Corolla in Outer Banks, NC  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Outer Banks Area Features

Ocracoke Island, NC

It may only be accessible by boat or by air, but Ocracoke Island is a special place at the southernmost part of the Outer Banks that is definitely worth exploring. Most visitors to the island take their car onto the ferry that runs between Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands. Once here, Ocracoke Island offers 12 miles of wide, tranquil beaches, quaint shopping and dining in Ocracoke Village, and stimulating folklore involving one of history’s most storied pirates.

Visit the Ocracoke Pony Pen

The most popular residents of Ocracoke are the Banker ponies, theorized to be descendants of horses that arrived with the Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Over time, the Ocracoke Banker ponies evolved to become a breed unto themselves. They are unique in that their bone structure, specifically their vertebrae and ribs and therefore their outward appearance, is different from any other breed. They were once a free-roaming herd but in the 1950s, the need to pen them became apparent for their own well-being and to prevent overgrazing. These beautiful creatures can be seen in the Pony Pen off Highway 12 on the outskirts of Ocracoke Village.

Look for Blackbeard’s Treasure

While on Ocracoke, visit the former stomping grounds of the infamous pirate, Edward Teach—better known as Blackbeard. In the early 1700s he and his crew ferociously plundered ships traversing the colonies. He was an intimidating character with a deplorable reputation who could easily scare his opponents. He anchored his ship in waters near the southern tip of the island, now known as Teach’s Hole. It has a great vantage point that served the pirates well in detecting approaching vessels. Nowadays, visitors can walk through Springer’s Point Nature Preserve and imagine themselves among the pirates that once walked this land, drinking their rum and maybe even burying their treasure.

Wander through Ocracoke Village

After exploring the past, return to the laid-back lifestyle of Ocracoke Village. This quaint harbor town is home to eclectic shops, restaurants and activities. The village is only about a mile long, so it is really easy to get around by walking, biking or even by cruising in a golf cart! Museums and exhibits are located in and around the village that are worth exploring. Stop by the Ocracoke Preservation Museum and see the Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Exhibit to learn more about the history of the island and its people. Pirate-themed gifts and stories of the notorious pirate Blackbeard can be discovered at Teach’s Hole Blackbeard Exhibit. There is even a little plot of land that is leased to England. The British Cemetery honors our fallen allies who helped defend the American coast from German U-boats during WWII.

Visit the Ocracoke Lighthouse

While in town, don’t forget to stop by the Ocracoke Lighthouse to stroll around its picturesque grounds. Built in 1823, it is the second oldest lighthouse on the East Coast that has been continually operated. (The oldest is in Sandy Hook, New Jersey.) With its distinctive solid white tower and fixed beam that can be seen 14 miles out to sea, it has been guiding ships into Silver Lake, the scenic harbor surrounded by the village of Ocracoke, for nearly 200 years. The Ocracoke Lighthouse is not open for climbing, but the grounds are beautiful, so bring your camera and take a few photos while you’re there.

To find out more about Ocracoke Island, be sure to check out Sunny Day's Guide to Hatteras & Ocracoke.

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