Forget Hawaii and California - on the East Coast, the best place for surf is on the Outer Banks, and this region is renowned as one of the best surfing destinations from New York to Florida. Surfers from all over the country and the world flock to the Outer Banks for the annual ESA tournament, or just after a storm swell, to paddle out to the Atlantic and enjoy some of the best waves on the coast.
Despite the village's small size, there are a surprisingly large number of Ocracoke Island hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts available for visitors. Well suited for long weekends and romantic stays for couples, these establishments offer a world of amenities and individual charisma that fits right in with Ocracoke Island's inherent charm.
About Ocracoke Island Hotels
There are roughly a dozen hotels or motels on Ocracoke Island, which doesn't include the handful of Bed and Breakfasts that are scattered throughout the village.
Silver Lake Harbor Accommodations
At least half of these motels and hotels are found along Silver Lake Harbor, which makes the accommodations both waterfront and within walking distance of many of the area's restaurants, watersports vendors, and fishing charters. (That said, virtually every motel and hotel is within strolling distance of the area's top attractions, and the ability to just park the car for a weekend and explore on foot is part of Ocracoke Island's appeal.)
A unique aspect of these waterfront hotels and motels are their amenities. Many of the hotels that are closet to the harbor double as marinas, and may offer boat slips for guests who are traveling to Ocracoke Island via their own private vessel.
The other attribute these hotels typically share are waterfront balconies that can effortlessly overlook the scene along Silver Lake - the busiest part of Ocracoke Island. With unbeatable sunsets and sprawling views of the action from the waterfront restaurants to the Ocracoke ferry terminal, waterfront hotels and motels are in the heart of the action.
Ocracoke Village Accommodations
The island also has several hotels and motels - some dating back 50 years or more - that are found on the "outskirts" of the village, close to the 4WD access ramps as well as the historic Howard's Pub. These regions are a little quieter and less dense, which means that these hotels are more spread out, and are typically one or two level establishments.
Regardless of where an Ocracoke vacation lands, the regional hotels and motels share some common amenities. Many of these accommodations feature pools for guests use, (and in some cases these pools are adjacent to the harbor), vending machines, and even hot tubs or small game rooms.
Hammocks and private porches or balconies are also common at Ocracoke Island hotels and motels - unusual for the Outer Banks - and the landscaping at these establishments is nothing short of outstanding. The village experiences relatively little saltwater flooding or harsh ocean breezes, and as such palm trees, sub-tropical flowers, and native live oaks are naturally allowed to thrive. The resulting aesthetic is romantic, shaded, and private - a rare environment for a hotel or motel that's located in the heart of a busy summer beach town.
Booking an Ocracoke Island Hotel or Motel
- Most all of the hotels on Ocracoke Island have websites with amenities, room descriptions, and policies listed in detail.
- In addition, visitors can often book their hotel room directly online. Smaller establishments, or local Bed and Breakfasts, may require a phone call instead.
- Regardless, visitors should call if there are special consideration that will need to be applied, (such as pet-friendly or handicapped accessible Ocracoke Island accommodations), or if a visitors has any questions about the facilities.
- A security deposit or credit card payment is often due at the time of reservation for Ocracoke Island hotels and motels.
- Reservations should be made as far in advanced as possible. Unlike other Outer Banks destinations, Ocracoke Island accommodations for popular holiday weekends, like 4th of July or Memorial Day, often fill up months in advance.
- Last minute reservations may be available in the fall through spring months, but are very limited during the summer season.
- Hotel and Motel rates drop slightly in the spring and fall months, and noticeably drop in the winter months of December through February. During this time, some hotels or motels may be closed for the season, so be sure to call ahead when making a wintertime reservation. The good news is that in addition to low rates at Ocracoke hotels, a number of local restaurants and pubs stay open year-round.
Considerations for Staying at an Ocracoke Hotel or Motel
- Hotels and motels on Ocracoke Island are ideal for couples, small families, and parties who are staying on the island for less than a week.
- Some hotels offer discounts for weekday or multi-day stays, military personnel, seniors, or large groups. Be sure and call ahead to find out if any discounts apply during your stay.
- There are no oceanfront or oceanside hotels or motels on Ocracoke Island, however all of the accommodations in the 4-square-mile village are within walking distance of local restaurants, attractions, shops, and area activities.
- Plan extra money in your vacation budget for eating out. While many hotel rooms offer kitchenettes and / or microwaves and mini-fridges, there are no fast food restaurants or chain grocery stores on the island. Luckily, there are several convenience stores and general stores with delis for freshly prepared sandwiches, salads and other lunch items.
- When booking a room, be sure and book your ferry reservations as well if you are arriving / leaving via the Swanquarter or Cedar Island ferry.
- The Hatteras / Ocracoke Island ferry does not accept reservations and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors should note that Saturday mornings and afternoons are typically the busiest time during the summer for the Hatteras / Ocracoke ferry.
- There are a handful of posh accommodations on Ocracoke Island in the form of upscale Bed and Breakfasts, but the overall feel of the Ocracoke hotel and motel scene is casually relaxed. Expect hammocks, palm trees, and a beachy vibe instead of a five-star resort atmosphere. In the end, most visitors find this aesthetic more appealing, and more relaxing, than any world-class resort.