- May 22nd, 2021 4:00 PM
The annual Ocracoke Volunteer Firemen's Ball has become a tradition for longtime Memorial Day visitors and locals alike, and newcomers are welcome to join in the fun of this special event...more
A resident blogger writes that one the best things about Ocracoke is "the feeling of being on island time...slow and relaxed...casual and as carefree as you desire," which pretty much sums up the pace of this out-of-the-way and unique place. Some call it "heaven, "paradise" and "magical," - the "Pearl of the Outer Banks."
Standing apart physically and esthetically from all the other barrier islands of North Carolina's Outer Banks, Ocracoke Island is a combination of a quaint historic unincorporated village and undeveloped Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The island is accessed only by air or water, with two ferries carrying passengers from the mainland to the village, on the south sound side, and one ferry from Hatteras Island to Ocracoke's northern shore. Its physical isolation from the mainland and the rest of the Outer Banks has helped it retain the mystique and magic that surrounds its founding by ship pilots, sailors and scoundrels like Blackbeard the Pirate who lost his head in 1718 off Ocracoke's coast. Some say it was he who gave the island it's name, while waiting for dawn on that fateful day. Hoping to escape his pursuers, they say, he prayed "O Crow Cock, O Crow Cock" in vain.
Hatteras/Ocaracoke Ferry - If you're headed to Ocracoke Island from the North , you'll need to catch the ferry in Hatteras Village for a ride to the North end of Ocracoke Island. This route runs surprisingly early, late, and frequently. Lines can still be long in Summer, so plan to get to the terminal early in season. Schedules and fees are available online.
Ocracoke/Cedar Island Ferry - If you're coming in from the South, you'll find a ferry terminal at the Northeast edge of Cedar Island on NC 12. Schedules and fees are available online.
Ocracoke/Swan Quarter Ferry - If you're coming in from the West, Take 264 to the Swan Quarter ferry terminal. This ferry ride traverses the entire Pamlico sound. Schedules and fees are available online.
Ocracoke Island Airport - If you've got access to a small plane, this public-use airport is available during daylight hours.
Hotel space in the Ocracoke village is often limited, so you'll want to be sure to book plenty of time ahead of your trip. The island also offers camping facilities at two village campgrounds and one near the ocean run by the National Park Service.
Ocracoke Village - At the South end of Ocracoke Island encircling Silver Lake, just about everywhere you'd want to visit is accessible by bike or a short walk in Ocracoke Village. It's a great destination for those who want get away from highways and traffic, put away the car, ignore the TV and cell phone and just enjoy a lazy, laid-back vacation. But what you won't find are chains and franchises. Though the village has many restaurants, offering a variety of styles and fares, and oodles of cool, eclectic shops, all these businesses are owned and operated by residents.
Wildlife and Wild Ponies - Ocracoke is also well-known for its wildlife attractions, which include the island's herd of ponies, believed to be descendants of Spanish Mustangs, and the many migrating birds that make the island a birdwatcher's paradise. The National Park Service in Ocracoke offers nature trails, guided walks and interpretive programs for exploring the island and includes Turtle Talks, Evening Campfires and Seashore Arts for the kids. Shell collectors and history buffs alike will want to take advantage of Ocracoke's day trips by ferry, crossing Ocracoke Inlet to now uninhabited, but intact Portsmouth Island, once the largest settlement on the Outer Banks.
Ocracoke Island Lighthouse - The Ocracoke Island Lighthouse may not be the most imposing of the Outer Banks lighthouses, but as North Carolina's oldest lighthouse in operation, (and the second oldest in the United States), it is certainly one of the most beloved. At just 65' ft. tall, it is by far the smallest lighthouse on the Outer Banks, but it still towers over the 4 square miles of Ocracoke Village, and its beacon can be spotted up to 14 miles into the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.
Boating, Fishing, and more - There's also plenty to do for those who crave activity, with dozens of boat charters, fishing and water sports available on the lake and sound. And it's just a short drive from the village to the 16 miles of pristine seashore for sunning, surfing, swimming and surf fishing.
The Beach - If you dream of secluded beaches, look no further than Ocracoke Island. The beaches of Hatteras Island are managed by the National Park Service as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Here are some things to know about Rodanthe beach policies:
The annual Ocracoke Volunteer Firemen's Ball has become a tradition for longtime Memorial Day visitors and locals alike, and newcomers are welcome to join in the fun of this special event...more
Get your toes tapping with an island celebration of musicians, storytellers, artisans, local food, and so much more by joining in the community-wide fun of the Ocrafolk Festival. This full...more
Head to the tiny coastal village of Ocracoke for a big Independence Day celebration that includes fireworks, a parade, and plenty of family fun. The highlight of the Ocracoke Independence...more
Take a stroll along any shaded street in Ocracoke village and you’ll naturally notice the town’s love of all-things fig. Fig trees are everywhere in this coastal town, and...more
Those who love history will find a lot of it compacted into the village's 9.5 square miles. With structures dating back to the early 1700s, the village was added in 1990 to the National Register of Historic Places, with its 1823 lighthouse, several commercial buildings and over 100 historic homes included in the listing. Its surrounding waters having witnessed thousands of shipwrecks, the island's locals can tell you about building and home parts that came from some of those floundering vessels. Also of historic significance is the village's British Cemetery, the final resting place of sailors on a British boat sunk offshore by a German sub during WWII.
Setting aside all it has to offer, says the town's official website, Ocracoke's "step-back-in-time charm" may be its most sought after attraction.
Where is Ocracoke, NC?
Ocracoke is one of the southernmost islands of the Outer Banks, and is located roughly 18 miles off the coast of mainland North Carolina. It is bordered to the northeast by Hatteras Island and Hatteras Inlet, and is bordered to the southwest by Ocracoke Inlet and isolated Portsmouth Island.
How do you pronounce Ocracoke?
Ocracoke is pronounced with two long “O” sounds – as in “Oh-Crah-Coke”
Where did the name “Ocracoke” come from?
The name Ocracoke has been around for centuries, however its exact origins are unclear. Some historians believe that the name stemmed from the area’s original Native American residents, the Woccocon, and the moniker “Ocracoke” simply morphed from there. A popular local legend claims that the name came from Blackbeard the Pirate himself. In this story, Blackbeard could be heard crying “Oh, Crow, Cock!” before the sun rose, in anticipation of an upcoming battle against British naval forces.
How old is Ocracoke?
Ocracoke was first discovered by English settlers in 1585, when Sir Walter Raleigh encountered the area while exploring the North Carolina coastline. The island would later be permanently settled in the 1700s.
What is the Ocracoke Brogue?
The Ocracoke Brogue is a distinct dialect that is found among lifelong Ocracoke Island locals. The unique brogue has been studied by linguists from all around the world, and is thought to be a pure variation of 1700s English, due to Ocracoke Island’s isolation from the rest of the world.
Did Blackbeard visit Ocracoke?
Blackbeard the pirate, formally known as Edward Teach, was a regular visitor to Ocracoke, as the island’s inlets and sandbars gave him ample hiding places to raid passing ships. Blackbeard also famously met his end off of Ocracoke Island, during a battle with British naval forces on November 22, 1718.
Is there a difference between Ocracoke and Ocracoke Island?
Ocracoke can be used to refer to the entirety of Ocracoke Island, or just the four-square mile village at the southern tip of the island.
How do you get to Ocracoke, NC?
Ocracoke can only be reached by ferry. Ocracoke visitors can take the free one-hour ferry from Hatteras village to the south, or the fee-based vehicular ferries from the North Carolina mainland which depart from Swan Quarter and Cedar Island.
How do you get to Portsmouth Island, NC from Ocracoke?
Portsmouth Island can only be reached by a ferry or private vessel. Day trips and ATV tours depart from Ocracoke village, and there are also several vehicular ferry businesses that access Portsmouth Island from the North Carolina mainland.
What is there to do in Ocracoke, NC?
Ocracoke Island has roughly 14 miles of pristine beaches, which are great for fishing, shelling, swimming, surfing, and exploring. In addition, the small Ocracoke village on the edge of Silver Lake Harbor has a wealth of charming shops, art galleries and restaurants. The town also has several attractions including the Springer's Point nature preserve, the Ocracoke Preservation Society museum, and the Ocracoke Lighthouse.
Where are the Ocracoke wild ponies?
The Ocracoke wild ponies, or Banker Ponies, have their own protected region in the northern soundside area of Ocracoke Island. Visitors can see the Ocracoke wild horses by stopping at the Ocracoke Pony Pen, which is located roughly halfway between the Hatteras / Ocracoke ferry docks and Ocracoke village.
What are the special events in Ocracoke?
Ocracoke has a number of special events throughout the year, which include an annual 4th of July celebration with a parade and fireworks over Silver Lake Harbor, the annual Fig Festival in August, and the annual Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree in October.
Where are the beach accesses in Ocracoke, NC?
Ocracoke has a number of public beach accesses throughout the island, which include the lifeguarded beach near the Ocracoke campground, and the parking area near the Hatteras / Ocracoke ferry docks, which features restrooms and vending machines. In addition, the island has six ORV ramps for 4WD vehicles.
Does it cost any money to park at the Ocracoke public beach accesses?
All Ocracoke beaches are free and open to the public, with the exception of seasonal closures for sea turtle and / or bird nesting.
Are there lifeguards in Ocracoke?
Ocracoke has a seasonal lifeguarded beach next to the Ocracoke Campground, which is located just north of Ocracoke village. The beach is typically lifeguarded from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
What are the attractions in Ocracoke, NC?
Ocracoke’s best known attractions are the 1823 Ocracoke Lighthouse, the Springer’s Point nature preserve, and the Ocracoke Preservation Society museum, which is located within the historic David Williams House. The town also has a number of acclaimed restaurants and shops that are circled around the famed Silver Lake Harbor.
Are there shops and restaurants in Ocracoke, NC?
Ocracoke is well known for its collection of shops, which include unique art galleries, gift stores, book and candy stores, and surf shops. The town also has more than a dozen renowned restaurants, which offer fresh seafood, waterfront views, vegetarian options, or all of the above.
Where do you stay in Ocracoke, NC?
Ocracoke has a number of hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts throughout Ocracoke village. In addition, the town has more than 300 vacation rental homes and condos which are generally rented on a weekly basis. There are also several campgrounds in the area, which includes the National Park Service-managed Ocracoke Campground on the northern outskirts of town.
Where is the Ocracoke Lighthouse?
Can you climb the Ocracoke Lighthouse?
The Ocracoke Lighthouse is not open for climbers, however visitors are free to take pictures.
How do you get around Ocracoke village?
Many visitors choose to walk or bike around Ocracoke village, due to its small size and heavy traffic in the summer months. Parking is available next to the US Coast Guard Station and Ocracoke Island Visitor Center, at the southern terminus of NC Highway 12.
Where is the Ocracoke ferry?
The Hatteras / Ocracoke ferry docks are located on the northern tip of Ocracoke Island. The ferry docks for the Ocracoke / Swan Quarter and Ocracoke / Cedar Island ferries are located on the southern edge of Ocracoke Village, where NC Highway 12 ends.
Does it cost money to ride the Ocracoke ferry?
The ferry from Ocracoke to Hatteras is free and available on a first come, first serve basis. The ferries from Ocracoke to Swan Quarter or Cedar Island have a fee each way, which varies by vehicle type.
Can you make reservations for the Ocracoke ferry?
The Hatteras / Ocracoke ferry cannot be reserved and is available on a first come, first serve basis. The Ocracoke / Cedar Island and Ocracoke / Swan Quarter ferries can be reserved in advance, and reservations can be made online or by calling 1-800-BY-FERRY.
What are the busiest times for the Ocracoke ferry?
The Hatteras / Ocracoke ferry is busiest in the summer, and particularly on weekdays when day trippers frequent Ocracoke Island. The Ocracoke / Swan Quarter and Ocracoke / Cedar Island ferries are busiest on summertime weekends, when visitors are arriving for their vacation.
How long is the Ocracoke ferry ride?
The Ocracoke / Swan Quarter and Ocracoke / Cedar Island ferries are roughly 2.25 – 2.5 hours long per crossing. The Ocracoke / Hatteras ferry ride is roughly one hour long per crossing.
Is there an Ocracoke passenger ferry?
An Ocracoke passenger ferry is being planned and is expected to be available in the summer of 2018. The ferry will depart from Hatteras village on Hatteras Island, and will land on the edge of Ocracoke village.
What can you do on a rainy day in Ocracoke, NC?
Are pets allowed on the beach in Ocracoke, NC?
Pets are allowed on all Ocracoke beaches so long as they are on a leash.
Can I drive on the beach in Ocracoke, NC?
Ocracoke has six ramps for 4WD vehicles which extend from Hatteras Inlet to the northern borders of town. A Beach Driving Permit from the National Park Service is required to drive on the Ocracoke beaches.
Are there shells in Ocracoke, NC?
Ocracoke Island is famous for its exceptional shelling and is one of the best shelling destinations on the Outer Banks. Popular finds include whelks, olive shells, moon shells, and the North Carolina State Shell, the Scotch Bonnet.
Are beach bonfires allowed in Ocracoke?
Beach bonfires are allowed on the Ocracoke Island beaches. A free permit must be obtained from the National Park Service, via their website or from the local ranger station at the Ocracoke Campground.
When is the best time to visit Ocracoke?
Ocracoke is most popular during the summer, when seasonal shops and restaurants are open, and the beaches and ocean temperatures are at their warmest.
What are the air temperatures each month in Ocracoke?
January - high: 54°, low: 40°F
February - high: 55°, low: 41°F
March - high: 60°, low: 46°F
April - high: 67°, low: 54°F
May - high: 74°, low: 62°F
June - high: 81°, low: 69°F
July - high: 85°, low: 75°F
August - high: 84°, low: 74°F
September - high: 81°, low: 69°F
October - high: 73°, low: 60°F
November - high: 64°, low: 52°F
December - high: 57°, low: 45°F
Owned by Garry Oliver, the proprietor of the Outer Banks Fishing Pier, this small wooden aqua blue-colored store on the Nags Head-Manteo causeway has been serving the needs of fishermen for decades. A full line of tackle is available for all types of fishing --- surf, pier, inshore and offshore --- with fishing rods stored on the ceiling as well as along the walls. The store is an authorized dealer for major tackle brands, including Fish Bites, Daiwa and Gulp, and has a large selection of fresh, frozen and live bait. In addition, it stocks crabbing supplies, and sells sunglasses, jackets, hoodies, T-shirts and hats. The store also rents outboard and pontoon boats for sound fishing, and is an authorized outlet to purchase state-required recreational fishing licenses. We also offer Dolphin Watching Tours!
Swimming is a local sport that never goes out of style on the Outer Banks, and with literally miles of ocean and sound waters to paddle around, there's no shortage of refreshing locales to enjoy a dip. Vacationers will find they have their choice of swimming destinations, from the fun and challenging ocean waves, to the shallow splashing waters of the sound, to the assortment of public and community pools found all along the islands.
Looking to fly a kite on the beach or atop the spectacular dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park? Kitty Hawk Kites offers the largest selection of kites, wind art, flags, games, and toys on the Outer Banks, with experts on staff to get you flying … or playing … in no time! Always dreamed of being a mermaid? Kitty Hawk Kites carries Fin Fun Mermaid Tails and also offers Mermaid Swim Lessons too! Kitty Hawk Kites also produces more than 20 events annually, including several kite festivals on the Outer Banks.
Vacationers adore the Outer Banks for its unspoiled stretches of undeveloped shoreline, and some may not initially realize that this sporadic lack of development is completely intentional, and is the result of decades of careful environmental planning. While tourism flourished on the beaches, for generations, locals and visitors alike made inquiries and partnerships with government branches to ensure that certain areas of the Outer Banks would always remain pristine, unspoiled, and open to everyone.
Streetscape Dining at the Coolest Brew Pub on the OBX! Situated in the quaint, waterfront town of Manteo, this café offers gastro-pub dining with great OBX eats in a casual, street-scape setting. The menu is varied and eclectic with fresh Outer Banks seafood, Angus steaks, great burgers, Baked Brie, homemade Quiche, outstanding soups, flavor-packed sandwiches, Low country Shrimp and Grits, Fish and Chips (the best on the beach), many vegetarian selections and a kids menu. Join us for Trivia Night, every Monday at 6:30pm. Great Brew! Great Chew!
It might seem tricky to fit in all the attractions, historical sites, and fun activities off the beach into an Outer Banks vacation, and still have plenty of time left over to just lounge on the sand. That said, there are a number of attractions up and down the North Carolina coastline that any new visitor would be remiss to miss.
If you love Thai food (or have been wanting to try it), you must stop at the family-owned Thai Room in Kill Devil Hills. This authentic Thai restaurant is owned by an incredibly friendly and cheerful Thai family who will make you feel right at home the moment you walk in the door. Order now online!
Join Captain Stuart Wescott aboard The Captain Johnny boat for a Guaranteed Dolphin Watch cruise in protected waters off the Outer Banks, NC. This two hour cruise is ideal for all ages. Enjoy breathtaking views as you listen to a factual narration on the bottlenose dolphin, a type of dolphin found along the Atlantic coast. Dolphin mating and birthing can be observed on many cruises.
Most all visitors to Corolla will spend at least a sunny afternoon or two at the Historic Corolla Park. This 39 acre site is home to three of the Northern Outer Banks' biggest attractions, the Whalehead in Historic Corolla, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse and the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, as well as plenty of gorgeous soundfront grounds that are wide open for visitors to explore.