We recommend that groups have one adult (teachers or other chaperones) for every nine students. The activities planned and the grade level of your group may require additional chaperones. The islands are vast and allow for many places for students to become confused or turned around, and there are many temptations for students to explore unsafe activities.
It is important for students and chaperones to bring plenty of drinking water for use during their visit. This is especially important for trips planned for May through August or for trips where a significant amount of hiking will be required, but all groups should be prepared.
There are no lifeguards at Cape Lookout National Seashore. Unless you plan on providing your own lifeguards, swimming is not recommended as a class activity.
For more safety information, download the "Beach Safety and Survival Guide" from the brochures webpage.
The Harkers Island Visitor Center is the only location within the national seashore which can be reached by a vehicle. All other locations--the lighthouse, Portsmouth Village, Shackleford Banks, and others--require the use of a ferry service. Ferry rides can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes to go from the mainland to the park, this depends on the location and style of the ferry as well as the area of the park you plan to visit.
There is a variety of boat sizes and styles used by the various ferry operators which transport visitors to the islands. Some are larger and some are smaller. Some will go out into the ocean while others stay in protected waters of the sound. Some can go fast, and may get passengers wet, and some may be better able to accommodate special needs or requests. It is important to choose a ferry which is appropriate to your needs.
Contact the ferry operators to discuss the boat style, departure and pickup times, how long the boat ride will take, costs and group rates, as well as your group's specific needs.
Arrive at the ferry operator early and plan to be at the pickup location at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time of departure.
Many groups underestimate the amount of time necessary for land transport to the ferry service or Harkers Island Visitor Center. Give yourself at least a half hour more than you think you need for travel. Directions to the Harkers Island Visitor Center and information on visiting the barrier islands can be found on the Directions webpage.