Ocracoke Island Travel Guide: 15 Things to Do on your Trip
Things to Do on Ocracoke Island: Places to Eat & Drink
Grab a Cup of Coffee & a Bagel at Ocracoke Coffee Co. – Ocracoke Island Travel Guide
Ocracoke Coffee Co. 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 is worth the wait! My go-to order is a Milky Way and an asiago bagel with sun-dried tomato basil cream cheese.
Enjoy Lunch on the Water at SmacNally’s
Sample the Local Beers at 1718 Brewing
1718 Brewing serves up a great selection of beers, though my personal favorite is their Notorious FIG beer when it is available. They offer live music on Tuesdays and Fridays plus a variety of seating options. The outdoor patio offers fire pits, covered picnic tables, and then balcony seating on the 2nd floor. They also offer a good menu including a pretzel with pimento cheese that is out of this world good!
Sit Back and Relax at Zillie’s Island Pantry for Happy Hour
One of my favorite places to visit each year is Zillie’s Island Pantry for a post-beach happy hour glass of wine. Their front porch is a great spot to unwind during the summer and they have a great selection of beers and snacks to create a little charcuterie board. In cooler months, there are fire pits to stay warm and enjoy being outside.
Eat Fresh Local Catches
Honestly, I working on this section made me realize I should write a separate post solely on Ocracoke restaurants (so be on the look out for that). All that being said, here are some of the restaurants that I consistently enjoy on the island for a delicious dinner.
Back Porch is a laid-back restaurant with an eclectic menu full of seasonal options with something for everyone. They also have a delicious cocktail menu and an extensive wine list. Order the crab beignets and the shrimp & grits. You also can’t go wrong with the Ahi Poke Bowl or the steak frites. We like to go and sit at the bar, though their screened in porches make for a lovely setting as well!
This spot is one of our absolute favorite stops on the island! The screened in porch and open air patio are so great during the summer. I get the blackened fish sandwich with a side of the gruyere garlic mashed potatoes. They offer live music some evenings and an excellent selection of desserts.
Catch a Sunset with an Ice Cream Cone from the Slushy Stand
No vacation is complete without dessert and we really enjoy walking down to the Slushy Stand. It’s not a far walk from the house that we stay in and their selection is great. Get your ice cream in a cake cone and then head out to the porch to watch the sunset.
Things to Do on Ocracoke Island: What to Do
Explore 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! This includes over 120 acres of maritime forest, sound front beaches, and salt marsh, plus overlooks the infamous Teach’s Hole, where North Carolina’s most infamous pirate met his demise. It is a beautifully serene spot to enjoy exploring and taking in some beautiful scenes in the heart of the island.
Paddle Board around Silver Lake
Rent a paddle board or a kayak from Ride the Wind Surf Shop. Paddling around Silver Lake is always relaxing, or you can head out to Springer’s Point to explore as well! The staff is friendly and helpful, especially if you may be trying out either for the first time.
Go Off Roading on the Beach
Ocracoke Beaches are consistently recognized as the best beaches in the United States, including the lifeguard beach being named number one in 2022 by Dr. Beach. We pack up the 4-wheel drive vehicle and head out to the beach access at the airport. Be sure to buy your pass, which you can do here.
Take a Walking History Tour
Ocracoke Village Craftsmen offers a walking history and ghost tour on Tuesdays and Fridays from May 18th-October 1st at 7:30PM. These tours last about an hour and a half and are a great way to see the island and learn more about the history. If you’re interested in ghost stories, check out the weekly ghost story beach fires every Thursday from May 19th-October 6th. S’mores kits are included, and you’re welcome to bring other snacks and drinks, too.
Book a Charter to Experience the Island from the Water
If you are into fishing, then check out the fishing charters available on the island. Heading over to Portsmouth Island has been on my Ocracoke bucket list for years. Here are two great places to book that. And if you’re like David and me and prefer a sunset cruise, then check out the Schooner Windfall!
Visit the Ocracoke Ponies
Several hundred years ago, there was a shipwreck that left a herd of Spanish mustangs on Ocracoke Island. They are a rare breed and they have been penned on Ocracoke since 1959. They have 188 acres of marsh and sound front beach right off of Highway 12, though they do enjoy hanging out near their stables close to feeding time!
Catch Live Music around the Island
Several of the restaurants around the island have live music, including Dajio, Ocracoke Oyster Co., and SmacNally’s. It’s a great way to spend an evening (just don’t forget your bug spray!) and discover new musicians to support. For other live entertainment, check out these spots.
Shop Small & Local
There is quite a variety of eclectic shops on Ocracoke Island, though some of my favorites are Books to Be Red (featured here) Island Ragpicker, Over the Moon, and Sea Break. Take some time and pop into the shops to see local artisans and help support their local economy.
Learn Local History at the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum
Stop by Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum to learn local history! This home was built around 1900 and was the home for David Williams, who was the first Chief of the U.S. Coast Guard station on Ocracoke. The first floor serves as the museum while the second serves as the research library. During the summer, the museum staff offers talks on the back porch about the local culture, traditions, and history of the island. The museum is closed during the winter months while the staff works on digitally archiving texts, photos, and other artifacts.
Things to Do on Ocracoke Island: Where to Stay
Experience Old Ocracoke at Crews Inn. Located close to Zillie’s and Ocracoke Coffee Co., Crews Inn is an authentic island inn. Relax on the wrap around front porch and enjoy a good island breeze! Say hello to Alton for me!
The Castle at Silver Lake
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.
Have you ever been to this island? What are your favorite things to do in Ocracoke? Did you find my Ocracoke Island Travel Guide helpful? Let me know in the comments below!
This post was originally published in 2016 and has since between updated and recirculated for 2022.