Ocracoke and Cape Hatteras Camping


I’ve never been much for traveling over a holiday weekend so I waited until after the July 4th crowds had headed home and, once again, headed down the Outer Banks for a bit of an extended weekend.

This time, the destination was Ocracoke Island. I generally make a stop on Ocracoke at least once during the summer – usually on my way home from a vacation with friends down in Myrtle Beach. It had been a few years since I’d camped at the NPS campground and was looking forward spending some quiet time on the island. I also planned to drive down to Swan Quarter on Tuesday evening so I could take the early ferry over to Ocracoke on the Wednesday morning run. I had hoped to just hang out in the ferry terminal for the night but, not surprisingly, the parking lot is gated after the last ferry arrival each afternoon so I headed about 12 miles east and did a little boon-docking next to the historic Lake Mattamuskeet Lodge in the wildlife refuge.

After grabbing some breakfast at a small cafe in Swan Quarter, I boarded the early morning ferry over to Ocracoke Island. The North Carolina Ferry System provides a wonderful way to travel and is always a highlight of my coastal treks.

Ocracoke Pony Pen

Ocracoke Island, in some ways, hasn’t changed very much during the 40 years I’ve been visiting. All the restaurants and accommodations (with the exception of the NPS campground) are locally owned and operated so don’t expect to find a McDonald’s on the island. It may be a bit more popular and crowded these days, but it’s still a quaint and unique place to spend a couple of relaxing days. Quiet beaches, lots of unique shops throughout the village, great restaurants – there’s something for everyone.

I only scheduled 2 nights on Ocracoke and intended to move up to one of the other 3 NPS campgrounds–most likely Cape Point since it almost always has available sites. The temperature was still somewhat warm in the evenings and thinking a night with air conditioning would be great, on a whim, I pulled into Hatteras Sands Campground (just north of the Hatteras Ferry Terminal) to see if they might have a site for one night. They had a few cancellations and I lucked out. Hatteras Sands Campground is a pretty typical RV resort with a nice pool and, as you might expect, filled with large motorhomes and trailers. Definitely makes my Aliner seem out of place. Not really my gig but it was definitely nice to hang out at the pool and have that A/C during the night.

This was mostly just a few days away with a little biking, some kiting, walking on the beach, some good food, catching up on some reading–generally just living on “Island Time”. Not a bad way to spend a long weekend.


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