List of Authorized Ferry Services

Getting to Cape Lookout National Seashore can be an adventure!

Island Express Ferry Service is the official authorized concessioner of Cape Lookout National Seashore. They run passenger ferries from Harkers Island, NC and Beaufort, NC to Cape Lookout Lighthouse and Shackleford Banks. Below you will find information about reserving tickets.

If you are planning on brining your vehicle to Cape Lookout, you need to book a ferry from Davis, NC or Atlantic, NC. Ferries from Davis, NC bring you to Great Island Cabin Camp on South Core Banks, and ferries from Atlantic, NC bring you to Long Point Cabin Camp on North Core Banks. Below will you find information about booking vehicle ferries.


Frequently Asked Questions

The 3.5-mile trip from Harkers Island, North Carolina to the east end of Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout Lighthouse takes approximately 30minutes. 

The 2.5-mile trip from Beaufort, North Carolina to the west end of Shackleford Banks takes approximately 20 minutes. 

The 12-mile trip from Beaufort, North Carolina to Cape Lookout Lighthouse takes approximately 40 minutes. 

The 3.5-mile trip from Davis, North Carolina to Great Island Cabin Camp takes approximately 45 minutes. 

The 3.75- mile trip from the Atlantic, North Carolina to Long Point Cabin Camp takes approximately 1 hour. 

The 5-mile trip from Ocracoke, North Carolina to Portsmouth Village takes approximately 20 minutes. 

Schedules vary through the season. Visit the specific ferry website for the most up-to-date information. 

Prices vary based on location, size of vehicle, and type of ferry trip. Please visit the specific ferry website. 

Pets are allowed on Cape Lookout National Seashore, but they must be kept on a 6' leash at all times. Ferries may charge extra for bringing a pet. Please reach out to the ferry for more information. 

Bicycle use is allowed on North Core Banks and South Core Banks, on designated routes open for off-road motor vehicle use, consistent with all regulations for vehicles. E-bikes are allowed in Cape Lookout National Seashore where traditional bicycles are allowed. E-bikes are not allowed where traditional bicycles are prohibited, including wilderness and proposed wilderness areas. More information about bicycles in the Superintendent's Compendium (2024)

Ferries may charge addiontal costs for bicyles. Please contact the specific ferry for more information. 

Ferries may charge additional costs for beach wagons, camping supplies, and oversize cargo. Please contact the specific ferry for additional information. 

Ferries are partially acessible. Please contact individual ferry service for more information. 

The winter storm on December 24th, 2022 caused substantial damage to the ferry dock at the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Passengers should be aware that while using the reduced docking area, ferry boarding and disembarking may take longer than normal. Passengers should also be aware that while the dock remains in limited service, it is not accessible by wheelchairs. Wheelchair accessibility will be returned when permanent fixes are completed, and the dock is restored to full service. 

Beach wheelchairs for use on Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout Lighthouse -- available for loan at the Beaufort Visitor Information Center in Beaufort, NC and at the Harkers Island Visitor Center on Harkers Island on a first-come, first-served basis. Chairs may then be taken on the ferry with you to Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout Lighthouse for use during your visit. The beach wheelchairs are manually operated and you will need a helper to push the chair.


Restroom facilities are limited on the barrier islands. During the summer, restrooms are available at the Cape Lookout Light Station, Long Point Cabin area, and Great Island Cabin area. On the west end of Shackleford Banks, composting-style toilets are available. At the east end of Shackleford Banks, restroom facilities are not available. 

Cape Lookout National Seashore removed all trash cans on the island in 1991 and 1992 to reduce waste on the barrier islands. Visitors are encoruaged to leave no trace. Take all trash and belongings with when you depart the islands. Trash cans are avaiable at the Harkers Island Visitor Center. 

Using Personal Transportation

Planning on brining your own boat or Jetski to Cape Lookout? Review the information on boating and personal watercrafts.

Thinking about paddling over to Cape Lookout? Find more information on the kayaking and canoeing page.

Land Transportation

The Beach Shuttle truck service from the Light Station to the point of Cape Lookout operates from mid-May through mid-September. Island Express Ferry Service operates the Beach Shuttle. For more infomration about times and availaibilty, please call Island Express Ferry Service.

Last updated: March 7, 2024

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Mailing Address:

131 Charles St
Harkers Island, NC 28531


252 728-2250

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