For bird lovers, the Outer Banks is hard to beat. This delicate chain of barrier islands is not only home to dozens of different native shorebirds, but also thousands of migrating birds who make a rest stop on the Outer Banks every year. Add to this the fact that the islands have hundreds of miles of deserted beaches, maritime forest, and marshlands for species to quietly flourish, and it's clear that the Outer Banks is literally for the birds.
Fun Facts about Ocracoke
- Ocracoke Islands is roughly 13 miles long, but the village of Ocracoke itself is just 4 square miles in area, and is located on the southern edge of the island.
- Ocracoke is bordered to the west by the Pamlico Sound and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean.
- Ocracoke is located approximately 20-25 miles off the mainland coast of North Carolina, (across the Pamlico Sound.)
- To get to Ocracoke Islands, visitors must take a North Carolina state-run ferry. Visitors can arrive from the south via the Hatteras Island / Ocracoke ferry, or from the north via the Swanquarter or Cedar Island ferry.
- The Hatteras ferry is about a 60 minute trip across the sound, while the Cedar Island and Sawn Quarter ferries are 2.25-2.5 hour crossings that depart from the mainland.
- There are less than 1,000 year-round residents in Ocracoke. In the summer, this population swells to thousands of day-trippers and vacationers.
- The town-wide speed limit through Ocracoke Islands is 25 mph. Vacationers who stay in the region often cruise through the area on foot, on a bicycle, or in recent years, on a golf cart.
- The region has been occupied for hundreds of years, and a number of current residents are proud descendants of these original settlers, known locally as "Ocockers."
- Because the island is separated from the rest of the country, a unique dialect was formed which is known as the "Ocracoke Brogue." This dialect has been studied by North Carolina State University linguists, and is thought to be one the closest dialects to authentic 1700s and 1800s English.
- Ocracoke has a popular harbor which has been a hot spot for commerce since the 1700s.
- The famous Blackbeard the Pirate considered Ocracoke Harbor and the island in general as one of his favorite hunting grounds for looting merchant ships.
- Blackbeard met his end just off the Ocracoke Harbor. Current museums and street or business names that reference "Edward Teach" honor his former, formidable presence.
- The Ocracoke Beaches are considered some of the best Outer Banks beaches for shelling, fishing, and overall seclusion.
- In 2007, renowned beach expert, Dr. Beach, named the Lifeguarded Beach in Ocracoke Islands as the #1 Best Beach in America. The region has since been retired from the annual "Best Beaches" list.
- There are no recorded alligators in the sound, but the region is home to thousands of migrating birds, deer, reptiles, and the famed Ocracoke Banker horses, or Ocracoke Wild Ponies.
- The Ocracoke Wild Ponies can still be spotted and admired at the Ocracoke Pony Pen, and are thought to be descendants of 16th century Spanish mustangs.
- Ocracoke has become a respite of sorts for visiting and local writers, artists and other creative adventurers. As a result, the region boasts one of the highest concentrations of art galleries on the Outer Banks.
- With an eclectic collection of restaurants, galleries, and shops, Ocracoke Islands is considered one of the most unique destinations along North Carolina's Outer Banks.