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“Best Beach in the USA”

Ranked #2 of 30 things to do in Ocracoke
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed June 13, 2013

Never crowded. Always pristine. And if you are a walker, you head north along the shore and before long you are completely alone and your footprints could very well be the first of the day in the sand. An American jewel.

2  Thank Catherine L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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191 - 195 of 245 reviews

Reviewed June 13, 2013

The best thing about the federally-protected Ocracoke shore is that it's so overlooked. This means that it's not usually crowded, and it can't be developed. I hope it stays this way forever--miles and miles of beautiful sand, shells, and surf. In my opinion, it's the best beach in the U.S. to get away and have some alone time.

The main beach entrance (just north of the town) has bathrooms/changing rooms, and outdoor shower to wash off sand, and a water fountain, which is nice. Other than that, there are no facilities.

If you have kids or aren't a great swimmer, stick to the part that's guarded by the lifeguards, and PLEASE pay attention to the warning flags--they aren't kidding.

1  Thank Pat F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 29, 2013

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is special because it is allowed to be natural and undeveloped. The Lifeguarded Beach offers security to swimmers in this area where undertows are possible. It also offers facilities, including a cold-water outdoor shower for rinsing off salt and sand before you change or get in your car.
Ocracoke is cute, quaint, quiet, friendly, great for long undeveloped beaches, great for fishing, great local fish being served in tacos and in good restaurants, perfect for biking/cycling, great for 4WD beach driving (only with permit $60/week or annual); mostly dog-friendly, has inexpensive options and reasonably priced food...... even has some surfing, a good campground, and a little airport. However, there happened to be some biting flies while I was there that were a bit irritating; and I didn't like having to drive to the beaches but it was worth it. Here are some things to consider:
If you are thinking of going to Ocracoke for the first time, here is what you need to know: all the rooms and cottages are in the village, spreading out from the harbor (called Silver Lake) but the beaches are away from town along Hwy 12 (which is the only highway on the island; serves as the main street of the village; and is also called Irvin Garrish Hwy). The Lifeguarded Beach is the closest beach to the village but not "walking distance" for most people with their beach gear ( 2+ miles from the ferry/harbor). It was a nice bike ride for me from the ferry, but it would be a long walk in the sun for a family. There are lots of bikes and golf carts for rent around the harbor, although I don't think you can take the rental golf carts to the beach.
The island is great for seeing by bike. I think that the next time I come, I will leave my car at the Cedar Island or Swans Quarter parking lot and just come over on the ferry with my bike ($3 versus $15 for a car). I would think that not having a car would secure a place on the ferry even when it is full. The 2 hr ferries (Cedar Island & Swans Qtr) require reservations and will fill-up during tourist season; but the 45min-1hr ferry to Hatteras does not accept reservations and I saw a line of cars that looked to be about 2 ferry loads, meaning a wait of an hour or more to catch the ferry back to Hatteras during mid-day on Memorial Day. Leaving early or late or on Tuesday (like I did) will help. Other than the ferry line, the island did not look or feel too crowded over the weekend. There were people on the Lifeguarded Beach, but nothing like Atlantic Beach or Emerald Isle a few days earlier; and there were times I had areas of the beaches all to myself. Just outside the perimeter of the Lifeguarded Beach; however, there were 4WD vehicles lined up down the beach with their surf-fishing gear set up. When I tried to take a long walk down the beach from the campground, I came to a barrier prohibiting entry in order to protect the shore birds. Even with the areas cutoff for protection and the many beach vehicles, I still found places where I was alone on the beach and my dog could run off-leash for awhile. (Even when you are alone on the beach, the Rangers are never far away so pay attention to the rules about no cars or parking on the 4WD ramps and careful about drinking. I was passed once when my dog was off-leash but I put the leash back on and the ranger didn't stop.)
A very nice walk or bike ride (almost 6 miles round-trip from ferry/harbor to beach and back) is to take Ramp 72 (the first 4WD entry point from town on the way to Lifeguarded Beach). The sand road is wide and well-packed so that it is easy to ride a bike on almost all the way to the beach. There are small canals along the roadside where birds and ducks were active; and once on the beach there were vast, wide views in both directions with nobody in site. From 6am until almost 8am we saw nobody other than a passing Ranger, and the tracks of various animals. However, a horsefly started biting my dog and she threw herself into the canal to hide.

1  Thank Anita H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 22, 2013

I've been going to Ocracoke Island for 28 years and I tell you this is one of the best beaches in the world. Located south of Hatteras Island, the only way there is by ferry. If you are looking for a off-the-beaten-path kind of beach vacation, Ocracoke is for you. The beaches are secluded and the fishing, boating, and water activities are off the charts. Selected beaches have bathroom, outdoor showers and lifeguard on duty. I highly recommend swimming in designated beach for peace of mind. The island due to it's isolation, is filled with quaint shops, wonderful restaurants, hotels and cottages, several campgrounds and a village so quaint and charming that it will leave you with memories burned forever in your brain. I especially love the fact that you can park your car in the village, walk or ride a bike (except if going to the public beach.) A great place for a honeymoon, family reunion or anytime you need to get away and recharge your batteries to get a new perspective on life. The village due to it's size and isolation has been spared the commercialization of the Outerbanks and this is at the root of it's southern charm. When I think of all my beach vacations, Ocracoke is the top of the list. Trust me, I'm a hard sell but Ocracoke gets 10 stars in my book.

1  Thank MIMIZ H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 20, 2013

The beautiful long sandy beaches on Ocracoke are the best beaches we have found in the OBX. I personally love that you can always find away to get away from the crowd. With several miles of beaches, there is always a place that you can get some alone time. The Lifeguard beach is the only one you should allow kids to swim at since there are some undertows along some of the beach areas.

Thank salupm1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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