The North Carolina Coast: Places to Explore

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Ocracoke Island

Around 950 people live here, the last inhabited island in the Outer Banks. The island can be reached only by water or air. The village itself is in the widest part of the island, around a harbor called Silver Lake. Man-dredged canals form the landscape of a smaller residential area called Oyster Creek.

Centuries ago, Ocracoke was the stomping ground of Edward Teach, the pirate known as Blackbeard. A major treasure cache from 1718 is still rumored to be hidden somewhere on the island. Fort Ocracoke was a short-lived Confederate stronghold that was abandoned in August 1861 and blown up by Union forces a month later.

Although the island remains a destination for people seeking peace and quiet, silence can be hard to find in summer, when tourists and boaters swamp the place. About 90% of Ocracoke is part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore; the island is on the Atlantic Flyway for many migrating land and water birds. A free ferry leaves hourly from Hatteras Island and arrives 40 minutes later; toll ferries connect with the mainland at Swan Quarter (2½ hours) and at Cedar Island (2¼ hours). Reserve well in advance.

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