By Associated Press - Monday, March 8, 2021

NAGS HEAD, N.C. (AP) - Officials with the Cape Hatteras National Seashore say its beaches on North Carolina’s Outer Banks recently saw a record-breaking surge in visitors.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that the national seashore recorded nearly 87,000 visitors in January.

The park said in a news release that the number breaks the record for January 2020 by 5,000.

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore has 67 miles of shoreline from Oregon Inlet to Ocracoke. People visit in the winter months for walks on the beach, shell collecting and reeling in fish.

Dave Hallac, superintendent of the National Parks of Eastern North Carolina, said that escape from coronavirus-related isolation helped fuel the increase in visitors.

“More people are seeing the beauty of the seashore during the winter,” he said Friday. “You can pretty much drive from anywhere on the East Coast to the Outer Banks in a day.”

The park saw 2.6 million visitors during 2020. That’s despite the fact that Dare and Hyde counties had blocked access to the beaches from March to May because of the pandemic. The number was the still highest in 17 years.

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