Perched at the southernmost tip of the chain of islands known as the Outer Banks, Ocracoke Island is a remote yet welcoming vacation spot. This laid-back fishing village still offers an array of visitor amenities, including beach rentals, seafood restaurants, cultural offerings, shopping, charter boats, and outdoor activities, along with miles and miles of unspoiled beaches.
Ocracoke Island is not accessible by car, but can be reached by ferry, private boat, or small plane. The Carolina coast is no stranger to ferries; another popular locale, Bald Head Island, is also accessible by boat. It takes about 40 minutes to make the crossing from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island on the ferry, which operates all year. Another route runs from Cedar Island. Both of the ferries can accommodate both passengers and vehicles ranging in size from motorcycles and bicycles to cars and recreational vehicles.
After arriving, you'll find a wide list of things to do on Ocracoke Island. Just like other places in the Outer Banks including Rodanthe, Nags Head, Roanoke Island, and Kitty Hawk, Ocracoke Island is known for beautiful scenery, interesting history, and recreational pursuits.
As a part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, much of the island has been preserved. Many of the outdoor things to do on Ocracoke Island can be found in this national park, including a visitor center, swimming, fishing, waterfowl hunting, and ranger-led nature programs. You also can enjoy kayaking, hiking, and windsurfing along the beach.
While the top of the Ocracoke Light Station isn't open for tours, it's still a fascinating place to explore. Two other lighthouses, Bodie Island and Cape Hatteras, also are part of the national seashore. The brick tower light overlooking Cape Hatteras is open for climbing in the summertime.
In addition to the lighthouses, beaches, and other outdoor events, visitors also can visit the Ocracoke Preservation Museum, charter a boat excursion, visit art galleries, and soak in the sun. With its distinctive mix of truly local businesses and attractions, a vacation on the island will feel like an escape from the every day. When you're dining in family-run restaurant, shopping a charming boutique, or relaxing in Ocracoke Island hotels, you'll have an experience far away from the hustle and bustle of home.
Whether you want to spend one night or several, there will be Ocracoke Island hotels that fit your needs and budgets. Small inns, beds-and-breakfasts, condo rentals, and motels are scattered throughout the island, offering welcoming hospitality and amazing views. Camping is an option at the national seashore.
Blackbeard's Lodge, just minutes from the beaches and other things to do on Ocracoke Island, is home to 38 rooms, ranging in size from comfortable guests rooms to well-equipped apartments and the grand presidential suite. In operation for more than 70 years, the hotel offers its guests a hearty welcome, as well as a swimming pool, fleet of bicycles, and shuttle service. Guests of the Ocracoke Harbor Inn are invited to breakfast on the waterfront deck. Its rooms and suites also feature private decks as well as whirlpool tubs and kitchenettes.
Another choice for Ocracoke overnights, the Anchorage Inn includes a four-story hotel, sunset views, dockside café, and a harbor-side swimming pool. Overnight guests and boaters have access to the onsite boat ramp, a well-equipped marina, and boat rentals. Many of the Ocracoke Island hotels are open all year; with the mild weather in the winter, you can enjoy an escape to the coast during the holidays, the height of summer, and times in between, whatever suits your fancy.