When it comes to choosing a vacation destination that the entire family will love, Ocracoke is the place to go! Offering gorgeous beaches and laid-back charm, Ocracoke is known as the Pearl of the Outer Banks. The island offers 16 miles of secluded and natural beaches that are perfect for shelling, swimming, beach walks, surfing and boogie boarding, surf fishing, and pure relaxation! No visit to Ocracoke would be complete without spending time on our beautiful beaches.
Ocracoke’s beaches and specifically the Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach consistently receive recognition as the top beaches in the U.S. In 2022, Dr. Stephen Leatherman, known as “Dr. Beach,” once again recognized Ocracoke’s Lifeguarded Beach, this year as the #1 beach in the U.S.
A day at the beach offers fun and relaxation for the entire family. Remember, you’re on Ocracoke to relax! You will want to do some advance planning to allow more beach time.
Remember to pack the basics such as sunglasses, hats, sunscreen, towels, and beach chairs.
A great beach bag or two packed with all the essentials is key to having a great time at the beach. From flip-flops, sandals, and shoes to sunscreen and sunglasses, hats, and a beach cover-up you’ll want to keep it all organized. Bring a bag specifically for wet towels and clothing. Don’t forget a waterproof bag to keep your phone and electronics dry and protected from the sand.
Bring extra towels. You will want to have one towel to dry off and another for your chair or sitting in the sand.
Don’t let sunburn ruin your vacation. Everyone loves a good tan but it is important to provide protection from the sun. Sunscreen is essential and re-apply frequently! Consider a wind block, tent, or umbrella. They make for a comfortable and relaxing day at the beach. Beach umbrellas can be rented at Beach Outfitters which is located at Ocracoke Island Realty.
You will want to pack your cooler with plenty of ice, drinks, snacks, and even lunch. Ocracoke restaurants offer take-out and many specialize in food for a day at the beach or ferry ride. Fig Tree Deli and Back Porch Lunch Box specialize in take-out.
Boogie boards, surfboards, and skim boards are popular for families with active adults and kids who love the water. Items can be purchased at various stores on the island or inquire about rentals at Ride the Wind or Beach Outfitters.
When planning for beach fun, be sure to consider packing a frisbee, football, beach paddle ball set, cornhole, a volleyball set, or ring toss.
Be sure that your trip to the beach includes plenty of sand toys to keep the kids occupied. Building sandcastles is a fun and easy beach activity for kids.
The best time for shell collecting is low tide when you can discover what the recent high tide has washed ashore. Shells are especially plentiful after a storm. Be sure to bring along a sand pail or a bag to collect shells. There is nothing worse than looking down at a Sand Dollar or Scotch Bonnet in the sand and two hands already filled with shells!
Nothing beats relaxing at the beach with a good book. Visit Ocracoke’s independent book store Books to be Red for a great selection of beach reads. Various shops throughout the village also offer local and regional books.
When bringing your pet to the beach, don’t forget to pack water, shade, a towel or mat, and the required 6-foot leash. Watch your pet carefully. Drinking ocean salt water can cause your pet serious health problems.
Before going to the beach, learn about rip currents, how to identify them, and safety tips, including swimming near a lifeguard.
All of the ocean beaches on Ocracoke are part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and are operated by the National Park Service. You can easily reach Ocracoke beaches’ access points, located just a short drive outside of Ocracoke Village. There are six designated oceanside parking areas along the main road where you can park and walk to the beach. We recommend the Lifeguarded Beach, which is just outside of Ocracoke Village. Lifeguards are typically on duty from Memorial Day through Labor Day. There are restrooms, outdoor showers, and even a wheelchair-accessible beach ramp. This beach is perfect for families.
Ocracoke Island has a number of 4-wheel drive accessible ramps that lead out to some of Ocracoke’s most secluded beaches. A permit is required to drive your vehicle onto the beach. Permits can be obtained online at Recreation.gov. The closest 4×4 access to the village is Southpoint Road, Ramp 72. This access is the longest drive to the beach, offering spectacular wildlife and marsh views.
If you don’t have an off-road vehicle, but would like to drive along the beach, you can rent one. Beach Ride Rentals offers 4×4 rentals by the hour or day. When renting a 4×4, the permit is included in the price.
An evening beach fire on Ocracoke is a memorable experience. Beach fires require a free Beach Fire Permit that can be downloaded in advance of your visit or obtained on Ocracoke.
A locally owned business, Ocracoke Beach Fires offers one of the most magical ways to spend an evening on the island. They take care of all of the beach fire details for you! They’ll set up the fire and chairs (and handle clean-up!). If you’re into spooky stories, Ocracoke Beach Fires also hosts Ghost Story Beach Fires during the summer. A local history guide will tell Ocracoke ghost stories while you toast s’mores on the beach! Yoga beach fires and customized beach fire packages are also available.
Enjoying the beach is not limited to just the summer. Ocracoke’s beach season is pleasantly longer than in many other nearby beach locations thanks to the influence of the warmer waters of the nearby Gulf Stream.
Don’t forget to take photos of your beach vacation and enter them in the Ocracoke Photo Contest for a chance to win great prizes!