The Outer Banks’ Ocracoke Island is a fantastic destination! I too believed for a long time that I was the only one on the east coast who had never visited. But after our first vacation to Ocracoke and expedition onto the Outer Banks, that situation altered. Since then, we’ve gone back because Ocracoke is simply so much fun!
As a badge of pride for visiting the area, it’s typical to see round, oval-shaped stickers on automobiles that say “OBX” in huge, black letters in the middle. We can see them on automobiles all around the country. There is a lot of adventure in this elbow-shaped group of islands. But what can you anticipate from a first-time trip to Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks?
For your first trip to this lovely (and laid-back) island, we provide all the necessary information you need below. Continue to read and we will share more details with you on how to get to Ocracoke Island.
How to Travel to the Outer Banks’ Ocracoke Island
The Outer Banks, a group of barrier islands off the east coast of North Carolina, includes the 16-mile-long barrier island of Ocracoke. Unless you can rent a tiny “puddle jumper” aircraft, the best method to reach there is by car or private boat due to their small size. In this article, we talk about how to get there by automobile, which is the most common method.
Our friends that met us there on our first trip traveled from Charleston, South Carolina to Ocracoke, the state capital in central North Carolina, while we drove from Raleigh. Including our ferry crossing, our drive from the northwest to the southeast took around four hours.
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Ocracoke Island ferry
It’s important to realize that after driving across the barrier islands, you must board a boat to reach Ocracoke Island (for instance where Kitty Hawk and Nags Head are). Our companions from Charleston took a seven-hour drive northeast from the south to get to a separate boat (there are three ferry options for Ocracoke). At 9:45 a.m., we entered “Hatteras Ferry Terminal, NC” into our GPS and accelerated.
You reach Route 12 soon after crossing across Roanoke Island (or NC-12). You go south in order to reach Hatteras. The Outer Banks Scenic Byway, one of just 150 US byways with national designation, will be at your disposal shortly. You may wonder what a byway is. I was also intrigued! It is a small road in the US that has been honored for its historical significance by the Department of Transportation.
From Ocracoke via Hatteras Ferry
The Hatteras Ferry is free to take to Ocracoke. They run every 30 minutes from 5:00 am to midnight during peak season, which starts in mid-May. You may get ferry timetables online here. During the hour-long trip to Ocracoke, you may either move about the boat or drive your vehicle onto it (with the windows open and the motor off). There are restrooms on the boat as well as in the front of the ferry terminal area if you’re curious as I was.
When you get to Ocracoke Island, you just pull your car out of the boat. A 20-minute ride will get you to Ocracoke Village. We finally boarded a boat at 2:00 pm, reached the island at 3:00 pm, and arrived at our weekend rental home around 3:30 pm.
There is also a paid ferry option for Ocracoke. Larger ferries are available with this choice; it is advised that you book your place online in advance, particularly during the busiest times of year. Our companions traveled to Ocracoke Island on the Swan Quarter Ferry, which departs from the ferry station and travels there in approximately 2.5 hours. Another comparable alternative that takes the same amount of time is the Cedar Island Ferry.
Coming here on your own vehicle
Before you get at the ferry at the end of Hatteras Island, we advise purchasing petrol. While traveling south on NC-12 to get there, you will pass through a number of petrol stations. Your best chance if you’re looking for cheap gas is to fill up in North Carolina before you even arrive to Roanoke Island.
Even yet, we often discovered that the cost of petrol on the islands was just $0.10 to $0.15 more than in Raleigh. For the Memorial Day weekend, from Friday to Monday, three nights, and three days, we booked a home with a few others for our Ocracoke Island lodgings.
On their first visit to the island, our friends spotted our weekend house on VRBO and invited us to go with them. On Howard Street, the oldest street in Ocracoke, which goes back to 1888, we stayed at the venerable “Elise’s House.” Fortunately, it has been modernized and well-maintained since the 19th century. (See image below) There are several home rentals and a few motels to choose from on Ocracoke Island. Virtually every residence on the island seemed to be rentable via VRBO.
Activities in Ocracoke
This excursion is peaceful all around. You won’t be dashing between tourist destinations or attractions. The following activities, however, will keep you busy if you’re in the mood for adventure:
Popular fishing spots include the beach and via charter. Even if you don’t make a reservation in advance, we observed a few boats that had listed their available slots for the day on their websites.
If you want to drive your car onto the beach to go fishing, you must first get a “ORV” or Off-Road Vehicle permission from the National Park Service (NPS). A 10-day ticket costs $50, or an annual pass is also available. On the island, passes may be purchased at the NPS counter at the Ocracoke Island Visitors Center. Be careful you get a permission before driving on the beach since doing so is against the law and will result in high penalties. If you do, don’t forget to print it out and attach it to your front window.
2. Take the Ocracoke Island Audio Tour.
Navigating the town/Ocracoke Village with this free audio tour provided by Ocracoke Navigator is one of the most informative things to do on Ocracoke Island. This was a great opportunity to learn more about the local history.
You may download the MP3 audio files for the tour online while connected to Wi-Fi and utilize them offline if you don’t have fantastic mobile phone connection in Ocracoke.
3. Visit Ocracoke Island and Go for a Run or a Walk
We (and my camera) smiled when we came across homes like the one below in Ocracoke Village because it is so adorable. In the late spring and summer, as well as the shoulder season in the autumn, the optimum time of day to go for a walk is in the morning before the high temperatures and humidity reach their height. It is better if you can go for a run in the morning, so that you can keep yourself refreshed throughout the day.
Based on this article, you know how to get to Ocracoke Island and the list of best activities to engage with. While keeping these facts in mind, you can plan your journey to gather a bunch of great experiences.