The most popular way of getting to Ocracoke Island is via the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry. I had so many questions about how the ferry worked and most of those questions weren’t completely answered by anyone until I actually took the Hatteras to Ocracoke ferry for myself.
If you’re like me, you like to know what you’re getting into before you actually get into it. So, I’m going to answer a lot of the questions you may have about getting to Ocracoke Island via ferry from Hatteras; let’s get started!
Getting On The Hatteras To Ocracoke Ferry
The best and most important part to know is the ferry is ran by the North Carolina government for transporting travelers between coastal towns and barrier islands off of the North Carolina Coast all for FREE.
To get to the Hatteras ferry terminal, typing this address for the ferry transportation office should do the trick, 59063 NC-12, Hatteras, NC 27943
You will pull up into one of the several lanes in front of the ferry dock points. While you are parked in these lanes waiting for a ferry to pull into the terminal, people get out of their vehicles to go to the bathrooms, store, and little snack shack that is right next to the ferry lines; you can do the same.
Although we were told that there were bathrooms on board, we only saw a bathroom that was labeled for crew members only, so make sure you go before you board.
It’s important that you know that the terminal schedule you will find online is NOT reliable. In early June, the schedule said a ferry was departing from Hatteras at 10:30, 10:45, 10:55, 11:05, 11:15, etc.
However, we waited in line for more than 2 hours before we were finally able to board a ferry. Only THREE ferries arrived at the terminal and took cars towards Ocracoke Island during our 2 hour wait time.
When it comes time to actually drive onto the ferry, an employee will walk around and ask every car or sometimes every other car how many people are with them and take down their license plate number.
An employee will then instruct you to pull up onto the ferry. Another employee will tell you which lane to park in and when to stop on the ferry.
Put your car in park and you’re good to go!
The Ferry Journey
The ferry ride will take about one hour from Hatteras to Ocracoke. You’ll feel the ferry bobbing, but the ride isn’t rough. Our last time on the ferry, it was a particularly windy day and I still wouldn’t call the ride intense or rough.
You are allowed to exit your vehicle and walk around the ferry once it leaves the terminal. You can take in the views from the outside part of the ferry or sit inside in the air conditioned seating area.
In some circumstances you may want to get in your car or in the sitting area because depending on the wind can cause the water to spray onto the cars and everyone who is out walking around on the ferry; it just depends on the day.
Although Ocracoke is fairly close to Hatteras, the ferry has to go out into the water a bit to avoid the sand bars, shoals, and the crab sanctuary. You can see the path the ferry follows in the picture below.
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