They say the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. That’s only the case in Eastern NC if you’re on the water. Because our roads are a twisted maze that wind you around the many creeks, rivers, bays and sounds that scatter the coastline… a price that we’re all more than willing to pay to be on/near the water.
And what happens if your destination is an island? Most heading to Ocracoke Island take a car ferry from Hatteras, Swan Quarter, or in our neck of the woods, Cedar Island.
It’s a cool experience, but easily 4+ hours one way. For this trip, our family opted for the ‘straight line’ taking our 23-ft Parker boat from the docks at AP to the docks in Ocracoke, almost cutting the travel time in half and having quite an adventure on the open water from point A to point B.
If you haven’t been to Ocracoke, put it on your list of must-see places. If you haven’t been by boat, that’s one for the bucket list.
The Ocracoke Vibe
Ocracoke is a tiny island in the Southern Outer Banks just below Hatteras, and it has charm unlike any other. You can’t help but feel like you’re in another world, which for a getaway is just the way we like it.
Popular modes of island transportation for local Ocracokers and visitors are two wheels, golf carts, boats or your good ol two feet. The skinny streets are lined with live oaks and older beach cottages and bungalows with style to spare and stories to tell. This place is rich in history and relaxation, island time easily sets in. I actually had no clue what time it was for most of our stay… sign of a whole lotta fun I’d like to think.
We met our parents, Biff and Susan, who drove down from Kitty Hawk. And we Ocracoke’d hard for three days, celebrating our son Keegan’s big 0-6 on day two. He’s already said he wants to go every year for his birthday, a tradition I’m inclined to support.
Birthday timeline: wake up early to go clamming, golf cart around the island stopping for a mid-morning ice cream of course, hit the beach for some major boogie boarding, pool to rinse off the salt and sunscreen, happy hour at Zillie’s at Keegan’s insistence (please no judgement for my six year old requesting birthday “happy hour” at a wine bar… they serve craft sodas too!), Smacknally’s for yummy waterfront cheeseburgers, then home for chocolate skateboard cake.
The birthday boy even got serenaded at Zillie’s AND Smacknally’s… first by our AP neighbors Rock & Diane who we happily happened upon, and by a group of young mom’s who quickly joined in. They were taking full advantage of a happy hour away from the kiddos and legit thought Blair was Dermot Mulroney (the guy from My Best Friend’s Wedding). Yep, safe to say they were having a good time, and I for one appreciated the enthusiasm.
Out & About in Ocracoke
We kept our boat on Silver Lake at the Anchorage Marina with a little fishing boat on one side and an 80’ yacht on the other. And bonus… the slip fee comes with a waterfront pool.
Our home away from home for our party of six was Elmo’s Cottage in the heart of Ocracoke Village, just a few houses down from the marina…cozy and convenient, just how we like it. Well everything is kind of in the heart of the village considering it’s about 4 square miles. The Castle is another one of our favorite places to stay, never disappoints.
The long sandy road just before the village leads you to amazing beaches, beach driving permit required but oh so worth it. Hidden beaches dot the island’s coastline, many of which are preserved by the National Seashore, and hundreds of years ago roamed only by pirates, Indians and wild horses. This is a place where history runs deep and where the legends seem to hold more truth than fiction.
A morning sip on the deck of Ocracoke Coffee Co. will get your day started off right. Eduardo’s taco stand is too good not to try. You can never go wrong with ‘Eduardo’s Specialties’ at the top of their menu, shrimp/mango is my go-to. But word on the street is that the new burrito place near the lighthouse is giving our tried and true Eduardo’s a run for their money. We’ll have to try it next time to see if that’s true.
We always end up at the 1787 Brewing at some point for creative craft brews and cornhole… they now serve food and though we already had dinner plans, I was eyeing it as it was served to our neighbors and it all looked delish. For dinner out, Flying Melon is the local’s favorite and high on our list also. Fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients make for a delicious taste of Ocracoke.
Ocracoke has it’s own personality, it’s own cast of characters, and even it’s own brogue. It’s where you can truly live life at “high-tide”, or “hoi-toide” as native islanders say. It’s easy to fall in love with this local escape, and when you leave, you always find yourself planning your next trip back.
Homeward Bound to AP
So just like that, after an eventful few days, it was time to head home… back to reality. The ever-changing weather forecast had us a bit nervous, but we had a solid Plan A, B and C.
So what do you do when the sound is a bit rougher than you’d bargained for? You go to plan B and follow the Cedar Island ferry for a few miles (no plan C required thankfully which consisted of me riding the ferry with the kids and Blair bumping alongside in the boat and picking us up at the ferry dock).
In search of calmer waters, we hugged the coastline near Cedar Island, crossed West Bay, and motored up a little canal that shot us out at Turnigan Bay, which lead us to the Neuse River… thankful for GPS and tips from local watermen that grew up boating and fishing all over the coast.
Oriental was soon in our sites and shortly after, we spied the Beacon House in Arlington Place, shining true to it’s name. The ride home took us about 3 hours with the slow goings behind the ferry and a slight re-route… but hey, we were up for an adventure and we got ourselves one.
We docked up on Mill Creek and were quickly greeted by a very happy blonde fella.
Thanks for the memories Ocracoke… until next time!