The Island of Ocracoke is only a ferry ride away — during which there's always a chance that you will spot a pod of dolphin while on the high seas.

Once you step foot back on dry land, there are plenty of free things to do for families, singles and friends. Following is a sampling of what awaits:

Daily

Ocracoke Light Station

The oldest lighthouse in North Carolina, Ocracoke Light Station was built in 1823 and stands at 75 feet. The lighthouse is not open for climbing, but the site is open daily.

When: Daylight hours

British Cemetery

Located in the center of the village among historic homes, the site honors British sailors who perished off the coast of the Outer Banks during World War II. A British naval flag flies over the cemetery, which is leased to the British government for as long as the graves remain at the site.

When: Daylight hours

Where: 89 British Cemetery Road

Ocracoke Island Visitor Center

Located at the end of N.C. 12 near the ferry terminal, the center hosts ranger-led programs during the summer months and includes bookstore items and exhibits focused on Ocracoke history.

When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where: Located near the ferry terminal

Monday-Saturday

Ocracoke Preservation Society and Museum

The nonprofit museum is located in the restored David Williams house and includes exhibits about island history and natural history and a gift shop.

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where: 49 Water Plant Road

Monday

Pirates!

Learn about Blackbeard and other pirates that roamed the waters and the shore of Ocracoke.

When:

  • 1-1:30 weekly

Where:

  • Meet at the Ocracoke Visitor Center Amphitheater

Ocracoke After Dark

Bring blankets and chairs for an evening of stargazing on the beach. Bring bug spray.

When: 8:30-9:30 p.m. weekly

Where: Meet at the Ocracoke Day Use Area beach

Monday,Wednesday

Crabbing with a Ranger

Learn about crabs and how to catch them. Limited to 25 participants. Pre-register in person at the Ocracoke Visitor Center starting the Saturday prior to the program.

When: 8:30-10 a.m.

Where: Meet at the Ocracoke Visitor Center

Tuesday

Cast Netting

Cast netting is one of the oldest forms of fishing. Limited to 25 participants. Pre-register in person at the Ocracoke Visitor Center starting the Saturday prior to the program.

When: 8:30-10 a.m.

Where: Meet at the Ocracoke Visitor Center

Ocracoke History

Learn about the island’s rich past.

When: 2:30-3 p.m. weekly

Where: Ocracoke Visitor Center Amphitheater

Wednesday

Pirates!

Learn about Blackbeard and other pirates that roamed the waters and the shore of Ocracoke.

When: 2:30-3 p.m. weekly

Where: Meet at the Ocracoke Visitor Center Amphitheater

Barrier Island Nature

A talk about the wild side of the island.

When: 3-3:30 weekly

Where: Ocracoke Visitor Center Amphitheater

Wednesday, Friday

All About Sea Turtles

Activities especially designed for seashore kids.

When: 2:30-3 p.m. weekly

Where: Meet at the Ocracoke Visitor Center Amphitheater

Thursday

Ocracoke Pony Pens

The Ocracoke Pony Pens is a great place to stop and visit these famous island residents and learn more about their origins. The National Park Service, which has cared for the herd since the early 1960s, offers a weekly program at the pens called Banker Ponies.

When: 10:30-11 a.m. weekly

Where: North of Ocracoke Village on N.C. 12

Barrier Island Nature

A talk about the wild side of the island.

When: 2:30-3 p.m. weekly

Where: Ocracoke Visitor Center Amphitheater

Friday

Bird Walk

Meet winged residents and those traveling the Atlantic Flyway. Bring bug spray.

When: 8:30-10 a.m. weekly

Where: Meet at the ferry parking lot at north end of the island

Mark Your Calendar

If you don't make it to Ocracoke this time, there are some great reasons to come back. Following are some of the annual events on the horizon on Ocracoke Island:

Ocracoke Fig Festival

When: Friday-Saturday, Aug. 17-18

Details: Where better to enjoy one of the few festivals focused on figs. Fig trees proliferate in this coastal area, and the town loves them. The two-day event offers music, dancing, history, and food, all featuring the fig. There is the Fig Cake Bake-Off, a fig marketplace, plus games, and family-oriented activities.

Blackbeard's Pirate Jamboree

When: Thursday-Sunday Oct. 25-28

Details: This year’s Jamboree coincides with the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s demise, so it is appropriately permeated with pirate activities — of course all family-friendly. Visitors are encouraged to show up in pirate gear to observe Sword Fights, Black Powder Demonstrations, The Pirate Bazaar, and other surprising activities. Kids will want to join the Scallywag School, visit the Pirate Encampment, and watch a realistic reenactment of Blackbeard’s last battle off the coast of Ocracoke Island, plus lots of great grog and grub. A fun lead-up to Halloween for the whole family.

Festival Latino de Ocracoke

When: 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 10

Details: A more recent addition to the culture of the area comes courtesy of the vibrant Latino community. This festival combines education and entertainment with a Latin twist, highlighting foods, music, and arts of those cultures. Traditional activities include Mexican games, loteria tournaments, live music, folkloric dances. Enjoy the flavors, the fun, and the family-friendly activities.

Thanksgiving Day Buffet

When: 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23

Details: For any adventurous souls looking for a non-traditional twist on Thanksgiving Day, the Ocracoke Oyster Company is serving up a southern feast. The all-day buffet will feature turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and all the classic dishes. But locals have added “tastes of Ocracoke,” such as greens, shellfish, oysters, seafood, and, of course, plenty of desserts. Before and after, the beach is waiting.

Working Watermen's Oyster Roast, Shrimp Steam and Seafood Stew Fundraiser

When: Saturday, Dec. 29

Details: It might be the off-season on the Outer Banks, but Ocracoke offers its hospitality year round. Locals have known about the Working Watermen's Oyster Roast, Shrimp Steam and Seafood Stew Fundraiser for more than a decade. With all the great tastes described in its name, this fundraiser is a welcome addition to the holidays between Christmas and New Year’s.

Locations

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