert Review Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
This refuge, at the north end of Hatteras Island, consists of 5,834 acres of marsh on the Atlantic Flyway, plus 25,700 acres of refuge waters. To the delight of birders, more than 365 species have been sighted from its observation platforms and spotting scopes and by visitors who venture into the refuge. Pea Island is home to threatened peregrine falcons, piping plovers, and tundra swans, which winter here, and 25 species of mammals, 24 species of reptiles, and five species of amphibians. A visitor center on North Carolina Highway 12 has an information display and maps of the two trails, including one named for the late broadcaster Charles Kuralt, a Tar Heel native who wrote extensively about the North Carolina coast. On the west side of North Carolina Highway 12 are more than 12 miles of pristine beach. Remember to douse yourself in bug spray, especially in spring.