Cape Lookout National Seashore consists of 56 miles of undeveloped beach that extends over four barrier islands from Ocracoke Inlet in the north to Beaufort Inlet in the south. These islands, which are reachable only by boat, are Portsmouth, North Core Banks, South Core Banks and Shackelford.
On the southern tip of South Core Banks is Cape Lookout Lighthouse, designated with its distinctive diamond pattern. The present lighthouse was built one hundred and fifty years ago and replaced an earlier and smaller lighthouse to warn ships of the nearby shoals. Cape Lookout Lighthouse is the second tallest of its kind on the east coast of the US. At the turn of the century there was a thriving whaling village nearby called Diamond City, which had over 500 people living and working in this area. It was wiped out by a hurricane around 1903 and was never re-built.
Jewel of the Crystal Coast
All four outer bank islands have lovely, natural seashore with a wealth of seashells. Activities include swimming, fishing, shelling, boating, primitive camping, hiking, birding, horse watching (on Shackelford only), and waterfowl hunting (in season). The lighthouse is only open a few days a year, but the Park Service does have a small, but informative museum in the light-keeper’s house just steps from the lighthouse. There are also primitive cabins for rent on three of the four islands.