Ocracoke to Portsmouth Island


My 2008 kayaking sort of picked up where it left off in 2007 – on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I wanted to try to get down to Ocracoke before the tourists and the mosquitoes. Well, we beat the tourists but apparently you can’t outrun the mosquitoes. The NPS campground at Ocracoke wasn’t too bad – as long as you used some repellent and there was a breeze. Portsmouth Island, however, was another matter. More on that later.

We arrived Friday afternoon with clear and breezy conditions. After a nice dinner at Howard’s Pub & Raw Bar, we retired to the campground. It was a great night for sleeping – nice breeze and a clear, starlit sky above. There was considerable thunder and lightning to the south but fortunately stayed clear of Ocracoke – especially since we didn’t have the rainflys on our tents.

Saturday morning brought more clear skies and calm conditions. After breakfast at the Pony Island Restaurant and a stop at the Ocracoke Variety store for some snacks, we hit the public boat launch and loaded up the kayaks. The plan was to paddle south to the Ocracoke Inlet and, depending on the conditions, cross over to Portsmouth Island and explore the abandoned village. We caught the high slack tide and crossed the inlet in almost glassy water landing on Portsmouth Island just a little west of the church which is clearly visible as you approach the island. All was well until we stepped off the beach and were immediately swarmed by mosquitoes. No amount of “Off” seemed to deter these monsters so we quickly took refuge in one of the open buildings, ate our snacks and retreated back to our kayaks. Attempting to save a little time on the return trip, we took a more direct route back to Ocracoke Village making a rather uneventful (albeit somewhat tedious) crossing back to the public boat launch.

By early afternoon, the wind had returned, the temperature dropped, and a short rain shower moved through. We enjoyed a nice dinner at Jason’s Restaurant and returned to the campground for another pleasant night. The forecast for Sunday wasn’t too promising so we had breakfast, broke camp, and headed home. Overall, it was a nice trip and good start for the summer paddling season.

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Camping Kayaking Ocracoke

One thought on “Ocracoke to Portsmouth Island

  1. Thanks for sharing your account of your Portsmouth trip! I did it twice, in ’06 and ’07. Here’s a link to my ’06 trip. Glad to hear the skeeters aren’t any better in May than when we went…

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