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Visit Ocracoke Island

Updated on September 18, 2014

Enjoy Beautiful Beaches and Ocracoke Lighthouse

A wonderful day trip from the Outer Banks of North Carolina is a visit to the enchanting Ocracoke Island.

The island has miles of unspoiled beaches that are maintained by the National Park Service. The scenery is spectacular.

The village of Ocracoke itself is equally enchanting, from the oldest working lighthouse in North Carolina to the shops of the quaint town built around Silver Lake you will find plenty to enjoy on the island.

There is a wide variety of activities available on the island. Bicycles are everywhere and can be rented for your use for the day. Also popular are the kayaks and fishing boats.

Whether your pleasure is the more active sports or just enjoying the beautiful scenery, Ocracoke has something to offer everyone.

I hope you enjoy these photos from my day on Ocracoke!

Trip to Ocracoke starts with Ferry Ride

leave from Hatteras Village

Ocracoke is only accessible by private plane, private boat, or one of the state run ferries. We started our tip to the island by driving aboard the ferry leaving Hatteras Village.

The ferry ride is very well organized and ferries leave every half hour. The ride takes about 45 minutes and you can stay in your car or get out and enjoy the scenery during the trip. There is also an air-conditioned passenger lounge for those who want to escape the heat.

Ocracoke island is a small community of only about 800 year-round residents who work hard to preserve the island's culture and history. Until the 1950's the islands residents were pretty isolated and received their only contact from the mainland from the daily mail boat. The ferry service didn't start to the island until 1957.

The history of the island is rich in lore about the sea, with many stories about pirates and legends of lost treasures.

Today the island has been transformed from a quaint, isolated fishing village to a wonderful vacation spot. In 2007 this remote island was named the #1 Beach in America by the infamous beach aficionado, Stephen Leatherman.

I found the island to be very beautiful, the beaches spectacular and of course, I love the lighthouse. The village itself got rather congested at lunch time, but I noted that this congestion only lasted about 2 hours and then it all calmed down again.

When you visit the Outer Banks, put Ocracoke Islandon your must see list!

Sand Dunes at Ocracoke - beautiful sand dunes

As you travel along Highway 12 from the ferry you notice the beautiful scenery at Ocracoke. On the Atlantic side of the Island beautiful sand dunes are seen all along the highway. We stopped several times so I could photograph this beautiful scenery.

Sea Oats on Ocracoke

Sea Oats on Ocracoke
Sea Oats on Ocracoke

View of Pamlico Sound

On the Pamlico Sound side of the island the scenery is different, yet also very beautiful.

This photo shows the marshes along the coast facing the Pamlico Sound.

Visiting Ocracoke Lighthouse - North Carolina's oldest lighthouse

The lighthouse is accessible by a boardwalk that runs alongside it. You can just go inside the lighthouse on certain days of the month, otherwise you can view the lighthouse from the boardwalk.

On the day the I visited there was a park ranger by the lighthouse that answered questions about the lighthouse.

Ocracoke Lighthouse is North Carolina's oldest operating lighthouse. The first lighthouse was built on Ocracoke inlet in 1798 but when the inlet shifted this lighthouse became ineffective.

The present lighthouse was built in 1823 and it stands 75 feet tall and shines 14 miles out to sea.

Mini Ocracoke Lighthouse

If you are a collector of lighthouses, this mini lighthouse of Ocracoke will be a wonderful addition to your collection.

Closeup View of Lantern

This lighthouse is considered a harbor lighthouse and emits a constant fixed beam.

Ocracoke Lighthouse from Across Silver Lake

Silver Lake seems to be the center of life in Ocracoke. On one side it is surrounded by small shops and restaurants. With an entrance to the Pamlico Sound the lakeside harbor serves the fisherman in the area. They have a place to dock and pick up supplies and passengers.

In this photo you see the lighthouse across the lake.

Things to do on Ocracoke Island - click on photo to see caption

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Boating is a popular pastime. Even the dogs enjoy it!!Learn about history on Ocracoke.You can rent boats and kayaks.Bicycles are everywhere. Here a family is enjoying the island by bicyle.There are plenty of good places to eat. This is the cafe that where we ate lunch. They had a great crab cake sandwich!Parasailing is another activity on the island.
Boating is a popular pastime. Even the dogs enjoy it!!
Boating is a popular pastime. Even the dogs enjoy it!!
Learn about history on Ocracoke.
Learn about history on Ocracoke.
You can rent boats and kayaks.
You can rent boats and kayaks.
Bicycles are everywhere. Here a family is enjoying the island by bicyle.
Bicycles are everywhere. Here a family is enjoying the island by bicyle.
There are plenty of good places to eat. This is the cafe that where we ate lunch. They had a great crab cake sandwich!
There are plenty of good places to eat. This is the cafe that where we ate lunch. They had a great crab cake sandwich!
Parasailing is another activity on the island.
Parasailing is another activity on the island.

The Beaches of Ocracoke - voted #1 in US

The beaches are what bring many people to Ocracoke. There are 16 miles of gorgeous beaches that are virtually unspoiled.

These beaches have been named the #1 Beach in America in 2007 and Conde Naste Traveler magazine recognized them as the #5 beach in the world!!

Island Scenery

Island Scenery
Island Scenery

Ocracoke Island - where is this remote island

Spend some time in Paradise:
Ocracoke Island, NC

get directions

Lighthouses of the Outer Banks - North Carolina lighthouses

This postcard can be purchased at
This postcard can be purchased at | Source

© 2009 Mary Beth Granger

Have you been to the Outer Banks? - stop by and leave a comment

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I've always wanted to visit here. What a photographer's paradise.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      5 years ago

      Yes, I know this one as we vacationing so often in Outer Banks.... Great pictures and presentation.

    • emmakeynes profile image


      6 years ago

      @mbgphoto: And thank you for correcting them. Ocracoke is a wonderful place and now this is a very accurate lens. My family that lives on the island loves to enlighten me with the history of the island. In fact, my great x10 grandfather actually bought the whole island from it's original owners, then slowly sold sections of it off to people who eventually developed it. The island holds some great stories.

      Great lens!

    • mbgphoto profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Beth Granger 

      6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      @emmakeynes: Thank you so much for visiting my lens and telling me about my mistakes. I have corrected them all on the lens. It is really great to have a local to stop by and comment on the lens.

    • emmakeynes profile image


      6 years ago

      There are a few big mistakes in this page: is no Spring Lake on Ocracoke Island; Ocracoke Harbor is Silver Lake, Ocracoke Lighthouse was built in 1823, not 22, and you can go inside the lighthouse but only on certain days of the month.

      My dad grew up on the island, and I've been going there every year since I was born. My whole family on my dad's side lives on Ocracoke, and I'm considered a local even though I don't live there. Many places on the island are named after my family and I feel perfectly at home there.

    • mjtaylor lm profile image

      mjtaylor lm 

      6 years ago

      One of the great spots of the world! Incredible beaches, great restaurants, and locals who speak with an accent unlike anywhere else in the States - and rather similar to how it was spoken when the US was settled. Lovely photos, nice lens.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 

      7 years ago from Houston

      More great photos. The charm was a nice touch.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Do you know that I could sit and stare at lighthouses all day and imagine the stories that they house! I bet you could do that too? ;)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      YES, I love the outer Banks and on my last trip there which was in the end of August my boyfriend took me to ocracoke island lighthouse and proposed to me. Of course I said yes and now he is my fiance!!!! I love the outer banks and ocracoke island!!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Silver Lake, Ocracoke's harbor has changed dramatically over the last 15-20 years, but the island is still the island. Let's hope the Nag's Head/Avon Syndrome does not continue further south than it already has. Nice photos.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      8 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I SO love your photos. They bring every story you write ALIVE for me. I've never been to the NC Outer Banks, but sure would love to see all of it, including Ocracoke Island. After having lived on Tybee Island, GA for 13 years, the sand dunes and beach scenes here have that familiar Atlantic Ocean coastline look, but prettier somehow. And another great lighthouse! I just spent last weekend on Pawleys Island, SC for my son's wedding, first time I've been to the beach and ocean in three years, and realized how much I missed it. Thanks for the tour of Ocracoke Island -- love the beach and ocean reminders.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      8 years ago from Concord VA

      Thanks for your lensroll with my Ocracoke lens...lensrolled you back. I love your beautiful photos on this lens and featured you on mine. I'm not the photographer you are! :-)

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      8 years ago from Concord VA

      I've been many times! (it's about 6 hours from us) It's a beautiful place to visit for a quiet of my favorite places for a vacation, along with Hattaras Island. Those are beautiful photos!

    • ZenandChic profile image


      9 years ago

      I would love to visit there! Looks wonderful!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      9 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I've been to North Carolina but never to the Outer Banks. It looks beautiful! I'll get there eventually.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love the Outer Banks. Last visit was to Cape Hatteras and Oacracoke. Beautiful photos.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great photos! I want to go to the Outer Banks one day! That sure is a beautiful purple badge! Congratulations, Giant Squid!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What a beautiful lens! You've gathered some of the most exquisite pictures! 5 stars!!!!!

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      9 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Awesome Photos. Would love to visit. What a beautiful island. :)

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      One of these days, I am going to get to Ocracoke. These are beautiful photos

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      9 years ago from Arkansas USA

      More great memories from Ocracoke. I especially remember one particular camping trip and a lot of wind! Love your pictures!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i have always wanted to visit the Outer Banks. Your photos are gorgeous!

    • AlishaV profile image

      Alisha Vargas 

      9 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      What a lovely place! Thanks for sharing it with us :-)

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      Mary Beth, looking at your lenses is like taking a mini vacation. I should make it a point to do one every day.

    • KOrazem profile image

      Seeking Pearls 

      9 years ago from Pueblo West

      Your photos are so lovely. A visit to Oracoke sounds enchanting! Beautiful5*

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      It looks like a place where it would be good to live.


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Yah!! I love it!! Your photos are beautiful! It sounds like you really enjoyed your visit! to Okracoke. I'm so happy. Thank you for featuring my lens! :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Ah, beautiful pix. Reminds me of when I went. :) Lovely, lovely lens, Mary Beth!

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      9 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Oh just lovely! Sign me up for a visit! 5*s

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      As always, breathtaking photography! My favorite in this group is the one you labeled "The Beaches of Ocracoke. Great lens!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      9 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I haven't had the privilege of visiting Odracoke but I feel like I have after looking at your pictures. Nice and deserve my 5*s

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      9 years ago from California

      Wow, beautiful place....your pictures are stunning :) Sounds like the perfect trip.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I have not been there but this looks so beautiful! Nice work, Mary Beth!


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