Cape Lookout National Seashore - NC

Has anybody on this list done a circumnavigation of the Cape Lookout National Seashore

in North Carolina? That would be Shackelford Island, and North and South Core Banks?

I’ve gone around Shackelford a few times, and played in the surf at Drum Inlet.

I’m considering a trip in October that would be a circumnavigation of all three

islands. Would love to hear from anybody who has done this (or anybody who’se

paddled on the ocean side of North And South Core Banks). Was it hard to find landings

without dumping surf? What was your experience like in the inlets?

Thanks very much.

I’m Not Much Help
I’ve only paddled around Shackleford a couple of times but I learned about Inlets. Trying to go from the ocean into Beaufort Inlet as the tide was rushing out was scary. Going against the tide at Barden Inlet isn’t bad.

The kind folks on this message board let me know that inlets are best navigated at high tide.

I’ve sailed around there a lot

If the wind in blowing offshore then the surf can be very minimal. If it is blowing onshore you’ll want to be on the sound side of the islands. More of the inlets are good at either slack tide high or low. I add extra time to my trips their because the weather is always changing and it seems there is a storm every few days that I stay there. My biggest fear is the boat traffic around Beaufort.

If you are willing to bring a little sail, then you won’t regret it.

I Have Less Experience
in that area than the previous posters. I have set out to circle Shackleford Banks once and turned around due to the weather and conditions. Wind and wave piped up to beyond what I was comfortable as I was headed out past the lighthouse and I turned around. I want to make it back up there for a second try before the year is out. I have circumnavigated Wrightsville Island, Figure Eight Island, Leah Island, Bear Island, and struck out at Shackleford.

Happy Paddling,


Another Consideration
I wouldn’t do the trip you’re planning alone. It can be really deserted in and around Core Sound. I’ve paddled there for hours and seen no boat traffic and heard no radio traffic.

Core Sound Paddling
I can’ say that I’ve paddled the outside of Core Sound. Paddled the “inside” when doing Map 4 (Harkers Island to Cedar Island) for CCCKC. However, Jim Bannon’s “Sea Kakaying the Carolinas” has a fairly good write up on the areas you want to paddle - including maps.

Good luck and SYOW