Ocracoke Island

Take a Day Trip to Ocracoke Island

Anyone that has been to Ocracoke Island can tell you that it’s truly a special place. Accessible by ferry only, the journey there is a big part of the adventure. Many OBX locals are regular visitors, and we recommend taking a day trip to Ocracoke Island if you have the opportunity. We’re happy to share the itinerary from our recent rejuvenating day trip to Ocracoke Island from Duck NC. 

 

Planning Your Day Trip to Ocracoke Island

ocracoke island ferryTaking the ferry to Ocracoke Island is always a neat experience, and it’s a big hit with the kids! There are now two ferry options from Hatteras to Ocracoke: a vehicle ferry or a passenger ferry. From Duck NC, the Hatteras Ferry Terminal (59063 N.C. Highway 12 South Hatteras, NC 27943) is just under 2 hours away. It’s certainly not a boring 2-hour drive, as there is a lot to see on the way to the ferry terminal. We recommend leaving in the wee hours of the morning to avoid traffic and long waits at the ferry terminal and to do a bit of sightseeing and grab breakfast along the way. 

Check the ferry schedule prior to your departure, as well as the peak ferry wait times to help plan your day. The vehicle ferry is free to and from Ocracoke and operates on a first-come-first-served basis. There are many departure times throughout the day for the vehicle ferry. The vehicle ferry ride takes approximately one hour. Once you arrive at the Ocracoke North Ferry Terminal, Ocracoke Village is approximately a 13-mile drive south on NC-12. 

The Ocracoke Express is a passenger ferry that runs between the Hatteras Ferry Terminal and the Ocracoke Ferry Terminal. The Ocracoke Ferry Terminal docks on Silver Lake, so you’ll arrive directly in Ocracoke Village. Ocracoke Express has three departure times each day from Hatteras and Ocracoke. There is a fee to ride the ferry, however, reservations are accepted in advance. The Ocracoke Express ferry ride is approximately 70 minutes. 

On the way

Leave early to avoid traffic congestion in the Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head areas, and to catch the ferry early to maximize your time on Ocracoke Island. During your early morning drive, you’ll pass the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills and the Bodie Island Lighthouse in South Nags Head before you reach the Marc Basnight Bridge over Oregon Inlet, which connects Nags Head to Hatteras Island. We recommend taking a break at this point in your journey at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to watch the sunrise over the ocean. 

hatteras sunrise

Your scenic coastal drive down NC-12 continues as you pass through Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, and Avon. As you continue down the coast, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse will come into view. Once you curve to the right in Buxton, be on the lookout for Orange Blossom Bakery & Cafe on your right and grab an apple ugly for breakfast. Continue along NC-12 to the Hatteras Ferry Terminal and keep your eyes peeled for the Futuro House in Frisco. 

Futuro House Frisco

 

Catch the Ferry

The ferry ride itself adds to the appeal of a day trip to Ocracoke Island. Relax and enjoy your ride across Hatteras Inlet, whether you choose to take the vehicle ferry or the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry. Be sure to take lots of pictures, as we did!

ocracoke island ferry

ocracoke island ferry

ocracoke ferry

 

About Ocracoke

Ocracoke Village is a charming coastal town with a rich history and a laid-back vibe. The village surrounds Silver Lake, a small harbor that serves many purposes to the folks that live and visit Ocracoke. Some have lived on Ocracoke Island for generations and, due to the island’s remote location and relative isolation, have developed their own unique dialect, Ocracoke Brogue. For example, a dingbatter is a nonnative of Ocracoke Island or the Outer Banks.

ocracoke island

 

Sightseeing on Ocracoke Island

Start your day with a hike to Springer’s Point. This beautiful trail through the maritime forest is less than a mile long and suitable for all ages. The trail ends with a magnificent view of the Pamlico Sound. Ocracoke Island is widely known as the place where the infamous pirate Edward Teach, otherwise known as Blackbeard, met his fate on November 22, 1718, and Springer’s Point once served as “Teach’s Plantation.” 

springers point

 

springers point

After your hike, head to Ocracoke Light Station to explore the lighthouse’s grounds and take pictures. 

Ocracoke Light Station

Ocracoke Light Station

Next, for the history buffs in your group, head over to the British Cemetery. The small plot of land was donated to the British Commonwealth after four British soldiers were buried there during World War II. The soldiers washed ashore after their ship was struck by a torpedo by a German U-boat. 

Ocracoke British Cemetery

 

Lunch at Eduardo’s Taco Stand

One of our favorite lunch spots on Ocracoke Island is Eduardo’s Taco Stand. This eclectic food truck serves Mexican cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These are no ordinary tacos – we don’t recommend passing by this gem without stopping. Try the seafood tacos, made to order with fresh local seafood. Eduardo’s has a cult following with locals, visitors, and celebrity chefs alike. 

Eduardo's Taco Stand

Eduardo's Taco Stand

Ocracoke Island Beaches

No day trip to Ocracoke would be complete without a trip to the gorgeous beaches. We recommend Lifeguarded Beach, which is just outside of Ocracoke Village. If you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, you may access the beach via several ramps along NC-12. A permit is required to drive your vehicle onto the beach. If you choose to drive your vehicle on the beach, we recommend following the same guidelines for driving on the 4×4 beaches north of Corolla, such as lowering your tire pressure. 

Ocracoke Island beach

Ocracoke Lifeguarded beach

lower tire pressure

 

Afternoon Shopping and Relaxing on Ocracoke Island

After your time on the beach, stop by 1718 Brewing on your way back to Ocracoke Village. Grab a flight of five to see which beer is your favorite. Snacks are available to order via Plum Pointe Kitchen. 

Spend some time meandering through the village, exploring all of the unique shops and galleries, like the gift shop at the Ocracoke Preservation Society, Books To Be Red, and Village Craftsmen

ocracoke preservation society

Dinner at Dajio

The “Ocracoke from Scratch” menu at Dajio does not disappoint. The spotlight is on local seafood dishes, however, they also offer a variety of choices for land lovers, including vegan options and a kids menu. Cross the street and take one last look at Silver Lake before heading back to the ferry dock.

Silver Lake

 

Head Back to the Ferry Dock

Your day trip to Ocracoke Island is coming to a close, so it’s time to get back to the ferry dock. Keep in mind that many visitors take a day trip to Ocracoke, so the line for the ferry could be long. Enjoy the sunset while you’re waiting.

Ocracoke sunset

 

What to Do While You’re Waiting for the Ferry

Read a book! Make your next book choice about the Outer Banks. There are many fun novels that take place on the OBX, or you can choose historical non-fiction to read about the Outer Banks the way it used to be. Check out some of our favorites at your favorite bookstore: https://www.twiddy.com/blog/obx-books/. If you don’t have a book to read, check out the plethora of stars in the dark night sky. It was still a bit light when we were waiting for the ferry, but we captured this picture of the stars on our way back to Duck.

OBX stars

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