Ocracoke North Carolina is one of the most beautiful beaches on the east coast. With the only way to reach it being by ferry, Ocracoke Island seems to have a magical quality. The charm of Ocracoke is found both in its beauty and its small village feel, which makes it the perfect place for a getaway with the one you love. So go ahead and book a spot on the ferry, pack your bags, and start planning a romantic getaway to Ocracoke North Carolina.
Getting to Ocracoke North Carolina
Hidden away off the coast of North Carolina, this tiny island is only accessible by one of three ferries. From Hatteras on the Outer Banks, the Hatteras Ferry crossing is free and takes about an hour. Departure times vary by season and places on the ferry are first come, first served, but ferries run pretty constantly during the summer so wait times are generally not too long. There are two ferry options from the mainland. The Swan Quarter Ferry takes just over two and a half hours and the Cedar Island Ferry takes just over two hours. Both are tolled and require reservations ahead of time.
All of the ferries allow you to drive your car right onto the boat. You can spend your ferry ride hanging out in your car with the windows rolled down, but many of the ferries have lounges with seats, and sometimes with tables if you want a change of scenery or a place to take your lunch or a snack. Some ferries have an upper deck, where passengers can walk around and get an amazing view of the ocean and of the island as the ferry approaches Ocracoke North Carolina. Keep your eye out during the trip though, because if you are lucky, you might just spot a pod of dolphins.
While a two-hour ferry ride seems like an inconvenience, it is part of the magic of Ocracoke North Carolina. There is something really special about sailing away from the ferry terminal and finding yourself out on the ocean. It feels like you are leaving the rest of the world behind for a few days – what could be more perfect for a romantic getaway?
Things to Do During Your Romantic Getaway
Obviously, when you are on an island off the coast in the Atlantic, you should spend some time at the beach. This is especially true when you visit Ocracoke North Carolina. It has been voted one of the top ten beaches in America and offers sixteen miles of beautiful, white-sand beaches to explore. The beaches are all owned by the National Park Service, so they are protected and will remain pristine and gorgeous for every visitor to the island.
Even during the peak of summer, the island is never overly crowded so you can always find a quiet, intimate spot on the beach. Locate the perfect spot either on the lifeguard beach, or at one of the multiple beach access points. Stretch out on the beach and soak in some sun and then take a romantic walk at sunset.
Romantic getaways do not have to be all sunset walks on the beach. Whether you enjoy surfing, kayaking, or sailing, Ocracoke North Carolina offers plenty of amazing ocean adventures during your getaway. There are sunset sails that offer the most beautiful views of the sun setting over the water if you want another sunset view. There are also offshore fishing charters if you are looking to get out and feel the ocean air during the day.
The surf and temperate waters are perfect for things like parasailing, kite-boarding, surfing, paddleboarding, and windsurfing from May to October. Go kayaking on Silver Lake or hike through the unique coastal forests of the Hammock Hills Nature Trail and Springer’s Point Nature Preserve. You will see plenty of coastal birds (Ocracoke North Carolina is home to over 400 species of birds), beautiful flowers, uniquely-formed trees, and sand dunes. If you take a trip out to Springer’s Point, you will not only see the beauty of nature, but you will be standing near where Blackbeard the pirate was captured just off the coast.
Another must-see of Ocracoke North Carolina is the wild ponies. These wild ponies are descendants of Spanish mustangs that were shipwrecked offshore several hundred years ago. These ponies once roamed the island, but are now penned in a 188-acre plot of land at the south end of the island to keep both the ponies and visitors safe. They are cared for by the National Parks Service, which frequently holds programs at the pony pens for visitors to learn more about these popular islanders.
There is plenty of parking at the pony pen, where you will find an elevated platform for a great view of the ponies. There is also a boardwalk that runs beside the pen that takes visitors to a second elevated platform with a beautiful view of the south end of the island and more of where the ponies roam. It is a beautiful little stop during your romantic getaway.
While you are out at the south end of the island, take a walk directly across the highway from the pony pens, where there is a long boardwalk over the dunes to the beach. It is a popular spot for shelling and typically one of the quieter beach access points on the island, making it perfect for a romantic beach walk.
With ferries constantly running from the south side of the island to Hatteras, you can also take a day trip and explore offerings in Hatteras and along the Outer Banks. Besides the small lighthouse on Ocracoke North Carolina, there are a number of amazing lighthouses up and down the coast, along with other National Parks land and some gorgeous beach spots.
A Few Places for Romantic Food and Drinks
Ocracoke Coffee Co. is known to locals and repeat visitors to Ocracoke North Carolina as The Coffee Shop. Start your day here with the perfect cup of coffee, an espresso, or smoothie and one of the freshly baked pastries in the pastry case or a bagel and cream cheese. There are plenty of tables outside, or pick a spot in one of the Adirondack chairs on the front lawn and enjoy your coffee among the beautiful trees. It is the perfect place to start the mornings of your romantic getaway.
Make sure to check out Zillie’s Island Pantry for wine, micro-brews, and beers from around the world, along with a great selection of gourmet snacks, cheeses, and premium cigars. Stay awhile and hang out on the deck with a cheese plate and a glass of wine. In the summer, it is the perfect afternoon spot to relax after some time on the beach, and in the winter they usually have two big fire pits burning to take off the winter chill. They also offer weekly wine and beer tastings for a fun date with your love.
The hands-down best place to eat in Ocracoke North Carolina also happens to be the most romantic spot for dinner. The Back Porch Restaurant is self-described as serving French-Nouveau-Southern cuisine and it is the fine dining experience on the island. The atmosphere is relaxed, intimate, and special. Eating here is like eating on the wrap-around porch of an island beach house (hence the name). It is perfectly romantic and the food is to die for every time.
Ocracoke North Carolina is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway because you can do as much or as little as you want while you are there. If a romantic getaway for you is spending time on the beach and drinking wine in the afternoon or evening, you can absolutely do that. If you and your partner love spending time seeking adventure, there are plenty of opportunities to get on a boat and sail the ocean, go deepsea fishing, or take a sea kayak tour. The views are amazing. The ocean air will make you feel happy and content. The quiet of the island will let the rest of the world fade away. Ocracoke North Carolina – now this is romance.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Looking for some reading on your journey to Ocracoke North Carolina? Check out 10 Books About Travel To Inspire Your Bucket List to help you with that!
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Photo credits: unsplash.com, Back Porch Restaurant