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The Knotts Island Ferry is a year-round free ferry that's managed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation's ferry system. An instrumental mode of transportation for Knotts Island locals, and a fun on-the-water day trip for Currituck County visitors, the ferry is accessible, scenic, and allows visitors to explore new and wild regions which are otherwise hard to access.
About the Ferry Terminals
The Knotts Island Ferry crosses the Currituck Sound and has two terminals - one on the mainland in the town of Currituck and one located at the southern waterfront edge of Knotts Island.
The Currituck Terminal is easy to access via Courthouse Road, which is found off of US Highway 168. (Brown signs also mark the route for travelers.)
The ferry terminal is bordered by a handful of historic sites, including the Historic Currituck Courthouse, as well as a sample of restaurants, like Pass The Salt Cafe and a local McDonalds.
The Knotts Island Terminal is found at the Southern end of Route 615, and is surrounded by a small collection of year-round and second homes. There are no major gas stations, stores or restaurants within the vicinity of the ferry terminal, but visitors can stop by the Knotts Island Market, which is just a couple miles away, to grab a quick deli-style lunch on the go.
Both ferry terminals have limited facilities, but do offer public restrooms, picnic areas, and area information, and the Currituck Terminal also has vending machines.
About the Ferry Ride
The Knotts Island Ferry ride covers a span of 5 miles across the Currituck Sound and lasts roughly 45 minutes. Vehicles, passengers, and cyclists are all welcome, although availability on the ferry is based on a first-come, first-admitted basis.
It is recommended that motorists arrive 15-30 minutes before a preferred departure time to secure a spot on the ferry. Lines may be longer on summer weekends, and relatively desolate in the winter months.
Once on board, passengers are free to leave their vehicle and look around. The ferries do offer small air-conditioned and heated passenger lounges with water fountains, as well as public restrooms.
Ferry passengers should also keep the following NC state rules in mind while on the ferry.
- Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the ferry, even in a vehicle.
- Alcohol is not allowed on the ferry, and it is illegal to have open containers of alcohol in a vehicle in the state of NC.
- Priority loading is given to vehicles with a proper priority pass. This can include service vehicles, government employees, and school busses.
- Passengers are allowed to explore the ferry, but should note rooms or areas which are marked as private or closed to the public.
- Dogs are allowed on the ferry and can even walk around, but must be leashed at all times. Use caution in the summer months when the shiny metal surface can easily burn a dog's paw pads.
What to do on Knotts Island
Once on Knotts Island, visitors will find a small but enticing collection of things to do. The area has a vineyard, seasonally open peach and berry farms, a deli at the Knotts Island Market., and a local campground called Sandy Point Campground.
The biggest attraction on the island, however, is the Mackay Island National Wildlife refuge. At the refuge, visitors can enjoy the following activities:
- Hiking and Biking via three nature trails and several hard-packed roads that run through the heart of the refuge.
- Kayaking in the Currituck Sound and along the small creeks that cut through Knotts Island.
- Bird Watching at the Charles Kuralt wildlife viewing platform.
- Hunting during designated seasons with the proper permits.
- Fishing along both the Marsh Causeway and in the Currituck Sound.
- Boating via the public boat launch at 129 Brumley Road.
Please note that facilities are very limited at the Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge and certain portions of the refuge may be seasonally closed off. For more information, visit the refuge's website at http://www.fws.gov/Mackayisland/.
Knotts Island Ferry Schedule
The ferry has a seasonal schedule, with fewer runs during the summer from early June to early August, when school is not in session.
The current schedule for the ferry is as follows. Note that the schedule may adjust from year to year, and passengers can find the most updated schedule online at http://www.ncdot.gov/download/transit/ferry/ferryschedule.pdf. Also, the ferry does not operate in hurricane or high wind conditions, generally classified as sustained winds of 35 mph or more.
Monday through Friday:
- Leaves Currituck at 6:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 5:30 p.m.
- Leaves Knotts Island at 6:50 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 6:20 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and Summer Months - generally from early June to early August:
- Leaves Currituck at 6:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.
- Leaves Knotts Island at 7:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m.