Visit Beautiful Ocracoke Island
Historic Travel Sites
Ocracoke is a Preserve America Community
Ocracoke is an island community dating back to the early 1700s. Visit Ocracoke’s lighthouse built in 1823, bicycle through the village with over 200 national Register historic structures, stroll down Howard Street under centuries old live oaks and past many family graveyards, learn about Ocracoke during the early to mid-1900s at the Ocracoke Preservation Museum, visit the nearby Civil War monument, and walk through Springer’s Point, a maritime forest along Teach’s Hole, Blackbeard’s favored mooring. The village is small and easily accommodates walkers and bikers through the historic village surrounding the harbor.
THINGS TO DO & SEE
Tour the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum
Located by the Swan Quarter & Cedar Island ferry docks, the David Williams House dates from the early 1900s, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a typical example of an Ocracoke four square style home. Housed within are exhibits of island antiques, decoys, the Island Brogue, shells, storms and photos from WWII. The knowledgeable staff is happy to answer questions about island life and history. Porch Talks are offered in the summer months to share island traditions and stories.
Visit the British Cemetery
Throughout the years, the waters off Ocracoke Island have witnessed the sinking of many ships. During the height of the German submarine campaign on May 14, 1942, the HMS Bedfordshire was torpedoed and sunk with all hands lost. Four bodies of the crew were subsequently found and buried on Ocracoke. Each May a ceremony is held at the cemetery in remembrance of the crew.
Explore the Ocracoke Working Waterman’s Exhibit
The mission of the exhibit is to highlight how fishing ‘ past and present ‘ still plays an important role in connecting community, environment, traditional workplace, and the local economy. The exhibit is located in The Willis Store & Fish House, ca. 1930, located on the Community Square dock, and is contributing structure #23 on the National Register of Historic Places. The weathered wooden docks in the Community Square are also counted as contributing structures.
View the Ocracoke Lighthouse
The Ocracoke light was built in 1823 and is one of the oldest operating lighthouses in the nation. Once vital to the safe passage of ships by Ocracoke’s beach, it now serves more as a glimpse into the past. Standing tall above the village, it remains Ocracoke’s most recognizable landmark. Though the lighthouse is not open for climbing, the site can be visited daily.
Stop by the National Park Service Visitor Center
Here you can learn about the history and care of the Island Ponies that once roamed free on the island, find out about programs offered by the park and get a map explaining what the Cape Hatteras National Seashore has to offer.
Go to the beach
Ocracoke has 17 miles of unspoiled beach. There are plenty of walk-over access points, or you can purchase a driving permit at the NPS Permit Office. Shelling, swimming, sunbathing, fishing, surfing, and relaxing are all enjoyable pastimes on Ocracoke’s beach.
Walk through Springer’s Point
Springer’s Point enjoys a cultural history as vibrant as the astounding array of plant and bird species it supports. This site, historically referred to as ‘Teach’s Plantation,’ is the reputed favorite haunt of the legendary pirate, Blackbeard, who marauded, eluded capture and finally met his fate at Teach’s Hole, off Springer’s Point.
Take a boat to Portsmouth Island
Established in 1753, Portsmouth grew to be the largest settlement on the Outer Banks by 1770. For nearly a century, the town remained a major shipping center. Then in 1894, the US Life Saving Service was established on Portsmouth and for nearly 50 years played a vital role in the community. Steadily, though, the population declined. In 1956 only 17 residents remained. The walls of time closed on Portsmouth. Isolation, a depressed economy and the constant threat to life and property from storms prompted the final abandonment of Portsmouth. Today, Portsmouth Village’s historic homes and surrounding natural environment are maintained by the National Park Service.
Start your visit at the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum!
The Ocracoke Preservation Society (OPS) was formed in 1983 with the purpose of encouraging, assisting, advising and participating in the identification, preservation and restoration of significant Ocracoke Island structures, buildings, districts and objects of local and historic interest. OPS was also formed to facilitate and encourage public participation in preservation programs and activities.
In July 1990, OPS was successful in having the village of Ocracoke listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic district is a collection of nearly 250 homes, buildings and structures nestled around picturesque Silver Lake Harbor and the Ocracoke Lighthouse.
- Ocracoke 5k Race (April) www.ocracokeisland5Krun.org
- Homegrown Handmade Market (Weekly)
- Ocracoke Fire Protection Association Fundraiser (Memorial Day Weekend)
- Ocrafolk Festival (Early June) www.ocrafolkfestival.org
- 4th of July Celebrations
- Ranger Talks in the Park 252-928-4531
- Porch Talks at OPS Museum (June, July, August) www.ocracokepreservation.org
- Ocrafolk School (October) www.ocrafolkschool.org
- Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree (October) www.piratejamboree.com
- Waterman’s Annual Oyster Roast (December) www.ocracokewaterman.org
Museum Hours of Operation:
Mid-March through the end of November
Hours vary depending on season
Closed on Sundays
Admission is Free, Donations are Welcome:
The gift shop gives a 10% discount for OPS members.
Ask a staff member about the price and perks of a membership.
For Information on:
Ocracoke’s History or the Preservation Museum:
www.ocracokepreservation.org or 252-928-7375
National Park Programs on Ocracoke:
Ocracoke’s Official Traveler’s Guide
www.ocracokevillage.com or 252-928-6711