Ocracoke Island

Ocracoke Island is a 16-mile long barrier island that is often thought of as part of Outer Banks but is not connected by land or bridge to Outer Banks. The only way to access Ocracoke is by ferry, private boat, or plane. The Atlantic surrounds the village on one side and Pamlico Sound on the other, providing water activities from kayaking and paddle boarding in calmer quiet waters to surfing, windsurfing, and more on the ocean side.

Ocracoke Island

The Wocon tribe before European settlers arrived. The name comes from earlier recorded names for the island ‘Wocon’, with the ‘W’ being dropped as it eventually became Ocracoke. Pirates used to frequent the island and use it as a hiding spot. On November 22, 1718, Blackbeard the pirate was killed by a lieutenant. Fort Ocracoke was established on Beacon Island and used a lot for the military.
Fishermen loved to come to the island for its fresh seafood and great catches. Primarily known as a secluded island, it has a small-town charm and quiet space to enjoy nature.

Ocracoke Island

Ocracoke Island is unincorporated as a town and sits south of Outer Banks. Located within Hyde County, North Carolina, the population was less than 1,000 locals, but visitors swell those numbers every summer. The island is only accessible by boat or ferry and air on a small plane.

Things to Do on Ocracoke Island

Visit many attractions on the island like Ocracoke Lighthouse, the second-oldest operating lighthouse in the United States. It is an icon not open to climbers or has a museum; it symbolizes the old world Ocracoke. Don’t forget to spend time at Springer’s Point Nature Preserve, with 122 acres of forest, marsh, and grasslands open to the public. Be sure to try fishing with one of many fishing charters, give surf fishing a try or just find a place that appeals to you. Stop by Tradewinds Tackle Shop for fishing needs and supplies.

Hatteras Ferry to Ocracoke

Take the Hatteras Ferry to Ocracoke for free during peak season every 30 minutes but is 16 miles from the Village of Ocracoke so it may require a way to get from there to the village or your accommodation after the ride. The Cedar Island and Swan Quarter Ferries require reservations and come from Durham.


The beaches are a big draw for visitors. With miles of secluded beaches, it can feel like another world. As part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the beaches are protected and kept nice for visitors. South Point beach is a popular fishing and shelling spot. When the tide is right, wildlife and rare shells that wash up on shore can be seen. Lifeguard Beach is often voted number one as a beach on Ocracoke, with plentiful parking and restroom access. Many people drive or ride bikes here to take in the views. Pony Pen Beach, Northern Beaches, Springer’s Point on Loop Road, and Robbie’s Way Sound Side beach are just a few places to play on the beach and access the water.

Camp Fire

Experience a beach fire experience with Ocracoke Beach Fires. They set up fires and chairs for you, then clean up after you’re done. Make reservations early for Ghost Story Beach Fire, part of the Ocracoke Ghost and History Tour, creating a fun event told by firelight. S’mores are served as the sun sets while tales of ghosts in and around Ocracoke are told. Family-friendly event for all ages. The ghost tours are led by a local who offers walking tours and shares tales of Blackbbeard the pirate, along with others who haunt the area. The tour includes an overview of the island’s history and lasts around 90 minutes.

Scenic Drive

Take a drive on the remote beaches. Purchase an annual or ten-day permit from NPS to drive and explore area beaches.

wild horses

Love ponies? Step onto the beaches, and you might see wild horses. Or visit them at the Pony Pens. The ponies landed on the island after a shipwreck forced them to swim ashore. Theare nown now be seen from a raised viewing platform off NC-12 between Ocracoke/Hatteras inlet ferry and Ocracoke Village.

Shopping on Ocracoke Island

Shopping on Ocracoke Island means perusing local shops like Village Craftsmen for handmade crafts and pottery. Stop by Books to Be Red to find local history books and children’s literature lining the shelves. There are a variety of antique gift shops and places to get fishing gear if you want to head out for a Great catch. Shopping boutiques can be fun on the island just before or after grabbing a bite at a local restaurant or cafe.

Dining on Ocracoke Island

Eduardo’s offers tacos that rival anything south of the border. Taste their traditional Mexican fare and family recipes mixed with fresh seafood. The Flying Melon is a local favorite for sit-down food that offers a fine dining experience. Eat a seared filet, encrusted tuna, and sip on cocktails while enjoying the view. Like Mediterranean food? Try Helios’ Hideaway for great breakfast foods or a lunch or dinner of pita pizzas and kebabs. Like a pub atmosphere? Try Howard’s Pub which is cherished by locals and packs the flavor with seafood and pub grub to suit all tastes. Enjoy outdoor seating with both ocean and sound side views. Feel free to bring your golf cart and park at the entrance! There are many other places like ice cream shops and little cafes, and more perfect for a quick bite or visit with family.

Where to Stay on Ocracoke Island

Hotels on Ocracoke island have their own personality. No chain accommodations exist on the island so expect quaint B&Bs, small motels and family-run businesses. Plan to visit any time of year and expect great service. Rates change as the season changes so be prepared to book ahead for summer and pay higher rates. Hop on a bike, walk, rent a golf cart or get around as a local. Guests rent these at several shops on the island for a unique experience. Pam’s Pelican B&B is pet friendly with private rooms for rent including all amenities. Jerniman’s is a campground, restaurant, gas station and golf cart rental business. Less than a half mile of the first beach access road, it offers 29 sites which offer space for RVs and campers. Tent camping is also allowed. Ocracoke Campground is on the oceanfront 3 miles from Ocracoke Village behind some dunes. Suitable for tents and RVs with running water and cold showers. Stay at Blackbeard’s Lodge, a nice beach hotel with privacy but proximity to shops and attractions. Enjoy the outdoor pool, game room and more. Enjoy more luxurious accommodations at Ocracoke Harbor Inn right on the water with beautiful views and wonderful hosts.

Ocracoke Island FAQ

Take the Hatteras Ferry to Ocracoke for free during peak season every 30 minutes but is 16 miles from the Village of Ocracoke so it may require a way to get from there to the village or your accommodation after the ride. The Cedar Island and Swan Quarter Ferries require reservations and come from Durham.

Ocracoke Island is the southernmost island of the Outer Banks about 18 miles from North Carolina’s mainland. It is bordered southwest by Ocracoke Inlet and Portsmouth Island.

Ocracoke is said with two long ‘O’ sounds and sounds like ‘Oh-Crash-Coke.’

The brogue is a dialect left over from locals. This regional dialect is thought to be a variation of 1700s English.

Blackbeard was a pirate whose name was Edward Teach, a visitor to Ocracoke who hid to raid passing ships. He met his end off the island during a battle with the British naval forces in November, 1718.

The wild ponies or Banker Ponies have been protected in the region. Visitors can see them and stop by the pony pen but they cannot interact with them directly as they are wild mustangs.