Cape Lookout National Seashore (see our Attractions), which has three barrier islands and spans 56 miles of remote coastline from Ocracoke Inlet to Beaufort Inlet, offers waterfront camping at its best — and plenty of privacy. You might see a ranger and a few anglers around the cabins or folks around the lighthouse keepers' quarters, but otherwise you are on your own. Imagine sitting around the fire at dusk, listening to the sound of waves and watching the sweeping light of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, with water as far as you can see in either direction.
This camping area has no developed campsites and no bathhouses (the lighthouse has a toilet and there is a composting toilet near the beach). Because there are no facilities available — not even trash cans — campers must bring in everything they need, including water, and must take their garbage with them when they leave. While there are no fees charged to camp at Cape Lookout, park officials request that campers register either at park headquarters on Harkers Island, the keepers' quarters at the lighthouse or with a park ranger. Campers are not allowed to camp near the lighthouse or the restrooms.
There also are two cabin complexes maintained by private concessionaires and overseen by the National Park Service: Long Point Cabins on the North Core Banks, and Great Island Cabins on the South Core Banks. They vary greatly in their amenities, although they have cooking facilities, flush toilets and hot showers (see our Hotels and Motels).
So how do you get to this wonderland? By boat or ferry. Ferry service is provided by concessionaires permitted by the National Park Service (see our Getting Here, Getting Around) and numerous privately operated ferry services permitted by the National Park Service. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are permitted in some areas (the ferry services charge an extra fee to transport vehicles to the island). As in all national parks, some restrictions apply, so talk to a ranger before scheduling your trip.
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