Close your eyes and imagine an undisturbed island, with wild shores, crashing waves, and howling winds. Wild ponies roam, and the rustic beaches are rich with shells and sea life. The good news is you don’t have to imagine this place. It exists.
$5 and a 15 minute ferry ride around Shackelford Banks from Harkers Island will get you there. Stay for an hour, a day, or a few days, the choice is your’s. Nestled within the tumultuous waters of Lookout Shoals, Cape Lookout National Seashore is the perfect refuge for those seeking solitude and nature. If you visit in the cooler months, solitude is exactly what you’ll get.
Looming over the island and guarding the coast is the 163 ft. Diamond Lady. Named for her black and white diamond daymark, the Cape Lookout lighthouse stands in beautiful contrast to the raw nature of Cape Lookout.
The second lighthouse on the island, the Cape Lookout Lighthouse was completed on Nov. 1, 1859 and has survived more than her fair share of conflict. In 1861, during the Civil War out of fear that Union forces would use the light to navigate the coastline, the Diamond Lady went dark, all her lenses and lamps removed. She stood lifeless for almost a full year until 1862 when Union troops who had captured nearby Beaufort and Morehead City brought her back to life. However, her time of conflict had not passed. On April 2, 1864 a small group of confederate soldiers snuck out in the night and attempted to blow the lighthouse up, they were not successful in their attempt. However, the Diamond Lady did not make it through the ordeal unharmed. A large portion of her iron stairwell was blown away, and was replaced with wood until after the war when iron was once again readily available.
Today she still stands guard lighting the coastline for ships and sailors. Annually in the summer months visitors from around the globe flock to her shores to climb the tower, and explore her island home. Survivor, savior, guardian the Cape Lookout Lighthouse stands as a testament to the history and beauty of the NC Coastline.
For more information about visiting the Lighthouse, Keeper’s Quarters and Cape Lookout National Seashore click here.