About the Refuge


Primary purposes of the Currituck NWRNational Wildlife Refuge are to preserve, protect and maintain healthy and viable populations of migratory birds, wildlife, fish and plants, including federal and state endangered species and trust species. The refuge restores, enhances and maintains the natural processes and diversity of beach, dune, interdunal, maritime forest and marsh habitats to ensure optimum ecological productivity as well as to protect the water quality of Currituck Sound.

The Refuge also provides opportunities for wildlife-oriented interpretation, outdoor recreation and environmental education focusing on the wildlife and habitats of the refuge.

The Refuge partners with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Partners in Flight and the South Atlantic Bird Initiative to ensure optimum resources.

Directions to the refuge headquarters at Mackay Island:

Take the free Currituck Sound Ferry in Currituck, NC on Route 168. The ferry lands at NC Route 615 at the south end of Knotts Island. Travel approximately 8.1 miles north to the refuge office at Mackay Island 

Directions to Currituck NWR:

The refuge is located on the northern end of the Outer Banks, and consists of six separate units located between Corolla, NC and the NC/VA state line. To access the refuge, follow NC Route 12 north to its terminus in Corolla; traffic is then diverted to the beach (four-wheel drive is required) The first refuge tract is approximately ¾ mile north.

 Points of Interest

  • Visit right after sunrise, or just before sunset for spectacular photography of shorebirds, waterfowl and raptors.
  • Enjoy your four-wheeled drive vehicle along the beachfront and observe the fragile character of a coastal barrier island.
  •  Walk through the interior of the barrier island (access is restricted to foot traffic only) and admire the dune structure, dune vegetation and the maritime forest.
  • Visit the Monkey Island tract, a noted bird rookery to view the diverse vegetation including beach grasses, live oak, loblolly pine, wax myrtle, sedges, cattails and rushes that make this the ideal nesting habitat for several species of wading birds.


 Know Before You Go

  • The ‘Corolla Wild Horses’, feral mammals that are not a natural component of the barrier island, are occasionally seen and must only be viewed from a distance. It is unlawful to harm, approach, feed or kill any wild horse on the Refuge.
  • Vehicle access is limited to the Monkey Island and Swan Island tracts, and is by four-wheeled vehicle only.
  • All signage must be obeyed for safety and natural resource protection purposes. Signs delineate the Refuge boundaries, closed areas, hunting and archery zones as well as a Hunter Access Route.
  • Pets must be on a leash or properly confined.
  • Carry in carry out is the Refuge policy for waste and trash.
  • Bug spray, sunscreen and drinking water are musts. There are no facilities on Currituck NWR.