Ocracoke Island: The Great Escape

By Molly Harrison | Thursday, September 28, 2023

People from all over the world come to the Outer Banks to take a break from their ordinary lives. So where do Outer Banks residents go when they need to get away from it all? Ocracoke.

Accessible only by ferry, boat or private plane, the 16-mile-long island has an enticing off-the-beaten-path appeal. The island’s 13 miles of undeveloped, unspoiled beaches contribute greatly to that, but it is also tiny Ocracoke village that makes this island such a great escape. Easily navigated on foot or by bicycle or golf cart, the village is filled with shops, restaurants, accommodations, recreational opportunities, historic sites and natural areas.

Ocracoke Island is a treasured vacation destination any time of year, but it’s truly something special in the off-season with fewer vacationers but still plenty to explore. Fall is a fun time of year here with special events and holiday festivities, and winter on the island is one of the world’s last great refuges.


Village Craftsmen

170 Howard Street, Ocracoke
(252) 928-5541

A visit to our gallery on historic Howard Street is an Ocracoke tradition. Now in our 54th year, we sell high-quality, American-made handcrafts by more than 125 artists. We are known for our pottery and other functional works of art including jewelry, bells, woodcrafts, glass and more. Plus, the experience of strolling the quiet lane to our gallery is pretty close to an art form in itself. Ask about our Ghost & History Walks, which will start back up in late May of 2024.

Ride the Wind

486 Irvin Garrish Highway, Ocracoke
(252) 928-6311  surfocracoke.com

We are your Ocracoke headquarters for one-the-water adventures. We offer kayak tours spring through fall and surf camps in summer. Or go solo with a single or tandem kayak, SUP, surfboard, skimboard or bodyboard rental. Ask about free delivery on weekly and daily rentals of paddleboards and kayaks! Stop by our shop in the heart of the village for your favorite surf brand apparel for me, women and children.

Ocracoke Variety Store

950 Irvin Garrish Highway, Ocracoke
(252) 928-4911 • ocracokevariety.com

We are Ocracoke's one-stop shop for all your grocery needs, including fresh produce, meats, beer, wine, household items, toiletries and over-the-counter medicines. We sell t-shirts and beach supplies, and our hardware store next door sells tools, hardware, garden supplies and everything you need to fix up an island home.

Ocracoke Island Golf Carts

216 Irvin Garrish Highway, Ocracoke
(252) 928-0090  ocracokeislandgolfcarts.com

Park your car and ride in our open-air electric carts. Rent a 4- or 6-passenger golf cart and enjoy your island adventure at a slower pace while visiting the historic sites, shops and restaurants. Embrace the unhurried magic of Ocracoke with one of our hourly, daily or weekly rentals. We've provided quality golf carts and excellent service since 2010. On Ocracoke, this is how we roll!


About the Author Molly Harrison
Molly Harrison is managing editor at OneBoat, publisher of OuterBanksThisWeek.com. She moved to Nags Head in 1994 and since then has made her living writing articles and creating publications about the people, places and culture of the Outer Banks.