Find Things to Do on Ocracoke Island with Our List of Attractions and Activities

Ocracoke, NC ~ A Lovely Day Trip

One of the more lovely things to do on the Outer Banks, and a great way to spend a vacation day, is taking a trip to neighboring Ocracoke Island. This barrier island just south of Hatteras Village is a unique stretch of North Carolina’s Outer Banks that’s ripe for exploring. Named the #1 Beach in America on Dr. Beach’s annual “Best Beaches in America” list in 2007, a trip to this charming vacation destination is a breath of fresh salt air.

Ocracoke Day Trip SubsetTo experience one of the most enjoyable things to do in Cape Hatteras NC, start by heading south on NC Highway 12 to the Hatteras Village ferry docks. This 40 minute free ferry leaves every hour, from 5:00 a.m. through midnight all year long, and offers half hour runs to and from Ocracoke in the summertime. With the Hatteras Landing shops and restaurants right next door, there’s plenty to explore while waiting to board the ferry. 

Many visitors bring bread and snacks to feed the seagulls that hover off the back of the boat, or you can simply relax in your vehicle or in the air conditioned passenger lounge. Once you arrive on Ocracoke Island, there are plenty of beach accesses to explore as you drive or bicycle the scenic 13 miles to the village.

Ocracoke Village

This charming 4 square mile village has remained relatively unchanged since it began as a bustling port town centuries ago. Known as one of Blackbeard the Pirate’s favorite haunts, the small shops and waterfront restaurants mingle with century old live oaks and gorgeous private gardens. Perfect for exploring on foot, many visitors can while away an Ocracoke afternoon simply strolling along the small residential streets. Trust us; if you're looking for things to do on the Outer Banks, Ocracoke Village has all you need and more!

Ocracoke Lighthouse

As the second oldest lighthouse in America, the squat white Ocracoke Island lighthouse is a popular attraction located in the center of the village. Built in 1823, the small lighthouse has remained relatively unchanged since it was first lit, though restorative work has been done throughout the years. Originally fueled by whale oil, it is now lit by automatic electric power and shines 14 miles out to sea.

Ocracoke Island Pony Pens

Ocracoke has always been known for its population of wild horses. Casualties of shipwrecks from hundreds of years ago, these decedents of Spanish Mustangs still roam along the shore in a spacious reserve supported by the National Park Service. The Ocracoke pony pens, located in between the ferry docks and the village, are the best place to spot and watch these graceful wild Ocracoke residents.

Ocracoke Day Trip Map

Ocracoke Beaches

Ocracoke Island’s 13 miles of coastline is worth exploring, either by foot or by 4WD vehicle (a beach driving permit is required to drive on the beaches of Ocracoke). Here, it’s not uncommon to find great shells and good fishing, and many visitors enjoy a couple hours of roaming the white beaches of Ocracoke. There’s also a lifeguarded beach and parking area, just north of the village limits. 

At the end of the day, try to catch the ferry back to Hatteras Island around sunset, and cap off your Ocracoke day trip with a beautiful water view as you cross Hatteras Inlet, and head back to your Hatteras Island vacation home. Contact us today for more information about the best things to do on the Outer Banks!