Ocracoke Island, NC – Paradise Found on the Carolina Coast

lighthouse Ocracoke Island, NC

I lived in the Outer Banks for more than 10 years before I ventured south to Ocracoke. Wow! I didn’t know what I was missing. The island is only accessible by a short ferry ride from Hatteras (or another private boat or plane). The ferry ride is a treat in itself. The 5 mile ride takes about 45 minutes and is a scenic and calm ride most days. Once you arrive it is like taking a step back in time. The Outer Banks continues to be named a top beach destination every year and Ocracoke is a favorite on the list.

Ocracoke Island beach

MSN recently listed Ocracoke as one of “20 Classic Vacation Spots that are Worth Another Look”. The quaint village is centered on Silver Lake. The best way to explore is by bicycle or golf cart. The Island is only about 1 square mile. In 2014, the year round population was 591.

When we flew into the general aviation airport, we were met with our golf cart rental. The beach is only a short walk from the airport. From the airport (W95), we could get just about anywhere on the island at a nice slow pace to be able to take in all the scenery. Of course, impromptu stops at local shops, eateries or ice cream occurred when the mood struck anyone in our party. Each restaurant has an easy walking map of the area or use your smart phone and Google Maps to help you navigate and get your bearings.

Many folks travel to Ocracoke for a day trip but there are accommodations to spend more time on the island with Hotels/Motels, vacation rental homes or Bed and Breakfast Inns; some located right on Silver Lake. There are even camping and docking alternatives for the most adventurous spirits. The views and activity on the lake front always has beauty, interest and action to captivate you.

The Ocracoke Preservation Museum is an interesting stop for history buffs or the curious alike. Exhibits illustrate island life from a time that has gone by.

The village is on the National Register of Historic Places with homes dating back to the 1880’s. The Lighthouse dates back to 1823 and is still in use. The base of the lighthouse is open to the public during the summer, with limited hours as it is staffed by Park Service volunteers. Everyone needs to visit the lighthouse and keepers quarters for the iconic “selfie” opportunity.

Teach’s Hole Blackbeard Exhibit will appeal to all the pirate fans as Ocracoke was one of the pirates safe harbors back in the day.

There is a famous British Cemetery to honor British soldiers who helped protect our shoreline during WWII. Several ships were lost during this period including HMS Bedfordshire, the British Tanker San Delfino and many others.

There are shops, boutiques and unique gift items strewn across the island with many handmade items not found anywhere else. There are many restaurants that feature what else, seafood! But Mexican food can be found for a quick bite at the Taco Stand or grab a quick sandwich or salad. Chances are whatever you are in the mood for, there is a place on the island to find it.

Ocracoke is located 23 miles offshore at the Southern portion of the Outer Banks between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pamlico Sound. The 16 miles of soft white sand and crystal clear water has never failed to delight the adventurer who has traveled to it. Swim, fish or enjoy all the water activities the island has to offer.

fishing Ocracoke island

Corolla is not the only place on the Outer Banks to find wild horses; Ocracoke has them too. There is a herd of horses, descendants of Spanish mustangs, who became shipwrecked off the island several hundred years ago and swam to the island.

Portsmouth Island is another local island that can be visited and there are tours from Ocracoke to take visitors to Portsmouth. It was established in 1753 and was one of the largest settlements during its heyday. It was abandoned in 1971 but the island can still be explored on foot to visit the post office, general store, church, Lifesaving station and learn the story about the village. Portsmouth is a great place to find Scotch Bonnet and other exquisite shells, like no other place in the Outer Banks.

Ocracoke has traditional and fun events for the whole family all year long. From Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree held the last weekend in Oct with a re-creation of the last hours for the pirate and his crew to the December Oyster Roast and Shrimp boil and the 4th of July celebration with fireworks and the August Fig Festival.

When Outer Banks residents from Corolla to Hatteras want to get a way from it for a while, they go to Ocracoke. A favorite destination of locals. If you have been thinking about a vacation home purchase, second home purchase or permanent home, check out all the Outer Banks towns have to offer. Buy with Eillu and save more with our buyers rewards plan.

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