For many years, ferries have played a vital role to residents and visitors of Eastern North Carolina. Ferry transportation began in the mid-1920’s when Captain J.B.(Toby) Tillett established tug and barge service across Oregon Inlet along North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Today, the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division extends over seven routes, has 21 ferries and employs over 400 workers. The operations are supported by a full service shipyard, dredge, tugs, barges, and other support vessels.
Ferries on the Outer Banks include:
Currituck Knots Island Ferry – year round, free, 45 minutes; crosses Currituck Sound
Swan Quarter Ocracoke Ferry – year round but schedule varies by season with more departures during summer; one way fares; 2.5 hours crosses Pamlico Sound
Hatteras/Ocracoke Ferry- year round with frequent departures and more during summer; free; 40 minutes; crosses Hatteras Inlet
Cedar Island Ocracoke Ferry - year round but schedule varies by season with more departures during summer; one way fares; 2.25 hours crosses Pamlico Sound
What You Need to Know About Outer Banks Ferries
The DOT generally adds more boats in the heavy tourist season so departure times are more frequent but, as with other states, budgetary considerations can affect this so check schedules.
Ferries can accommodate motorcycles and any size car, trailer or recreational vehicle that can operate on the highway. Special permits are available for vehicles over 65 feet.
Service is provided 365 days a year on all routes. Weather conditions, such as tides, winds and heavy rain can affect travel.
Vending machines are on many ferries and at most ferry terminals. The Ferry Division does not serve meals on any route.
Restroom facilities are at each ferry terminal and on vessels. Restrooms that meet the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements are at all terminals and on some vessels.
Pets are permitted on the vessels and must be kept in the vehicle or leashed when out of the vehicle.
Reservations are offered only on the Cedar Island-Ocracoke and Swan Quarter-Ocracoke routes. The Ferry Division strongly recommends reserving space to ensure desired departure time.
Motorists must claim their reservation at least 30 minutes prior to departure or it will be canceled.
Cash, Travelers Checks and credit cards accepted for tolls.
For advance ticket sales call 1-800-293-3779 or visit the web site below.