A trip to coastal North Carolina would not be complete without a visit to the Outer Banks. We were still pretty far south of Kitty Hawk and Cape Hatteras, but we were just a ferry ride away from Ocracoke Island, at the southernmost end of the Outer Banks.
It was about a 1-1/2 hour drive from our campground to Cedar Island, where we could catch the ferry to Ocracoke Island. The ferry sails over to the island 4 times per day – 7am, 10am, 1pm and 4pm. In order to make the most of our visit, we decided (OK, I decided) that we would take the 7am ferry, for which we needed to arrive at 6:30 am. Do the math – 6:30am arrival, 1-1/2 hour drive . . . we needed to be on the road by 5am!
Some of us were not thrilled about getting up at 4:30am on vacation . . . but we promised them doughnuts for breakfast! We were all up on time, and after a quick stop for Dunkin Donuts and coffee in Morehead City, we were on our way, watching the sunrise as we made our way toward Cedar Island.
We arrived right on time, got our ticket for the ferry, and got in line to await boarding.
At 6:45am, they opened the gates and started boarding, and sharply at 7am, we were pulling away from the dock.
I was amazed by the calmness of the ocean on this quiet morning, and we only saw one other boat as we headed out.
We enjoyed the morning view from outside for awhile,
but the wooden benches weren’t too comfortable, so we moved inside. As we got closer to Ocracoke Island, we went back outside and on the lower level by the car.
Before long, the boys spotted some dolphins alongside of the ferry!
We could see them under the water, swimming along as fast as the ferry was moving. That baby stayed right next to its mother.
There were so many of them in the water, all along the route the ferry was taking into the harbor! It was so cool to see them!
They swam along with us for a while, then they dropped away, probably to find some fish for breakfast!
I love how they stay perfectly aligned, barely skimming above the surface of the water!
We made our way into Ocracoke Harbor,
just as a sailboat was heading out for a morning sail.
and everybody got back in their cars, ready to depart. The poor couple in the car next to us (on their honeymoon) suddenly realized that they had locked their keys in their car! After several unsuccessful attempts to open a door, they called a locksmith on the island – convenient that there is one! As we drove away, we saw the locksmith arriving at the dock. We saw the couple later in the day, and they said that he had their car unlocked by the time the last car drove off the ferry. Not too bad, but still a $65 mistake!
We drove along the one and only road on the island (besides in the little village area), towards the north end. We had been debating whether we should take an additional ferry over to Hatteras Island, but ultimately decided that we didn’t want to spend an additional 1 hour each way on a boat. We’d rather just spend the time relaxing on the beach!
Our first stop along NC-12 was the Pony Paddock. Ocracoke Island is know for its herds of wild horses, and they have several ponies that the National Park Service cares for.
We walked across the dunes and down to the beach . . .
The beach appeared to go on for miles, without another person in sight!
We walked on the beach and looked for shells. Bryce found pieces of shell that would skip on the water like rocks.
We could tell we were further north – the water here was definitely colder than it was in Florida!!
It was a beautiful, peaceful, deserted beach . . . I can see why so many people go there for the solitude. I could have relaxed with a good book on that beach all day!
But I have three antsy men with me, so we needed to see what else there was to see and do on the island!
We continued north on the island, and within a few minutes, we had reached the end, the location of the Hatteras Ferry.
Tom and I followed the path around the dunes, but the boys decided that the best route was over them!
This wasn’t as nice a beach as the first one we stopped at, but it was apparently a good fishing spot.
We headed back toward the village and stopped at the public beach, where there is a large parking lot, restrooms and changing rooms. We changed into our swimsuits and carried our picnic lunch down to the beach. There were a few people there, but not many . . .
We were looking forward to a relaxing couple of hours on the beach!
We ate our lunch and relaxed on the beach.
After a while, Tom and I went for a walk along the water’s edge
and watched birds swarm around a fishing boat.
The birds seemed to know that there would be fish around the boat!
I probably took a couple hundred pictures of the boys as they jumped over, under, and through the waves . . . but I won’t bore you with all of them, just a few good ones!
It took awhile, but they finally wore themselves out!
I think Nicolas enjoyed himself!
After everyone dried out, we had about an hour & a half until we needed to be back to the ferry dock, so we got dressed and headed into the village.
We stopped at the Ocracoke Light Station for a quick picture,
but had no trouble at all obeying the 15 minute limit on the parking spot! With these guys around, it’s amazing that I get to take as many pictures as I do!!
Wouldn’t you know it . . . we ran into another school field trip . . . including one guy who apparently didn’t handle the boat ride too well!!
It was a fun day, but we were all pretty tired, and ready to get home . . . especially Nick!!
Our last few days in North Carolina were spent relaxing, doing laundry, and enjoying the campground . . . and doing a little more motorhome research. We had potential rain coming on Friday (our moving day), so we got packed up on Thursday so we could get an early start.
One more beautiful sunset before we leave North Carolina . . .