The Outer Banks is known as one of the premier vacation destinations for families in the United States. But many paranormal experts also consider the Outer Banks to be one of the most haunted places in the country. And the thin strip of barrier islands is undoubtedly a hotspot for paranormal activity.
From hurricanes and pirates to the vanishing of an entire English colony in the late-1500s, the rich history of the Outer Banks dates back many centuries. You won’t have to look far to explore paranormal hotspots on the coast of NC!
So please, discover the truth of these haunting tales for yourself!
Haunted Roanoke Island Inn
Constructed in the 1860s by Asa Jones and his wife Martha, the Roanoke Island Inn is a quaint little bed and breakfast. It overlooks the scenic Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse and surrounding marsh. Now owned by John Wilson, the great-grandson of Asa Jones, the Roanoke Island Inn has more than doubled in size from its original structure.
So what could be scary about a well-maintained inn with a great location? Well, legend has it that the ghost of Roscoe Jones haunts this Outer Banks landmark. Roscoe was a former owner of the inn and a member of the Wilson family. He was also a postmaster in the town of Manteo for many years. Until one day he received notice that he had been let go by the U.S. Postal Service.
Feeling extremely humiliated, Roscoe shut off from the outside world. He wouldn’t leave his room unless no one else was in the building at the time. Shortly after losing his job and isolating himself, Roscoe passed away.
Not long after his death, local residents spotted the ghost of a man in a postal uniform leaving and entering the front door of the building on a fairly regular basis. In addition to the ghost of Roscoe haunting the Inn, guests have reported hearing mysterious footsteps walking back in forth upstairs. Additionally, vases mysteriously smash on the floor, blinds move up and down, and radios turn on and off on their own.
Black Pelican Restaurant in Kitty Hawk, NC
You don’t have to look too far to discover why many people commonly refer to the Outer Banks as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” These islands have created a hazard for ships for centuries. There are several well-known shipwrecks along our coast. But this Outer Banks haunting takes place at a former Lifesaving station turned restaurant in Kitty Hawk, NC.
Lifesaving station keeper Captain James Hobbs was in charge of a crew of surfmen. They were responsible for saving the lives of mariners in danger of falling victim to the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
One young surfman by the name of T.L. Daniels was a particular thorn in Hobbs’ foot, and would repeatedly antagonize the captain day in and day out. When the captain had finally had enough of Daniels, he shot him. Captain Hobbs ended the conflict with his loaded revolver in July of 1884.
Daniels’ body was buried at sea. And without any witnesses or local law enforcement nearby, the courts cleared Captain Hobbs of any wrongdoing. Thus, he was never tried for the murder of Daniels.
One of the oldest restaurants on the Outer Banks, The Black Pelican, now occupies that same lifesaving station where Captain Hobbs shot T.L. Daniels. Locals say that the spirit of the young surfman still haunts the building.
The Ghost Cat of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Lighthouses have been a part of the North Carolina coast for well over a hundred years. They are unavoidable while driving down NC 12 from Corolla to Hatteras Island. The most famous of the bunch has to be Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It is the tallest brick lighthouse in North America. And it has appeared in countless family vacation photos over the years.
Many people know that this structure was once moved inland to avoid being washed away by the Atlantic Ocean. And most people can tell you that a black and white spiral covers the sides of this lighthouse. Only a few individuals, however, know the story of the ghost cat of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse that haunts this Outer Banks landmark.
The ghost cat is a large, black and white cat that weighs anywhere from 20 to 25 pounds. Some say it’s a male cat, while others believe it’s a female. Visitors have seen this same cat in and around the lighthouse for about 150 years. After moving the lighthouse to its new location, the ghost cat came along to continue its haunting.
People claim that the ghost cat will rub up against your legs and let you touch it. However, if you try to pick the feline up, the cat will vanish.
Teach’s Hole on Ocracoke Island
Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, is undoubtedly one of the most notoriously ruthless pirates of all time. He haunted the Atlantic and the Outer Banks long before his death. And it just so happens that Blackbeard was particularly fond of a certain cove on Ocracoke Island. Ocracoke is an isolated isle south of Hatteras that’s only accessible by ferry. This cove is known as Teach’s Hole and is the alleged site of Blackbeard’s execution at sea.
Once the pirate’s reign of terror finally ended, Blackbeard met his end the same way most pirates around that time did – with a beheading. His executioners hung the merciless pirate’s head from a ship’s bowsprit and tossed his body overboard. Witnesses of the execution state that his head continued to scream after the beheading. And many claim that his headless body swam around the boar before finally dying.
Blackbeard has haunted the Outer Banks ever since. After the execution in 1718, many tourists and locals have reported seeing the headless body swimming around Teach’s Hole. There have also been reports of a headless Blackbeard wandering the beaches of Ocracoke Island, searching for his lost head while holding a lantern.
Legend of the White Doe
What could be more puzzling and mysterious than the disappearance of an entire colony? In 1587, over 100 men, women, and children journeyed from England to Roanoke Island to establish the first English settlement in the New World.
That same year, Virginia Dare was born and she became the first English-born child in the Americas. Virginia was the daughter of Ananias Dare and Eleanor Dare and the granddaughter of Governor John White. Nine days after her birth, White set sail for England in an attempt to obtain assistance for the colonists. He returned three years later on August 18, 1590, Virginia’s third birthday, and found the colony abandoned.
What happened to this English settlement that mysteriously vanished? No one knows for sure to this day!
Many believe that Virginia Dare left the colony to live amongst the area natives. Then a Native American witch doctor with whom she had a quarrel put her under a spell. The spell made Virginia Dare transform into a white doe when she passed away. Many say that her ghost has haunted Roanoke Island and the Outer Banks since. Locals and area visitors state that they’ve seen the white doe wandering the island from time to time.
The North Room of Currituck Beach Lighthouse
A number of unfortunate events related to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse have lead to speculation about the landmark. Specifically, the North Room of the keeper’s quarters and the grounds are suspected to be haunted.
The chain of events began when an awful tragedy struck the young Sadie Johnson’s family. They were the first family to live in the lighthouse keeper’s quarters. Sadie would wander down to the ocean almost every day and play for hours before later returning to the house. This routine came to a halt when Sadie didn’t come home one day. The next day, searchers found her body washed up onshore. At the time, many considered Sadie’s death to be an unfortunate and tragic accident. However, the keeper’s quarters weren’t thought to be haunted up until the next heartbreaking occurrence at this Outer Banks lighthouse.
During a short trip, a friend of the keeper’s wife came to stay with the couple in the North Room. This was the same room Sadie Johnson used to sleep in every night. Mysteriously the house guest became infected with an unknown illness and passed away soon after.
Tragedy also brought the final family that inhabited the keeper’s quarter to their knees. The lighthouse keeper’s wife contracted tuberculosis and quarantined in, you guessed it, the North Room. Soon after isolating from family and friends, the woman lost her battle to tuberculosis.
Are these incidents coincidence… Or is something supernatural to blame? No one knows. However, since the last tenants moved out, not one person has spent an entire night in the North Room at the keeper’s house.
The Ghost Ship of the Outer Banks
There is no shortage of maritime legends that relate to Cape Hatteras. Perhaps the most peculiar story relates to the mysterious past of the massive Carroll A. Deering schooner. Lost in 1921 and later discovered completely abandoned by the Coast Guard, this enigmatic event has all of the makings of a Hollywood ghost story.
Want to learn more about this puzzling Outer Banks mystery? The National Park Service has a terrific write-up of the story that you can read on their website.
Flaming Ship of Ocracoke
Legend has it that each September, on the first night of the new moon, a flaming ship sails past the coast of Ocracoke Island. The ship looks similar to the vessel used to bring refugees from Rhine Valley in Germany to America in the early 1700s.
Those looking to start a new life in America used this as a fairly safe and trusted route up until one day. While anchored off the coast of NC, the crew of the ship attacked. Then they robbed all of the immigrates of their precious valuables.
After severely injuring and robbing the refugees, the crew proceeded to set the ship afire. Then they sent the vessel adrift into the unforgiving Atlantic Ocean while the refugees were still aboard.
Legend says that each year during the first new moon of September, the flaming ship of Ocracoke Island can be spotted sailing swiftly toward the northeast. The ship and its unfortunate passengers have haunted this Outer Banks island ever since. Always accompanied by an eerie wailing sound from the refugees who perished during the crew’s horrific act of violence and greed.
Want to learn more about the Flaming Ship of Ocracoke? Check out this write up on HauntedStores.net.
Pioneer Movie Theater in Manteo, NC
Built in 1918, there’s no question that Pioneer Theater is a landmark structure on Roanoke Island. Owned and operated by the same family after all of these years, the theatre broadcasts movies once a night each week, 12 months out of the year.
Some Roanoke Island locals believe that former family members haunt the old movie theatre. Those who owned the business and continue to watch over the place, demanding people be respectful of one another. Cell phone use is strictly prohibited inside the theatre. Locals say that a ghost will knock your phone out of your hand if you try to use it during a screening.
Regardless of whether or not you believe in the Pioneer Theater’s haunting, you’d be hard-pressed to find a movie theatre with more character and charm in eastern North Carolina. Plus tickets are at least a few dollars cheaper than what you’d pay at most every other movie theatre in the area.
Learn firsthand about these and more haunted stories on an Outer Banks Ghost Tour. Your ghoulish guide will lead you on a walking tour around downtown Manteo by lantern. Hear their ghost stories that make the Outer Banks one of the most haunted beaches in America!
Originally published on October 12, 2015. Updated and republished on October 22, 2020.