Ocracoke is saturated with breathtaking nature scenes throughout the entire stretch of island, from sound to sea. Traveling along Highway 12, passengers can view the most picturesque watercolors bordering the road less traveled. Not to be missed, there are also (not so hidden) gems that can be found inside the village. I am going to share two of my favorites – Springer’s Point and the sand dunes on the north end.
Springer’s Point is a popular attraction among locals and visitors. The nature preserve is protected by the Coastal Land Trust. First opened in May of 2006, Springer’s Point encompasses 120 acres featuring maritime forest, tidal red cedar forest, salt marsh, wet grasslands and the Pamlico Sound. In addition, visitors may also experience close encounters with an array of wildlife, including birds, snakes, butterflies, frogs, fish and squirrels. There is one general trail that forks off of Loop Road (just past the Ocracoke Lighthouse) and wraps around through the Preserve and empties at the Pamlico Sound. The trail itself is probably half a mile, very flat with a few curves and relatively shaded along the way. Just be careful of critters! Guests may pack their bags, snacks, towels and swim suits for a day of swimming in the sound. Plan accordingly, however, as there is no parking at Springer’s Point. The best plan is to bike over or be dropped off. The Ocracoke Assembly of God is generous and allows tourists to park vehicles in their parking lot and walk over. There is a donation box so please consider making a donation to the church if you plan to park and walk. The scenes Springer’s Point bestows at sunrise and sunset are truly special, especially with the Live Oak trees in silhouette fashion. Bring your camera because no two panoramas are the same. The gates are open usually around 8:00am and close right after sunset.
Another unique setting I like to visit when escaping the village crowds is down at the north end of the island. Driving (or biking) down Highway 12 you’ll notice the tall sand dunes to the right. Many have shrunken since Hurricane Dorian made landfall in September, but some still remain in smaller form. I travel with a 4×4 vehicle, but there are public access points to pull into for those without 4×4. Secretly, I climb the dunes to capture my favorite image of the sun setting in the background with the Pamlico Sound visible to my right and the Atlantic Ocean present on my left. Dividing the two is Highway 12, and I am reminded how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful place. The whole view in front of me is aglow, and for a moment the world is at peace. You do need to be careful, though, as climbing the dunes is against National Park Service rules. It is a beautiful place to enjoy with your family or close friends. Save those scenes in your memory bank because they are truly one-of-a-kind.
Enjoy all the beauty Ocracoke Island has to offer. This 13-mile long island is full of hidden (and not so hidden) gems and breathtaking backdrops. Be sure to take advantage and check out a sunrise or sunset. I promise you’ll have no regrets.