Ocracoke Island holds a special place in my heart. My parents and I began vacationing on the island when I was in 3rd grade, which was exactly 20 years ago this summer. I used to take my best friend, Lindsey, and occasionally, she will join with her husband to hang out. My husband has enjoyed the island so much and we look forward to our trip each summer. Ocracoke Island is only assessible by ferry. There is a free hour long ferry from Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks, or there are two toll ferries from Cedar Island (near Morehead City) or Swan Quarter (near Greenville). I take the 2.5 hour toll ferry, pack a lunch and a book, and just relax.
Here is my list of the best things to do while visiting the island. This post has years of experience behind it, and received the approval from my husband.
Places to Eat
The Ocracoke Coffee Shop has a cult following, and rightfully so. There is always a wait unless you get there right at opening, or if you wait until more people head to the beach on a sunny day. Don’t let this deter you! It’s worth the wait. It’s a great place to pick up a gift, too. I love their coffee mugs the most.
Order the Milky Way coffee & the asiago bagel with the sundried tomato basil cream cheese.
SmacNally’s Raw Bar & Grill is one of my favorite spots for lunch. It’s right on Silver Lake harbor and has one of the best views of the lake. It’s outdoor seating, but there is shade and covering in the event of a quick afternoon shower.
The fried shrimp burger or the crab cake sandwich are the best options.
One thing that has changed a lot since I was younger are the restaurants available on the island. There are a lot of cool places, but trust, none are formal. It’s a casual island town, and there is nothing that would require more than a sundress and flats.
Backporch Restaurant is a culinary gem! The bar has a more casual menu and an interesting take on bar food. I love their pimiento cheese appetizer. I take full advantage of fresh seafood while I’m ont the island, so whatever fresh fish they have for dinner, I order.
Dajio Restaurant is one of my favorite places ever. The food is delicious and it has the prettiest outdoor patio. It has great drinks and live music on the island.
Honorable Mention: Howard’s Pub is one of the oldest restaurants on the island. It’s perhaps the easiest restaurant to recognize as well. Howard’s is great for Sante Fe egg rolls as an appetizer and a crabcake sandwich for dinner.
There are several places to rent paddle boards and kayaks right on the water. Paddling around Silver Lake is always relaxing, or you can head out to Springer’s Point.
Springer’s Point is where the legendary pirate Blackbeard was captured. You can access it from the water or you can walk through the forest to get to the beach. I’ve done both, and think either way you explore this space is a great option!
A walking history tour of the village is a great way to explore! There is a ghost tour through the island that gets pretty spooky at night because it gets so dang dark on the island. DG and I had a really fun time with this tour.
You definitely need to hit the beaches. The beaches are clean, quiet, and because they are part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, don’t have any building on the dunes. There is public beach access with a lifeguard, and you can get a pass to drive out on the beach. Side note: I didn’t edit either of these images. I just really loved how this captured the beauty of the sky & the serenity of these beaches at various parts of the day.
And my parents (Hey Mom! Hey Dad!) would be disappointed if I didn’t mention catching Willis Gupton at the Jolly Roger. You can listen to great music and catch breathtaking sunset views (or storm views like our last night) and views of Ocracoke Lighthouse.
Place to Stay
The Castle Bed & Breakfast includes a pool, sauna, breakfast, and wireless internet access. It also has great views of the harbor and is in prime location for walking around the island.