Cape Lookout National Seashore

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Cape Lookout National Seashore is one of North Carolina’s most popular wilderness vestiges and one of the best places to visit in NC. Even though it’s not well developed, many prefer it over other vacation resorts because of the wild vacation they can get. Comprised of three barrier islands – North Core Banks, Shackleford Banks and South Core Banks – Cape Lookout may seem desolated and barren, yet a vacation or even a short visit there can be a memorable experience.
Accommodation in Cape Lookout National Seashore
Camping is not very well organized. There are no campgrounds on any of the three islands, access to utilities is quite scarce, so you are more or less on your own. You may pitch your tent wherever you like, with a few restrictions that will be explained in the brochure you get when you enter Cape Lookout. Common sense rules apply – don’t camp too close to the lighthouse, close to the cabins or in areas closed for turtle nesting. Vehicle camping is only permitted in South Core and North Core.

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Be warned, there are no camp stores in Cape Lookout. If you are camping there, make sure you bring your own supplies – food and water. There aren’t many water sources on the islands and you can never know when they get unfit for drinking due to weather conditions. Also, be prepared to store your food securely, as raccoons and seagulls are known to come in uninvited for a “quick bite”.

Renting a cabin may be the better alternative for those who need at least some minimum comfort. Each cabin can accommodate between four and twelve people, comes with bunk beds, hot water, heating system, a kitchen with cabinets and a freezer and a private bath. Rates range between $75 and $170 per night, depending on the season and individual facilities of each cabin. Group discounts are available.
Sights and Activities in Cape Lookout National Seashore
Even though Cape Lookout can seem a quiet and deserted resort, it is yet one of the best places to visit in North Carolina.

Next to a simple day-trip on the seashore, the lighthouse is worth seeing if you are camping in Cape Lookout for more than a day. It is located on South Core Banks, next to the historic US Coast Guard Station. If you have camped in North Core or Shackleford, you can arrange for a ferry to get you there and pick you up in the evening. You will need a vehicle to get to the lighthouse if you are pitching or staying at a cabin in South Core, as it’s more than a 10 mile ride. The lighthouse can be climbed up to the top so if you are alright with climbing 207 steps then it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Cape Lookout is also a fishing resort. The main season is in the fall, but you can fish all year round. Be prepared, however, to pay a bit more for accommodation during the main season, as the demand gets quite high.

Swimming is allowed, but keep in mind that there are no lifeguards so, again, you are on your own. If you aren’t a good swimmer, don’t head deep into the water. Big waves shouldn’t be a major concern on the Cape Lookout shoreline, but rip tides shouldn’t be ignored.

Water sports are popular in summer. Wind-surfing and kayaking can be safely practiced but, again, remember to bring your own gear, as Cape Lookout doesn’t offer any rentals.