Ocracoke Island, NC

Accessible only by ferry, Ocracoke Island comprises 16 miles of secluded and pristine beaches along the Atlantic. Over 85 percent of the island is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and is thus protected from development. When other beaches along the East Coast are filled blanket-to-blanket with people, you can still find a spot on Ocracoke that will be yours alone.

Beaches on Ocracoke are absolutely beautiful, with wide expanses of sand and very clear waters. You'll find body surfing to be excellent in many spots, but the beach area near the airstrip offers the gentlest surf action. If you like shelling and especially wide beaches, head to the northern end of Ocracoke closest to the Hatteras ferry terminal.

Kids love the ferry ride to Ocracoke, as well as its laid-back atmosphere. There are some restaurants, a few shops, and lots of places to walk and bike. It's also fun for them to learn more about one of the island's earlier residents, Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the Pirate. Blackbeard used Ocracoke as his hideout in 1718, and was killed in a battle with two British warships at Teach's Hole not far from Ocracoke Village.

We've chosen a few motels and inns that would be appropriate for families with kids. Be sure to ask specifics about the accommodations when calling. The best way to enjoy Ocracoke, in our opinion, is by renting one of the cottages here. The good news about accommodations on this island, from motels to houses, is that they tend to be less costly than other parts of the Outer Banks.

Berkeley Center Country Inn: This rustic inn offers moderately priced rooms with cedar or juniper paneling. Ask for one of the rooms with a private bath. For more information, call (919) 928-5911.

Silver Lake Motel: This complex with 20 motel rooms and 12 suites offers guests moderately priced accommodations and harbor views. The suites on the second and third floors are the best of the bunch. For more information, call (919) 928-5721.

Ocracoke Island Realty: This agency specializes in rental properties on Ocracoke Island. For more information, call (919) 928-6261.

Sharon Miller Realty: This agency also specializes in rental properties on Ocracoke. For more information, call (919) 928-5711.

National Park Service Ocracoke Campground: This camping area has 136 campsites located about three miles from Ocracoke Village. Reservations are accepted. For more information, call (919) 928-6671.

Another great way to see Ocracoke is to rent a property on Hatteras Island and take the ferry over for the day. This option would be best for those families who like to stay in oceanfront houses or accommodations on their vacations. The beaches on Hatteras Island around Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras are beautiful as well. The following rental agencies specialize in cottage and home rentals on Hatteras Island: Midgett Realty (800-527-2903) Midgett Realty; Hatteras Realty (800-428-8372) Hatteras Realty, Surf or Sound Realty (800-237-1138) Surf or Sound Realty ,and Outer Beaches Realty (919-995-4477) Outer Beaches Realty.

Visitors coming to Ocracoke should visit the Ocracoke Lighthouse and the Wild Pony Pens located just a short drive from the Hatteras ferry dock. Great places to eat on Ocracoke include the Back Porch and Cafe Atlantic.

For more information, call the Ocracoke Island Visitor's Center at (919) 928-4531 or go to the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau website: www.outerbanks.com.

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