Kayak or Canoe Core Sound and Back Sound

Kayakers paddle in the sound.

NPS Photo/Victor Pillow

Nowhere else on the southeast coast will you encounter an uninterrupted barrier island chain in such pristine condition as and on the magnitude of the chain found in Cape Lookout National Seashore.

The islands of this North Carolina park lie between two and three miles from the mainland. At this distance, even novice paddlers can cross the open waters of Core Sound and Back Sound under good conditions. While everyone can enjoy exploring the marshes and shallow waters of the sounds, the more ambitious kayakers can continue out from the inlets into the surf.

In recent years, kayak fishing has become a popular activity in the national seashore. With the ability to reach beyond normal casting range and move into the marshes inaccessible by powerboats, the kayak has become a powerful tool in the angler's bag of tricks.

Learn more about Kayaking and Canoeing at Cape Lookout National Seashore...

All pets on the islands must be kept under control on a 6' leash at all times.

Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.

A natural kayak launch site is located by the picnic area across the road from the Harkers Island Visitor Center. Kayaks may NOT launch from the boat basin located beside the Harkers Island Visitor Center parking area.

Reservation are not required. Visitors launching from the Harkers Island Visitor Center area or leaving their car in the parking area there are asked to file a float plan.

Accessibility Information

The kayak launch point by the picnic area (across the road from the Harkers Island Visitor Center) is a natural launch point. There is no paved ramp leading to the launch point. There is no dock at the launch point. 

Last updated: February 1, 2017