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The Waterfront and Roanoke Island Ghost Ship

The tiny town of Manteo on Roanoke Island is known nationwide as the home of the “Lost Colony.” At least, that’s what many believe, as the colony disappeared somewhere between 1587 and 1590. The various sightings of The Roanoke Island Ghost Ship along the Roanoke Waterfront may provide the clues searchers need. 


The Elizabeth II floats in the Roanoke Waterfront area as a memorial and tourist attraction. The ship, a replica of the original that brought the fabled “lost colony” to the new world, gives visitors a glimpse into what life was like for these early settlers. 


The Roanoke Waterfront is a peaceful place packed full of stories and folklore. Look into the mysterious beginnings and ends of the lost colony of Roanoke; you may even spot the phantom ghost ship still sailing across the frigid waters. 


Take a ghost tour, the #1-rated in Manteo, with US Ghost Adventure the next time you find yourself in the Outer Banks. 


The Lost Colony of Roanoke


Queen Elizabeth II sponsored the first royal charter to the fabled New World in 1584. It was funded by Sir Walter Raleigh, an English nobleman and adventurer, and was the first of three such expeditions. 

The first journey was a failure, and a small crew, including two Native Americans from the Croatoan tribe, returned to England to gather supplies and settlers for a second attempt.


A second charter arrived in 1585, carrying the English artist John White and his pregnant daughter Eleanore White Dare. White painted the Native Croatoans and the natural fauna of the area. Along with surveyor Thomas Hariot, he mapped the Atlantic coastline for the first time. 


White was elected Governor of this second expedition but was a much better artist than a leader. In 1587, at the request of the colonists, he boarded a ship back to England to secure more supplies. His granddaughter, Virginia Dare, was born nine days before his departure. 


Spain and England were at war when he returned to England, terribly delaying his journey back to the New World. Finally, in 1590, he landed back in Roanoke, only to find the colony long gone. No indication of their whereabouts was left behind, other than the words CROATOAN, carved into a tree. 


The mystery of the lost colony of Roanoke remains to this day.


The White Doe


While no trace of the lost colony has yet to be found, their folklore has continued to grow. Some believe the Croatoans or the Spanish killed them, while others think they were integrated into the Native population further inland. 


If this second theory is true, it would bring some light to the story of the White Doe. Local legend states that Virginia Dare, the first European born in the New World, was captured by a Native tribe. However, in a twist of fate, she was rescued by another local tribe led by a man named Manteo, from whom the town got its name.


Manteo taught young Virginia the ways of the woods and renamed her Winona. She had many suitors as she grew into adulthood, eventually settling on a young man named Oksiko. But her other suitors became jealous, especially a bitter old witch doctor named Chico. 


Chico turned Virginia Dare into a beautiful White Doe and set forth a legend that persists today. Her lover, Oksiko, eventually killed Dare with a magic arrow while trying to reverse the spell.

It is said that the spirit of this elusive white doe can still be seen hopping around Roanoke Island, waiting for her father’s return. 


The Ghost Ship of The Roanoke Waterfront


The Elizabeth II replicates the original vessel that transported John White and Eleanor White Dare, carrying the unborn Virginia Dare. This memorial to America’s 400th anniversary was constructed between 1984 and 1987 to commemorate the lost colonists and their fateful journey. 


It is an eerie sight at night, as the ship appears to be from another world floating along the Roanoke Waterfront. But, according to local legend, the waterfront is home to more than just one 16th-century ship. 


Since 1709, when English explorer John Lawson visited the Outer Banks, there have been reports of a ghost ship sailing across the waterfront. He met a group of Natives with gray eyes, suggesting a mixed heritage, that spoke of recently seeing a large ship pass through the shallow waterways. 


The Natives, sure the ship would wreck, went searching for valuables. No debris, treasure, or any sign of the vessel was seen during their search. 


To this day, the phantom ship of Sir Walter Raleigh and his lost crew are still sighted along the Roanoke Waterfront. 


The Haunted Outer Banks 


The Ghost Ship and Roanoke Island’s Waterfront are among the most elusive stories in the Outer Banks. The White Doe, the spirit of Virginia Dare, continues to fascinate hunters, travelers, and locals alike. They are just a few of the fascinating tales awaiting you in Manteo and the Outer Banks. 


Take a ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures to hear them all! Our experienced tour guides will lead you through the narrow streets of the historic town, stopping at all the most haunted locations. 


In the meantime, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, and read our blog for more spooky content delivered right to your screen! 



Roberts, Nancy.(1959) An Illustrated Guide to Ghosts & Mysterious Occurrences in The Old North State. Castle Books.

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