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Boating Around Shackleford Banks And Cape Lookout In NC

We want this to be an ongoing community discussion article for visitors when considering boating to Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout NC while on vacation to see the wild horses, lighthouse, to go fishing, scuba diving, or simply for general recreation.

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Readers of our article on Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks NC boating interests can use the no registration form at the bottom of this page when contributing data to this document. Please do not forget to subscribe to replies so you get notifications when someone replies to your comments.

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This article will not focus on passenger ferry boats which take people over to these barrier islands, and will focus on private boats accessing these barrier island. Shortly, we’ll have an article which focuses on ferry operators out of Morehead City, Beaufort, and Harkers Island.

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Access To This Local Area By Boat

Both of these islands are popular tourist destinations, both for locals who visit to escape the crowded beaches of Bogue Banks, and by visitors vacationing who come to see the wild horses, lighthouse, and unspoiled nature both of these locations offer.

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Additionally, both locations offer world-class fishing opportunities, scuba diving historical shipwrecks, unique nature viewing, rare seashell searching, camping, or simply for getting away from the mainland to explore seemingly endless and secluded beaches.


When boating to these locations, the quickest and safest route will be from Atlantic Beach, Beaufort, and Harkers Island, but both islands do have direct routes from Morehead City, the Newport River, North River, and Core Sound.

Carteret County Barrier Islands

If traveling by boat to Shackleford Banks or Cape Lookout via Taylor Creek and Harkers Island, it’s best to follow someone who knows the channels well as they change quite a bit.


What is good information someone new to boating, or someone not familar with Carteret County waterways and islands needs to know before traveling to these locations?

What minimum size boat do you recommend before heading out to these local areas? What minimum electronic gear do you recommend?

Considering all waterways around these two islands, where are the best places to go fishing, see whales, and observe other nature? Where are the best photography vantage points?

Considering Atlantic Beach on Bogue Banks, Beaufort, or Harkers Island, which of these locations in the fastest route or requires less knowledge of shoals and sandbars?

For those who do not have flat bottom boats, where are docks for tying up a boat located on each of these islands?

Which mechanic services or towing companies do you recommend?

What special weather considerations does someone need to know before setting out for these two locations? How quickly does the weather change in this area, and what is the quickest safe harbour when thunderstorms threaten these waters?

Using the no registration form below, what questions do you have about boating near Cape Lookout NC and Shackleford Banks? What’s some other information you want to add to this article which we did not address above?

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If you add information to this page, a member of our site will quickly reply if you’re asking questions about this topic. Additionally, if you have questions about planning a vaction or travel, we’re happy to answer any questions.

Regulations, Permits, And Operator Information

Michael Sharp

Native of Carteret County NC, Father to Makayla and Savannah. You can add me on Facebook. Interest include web development, encryption, and other technologies.

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