Ocracoke Island offers a pristine and idyllic environment to travelers and residents alike. In stark contrast to most coastal areas, Ocracoke, NC, offers spacious and untouched beaches. As a result, the island is the perfect place to relax and unwind. It may even make a compelling case for those wanting a new place to call home.
Offering a tranquil atmosphere, Ocracoke OBX gives visitors a proper break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Things move slower in the Outer Banks, and that’s okay. Give yourself a chance to experience the atmosphere and natural beauty of the area on a visit.
How to Get to Ocracoke
The island is somewhat isolated as it is only reachable by ferry, boat, or plane. However, the Ocracoke ferry is almost always running. While some may find the area too remote for their tastes, most visitors find the atmosphere of the area incredibly refreshing. The tourist culture of this area is unique, so don’t expect to find nightclubs or large shopping centers.
If the constant stress of your job or urban life in general is taking a toll on you, it might be time for a getaway. Sometimes, visiting a new place can give you a fresh perspective on things, which can help solve a range of problems. Ocracoke Island deserves consideration whenever you want to recharge and reconnect with nature.
Popular Things to Do on Ocracoke
The main draw of Ocracoke Island is undoubtedly its gorgeous beach and coastline. Stretching for miles and untouched by urban development, Ocracoke’s beaches provide endless beauty and enjoyment. Opportunities for stunning photographs abound as sun rays bathe the landscape in ever-changing hues and shades.
For anyone interested in creating art or simply soaking in the beauty of nature, Ocracoke Island is a true paradise. Painters will find inspiration in the splendor of the landscape around them and the quaint charm of the local homes and businesses. Despite being the smallest of the OBX lighthouses, the Ocracoke Lighthouse is another picturesque source of inspiration for artistic visitors.
The Ocracoke Lighthouse
The Ocracoke Lighthouse is one of the most unique lighthouses on the OBX. Built in 1823 and standing 75 feet tall, the lighthouse proudly holds the title of second oldest operating lighthouse in the nation.
The Fresnel lens shines with 8,000 candlepower and can be seen up to 14 miles offshore. Though the lighthouse cannot be climbed, the grounds can be visited daily with parking available onsite. The historic structure is certainly not something to miss on your trip to the island!
Beyond its striking beauty, the ocracoke waterfront also offers an array of fun activities for people of all ages, including boating and fishing. Ocracoke’s beaches feature ideal waves for surfers of all skill levels. Moreover, the area’s temperate climate makes the refreshing water irresistible for wading or swimming a few laps. Kayaking is also widely available, so don’t miss the chance to get out into the water.
Away from the water, Ocracoke, North Carolina, offers a range of inland activities. Venturing further from the coast into the island’s center reveals another world of natural splendor. Inland, the sandy beaches give way to rows of towering trees.
The untouched wilderness contains several scenic Ocracoke trails leading to stunning overlooks of the coastline below. Hikers will be thrilled to explore the area’s unspoiled nature, encountering breathtaking discoveries and diverse wildlife around every corner. If hiking isn’t quite your speed, you can get around faster by riding a horse, biking or using an ATV, all of which are widely available on the island.
If you enjoy camping, consider staying at the Ocracoke Campground, a place that offers visitors a chance to connect with the nature around them on an even deeper level. Sleeping under the stars with the sound of the crashing waves echoing in your ears can be a transformatively peaceful experience.
While Ocracoke’s populated areas are relatively small compared to other parts of the Outer Banks, Ocracoke Village provides a wide variety of restaurants and bakeries offering delicious food, all located in easily walkable areas. You will also have fun walking through town and visiting the various shops and boutiques.
Ocracoke Island offers other ways to unwind besides enjoying the area’s natural appeal and charm. To help you relax, you can start things off with a soothing massage or spa treatment to melt your tension. Then, you can unwind by enjoying some live music or a guided tour of one of the island’s many historically significant sites.
Ultimately, Ocracoke offers something for everyone. From the rustic charms of small-town America to magnificent architecture and nature, a trip to OBX is always memorable, whatever your interests and priorities.
What Makes Ocracoke Unique
Several factors contribute to the unmatched atmosphere and feel of Ocracoke Island. Naturally, you’ll likely first notice its stunning scenery. Its long stretches of untouched coastline are unlike anywhere else, boasting features you can only find in The Outer Banks.
The national park service protects the Ocracoke beaches, so their natural beauty is always well-maintained. Urban expansion isn’t an issue in Ocracoke, and you’ll have the chance to see the shoreline in its most natural state.
Another unique facet of Ocracoke is its geography. Interestingly, Ocracoke has not always been its own island. Originally joined to the neighboring Hatteras Island, a severe storm separated the two landmasses in 1846. While this event made it more challenging to reach the island, it imbued an palpable sense of isolation in Ocracoke.
Another difference between Ocracoke and other coastal areas is the available space. While even uninteresting beaches can become crowded with people, Ocracoke’s secluded location means that the area is rarely crowded. So if the crowds of typical tourist destinations make it difficult for you to relax, a visit to Ocracoke Island may be more up your alley.
However, the exceptional characteristics of the area go well beyond its topography. The whole island operates at a different pace than the rest of the world, giving visitors a sense of genuine insulation from the ever-present pressures of daily life. You’ll sense this attitude in the people around you, and it’s hard to resist experiencing it yourself.
The wildlife on Ocracoke Island is another aspect setting it apart from other destinations. Because nature is generally allowed to run its course in OBX, the area offers visitors an intimate opportunity to connect with the natural world. While many of the creatures in the area are intriguing, the local herd of formerly wild ponies is perhaps the most popular among tourists.
Yet another of the island’s standout features, these beautiful ponies once roamed the island freely until the United States government penned them 50 years ago. While these animals are among the island’s longest-tenured residents, they are not native to the area. A breed rarely seen in America, these ponies are the descendants of Spanish Mustangs that a shipwreck deposited on the shore.
Today, visitors can see and interact with these horses by traveling to the Ocracoke Pony Pens, easily accessible from Highway 12. There, the beauty on display can be almost overwhelming between the ocean, nature, and animals in the OBX area.
Ocracoke offers visitors a refreshing change of pace in many ways. Sometimes, the hustle and bustle of everyday life can take a toll on our mental and even physical health. When this happens, exploring and experiencing a new place with a different way of life can be of great help. So when you feel like you need to mix things up, consider a trip to beautiful Ocracoke.
For an island with such a rare culture, it’s only fitting for its history to be just as intriguing. Although Ocracoke is a small island, its history is remarkably dense. So if you enjoy traveling to historical locations, Ocracoke Island and the rest of the Outer Banks offer more than enough to hold your attention.
One of the most sobering sites in OBX, the British Cemetery, is located on Ocracoke Island. This site holds the remains of British soldiers killed in an encounter with a German U-Boat, the world’s earliest submarine used for war. While not as lighthearted as other attractions on the island, the site’s valuable history is a powerful draw for history buffs.
The name of the island has also changed dramatically over the years. Originally named Wokokon by an English explorer, the name has changed and evolved into the current name of Ocracoke.
While many in the country have never even heard of Ocracoke Island, it has something to offer to absolutely everyone. Whether you like to use your vacation as an opportunity to relax or adventure, you won’t be disappointed with the activities available. From relaxing on the beach or walking through the quaint town, Ocracoke Island truly offers the best of both worlds.