Pristine seaside beaches stretch along 16 miles of Ocracoke Island. Part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, this unblemished coastal environment and the quaint neighboring village of Ocracoke provide the perfect venue for a relaxing getaway. Swimming, surf-fishing, boating, world-class shelling, biking, bird-watching, hiking, kayaking, shopping, dining and touring are just a few of the activities that await Ocracoke’s visitors. And thanks to its close proximity to the Gulf Stream, the island has a temperate climate that welcomes visitors year-round.
Ocracoke Island is accessible only by private plane, private boat, or one of the state-run ferries from Cedar Island, Swan Quarter, or Hatteras Village. These limited modes of access have helped preserve the prominent Old English-inspired brogue of local residents as well as the old-time island way of life.
Until the 1950s, the island’s residents lived in relative isolation, their only contact with the mainland coming from daily trips by mail boat. They made their living from fishing and hunting and as guides.
For a brief period during World War II, the Coast Guard station was transformed into a U.S. Navy base and the island’s lifestyle was interrupted. Homes and businesses were requisitioned, beaches were closed, and fishing was curtailed. More than 60 ships were sunk by German submarines off the Outer Banks shores in the first six months of 1942. The British Cemetery on Ocracoke serves as a reminder of this period and of the generosity of the Ocracoke people. It holds the bodies of four young British soldiers who lost their lives when the HMS Bedfordshire was torpedoed by a German submarine off the Ocracoke coast. Island residents found and buried the bodies on donated land and maintained the graves.
In addition to the island’s military history, Ocracoke is also rich in sea lore. Blackbeard, the infamous pirate who plundered the Carolina coast in the early 1700s, was beheaded fighting his last battle just off the island at Teach’s Hole. Legend hints that his vast treasure may still be buried here. You can explore Blackbeard’s old stomping grounds with a walk through the Springer’s Point Nature Preserve.
The island’s attractions are centered around its culture and history. Visit Ocracoke Preservation Museum to see exhibits about the old way of life on Ocracoke. Ride a bike, take a golf cart, or walk over to the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse, which has guided ships through the local waters since 1823. Visit the Ocracoke Pony Pens to see the descendants of the wild Banker ponies that once roamed freely on the islands. Explore the Watermen’s Exhibit at the Community Square Docks or stop by the British Cemetery. For a real adventure, take a day trip to the uninhabited Portsmouth Island to explore the ghost town of Portsmouth Village.
Over the years, Ocracoke has been transformed from an isolated fishing village into the perfect vacation spot. While enjoying the simplicity of island life at the speed of a stroll, visitors can sample fresh local seafood and other delectable fare. They can explore distinctive retail shops and galleries to discover locally made arts and crafts, island-inspired clothing, books, gifts and much more. Lodging accommodations range from simply appointed motels and homey bed and breakfasts to refined inns and luxurious suites. Rental cottages are also a popular choice for families and large groups. Reasonable rentals of bikes, boats, fishing gear, and beach gear are plentiful. Sunset cruises, musical performances, lectures, quilting, wine tastings and even ghost walks are offered.
We here at Sunny Day Guide sincerely hope you enjoy your trip to Ocracoke as much as we love being your source for Ocracoke Island information.