logo for carolinasandandsurf.com
LEFT for carolinasandandsurf.com

Ocracoke Island

'Pearl of the Outer Banks'

Silver Lake Harbor

Ahhh.... Ocracoke Island

Where do I start? 

Secluded, small town charm, peaceful, quiet, relaxing, uncrowded beaches,
... I could go on and on. 

Ocracoke Island has become a popular tourist destination and was named the "Best Beach in the United States" in 2007!

The island is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and all but the small village is owned by the United States National Park Service.

This is why so much of the island remains unspoiled and undeveloped.  It is one of the barrier islands of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Here you will find very clean, secluded, white sandy beaches!

Of all the islands on the Outer Banks, Ocracoke Island is the most isolated, is about 15 miles long, and has only one small fishing village at the southern end.

There are no bridges or roads to get to this remote island and the only way to reach the island is by small plane, private boat, or one of the three ferries.

Check out great vacation rentals!

Hatteras to Ocracoke Ferry

ocracoke ferryocracoke ferry

south-hwy-12-sign The Hatteras to Ocracoke ferry, takes around 40 minutes, is free, and runs every hour from 5am - midnight on a first come, first serve basis.

The Hatteras ferry enters and departs at the northern tip of the island.  Once you get off the ferry, you will be on Highway 12

Enjoy the wonderful marshland and sand dunes as you drive about
13 miles into the Ocracoke Island village.

View Larger Map

ocracoke ferry
The Cedar Island and Swan Quarter ferries are located on Highway 12 at the southern tip of the island.

These ferries carry passengers from Swan Quarter and Cedar Island.

 It takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes to travel to Ocracoke.

The Cedar Island ferry, located just north of Morehead City, NC, runs six trips each day.  The Swan Quarter ferry enters and departs at Silver Lake Harbor.

 Silver Lake Harbor, in the heart of the village, is a popular place with waterfront shopping, cafes, or if you just want to watch the fishing industry activity.

The Swan Quarter ferry carries about 50 vehicles, takes 2 hours and 30 minutes, and runs four round trips each day crossing the Pamlico Sound. There is a charge to use these ferries and advanced reservations are recommended.

This is such a peaceful place, and it gives you a feeling as if you jumped back in time! The island is small, so you can't get lost!  When you get to the village you really won't be needing your vehicle. 

The best way to explore the island is by walking.  You can walk or rent a bicycle and go from one end of the village to the other in about an hour! 

Walking is the best way to discover Ocracoke Island's history
, and so you won't miss anything on your visit, I have included a link for an Ocracoke Island walking tour guide to print out and take with you.

Everything on the island is very casual and laid back, so all you really need is shorts, t-shirts, flip flops, and maybe a sweater, so leave your city attire at home! No high heels, no neckties.

 You're going to be a true "beach bum" while you're here!

One of the first things visitors notice about the island is the dialect, or brogue (a unique dialect of American English).  Many think that the brogue began in the 1700's with the first English-Irish settlers. 

Because the island is so isolated, with little influence from the North Carolina mainland, the natives developed their own dialect.  Right off you will hear how the "i" vowel sound is pronounced as "oy" sound in the word "boy".  So the words "high tide" is prounced as "hoi toid".

 It is really hard to tell you how it sounds, you will just have to hear it for yourself. Ocracokers are often referred to as "Hoi Toiders".

Here are several of the common hoi toider terms:

dingbatters- someone from off the island
quamish- upset stomach
meehonkey- hide & seek, silly
pizer- "piazza," small gathering place outside. Porch, patio, veranda, deck
mommuck- make a mess
scud- ride up the beach in an auto
slick cam- smooth water conditions
louard- Lord or lowered
ococker- native Ocracocker
puck- friend or sweetheart

Outer Banks English

With the continued growth of tourism over the years, the native brogue has started to fade away quite a bit, but it helps to distinquish the "natives" from the "non-natives" and preserve part of their history.

Are you into scuba diving or want to try it?  When it comes to shipwreck scuba diving, Ocracoke Island is one of the top destinations in the world to explore the many shipwrecks!  It has been said that more than a thousand shipwrecks lay off the Ocracoke Island coast!


Remember Blackbeard the Pirate?  He made Ocracoke Island famous! You will be walking on the same beaches that Blackbeard walked!  How cool is that?  Ocracoke Island was Blackbeard's hideout, and he was killed in a battle near the Ocracoke Inlet in 1718. 


Blackbeard's given name was Edward Teach, so the area where the famous battle took place is called
"Teach's Hole".


teachs-hole-shopIn the village you will find a life-size recreation of the famous Blackbeard in an exibit displaying facts and memorabilia of his life and death at Teach's Hole Museum.

 This is a pirate speciality shop with over a thousand pirate items for you to purchase as souvenirs to take home.

As the legend goes, Ocracoke got it's name because Blackbeard, who was impatiently waiting for morning to come, kept shouting "O Crow Cock", "O Crow Cock", over and over to his rooster so the rooster would welcome the dawn of the new day.

How's that for some great history?  So, while you're here, be sure to check out the Blackbeard exhibit at "Teach's Hole" Museum!

ocracoke-lighthouseOne of the main tourist attractions at the point of Ocracoke Inlet is the Ocracoke Lighthouse.  It is the shortest of all our lighthouses, and is the second oldest operating lighthouse in the United States. 

The lighthouse is not open to the public for climbing, but you can walk around the grounds free of charge to get a closeup view and take great pictures!

The constant white beam of the 75 feet structure can be seen up to 14 miles out to sea.

The lighthouse was built as an inlet light to guide ships near the inlet, so it did not have to be as tall as a coastal light.  When you look up at the lighthouse you will see that the lantern room is off-center, it was built this way to accommodate the ladder that leads to the top.

ocracoke-surf-shopYou will also find several gift shops and restaurants in the area. Ride the Wind Surf Shop pictured here offers surf boards, surf equipment, surf lessons, and a surf camp for the kids!  Nice collection of bathing suits, clothing, and sunglasses, too! They also offer guided kayak tours and rentals.

You're going to get hungry and Ocracoke Island's restaurants are fantastic!  Just a few, on a long list, includes Howard's Pub, on
Highway 12
, serves a wonderful lunch and dinner every day in a fun and casual atmosphere! 

The Back Porch Restaurant is the place if you want a quiet, romantic atmosphere with great seafood, and an elegant wine bar. 

Also, check out the Ocracoke Coffee Company.  They offer fresh-roasted coffee and espresso, teas, smoothies, and absolutely wonderful baked goods and bagels!


Want to do a little shopping while you're on the island?  The fun thing about shopping on Ocracoke Island is that most of the shops are older island homes that have been renovated and are full of the island's charm and character.

 Some of the gift shops are off the beaten path on the "back roads", so watch for the ones that may be tucked away around the corner! Shown below are just a few of the charming shops you will find on the island.



Accommodations are wonderful in Ocracoke, but there are very few  major hotel chains here.


Click here to check out the fabulous Ocracoke Island

Ocracoke Island truly is the "Pearl of the Outer Banks."

  Return to Carolina Coast Vacation Home Page

footer for Carolina Coast Vacation page