Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

North Carolina

(252) 473-1131

Map Directions

Things To Do


Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 "as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife", including the greater snow goose and other migratory waterfowl. The Refuge lies on the north end of Hatteras Island, a coastal barrier island which is part of a chain of islands known as the Outer Banks. These islands are separated from the mainland by a series of marshes and shallow sounds up to 25 miles wide. Pea Island is a much-used feeding and resting area for many species of wintering waterfowl, migrating shorebirds, raptors, wading birds, and migrating songbirds. The 13 miles of ocean beach provide nesting habitat for loggerhead sea turtles, piping plover and several species of shorebirds. Peregrine falcons occur regularly during migration and bald eagles are occasionally seen. This small Refuge receives over 2.5 million visitors annually.

Map of Pea Island NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 35.680865, -75.482597



  • Boating

    Though the ponds are closed, visitors are welcome to paddle to their hearts' content in the Atlantic Ocean and in Pamlico Sound. The refuge, partnering with the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, offers guided canoe tours during the warmer months. Several local sporting businesses have special use permits to lead guided kayak tours on the refuge. There's a boat ramp at New Inlet (about 6 miles south of Oregon Inlet) that provides a perfect launching point for canoes, kayaks, and other shallow-draft boats.

  • Bird Watching

    Often referred to as "birder's paradise," Pea Island is home to more than 365 bird species. Among them are greater snow geese, shorebirds, migratory waterfowl and peregrine falcons. The refuge has multiple shorebird nesting sites and wading bird rookeries.

  • Fishing

    Pea Island offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities. On the Bonner Bridge, the catwalks are accessible for fishing on both the east and west sides of the bridge. The old ferry dock is also accessible on the west side of NC Highway 12 at the north end of the refuge. Many visitors enjoy "bank fishing" from this spot! New Inlet provides access for shallow-draft boats or wading to catch fish in the waters of Pamlico Sound. And, of course, the refuge offers almost 13 miles of pristine beaches that surf fishermen may enjoy.

  • Hiking

    North Pond Wildlife Trail wanders along the top of the dike between North Pond and New Field Ponds. It's one-half-mile long, and universally accessible. The trail also offers a boardwalk over the "turtle pond" (full of freshwater turtles... mostly sliders), three observation platforms, and one double decker tower. All the observation structures have interpretive panels and permanently mounted binocular spotting scopes. From the top of the tower, visitors can see the entire cross-section of a barrier island.

    Salt Flats Trail is located at the north end of North Pond. Similar to North Pond Trail, Salt Flats Trail travels along the top of the dike between North Pond and the Salt Flats area.

    Both trails provide excellent opportunities for wildlife observation and photography.

Park Partners

Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society

The Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society is a non-profit organization established and incorporated in 1989 by a group of local citizens. The purposes of the Society are twofold: 1) to generate funds to support refuge programs and activities and 2) to assist in the recruitment of Refuge volunteers.

(252) 473-1131



Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Outer Banks in Dare County, 14 miles south of Nags Head, NC. To reach the Refuge, take NC Highway 12 south from Nags Head and cross Oregon Inlet. Refuge signs direct visitors to the Pea Island Visitor Center, New Inlet Sound Access and beach access parking areas. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is serviced by the Norfolk International Airport (2-hour drive north) and Raleigh-Durham International Airport (4-hour drive west). For complete directions from all points, please visit

Phone Numbers


(252) 473-1131