Harkers Island, an Attempt at Cape Lookout, and Carteret County

Our original goal for Friday was to ferry around Shackleford Island and Cape Lookout via Beaufort, NC. A ominous storm cloud hanging overhead changed that plan. We knew better than to be on the water, so we headed to Harkers Island in search of access to Cape Lookout National Seashores.

The island is small, but it's been well settled with a history we've only begun to learn. We discovered Harkers is home to the Cape Lookout National Seashore Visitor's Center. They do not, however, have a bridge to Cape Lookout. Lesson learned: access to Cape Lookout and Shackleford Island is by ferry only. Click HERE for a list of authorized ferry services.

We did see Cape Lookout lighthouse from the Visitor's Center, but from a distance of 4.5 miles. It's a working lighthouse, and we spotted the glow from the Fresnel lens from the parking lot.

We stopped at one of the ferry services to inquire about fees and running times in preparation for our next visit. Most ferries to Shackleford and Cape Lookout are only $10 a person round trip at the time of this writing.

Next, we headed up the coast toward quiet Atlantic, NC, located in scenic Carteret County, just south of Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge. Along the way, we found the city of Davis, which has a car ferry pointed toward Cape Lookout NS. Further up the road, we also found pitcher plants alongs one of the country roads. North Carolina nurtures these endangered plants in a variety of locations along the coast, and we were pleased when we found them on this trip. We fed a host of mosquitoes as we took pictures of a few of the specimens we spotted.

Since our visit, I've purchased a book on the history of Harkers Island and have read about the settlement of Harkers by residents of Diamond City on the wilderness known as Shackleford Banks, and the changes born to the island and the economy with the building of the bridge. For more about what's quickly becoming the lost history of Harkers, go to

UPDATE: We did return to Harkers to take the ferry to Cape Lookout, and I finally saw the wild ponies that still roam the island:


Anonymous said...

Oh, Kimberli! I've been gone too long. I come back, and you've got all this wonderful stuff posted.

I really, truly am sitting here with tears in my eyes. Davis is my home. Davis Shore, SON! When you get to the stop sign headed east, turn left, go about a mile, and my dirt road was on the right. We lived next to the fish house. Our house is gone, now. My parents couldn't afford the taxes any longer. Then it was destroyed by Hurricane Isabel. There wasn't much to the house, but the land was beautiful.

You can rent kayaks in Harker's Island to get to Shackleford. Or via boat or ferry, of course. Or you can go overnight and camp there. It is awesome. The horses will come right up to your tent. Bring your own water. No bathrooms. It is a wonderful experience for people who like the wilder side.

Core Sound Waterfowl Museum (and heritage center) is also on Harker's Island. A very interesting stop. I'm fear Harker's Island is turning into the rest of the world. Maybe not. But the development you mention...yeah. Every day, I read about some new condo crap going up...even in Davis Shore. I could cry even louder.

I have a question I wanted to ask you (not related to any of this), and I was wondering if you have a general e-mail address. I'm just looking for a book reference...

Thank you again for your lovely blog!

Kimberli said...

Hi Julie, I thought you might enjoy this post. You mentioned Harkers Island once, didn't you? That entire coastal area is beautiful, so serene. I hate that taxes took your parent's land (I'm hearing more and more of that) and that developers wants to rip it up to build condos. Ugh.

Feel free to email me at ksbuffaloe @ hotmail. I'll send you my personal email address after that. Thanks for stopping by. I'm so glad I could help you connect with your home.