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.
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Bird and Turtle Closures

Refuge staff close particular areas of the refuge to protect sensitive nesting sea turtles and birds. Please respect all signage, stay out of 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 near Oregon Inlet. Pets are not allowed on the west side of Highway 12, except for parking areas.

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

      Bald eagle up close with wing raised

      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
      California least tern flying. A plain, dark blue sky in the background.

      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...

      A large sea turtle swimming along a reef

      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

      Our Library

      Alligator River and Pea Island NWR Interpretive Program Schedule

      Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges offer a variety of fun and educational seasonal programs. During the summer, programs range from interpretive presentations to tram and canoe tours. During the off season (Sep-May), the refuges host bird walks and special events.

      Bird and Turtle Closures at Pea Island NWR

      This map shows areas temporarily closed to provide critical nesting habitat for shorebirds and turtles. 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...