Ocracoke Island is a state of mind

Posted June 4, 2010 11:13 a.m. EDT
Updated June 5, 2010 8:31 a.m. EDT

— The first stop in WRAL's summer tour of North Carolina's Nooks and Crannies lies on the far eastern edge of the state map: Ocracoke Island.

The island with a single village is so remote that getting there is part of the adventure.

"We like to get off the beaten path. It's not like we're the first people to get here, but it's sweet," tourist Emilene Osler said.

Miles of two-lane rural road that wind through the Cape Hatteras National Seashore end at the water's edge at Ocracoke Inlet. From there, a ferry captain takes over.

In fact, most everything about Ocracoke will make travelers slow down and consider the value of the journey.

"We love it," Osler said. "Every experience you have is exciting, and it just broadens how you look at life."

As for the island's ambiance, think Margaritaville, and substitute sweet tea. The place is "peaceful, refreshing," Osler said.

A narrow nature trails winds from the village to the water through Springer's Point Preserve. Locals say that not far away, the pirate Blackbeard lost his head and now haunts the point, protecting his gold.

Tourists, though, say the real treasure at Springer's Point is the peace and beauty of the undeveloped land preserve.

"We come here because it's nice and quiet, and it's still kind of pristine," tourist Candice Holmlund said.

The beaches are the island's biggest draw.

"I came here as a kid, and I really wanted to come back because I knew it was away from everything," tourist Chris Conly said.

Miles of shore offer solitude, and even on days when the Atlantic is rough, beachgoers can find calm among the dunes. Ocracoke Island, they say, is a destination that affects your state of mind.

"It's amazing. It's beautiful, peaceful, relaxing," tourist Elizabeth Watson said.