The three islands that make up the Cape Lookout National Seashore have been attracting visitors for decades. Located along the North Carolina shoreline, these barrier islands offer gorgeous coastline, abundant wildlife, and even a bit of history for you and your pup. The seashore stretches from Shackleford Banks across from the mainland city of Beauford, all the way to the northern tip of Portsmouth Island.
Some come to the uninhabited islands to catch a glimpse of the Banker Ponies, wild horses that are believed to be descended from shipwrecked Spanish mustangs and run free along South Core Banks and Shackleford Banks. Lighthouse fans come to see the Cape Lookout Lighthouse dating from the late 1850s that bears a distinctive black and white diamond pattern. Still others want to traverse the ghost town of Portsmouth Village on Portsmouth Island that was established in 1753, but completely deserted by the 1970s. But the main attraction is undoubtedly the 56 miles of sandy beaches.
With no amenities and few public structures, the seashore offers you and your dog a pristine and natural island experience like no other. This protected area is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna that live in the dunes and beaches, including species like the Loggerhead sea turtle, Piping Plover, and Seabeach Amaranth. You and your pup can enjoy a long beach hike, cast a line in the ocean, take a boat out, romp in the sand, swim in the water, and even camp. Dog-friendly rustic campgrounds and cabins are available where you can sleep next to the waves.
Your dog is welcome to join you anywhere on the seashore, but does need to stay leashed the entire time on a lead no longer than six feet. Without any amenities, be sure to bring all the essentials, such as drinking water to share, snacks and food, and clean-up bags. Always pick up anything your pup lays down. There is little shade on the islands, so toting along a shade umbrella may be a good idea too. Restrooms for the humans can be found at the visitor centers spread throughout.
Passenger and vehicular ferries travel to the islands, just be sure to find one that allow dogs, both. If you plan on driving on the islands, note that 4WD vehicles and ATVs are absolutely needed. Boats are also used to reach the seashore.
For a puptacular day on the gorgeous beaches off North Carolina, head to the Cape Lookout National Seashore with your dog!