You can easily find a spot on the beach to make a small fire. It can be very ropmantic. Due to the lack of "cuttable" wood on the island, you'll have to buy a bundle of wood for about 6 bucks.
You can't beat it :)
Since Ocracoke is part of the NPS Cape Hatteras National Seashore, a lovely little Visitor center is available on the island. There is a huge whale skull outside from a beached whale. The NPS staff never disappoints at being so knowledgable and friendly. You can purchase postcards and all things OBX in this center.
Driving down to the OBX you will notice several different lighthouses. Each lighthouse has their own unique design. The Ocracoke lighthouse is all white, built in 1823 and is the 2nd oldest lighthouse in the US. Standing at a mere 75ft it is also the shortest and oldest of all in the OBX.
We were unable to go in and I don't think it is ever open to the public. A NPS ranger is there during the peak season to answer any questions.
There is not much to this British cemetery, but since it was next to the campground we had a look. Many people walk to the cemetery since everything is walking distance on the island. This gravesite is also next to a private gravesite.
The cemetery has 4 graves of English soldiers whose ship(HMS Bedfordshire) was attached by a German U-boat in 1942. The ship had 33 people but these were the only bodies to wash ashore. The ship was used to escort convoys and torpedo ships but on May 11, 42 the Germans torpedoed them from 600 meters away.
We discovered this newly developed trail while we were cruising around on our bikes. This trail leads you through some hardwoods as well as along the beach. The trail is still in progress of being developed as noted the sign states "coming soon".
We found some interesting trails on our travels throughout the island. One of the trails is right off of Hwy 12 as you come off the ferry towards the town center. (Hammock Hill trail).
We saw some wildlife on the trail but you gotta keep your eyes open from them; I almost stepped on a frog. This trail is also good for birding.
A great way to get acquainted with this tiny island is to bike around. Cars are actually a burden on the narrow roads, so bike travel is much quicker! BE CAREFUL some people do not know how to drive!
We rented bikes from a ice cream place. You will see many rental places once you arrive on the island. For 2 bikes, 4 hours it was $20.00.
The ponies of Ocracoke used to roam freely about the island, but they decided to pen them up to keep them from blocking the traffic on the highway and eating up all of the vegitation. The pens are huge, so I don't really think it's too much of an inconvinience for the ponies (then again, I'm not a pony, so what do I know).
Ok, so there's really not much to see here. They've got horses right next door to my grandmother's house and that's only three miles from home. I really don't need to come all the way down here to see this. Still, it's right there on the side of the highway so i figured that I might as well stop. I didn't have anything better to do anyway.
Portsmout Island, just south of Ocracoke Island, is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. This seashore, unlike it's norther neighbor, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, is remote. There are no roads leading to it, no roads on it (visitors bring their 4 wheel drive vehicles here by boat, but that's another tip...), and there aren't any facilities to speak of. Hell, even the visitors center's way back on the mainland.
Portsmouth village itself is a ghost town. It used to be a fishing village, and a long time ago it was an important unloading place for trading ships back in the colonial days. The last permanent residents left back in the 1970's. The village is now preserved and cared for by the national park service.
There are three buildings in the village that you can go in right now. Of the three, the most interesting by far is the old life saving station. There are exhibits on the first floor for you to look through, but the real treat is going up to the lookout on the third floor. From here you get a great view of the channel, the sound, and the whole of Pourtsmouth village.
Make sure you bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and bug repelent. In fact, bring *** loads of bug repelent. I've never been attacked like that before in my life (and I've been to the everglades in the summertime). The mosquitos are bad, but the green head flies are down right evil. They might not be so bad if you come out of season, but I'm not sure how easy it would be to get over to the island then.
And now, we continue with our story, "The Queen Anne's Revenge" or "Some Days I feel Like I've Completely Lost My Head", starring Keith Richards as "Blackbeard the Pirate"... cue music!
Edward Teach, more infamously known as "Blackbeard the Pirate" became a scourge upon all shipping and transport in the early 1700's... even blockading the harbor of Charleston for weeks until the city agreed to pay a hefty ransom and sent the loot to his ships at the harbor's entrance. It is said that Blackbeard was not above treachery even to his own band of pirates marooning some on distant islands while running others aground only to sail away with the bounty. What a nice guy!
His end finally came when the Royal Navy under the command of Lt. Maynard came upon his ships moored on the southern side of Ocracoke Island. A fierce battle ensued but the overwhelming fire power of the British fleet won the day... During the battle, Blackbeard was killed. After the battle, his head was severed and his body thrown overboard. Legend has it that his headless body swam around the ship several times before finally disappearing into the Atlantic Ocean. Hey, I don't make this stuff up, folks, I just report it! Other legends say the ghost of Blackbeard reappears from time to time on Ocracoke Island, searching for his head...
BOO!!! Got 'cha! Anyway, that's part of the history of Ocracoke Island. Fade to black...
The view of Silver Lake Harbor as you enter is not so spectatular as it is striking. Yes, the lighthouse is clearly visible and there are a few modest homes along with some pretty large ones. But the part that struck me most was the person who made this place both well-known and feared... A "gentleman" named Edward Teach, better known as "Blackbeard the Pirate"!
There are conflicting stories as to the early beginnings of Blackbeard, as there seem to be with so many notorious historical figures... Why is that??? Some say that he began as a marauder of the vast Spanish fleet, commissioned by Britain's royalty to reek havoc and rob Spain of its vast riches being accumulated in the New World and shipped to the European continent. When ordered to "cease and desist" such activities, Blackbeard continued as a privateer.
Other accounts have him beginning his "career" under the study of Capt. Benjamin Hornigold who headquartered in the Bahamas. After becoming a trusted and valued Captain himself upon Hornigold's retirement, Blackbeard struck terror into the shipping lanes and populations along the Carolina's coast and beyond. It is here in Ocracoke that he at last met his match... and maker! Stay tuned to the conclusion of tonight's bedtime story... And now, a word from our sponsors. "You'll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent!" Geez, the things we do here! ;-)
Blackbeard the Pirate used to hide here! Arrrrrrrrrrggggh!
Now doesn't this look like a great place to hide? It would if you were a pirate! Ok, time for a little history lesson about this place...
The first English visitors to touch the previously inhabited native American shores of Ocracoke arrived in an expeditionary way from Roanoke Island in 1585. (More about these folks later!) Many of the lakes, islands, and prominent points in Hyde County still bear native American names as does Ocracoke. The area has a rich history of wild game, fishing, and farming.
But perhaps it's greatest claim to history involved a darker side...Aaaaarrrrrgh!
Though I very much enjoyed the sights, sounds, and tranquility of the ferry ride from Swan Quarter to Ocracoke Island, I must admit that it was great to see our destination in sight at last! Not so much for the end of the passage as for the discovery of the next leg of our journey.
It was good to see the land come into focus as we drew nearer, but I have to say that I was a bit disappointed as the first distinguishable feature was...
a water tower. Holy Crap! I was expecting more and thought perhaps the Ocracoke Lighthouse would be the dominant feature. So much for expectations...
Ok, here's the mystery! Of all, save one, of the seagulls during this passage (or ever!), every single one had black feet tucked underneath them as they soared through the air... This ONE doesn't! I first spotted him or her (who can tell?) and pointed it out to others in my entourage. No one could explain this to me... Can you?
I only wish I had a zoom camera for a closer inspection though a look through my binoculars did no better... This seagull appears to have no feet! So what happens when it lands on shore? Does it roll from side to side? ;-) Can someone explain this to a simple wondering person?
I have to say that sights like this make me wonder... As you see, the seagulls literally follow the boat in differing numbers for the entire 2 hour 45 minute voyage! Sometimes they sit upon the water briefly (to rest, I suppose) and a few found some resting place on the ferry but very few did this. Most simply followed along in close contact with the people on board waiting and hoping to have some bread crumbs thrown their way. They were most professional in their ability to catch the bread and if a piece dropped into the water, they were quick to dive in after it! Which leads to my wondering...
Are the food sources locally so barren that these beautiful birds must follow the ferries for their nourishment? Or, are they simply spoiled and enjoy the presence of humans and the sport of catching the bread while flying? What do you think? Hey, I just ask the questions here! :-)