East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, National Parks, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Portsmouth Island, North Carolina

Portsmouth Village

Portsmouth Village has been abandoned since 1971, and the remaining buildings are managed by the National Park Service.

There were no volunteers or staff during our visit, but many of the the structures have been turned into museums and were open to tour. The Theodore and Annie Salter House and Visitor Center features exhibits that provide a cultural history of the people of the island. The Post Office has static displays that highlight the activities that took place in the building.

In the Life-Saving Station we climbed to the cupola for panoramic views of the island. Interactive signage provides a detailed history of the Life-Saving station and people who worked there.

Boat Ride

To see the village we booked with with Portsmouth Island Boat Tours. The trips are run by the Austin brothers, whose family have lived on Ocracoke for generations. They provide a narrated tour with a local’s perspective (and distinct Ocracoke dialect and accent). They don’t have a website or internet reservations; just give them a call and set up your departure time. Trips depart from the community square dock, and cash is required. During our 30-minute trip each way, we stopped to observe porpoises swimming within feet of our boat, and passed a pelican nesting island.

Beach & Nature

We were lucky to visit the island during the perfect season. We’ve heard horror stories about the mosquitos and other insects during the summer, but the cool breeze and temperatures were on our side. Aside from one tick that hitchhiked on Alice’s sock back onto the boat and some butterflies, our trip was bug-free. After a short boat ride between the village dock and beach we had a quick dip in the chilly sound, as we disembarked in knee-high water. Captain Austin then motored away and we were left alone on the island for two hours with just six other passengers. We picnicked, shelled, and walked from the sound to the ocean side of the island.

For reservations with Portsmouth Island Boat Tours, call 252-928-4361 or 252-928-5431.

Let me help plan your trip to The Outer Banks (OBX), North Carolina


Like Facebook Pages & Follow Websites

November and December are the off-season on Ocracoke, so the easiest way to get updates on restaurant and store hours is to follow them on Facebook. The Ocracoke Observer and Ocracoke Current are also helpful.


Get your Permits


Follow the Weather Forecast (but don’t always believe it)

We followed the forecast and packed for winter temps and rain both trips, but had warm sunny days. So prepare for anything


Read About the Island

    Ocracoke, Its History and People by David Shears
    Images of America: Ocracoke by Jenie Owens

1 thought on “Portsmouth Island, North Carolina”

Leave a Reply