About Ocracoke Island

The island of Ocracoke abounds in natural pleasures. Its sixteen miles of unspoiled beaches and salty ocean breezes offer great opportunities for solitude, serenity, and peace of mind. The expansive vista of ocean and soundfront marsh provides a closeness to nature highlighted with her variety of beach vegetation and bird life. Our proximity to the Gulf Stream, and consequent warm southern waters, make for perfect swimming and excellent fishing (gulf stream, surf, and sound). Water sports and a colorful history complement our vacation package. Ocracoke offers a great medium for quality family time. Our slow pace and warm, southern hospitality round out a perfect island vacation; one that insures peace, rest and relaxation.

The village of Ocracoke is located around a small sheltered harbor called Silver Lake, with a second smaller residential area built around a series of man-made canals called Oyster Creek. The village is located at the widest point of the island, protected from the Atlantic Ocean by sand dunes and a salt marsh. The average height of the island is less than five feet above sea level, and many of the buildings on the island are built on pilings to lift them off the ground. As a result, flooding is a problem during hurricanes and large storms. The Ocracoke Lighthouse, one of North America's oldest lighthouses, is situated near Silver Lake.

The economy of Ocracoke Island is almost entirely based around tourism. During the winter, the island has a population of fewer than eight hundred, and there are only a few businesses open. During the spring, summer and early fall, there are several thousand tourists living on the island in weekly rental houses, hotels and campgrounds, plus many more that come across the ferry from Hatteras Island for the day or to stay overnight. Several bars, dozens of restaurants, and many shops, stores and other tourist-based businesses open for the tourist season, and every single business on the island is independently owned and operated by residents. There are no chains or franchises, which gives the island a distinctive character.

Ocracoke was named America's Best Beach for 2007 by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a professor of coastal ecology at Florida International University who compiles his annual list under the moniker "Dr. Beach". Ocracoke had previously earned the #2 and #3 spots in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

Fishing is also a major part of the economy, including both commercial fishing and chartered sport fishing. With easy access to the Pamlico Sound, the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream, the Outer Banks area has a variety of different fishing options, from small Sound fish all the way up to tuna and drum.

During the winter, the island's only main employers are construction and the businesses that support the small population. Many islanders use the winter as time off, since they tend to work between 60 and 80 hours a week during the tourist season. The permanent island population in the off season is only a few hundred people.

Photography by Jill Saye

Important Links:

Ocracoke Island Realty
P.O. Box 238
1075 Irvin Garrish Hwy
Ocracoke, NC 27960
Local Phone: 1-252-928-6261
Fax: 1-252-928-1065
E-Mail: Sales | Rentals
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

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