Cape Lookout National Seashore

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Quick Facts

Cape Lookout National Seashore

North Carolina

(252) 728-2250

Map Directions

Things To Do


Take a boat trip three miles off-shore to the islands of Cape Lookout National Seashore. The seashore is a 56 mile long section of the Outer Banks of North Carolina running from Ocracoke Inlet on the northeast to Beaufort Inlet on the southeast. Here you can enjoy remote beaches, watch wild horses and other wildlife, climb the lighthouse, or visit one of the historic districts. Be sure to bring a picnic lunch for the day. Visit for the day, or stay overnight-there primitive style camping is permitted and cabins are available to rent. Going camping takes a little more planning. Unlike neighboring beaches, no bridges cross from the mainland to the islands. A boat ride is a must for reaching the area - either your own boat or a ferry. There are also no paved roads, concession stands, bathhouses, camp stores or trash cans in the seashore. Except for the ferry landing areas, the islands are undeveloped and wild.

Map of Cape Lookout

Latitude, Longitude: 34.711186, -76.458821



  • Boating

    Whether enjoying a day's windsurfing, paddling a kayak or canoe, camping out in a houseboat, or enjoying the fishing, boats are a part of Cape Lookout.

  • Bird Watching

    Birding is a year-round activity at the seashore. Terns and herons are best seen in the summer. The spring and fall seasons are excellent times to view shorebirds, hawks, and songbirds. Ducks and geese are common during the winter months.

  • Camping

    Primitive camping is allowed on the barrier islands of Cape Lookout National Seashore. Campers should prepare carefully for the natural conditions to be found at the park.

  • Fishing

    Spring and fall at Cape Lookout offer what many consider to be the best surf fishing on the Atlantic Coast. Most of the beach and sounds are open to fishing. Fishing regulations, including seasons and licensing requirements are set by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries.

  • Hiking

    There are no trails on the seashore, but many people do backpack or hike the islands. Be advised that walking can be difficult due to the soft sand. Sturdy walking/hiking shoes are recommended.

  • Historic Sites

    Daily interpretive programs are offered from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend by park rangers. The lighthouse is also open for climbing for a small fee on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

  • Hunting

    Traditionally, the islands of the National Seashore have been used to hunt waterfowl in the fall. This practice continues under federal and state hunting regulations. More information contact the park or visit the park's website.

  • Picnicking

    There are no designated picnic areas outside the ferry landing area, however, the seashore offers abundant scenic spots for picnicking.

  • Water Sports

    Ocean swimming is permitted at Cape Lookout. There are no lifeguarded beaches in the park. All swimming is at your own risk.


Cape Lookout National Seashore is open 24 hours and 365 days a year. Operating hours for visitor centers and other services will vary throughout the year. Ferry service to the park is generally offered from mid-March to the first weekend in December. Cabin rentals are generally available from April 1st to the first weekend in December.



Only one section of Cape Lookout National Seashore is reachable by car -- the Visitor Center located on the eastern end of Harkers Island, approximately 20 mi (30 km) east of Beaufort, NC and 30 mi (50 km) south of the Cedar Island terminus of the North Carolina State Ferry route from Ocracoke Island to Cedar Island. From Beaufort: Take U.S. 70 east to Harkers Island Road (SR 1332/SR 1335). From Cedar Island: Take SR 12 south past the Atlantic turnoff to US 70 west. Continue on US 70 to Harkers Island Road (SR1332/SR 1335) . Follow Harkers Island Road until it terminates. On the left is the two-story visitor center.

Public Transportation

Passenger ferries leave from the communities of Harkers Island, Beaufort, Morehead City and Ocracoke, NC. The ferries from Davis and Atlantic, NC can transport passengers and 4-wheel drive vehicles.

Phone Numbers


(252) 728-2250