Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1938 to provide nesting, resting, and wintering habitat for migratory birds, including the greater snow geese and other migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, and neotropical migrants; to provide habitat and protection for endangered and threatened species, such as loggerhead sea turtles; and to provide opportunities for public enjoyment of wildlife and wildlands resources. The refuge is located on the north end of Hatteras Island, a coastal barrier island and part of a chain of islands known as the Outer Banks, and includes beach, dunes, brackish ponds, and marshes. The bird list for Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge boasts over 370 species.
A small tern with two eggs on a beach
Latest Bird and Turtle Beach Closures

Throughout the summer, refuge staff close particular areas of the refuge to protect sensitive nesting sea turtles and birds. Please respect all signage, stay out of the closure areas, and keep your distance from nesting bird colonies.

Leashed pets are allowed on the beach except for any closed areas including the area indicated on map near Oregon Inlet. This area is marked with signs from parking lot and via beach.  Pets are not allowed on the west side of Highway 12 except for parking areas.

For assistance or questions call Supervisory Biologist Becky Harrison at 252-423-1839.

The Bird and Turtle Closure Map will be updated during the summer.

Visit Us

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is a tiny piece of barrier island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina... small in size, but huge in popularity among both wildlife and people! Pea Island offers visitors the opportunity to experience spectacular flocks of ducks, swans, and other waterfowl, and explore dynamic beaches and dunes. Visitors can stop by the Visitor Center, hike one of the refuge trails, dip a fishing line in the surf or the sound, or relax by the beach.

Maps and Brochures

Things to Do

Location and Contact Information

      Our Species

      A large raptor, the bald eagle has a wingspread of about seven feet. Adults have a dark brown body and wings, white head and tail, and a yellow beak. Juveniles are mostly brown with white mottling on the body, tail, and undersides of wings. Adult plumage usually is obtained by the sixth year. In...

      FWS Focus

      Least terns are the smallest member of the gull and tern family. They are approximately 9" in length. Unlike gulls, terns will dive into the water for small fish. The body of least terns is predominately gray and white, with black streaking on the head. Least terns have a forked tail and narrow...

      FWS Focus

      Loggerheads were named for their relatively large heads, which support powerful jaws and enable them to feed on hard-shelled prey, such as whelks and conch. The carapace (top shell) is slightly heart-shaped and reddish-brown in adults and sub-adults, while the plastron (bottom shell) is...

      FWS Focus