If you want to start at the southern most point, you would need to take the Ocracoke ferry. The link below will take you to the NC ferry system if you intend to travel the entire route from south to north or vice versa. The ferry from Ocracoke Island to cedar Island (which has bridges to the mainland) is about 2 hours 30 minutes. http://www.ncbeaches.com/Documents/Beta/
If you want to avoid the ferry ride, you can basically start in the middle and do either the north leg first or the south leg first. To get to the middle starting point, you can start in Whalebone, NC and head north or south on NC 12. Note, from there, Bodie Island lighthouse is just 6 miles south.
Along NC 12 you are on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My son and I rode along with the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and the Intercoastal Waterway on the other! Lots of sand dunes, and people along the route flying kites because of the wind. The historical lighthouses along this route are Bodie Island, Hatteras, and Ocracoke. Hatteras and Ocracoke are beautiful places to visit.
The hardest thing to deal with was not the road, but the constant left to right wind sweeping in from the ocean. At times it was more like sailing than riding with the bike heeled over a bit. Since my Honda is only a 500cc model, a heavier bike may not be so affected.
This route has a LOT of tourist attractions to stop at and enjoy when its time to take a break. There are also all kinds of campgrounds along the route. There are numerous places to pull off and go walk along the beach. There is good shopping in both Hatteras, and Ocracoke as well as many restaurants. The gas stations going south before you get to Avon are pretty far apart. The cost of gas along the route was pretty high as well if you use premium. It was about $2.70 a gallon. If you do not turn onto NC 12 and go south just east of Manteo, you will go north into Kitty Hawk, NC. and there is a museum, and park dedicated to the Wright Brothers that is well worth the trip.
I grew up not far from the OBX, and it's hard for me to rank it at 5 stars, but it is a beautiful ride. The pity is, it has gotten so much more congested in the past 15 years. They have a bike week in mid April every year. This is the best time to visit as a biker. Actually, anytime before the third week in May is a good time to visit. After this, and during Summer, you're just going to do alot of sitting at stop lights on the bypass, or stuck behind a very slow driving lost tourist on the beach road. After you get through Nags Head though, it opens up a bit. You can either finish the ride to Ocracoke, or go to Manteo/Wanchese. T.G.'s Family Resturant on the outskirts of Manteo is a local favorite. their french dip is delicious. Taking a ferry to Cedar Island or Swan Quarter is a good trips also after you've made this ride...Give the cagers room on the yellow line, at least on bad accident on Hatteras Island every bike week, most fatal. Screw keeping your line, I prefer to keep riding...
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5 riders found this road review useful
November 16, 2010
0 McR Points
Motorcycle Type : Touring
We rode this route over Veterans Day 2010. Great ride with a few lessons learned by an old bike rider. Low hanging clouds and high winds (20-30 kts gusts to 40) due to a coastal low 200 miles offshore with temps in the low 60's was the actual weather even though the forecast by several weather sites was much better. First lesson learned: don't trust the weather report, it can change quickly! We approched from the south mainland through Morehead City and the mid morning Cedar Island to Ocracoke Ferry(approx 2.25 hr ferry ride; reservations recommended, check the schedule for seasonal time changes ) Second lesson learned: in rough weather, you may have to sit on your bike on the ferry to make sure it doesn't tip over. Be prepared. The ferry guys are all great and position you away from the salt spray and other vehicles. Once off at Ocracoke, a stop at the lighthouse and on to Howards Pub for lunch is a must. It is 12 miles to the next ferry. The Ocracoke to Hatteras ferry (approx 40 min) is smaller and you have to stay on your bike in rough weather. Once off in Hatteras, 12 miles to the Hatteras lighthouse is a must see and the story of how it was moved. The ride is great, but the road is subject to overwash in a couple of low places. Next lesson learned, have an alternate plan in case you can't get through. A number of places along the way to eat and sight see, but most eating establishments close in mid-Nov for the season. Great couple of days despite challenging weather and road conditions. Can only imagine how awesome it would be in better weather!
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4 riders found this road review useful
June 2, 2009
0 McR Points
Motorcycle Type : Sport
Just AWSOME ride! The light houses and all the historical sights are well worth stopping for, spaced out just perfectly to take breaks, gas up, eat or whatever. The ferries are nice too, it is HIGHLY recommended that you make reservations even if most of the time they can accommodate bikes. The ferry from Hatteras is free and takes about 45 mins- 1 hr, but the one from Ocracoke is $10 and takes about 2 - 2 1/2 hours.