Cape Lookout



Cape Lookout is on the southernmost end of the Outer Banks. It is a hook-shaped strip of sand that provides a fantastic protected anchorage right off the ocean.

The water at Cape Lookout is clean, blue, and clear enough in places to see the bottom. There are wild ponies living on the Shackleford Banks nearby, shrimp and sea turtles in the water, a lighthouse on shore to navigate by, and well-marked channels throughout.

The sky here is so clear and free of light pollution that you can see the Milky Way.

The best place to launch a boat for travel to Cape Lookout is at the Wildlife Service ramps in Beaufort. The trip from Beaufort to the cape is around 25 nautical miles each way, so it's an easy sail that leaves plenty of time to enjoy the area once you get there. It is perfect for a 2-day weekend and it is a short enough trip that one can motor back if the winds are not ideal. There are also 2 ways to get there-- through Beaufort Inlet with a short ocean passage, or through Back Sound.

*** Note: If following a channel through Back Sound, follow the temporary channel markers (the colored floats) when they show up. Otherwise you will find your keel dragging in shoals. I would not recommend this route for any boats deeper than a 3-foot draft. There are many long, straight passages in various directions through the area that make it very difficult to sail the entire way. Bring enough gas so you can motor if you have to take the Back Sound route.

Good Anchorages:

For northward winds:
Follow the markers in the middle of the bight. They will lead you to the south end. There is a mooring buoy just east of the old ferry dock here, but it is probably not somthing you want to tie on to-- it sits on dry sand at low tide. You can anchor safely right off shore near the mooring buoy, as the slope of the underwater sand is very steep. Just be sure to check the tide tables. The water is not as clear here as the other southern anchorages, but this area is great for waiting out a heavy storm. The bottom is made of dirty sand; danforth anchors hold nicely.


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GPS Coordinates:

Southern Anchorage:
N 34° 36.711'
W 76° 32.235'

Important numbers: