The fun begins with your journey here.
Think of any great adventure movie—especially one with a remote, exotic destination. Typically, the hero doesn’t arrive in first class on some commercial airliner; that would be a pretty boring adventure. Ocracoke is a rather small and humble island located just off the coast of North Carolina, which means getting here is a little like your own adventure movie—but without any of the drama or danger, and twice as much fun!
We can’t offer you a superhighway or big bridge, and there’s no major airport here. Ocracoke can only be accessed by ferry, private boat, or small plane. We’ve recently tried to make things a little easier with the addition of a new passenger ferry (more on that in a second), and just below we’ll offer you all our options, complete with info to help you plan your journey.
It’s time to believe in ferries again.
You can have a fun ferry ride over with just a little bit of planning and preparation. You’ll get to see some great views of the island from the water, and you can often see fish jumping, a variety of waterfowl, and some pretty spectacular skies. Especially in the summer, it pays to avoid the lines by finding less popular times to come over. The busiest day-tripping days are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. You can avoid waiting by arriving at the ferry before 9 a.m., or by visiting Ocracoke on less busy days—Monday, Friday, and/or the weekend.
There are three ferry routes to the island, now with both car and passenger ferry options. From Highway 12, located along the Outer Banks, the Hatteras Ferry crossing is free and takes about one hour. If you’re making a day trip to Ocracoke, plan to arrive at the Hatteras Ferry landing as early as possible for the first-come, first-served service. The Swan Quarter Ferry (2 hours, 40 minutes) and Cedar Island Ferry (2 hours, 10 minutes) routes are tolled, and reservations are required. The ferry schedule is subject to change due to weather and traffic, so it’s a good idea to call ahead at 252.996.6000. Or, for NCDOT ferry route information, schedules, and reservations, call 1-800-BY-FERRY or click here.
An announcement regarding our passenger-only ferry, the Ocracoke Express.
For the remainder of 2020, the passenger-only ferry, the Ocracoke Express, which normally operates during the summer tourism season, will close temporarily due to the COVID-19 crisis. Guests traveling to Ocracoke Island will need to use either the Hatteras Ferry, the Swan Quarter Ferry, or the Cedar Island Ferry, once the island is open again for the season. As part of new safety precautions, the Ferry Division encourages all ferry passengers to remain in their vehicles or practice safe social distancing when outside their vehicles, standing no closer than six feet apart. A decision regarding the reopening of the Ocracoke Express is expected in the next several months. Until then, the NC Department of Transportation and all of us at Ocracoke Island encourage you to be safe, smart, and strong!
Let’s go by boat.
If you’re more the seafaring type, you can also get yourself to Ocracoke by way of your own private boat. Transient dockage is available at the National Park Service docks, the Community Square docks, and the Anchorage Marina. Some motels and cottages also have dockage available for guests. Once you find yourself back on dry land, we have golf carts and bike rentals that can help you get around the village.
Traveling by private plane.
Those fortunate enough to have access to a private plane can make use of Ocracoke’s small airstrip, located just outside the village. Your lodging and some restaurants will arrange pickup from the airport and bring you into town. Click here for information for pilots.
Getting around Ocracoke.
Once you’ve arrived, the Silver Lake Ferry Terminal is within easy walking distance of most of Ocracoke’s shops and restaurants. Hyde County also provides free tram service around the village, and bikes and golf carts are available for rental near the ferry terminal. The tram has eight stops and loops around the island from 10:30 a.m.–8 p.m. in 30-minute intervals.