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A Visit to Ocracoke, NC

Ocracoke Island offers a respite for travelers eager to pull up anchor and leave the concerns of the mainland. Our family has been traveling to this island located approximately 18 miles off the coast of North Carolina for over a decade.

We love the slow pace and relaxed atmosphere that echoes many of Jimmy Buffett’s lyrics. Ocracoke is free from commercialism, chains, and big box stores. All the shops are mom and pop stores operated by locals and college students. The island boasts one gas station/grocery store, a surf shop, apparel shops, an art studio, yoga studio, Books to be Red bookstore, and the Village Craftsman, a collection of local handmade creations from local artists.

Now that our kids are older, my husband and I travel with friends for a couple’s get-a-way. Over the years, we’ve rented various homes and condos. My husband and I look forward to this time every year. Getting away from the burdens at home and the kids has strengthened our marriage. This year we celebrated our twenty-third wedding anniversary. When the kids were younger, snuck away for a long weekend, while the grandparents watched the kids. Now with teenagers, we can extend our stay to a week (with the grandparents’ supervision and the Life360 app). For us and our friends, getting away is equal parts vacation and equal parts marriage enrichment.

Travelers to Ocracoke have three ferry choices to reach their destination. The Hatteras to Ocracoke ferry is free and reservations are not required. The Cedar Island or Swan Quarter ferries require payment (based on length of vehicle) and reservations. Go to or call 800-293-3379 for complete information on ferry schedules and fares.[1]

Ocracoke operates at a relaxed, family-oriented pace. This includes transportation. Hitch your bike rack and pack the kid’s scooters. Most vacationers and residents prefer bikes and golf carts over cars. If you don’t own one, there are several places on the island to rent kayaks, bicycles, golf carts, and Jeeps.

Ocracoke boasts 16 miles wide secluded beach, perfect for families to spread out and not hear the conversations of others. Enjoy wide uncrowded beaches where you can process thoughts and cast your cares on the Atlantic water. Ocracoke is one of the few places where 4x4 are allowed to drive on the beach. Don’t forget to air down the tires to access the wide beaches. (Drivers must get a beach permit from the National Park Service online or in person at the ranger station.) If you don’t have a four-wheel-drive vehicle, there is a ramp for pedestrians.

Taste scrumptious fresh caught sea food at local eateries. Casual is the dress code on the island. All restaurants welcome casual shorts and flip-flops. Although not required, I recommend snappy casual dress for the gourmet restaurants, The Flying Melon and The Back Porch.

I’ve never had a bad dining experience on the island. Seafood is the obvious menu staple on the is fishing island. But Ocracoke also boasts pizza shops, sandwich shops. Don’t skip the authentic Mexican food at Eduardo’s Taco Stand. You will thank me. I promise.

Historian’s document seven English ships appeared off the coast of Ocracoke in 1585, with Sir Richard Grenville in command with orders from Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh. Centuries later, the colony of North Carolina established Ocracoke as port in 1715.[2] Then pirates entered the area.

In the early eighteen century, dozens of pirates from the Caribbean and Southern Atlantic coasts discovered Ocracoke. The most notorious pirate was Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard. On November 22, 1718, Lt. Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy tracked Blackbeard’s ship. After a remarkable battle and bloodshed, the notorious pirate was beheaded. But the legend of Blackbeard continues today. [3]

Vacationers can learn more about the legendary Blackbeard and pirate history at Teach’s Hole, Springer’s Point, Teach’s Hole Blackbeard Exhibit, Ocracoke Preservation Museum, and North Carolina Maritime Museum. [4]

Besides learning about pirates, history buffs will enjoy a visit to the Ocracoke Lighthouse. This lighthouse is North Carolina’s oldest operating lighthouse and the second in the United States. The lighthouse does not have a gift shop and cannot be accessed inside. But nestled in the heart of the village of Ocracoke, the lighthouse is a scenic place to walk or bike. Parking is limited.

Ocracoke Island, NC, is a perfect destination for travelers eager to cast off their mainland troubles for a slower pace, where the beaches are wide, the fish are biting, and it’s always five o’clock.


© 2021 April Dawn White

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April Dawn White is a hope dealer, writer, and former pharmacist from Virginia. In 2015, a rare illness, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis catapulted April into the world of chronic illness. April draws strength daily with Jesus, coffee, and afternoon naps. While illness hijacked her body, she refuses it to hijack her hope. God is using April's chronic battle as a platform to write and speak of God's chronic presence. April is a coauthor of Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart (Ambassador International). Get a dose of hope to strengthen your soul at


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