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Posted By Robin & Jim

We finally made it to a place that we've wanted to explore for many years!   Cape Lookout is a National Seashore located at the very bottom of North Carolina's Outer Banks, about 10 miles from Beaufort inlet.

cape lookout

Cape Lookout is best known for its lighthouse: 163' tall, painted in a distinctive diamond pattern that indicates east-west (white diamonds) and north-south (black diamonds).  The current lighthouse was built in 1859 to replace the smaller one built in 1812.  Only 93' tall, the original lighthouse was too short to be seen by mariners trying to avoid the Cape Lookout Shoal, which extends about 16 miles from the Cape out into the ocean.  The original lighthouse could be seen about 10 miles out in good conditions, and the new one can be seen for about 19 miles. 
On certain days of the week the Park Service lets people climb up the lighthouse, and the views were well worth it!  We could see far to the north towards Ocracoke...

view

...and across to Shackleford Banks, home to several herds of feral horses and a maritime forest... and across the dunes and beach to the Atlantic Ocean. 
The Park Rangers and volunteers do a great job explaining about man's interaction with the Cape as well as nature's.  The Cape used to be connected to Shackleford Banks but a 1933 hurricane opened up a new inlet and left the two islands separated to this day.  Wildlife is abundant, especially birds and sea turtles.  We saw three loggerhead sea turtles near our boat in the anchorage, and they are known to nest at Cape Lookout.  The variety of sea shells is impressive - even conch shells, and the water is pretty clear and very clean and nice.  Fishing is a probably the most popular activity in this part of coastal North Carolina, and that is evident everywhere with everything from shallow draft flats boats to big sport fish boats roaring here and there. 
The birds were wonderful - lots of different terns, gulls, and black skimmers as well as American oystercatchers. 

oystercatcher

I would kayak early in the morning along the beach to look for shells and birds, since there are miles of beach inside the Cape and along the outside, with natural dunes and sea oats to protect the shoreline. 
You can only get to Cape Lookout by boat - either private boat or by ferry from Harker's Island.  It's a great place to enjoy uncrowded beaches and to fish, but the lighthouse and the wildlife are the highlights for us. 
All good things must come to an end though, and the weather was about to turn ugly with strong winds predicted for at least a week.  We also needed to head to the boat yard for new bottom paint and out-of-the-water maintenance that we do every two years.  I could have stayed out at the Cape for another week or two!  But we left early on a Monday morning heading straight to the boat yard where the travel lift was ready to hoist us out of the water for a week of hard work.  It's all part of cruising.

adventures cape lookout

 
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