As we go about our busy lives and try and slow down, it’s had to put the brakes on. It always seems as if there’s one more thing to do, one more place to be, one more of something.  What if there was a place that you could go where no matter what you do, you had to slow down? Does such a place exist? 

Well, the answer is yes. This little place (and I mean little!) is Ocracoke Island. Here, the speed limit in the island’s only village is just 20 mph, which is emblematic of what it’s like to visit. The slow limit seems almost ridiculous when you first arrive, but it makes sense when you leave. 

Life on Ocracoke Island runs at a different pace, one that locals and visitors alike embrace. After a few days, you might find yourself walking instead of driving, or even consider renting a golf cart as your primary mode of transportation (they only go up to 18 mph, a deliberate choice, perhaps?). You might find yourself on a bike, each pedal stroke an invitation to savor the sun-drenched scenery. 

Days on Ocracoke melt into a tapestry of simple pleasures as this unhurried existence expands within your being. 

That dinner at Dajio lasts longer, the conversations become more interesting, and perhaps that dessert of grilled banana bread with ice cream and pecans is more than justified as a reward for the new you. You catch up on things with your partner that you have meaning to chat about, reminisce about trips taken, and even start planning the next one.

The slower pace of life on Ocracoke Island also allows for more leisurely activities. Picture yourself at SmacNally’s, savoring the view of boats gliding in and out, while the bartenders expertly craft refreshing mimosas and pour beer into plastic cups. You see the lighthouse in the distance and make a mental note to stroll over and check it out. 

Ocracoke is renowned for having some of North Carolina’s best beaches, so take the slowing pace to a new level and plunk yourself down on the golden sands and stare out at the sea or dive into the latest bestseller or fluffball romance novel. Feel the sand between your toes and breathe the salty air, if the need arises, go swim in the crystal-clear waters. Return to the book and maybe (or maybe not!) start reading again. Perhaps just staring out at the ocean becomes a new pursuit you want to practice and perfect.  

You may decide that Happy Hour should be part of your daily existence. This is easily accomplished when you wander the back streets of town and discover Zillie’s Island Pantry. You can order a glass of wine, hang out on the outdoor patio, or grab one of the four seats at the bar inside if it’s cold. As you look around, you may discover that you can buy everything you need for a DIY charcuterie board, something new to try in a day or two. 

As you become fully engaged in the slower pace, a walk through the low coastal forest on the Hammock Hills Nature Trail might be in order, or, closer to town, a stroll through Springer’s Point Reserve, where the founder is buried with his horse. (Did the horse have a choice? No one will tell me.)

As you forget your hurried life, new things you’ve never considered might suddenly become interesting. Perhaps a guided kayak tour through Silver Lake and back through the secret canals nearby is something to do, or maybe a walk to the Ocracoke Lighthouse to brush up on your coastal history that you never knew you were interested in. You think to yourself, did Blackbeard find it difficult to tear himself away from this idyllic spot to go off on his marauding adventures?

So, pack your bags, leave your worries behind, and embrace the island’s unhurried charm. You might discover that slowing down is the fastest way to enjoy a perfect trip.