Taking a Day Trip to Ocracoke Island

The adventure doesn’t stop where the road ends. Hatteras Islanders are just a ferry boat ride away from Ocracoke Island! Here’s how to plan for your visit and make the most out of your trip.  

Getting to the Island 

There are two main ways Hatteras Islanders can get to Ocracoke; on the Express Passenger Ferry or the Vehicle Ferry.  To get the full day’s worth of your trip, we recommend catching an early ferry around 8 am.

The Express Passenger Ferry is a 70min trip that costs $5 per ride ($10 round trip per person) and $1/per bike for those looking to bike around the Island. Children under 3 years old ride for free. This ferry drops you off directly in Silver Lake Harbor. There you can take a tram around the Island’s different stops between the hours of 10:30 am-8 pm. Each stop is marked with a “Tram Stop” sign and number.  It takes about 20mins to travel the whole route by golf cart.  See the map below for more information.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: The Express Passenger Ferry and Island Tram do not operate in the off-season (Sept-May) 

The vehicle ferry is free. This ferry drops passengers off at the beginning of Ocracoke Island (not in the harbor where the town is) so a short 12mile drive via car will be necessary to reach the main town. Reservations for all ferry rides can be made online or at the terminal.  


  • Best practice – If you are planning a day trip to Ocracoke, be sure to set an alarm on your phone 60-40min prior to your scheduled departing time. You don’t want to miss your boat. Use the alarms to know when to start heading back to the docks and reduce the chances of missing your returning ferry. Plan to spend at least 3-5 hours on the Island, not including the ferry ride time, when looking to schedule your return times.
  • Rent a Golf Car or Bike – If you don’t want to drive around, you can rent a golf cart or bike from a variety of vendors. That way you can get around faster and see more of the Island.  
  • Shop Early – Many of the boutique shops close earlier than the restaurants and gift shops. Therefore, if you want to visit any art galleries, coffee shops, craft studios, candy stores, bookstores, etc. we suggest getting to those first.  
  • Beach Access – Ocracoke offers some of the most secluded beaches on the Outer Banks. A majority of the access points are for 4WD vehicle-friendly. You can aquire an off-road permit online at https://www.recreation.gov/vehiclepermits/249978 .  Please note: There is a public parking space before Ramp 70 that has pedestrian beach access. During the on-season, there are also lifeguards 

Things the Island is Known For 

  • Pirates and Blackbeard – in 1718 Blackbeard famously died off the coast of Ocracoke and today in October around Halloween, the Islandwide event “Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree” celebrates the unique pirate history.  In addition, there is also a well-known brewery and restaurant called 1718 Ocracoke Brewery.  
  • Private Beaches and Untouched Natural Environment – A large majority of the Island is undeveloped with nature-focused education programs that are free but do require a reservation. See the Island Discovery Center for more.  
  • Lighthouse – The Ocracoke Lighthouse is the second oldest continuously operating lighthouse in the nation. Built in 1823 and now kept by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. While this lighthouse cannot be climbed, the surrounding grounds are a serene and historic must-see experience. 
  • Exhibits and History – From the Preservation Society Museum to the British Cemetery, this little Island is rich in culture and history. For the full timeline visit https://www.visitocracokenc.com/history-and-heritage/#History-&-Heritage 
  • Events – The community of Ocracoke Islanders knows how to host an event. With many throughout the year, be sure to try and catch at least one! https://www.visitocracokenc.com/ocracoke-events/ 

Map to getting around Ocracoke provided by https://www.visitocracokenc.com/

Map around Ocracoke Island

OBR Picks

Moonraker Tea Shop 

Island Ragpicker 

Ocracoke Coffee Co 

Thai Moon Carry Out 

Next time you book your stay on Hatteras Island be sure to take a day trip to Ocracoke Island!

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