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Camping on Ocracoke Island

One of my bucket list goals has always been to go beach camping. I assumed that we would

set up camp directly on the beach, but I soon realized that it's not that simple, especially because of wind and tides. After some research, I decided to go to Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I was hoping to find a campground that was both remote and nearby, and Ocracoke ended up being even more remote than I expected.

Let's talk about camping on Ocracoke Island! Here's a map of the Outer Banks with all the different towns. Ocracoke is part of the National Seashore called Cape Hatteras. This is a protected shoreline with national park campgrounds. To get here, you can drive up to Nags Head, drive down to Hatteras, and take a 45-minute ferry to Ocracoke. However, we drove to a tiny fishing town called Swan Quarter and took the 2.5-hour ferry. Here's a link to the ferry schedule:

I recommend that you book your ferry ticket in advance and arrive at the ferry port 30 minutes prior to departure. The ferry ride prices vary depending on your vehicle and takes you to the south end of the island. Once you get off the ferry, you'll find a national park station with souvenirs and a passport stamp station, which is my favorite.

Don't worry when you see the town; this island is kept a secret, and the beaches and campgrounds are very quiet. The town has a gas station and a fantastic grocery store, but it is a little overpriced. Simply drive about 4 minutes down the two-lane highway and turn right into the national park campground.

We booked our campsite ahead of time on, but we were not able to

choose the actual site number. When we arrived, we were told to drive around the campground and select the site we wanted. The beach-side sites, where we stayed, are on the far right, and it takes only three minutes to walk over the dune and reach the beach. The campground also has showers that are perfect for cleaning up after a long day at the beach. If you have kids, be sure they wear shoes when walking to the bathrooms or showers. There are some prickly bushes that could get stuck in your feet and cause a lot of pain. The screenshot shows the campground, and the beach-side sites are marked in red.

Two things you'll need when camping at this campground are shade and long tent stakes. We had a pop-up canopy and a tent for the campsite, and a beach umbrella. It was very windy, and all of our equipment kept flipping and blowing over. Long stakes are essential, and some people left early because they couldn't handle the wind. I suggest these stakes and hammering them in at an angle. As for the beach umbrella, a woman had this handy contraption, which worked perfectly.

Other than that, bring a book, some drinks, backpack beach chairs, and bikes, and enjoy the view. Be sure to take a drive or bike into town to explore all the shops and try some fresh fish. The lighthouse is perfect for photos, and the backroads have adorable homes that I could look at all day.

If it's a clear night, be ready for stars. We took the cover off our tent and stargazed within the

safety of our mesh tent. Mosquitoes can be bothersome in the evenings, but the crabs are even scarier for me!

Be sure to make time for the sunrise over the ocean and the sunset over the harbor. I hope you can make it out to Ocracoke. While some people prefer the north section of the Outer Banks and only suggest Ocracoke for a day trip, I suggest a four-night camping trip.

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