Would you like to travel to a unique beach getaway on the east coast of the United States? Well then, consider a road trip to Ocracoke Island. It’s a great place for your next camping adventure. But wondering where this place is? How do I get there and are there any campgrounds on Ocracoke Island? This blog post will answer all of those questions and more!
Where is Ocracoke Island?
This little barrier island is located on the southern end of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Pamlico Sound. Ocracoke is part of the Outer Banks just off the North Carolina coast. And you can only get to this unique place by ferry, private plane or boat.
How do you get to Ocracoke Island?
There are no roads per say to get to Ocracoke. You can however get there via the Outer Banks Scenic Byway which includes a ride by ferry.
There are 3 ferry options to travel to Ocracoke. At each ferry terminal you can ride over with your car, travel trailer, motorhome, fifth wheel and other recreational vehicles. Here’s what to know about each ferry option:
- Cedar Island Ferry: Located on Cedar Island. This is a toll ferry. With limited number of trips per day, reservations are required. The ferry ride is 2 hours and 10 minutes long.
- Swan Quarter Ferry: Located in Swan Quarter. This is also a toll ferry with reservations required. This ferry ride is 2 hours and 45 minutes.
- Hatteras Ferry: Located in South Hatteras. This is a first come first served ferry service. It is however FREE to ride. Yes, free even with the RV! But you will need to be patient, because the line can be long and gets longer as the day goes by. So arriving early can save you time. The ferry service runs at the top of the hour every hour. And the ride is about an hour long.
You can check this “Recommend times to travel” document to plan your trip.
For the return ferry you can purchase a ferry ticket for a toll ferry. Or ride the Hatteras-Ocracoke first come first serve ferry.
*Check current ferry times, as times may change and additional times may be added during peak season.
About the ferry experience
This was our first ferry experience. It was super easy and I would encourage you to do this if you are interested in visiting.
We took the free ferry. We did have to wait in line, but there is shopping, food and restrooms on site. So you don’t have to just sit in your car.
When it was our turn, they guided us safely on the ferry. It was completely worth the little effort and would definitely do it again. Things are always a little harder the first time, but this offers a unique and new camping opportunity in the end.
Ocracoke is a low lying barrier island and floods easily. It is advised you watch the weather as the ferry service can get cancelled with severe weather.
The campground and roads are prone to flooding after a heavy rain. Also, mosquitos and no-see-ums are prevalent in warmer months. So plan according with insect repellent and netting.
Are supplies available on Ocracoke Island?
The simply answer is YES. However, it is a small island, so it may not have everything you’re looking for.
Therefore, I would suggest purchasing your supplies before you arrive. But, if you need supplies, there is a decent size store to shop for groceries and hardware supplies.
- Grocery Strores: The Ocracoke Variety Store is where to find grocery supplies and Native Seafood Market for fresh seafood.
- Gas Station: There is only one gas station on the island. Its located at Jerniman’s Campground.
- Restaurants: There are many to choose from in Ocracoke Village, and some are very highly rated.
Things to do on Ocracoke Island
Wondering what to do on this island other than enjoy the most beautiful beach?
And check out this helpful beach camping checklist:
Campgrounds on Ocracoke Island
Now that we know more about island, lets talk about the camping. There are only 3 campgrounds located on Ocracoke Island.
During the summer months from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, is peak camping season. Therefore, it fills up fast. So be sure to make your reservations far in advance if you plan to visit during this time.
As a reminder, camping is not allowed in non-designated camping area.
Here is all the information about the campgrounds on Ocracoke Island:
This National Park Service campground is on the Atlantic coast side of the island. Its located about 4 miles from the quaint village of Ocracoke. There you can find restaurants, attractions and things to do around town. For your convenience, there is a bike bath along the main road if you prefer to bike into town.
The campground is open the entire year and site-specific camping reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance at recreation.gov. You pay a $28.00 fee per night for all standard dry camp sites.
All camper types and tent campers are permitted in the campground. However, If you have a large RV, it must fit on the pad with no parking on the grass. There is additional car parking at the entrance of the campground if your car doesn’t also fit.
Amenities include flush toilets, cold water showers, charcoal grill, picnic tables and drinking water in each loop.
The campground does not offer any shade, so the cold showers are refreshing in summer months and offer a more comfortable beach camping experience.
Beach access is a short walk, located just beyond the barrier dunes. From the campground you can access miles of pristine beach. So if you want to be right by the beach, it is a great campground.
Beach Recreational activities include walking, biking, fishing, wildlife viewing or just relaxing and enjoying the beauty of the white sandy beaches.
More active recreational activities include swimming, kayaking, windsurfing and kite boarding.
You also have access to a dump station and water fill station located across the main road from the campground.
Things to note about the campground
- Tent campers are encouraged to bring extra long tent stakes because of the sandy soil.
- No wood fires are allowed in the campground, only charcoal cooking fires.
- There is no campground wifi however we were able to use T-mobile cell phones and Verizon wifi without any problems.
- There are no laundry facilities on site and no laundromat on the island.
For facility specific information, please call this phone number: (252) 475-9018.
Located within the town of Ocracoke, this RV Park has full RV hookups with an on site restaurant, convenience store and gas station.
It even has golf cart rentals, which is a very popular thing to do on the island and would a fantastic way to get around if you are staying at this campground.
It is also walking distance to many other restaurants and gift shops because not much is more than 1.5 miles away.
Amenities include bathhouse, laundry room, picnic tables, arcade, dump station. The campground is not fancy but it has everything you need for a comfortable stay. And if you prefer to have shore power when you camp, this is your best choice.
The campground is NOT on the beach. It is however just 1/2 mile away.
3. Teeter’s Campground
Unfortunately Teeter’s Campground is now only taking yearly site leases. So this campground is not an option for short term overnight visitors.
And there you have it, your options for campgrounds on Ocracoke Island.
So really with only 2 choices, I would try to make your reservations as far in advance as possible especially if you plan to visit over the weekend or during the busy season.
If reservations on Ocracoke are full, there are a few private Frisco Campgrounds located on Hatteras Island. And three other national park service campground options: Frisco Campground, Cape Point and the furtherest away being Oregon Inlet Campground.
So, no matter which camping experience you choose, Ocracoke is worth the visit!
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