Dare County is located in northeastern North Carolina along the Atlantic Ocean and stretches along nearly 110 miles of shoreline that is known as the Outer Banks. The county seat at Manteo is situated approximately 200 miles east of Raleigh, the state capital, and 90 miles south of Norfolk, Virginia.
Dare County was established in 1870 and is named in honor of Virginia Dare, the first English child to be born in America. The county is home to much of what is known as North Carolina’s “Outer Banks” resort and vacation areas, and it contains approximately two-thirds of the North Carolina coastline.
Dare County is also the site of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the Elizabeth II State Historic Site, Roanoke Island Festival Park, the North Carolina Aquarium and the Nags Head Woods Nature Preserve.
Dare County has a permanent population of approximately 37,000; however, the county’s tourism industry results in a large seasonal population, with an average daily population from June through August estimated to be approximately 225,000 to 300,000.
Six municipalities are located within the county: Duck, Southern Shores, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Manteo and Nags Head. Dare County also stretches across all of Hatteras Island and contains the unincorporated communities of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras Village. The Dare County mainland consists of East Lake, Manns Harbor and Stumpy Point, and Roanoke Island is home to the famous fishing village of Wanchese. Additional unincorporated areas of Dare County include portions of Manteo outside the town limits as well as Martin’s Point and Colington.
Dare County government consists of a county manager and board of commissioners whose seven members serve staggered four-year terms.