Beaches & Wildlife
Ocracoke is famous for the natural beauty of our sand, sun, and surf. With sixteen miles of pristine, undeveloped, wild beaches, the island always has the perfect spot just for you.
From the north end to South Point, the beach offers plenty of wide open spaces for all to enjoy. Surf fishermen, kite-flyers, kiteboarders, sunbathers, shell-seekers, surfers, boogie-boarders, sandcastle-builders, nature lovers – and everyone else – will find that Ocracoke’s beaches are among the best in the world. (Don’t just take our word for it… Dr. Beach thinks so, too!)
All of the ocean beach is owned by the National Park Service as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Parts of the beach are open to Off-Road Vehicles; please check the park map to find out which ramps are open to driving. Seasonal closures for bird and turtle nesting may be in place.
Parts of the beach are open to off-road vehicles with permits. There are also parking areas for walking onto the beach. On the soundside are parking areas for the wild pony pastures and a nature trail. A large free parking area is located at the southern end of Hwy. 12 in the village, adjacent to the National Park Service Visitor Center, which has Public Restrooms and the ORV permit office.
Most of the soundside of Ocracoke is undeveloped as well. The wetlands, marshes, and marine estuaries make the island a happy and healthy home for birds, fish, turtles, shellfish, and other wildlife. Over 400 species of birds have been spotted on Ocracoke – start your list and see how many you can find.
A glimpse of the island’s wildlife usually begins with your trip over on the ferry. The gulls follow close behind the boat hoping for a handout, and, if you’re lucky, bottle-nosed dolphins will put on a show for the ferry passengers.