• Cape Lookout Lighthouse from Barden Inlet

    Cape Lookout

    National Seashore North Carolina

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  • Hurricane Arthur Advisory #5

    Recovery continues following Hurricane Arthur. Additional cabins at Great Island have reopened (7/8/14). Shackleford has re-opened for camping. More »

Field trip planning checklist

Transportation --

  • How long will it take to travel to and from school? Many schools underestimate the amount of time necessary for land transport. Give yourself at least a half hour more than you think you need for travel.
  • Choose a ferry appropriate to your needs. A variety of boat sizes and styles are used to transport visitors to the islands. Some are large and go out on the ocean, some are small and stay in the protected waters of the sounds. It may go fast for a thrill and get everyone wet. It may be able to accommodate a special request or need.
  • How long will the ferry ride take? The ferries can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes to go from the mainland to park. You will also need to plan on this much time for the return trip. Contact the ferry operator and ask questions about time of departure and pickup, how long the trip will take, and what the cost will be.
  • Arrive at the ferry provider early, and plan to be at the pickup dock at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time of departure.

Lunch and Snacks --

  • All food and drinks will have to brought with you. There are no concession stands in the park.
  • Anything brought for lunches will need to be carried from the ferry drop off to where you plan to eat. Many items are hard to keep cold for hours at a time without heavy amounts of ice.
  • Pick a time to eat -- is it better to eat right after arriving on the island? Or just before you leave?
  • Decide how long your lunchtime will be, let everyone know how much time they have and stick to the time -- taking an hour to eat lunch when only 1/2 hour was planned can mean missing out on something else.
  • Clean up -- be sure to bring trash bags for your group. There are no garbage cans or trash-pick up on the islands. Let your group know that they are responsible for cleaning up after themselves and taking their trash back to the mainland for recycling and disposal.
  • Do not feed the wildlife, especially the sea gulls! Besides being against park rules, feeding wildlife human food is not good for them. Feeding sea gulls can make them lose their fear of humans and become bold enough to steal your lunch out of your hands. Protect your lunch - don't feed the gulls!

Having fun on the island --

There are many ways to enjoy the seashore with your class --

  • Ask a Park Ranger to come talk to your group.
  • Explore a mud flat at low tide, go beachcombing, or investigate a scientific question.
  • Take a truck tour of the island. Ask your ferry service if they offer this option. Some provide it for an additional fee.

When planning activities, remember that materials will be exposed to the weather, they will need to be carried to the location(s) where they will be used, will need time set aside to set up and break down, and will take up space on the ferry.

  • Give more time for every activity you plan. If you have two activities that you believe will take an hour each, plan for three hours.
  • Allowing ample time for activities will eliminate frustrations and any extra time will allow students to do a bit of beachcombing or exploration on their own.

Class Safety --

  • Plan to bring one adult (teachers or chaperones) for every five students. The islands are vast and allow for many places for students to get confused or turned around, and there are many temptations for students to explore unsafe activities.
  • There are no lifeguards on Cape Lookout. Unless you plan on providing your own lifeguards, swimming is not recommended as a class activity.

Did You Know?

Cape Lookout lighthouse daymark pattern

Diamond City, a community that once stood on the eastern end of Shackleford Banks, was named after the daymark pattern on the nearby Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Cape Lookout National Seashore