Ocracoke Island: Winter Wonderland


If you really want to get away from it all.... 

Ocracoke in winter is the quietest place you'll find.

Winter on a barrier island isn't for everyone, but if you seek time to relax and renew, it may be just what you need. Imagine long stretches of empty beach, a quiet village, and nights so dark you'll see more stars than you thought existed.

One of the questions that Ocracoke residents get asked the most is: "What's it like in the winter?" The answer is: quiet. Also: beautiful. peaceful. sunny. windy. rainy. cold. warm. Some people call winter Ocracoke's "best-kept secret." 

There's not much to do on the island in the winter, but the beach is always beautiful. The shells and shorebirds abound, and the sunsets are the most spectacular on crisp, cold evenings. The wind can be biting cold, but bundle up and go out anyway because a breezy beach walk is truly invigorating. The trail at Springer's Point Nature Preserve is open year 'round, as is the Hammock Hills Nature Trail across from the NPS campground. 

The village is in hibernation mode, but there are always some restaurants, carry-outs, or food trucks for your dining pleasure. This year, Helios Hideaway (Greek-inspired cuisine), Old Salt Sandwiches (burgers, fries, shrimp burgers, fired fish), Taqueria 540Suazos (Mexican and Honduran food) are new to the winter scene and will serve breakfast and lunch. Magic Bean Coffee Bazaar, Gaffer's Sports Pub, Eduardo's Taco Stand, Ocracoke Oyster Company, and Ocracoke Bar & Grille will also be open through the winter, as will 1718 Brewery. The Variety Store is open for groceries, and Zillie's Island Pantry will satisfy your need for fancy cheeses, wine, and chocolates. 

Winter activities for locals include attending basketball games in the Ocracoke School gym, Trivia Nights at Gaffer's Sports Pub, Tuesday night music jams at Coyote Music Den, and watching live music at Gaffer's, the Ocracoke Oyster Co., or Ocracoke Bar & Grille. Visitors are welcome at any and all public events, which often include meetings of various non-profits, guest speakers and programs at Ocracoke Library, and fundraisers. One of most popular winter happenings is the annual "Ocracoke Through Your Eyes" Art Auction at the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum, which takes place on the last Saturday in January. Local and off-island artists of all ages donate small canvasses for the auction, which supports the OPS mission of preserving Ocracoke's heritage and culture. 

A few shops stay open on winter days, but most are hit-or-miss. Call and they'll let you in! Recreational activities can be limited in the winter, but it doesn't hurt to ask what's available. 

The Ocracoke Library is open year 'round, weekdays 3–7pm (on Wednesdays it's open until 8pm) and Saturdays 9am–1pm. There are computers for public use, and a small selection books and DVDs for visitors to borrow without a library card. Angie's Gym and Island Yoga are open year 'round, and the island's many massage therapists will be happy to make you even more relaxed. 

Nature. Self-care. Good food. Quiet. Books. Long walks. Hibernating. 

If this much peace and quiet appeals to you, Blue Heron Realty can help you find the perfect spot to get away from it all and enjoy the unique experience of winter on a barrier island.