Shackleford Banks, North Carolina

This Friday is not a Flashback Friday because I am really excited to blog about our day trip last weekend! Our trip to Shackleford Banks this past weekend is one that I want to selfishly keep a secret because it was that good. Shackleford Banks is part of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. You cannot drive there, so we took a ferry. I do believe you can also kayak but from what I could tell, it would be a long haul.


Shackleford Banks is known for having feral horses; how they arrived to the island is a mystery, although it is believed that they are ancestors of horses that survived a shipwreck. We took a ferry from Beaufort, but you can also take a ferry from Morehead City or Harker’s Island.

Shackleford Banks was a location I had wanted to visit since we moved to North Carolina. I mostly wanted to check out the horses, of course, but was also excited to see other things the island had to offer including crabs, sea animals, and a lot of shelling opportunities (including the occasional, but rare, sand dollar).


The ferry drops you off on the sound side of the island, and if you want to check out the ocean side, it is about a 15 minute walk. The island is hilly, but there is a sand path to the beach. The walk wasn’t bad, but we all know how much harder it is to walk in sand! We didn’t spend much time on the sound side – a lot of locals had their boats anchored there and it was pretty crowded.


The Sound Side


The beach side is beautiful, but when we were there, the waves were pretty intense. I don’t know if it is always like that, but another couple on the ferry with us had been there before and warned us of the dangerous undertow. I didn’t really believe them because people have been warning us about the undertow on every beach since we moved here, but we have yet to experience it – but we really did notice the undertow at Shackelford Banks.


Shackleford Banks is a 9-mile island, meaning there is plenty of room to spread out. It felt like we had the entire beach to ourselves, and that was a much needed change of pace as the beaches around here are right in the middle of tourist season. In other words, they are packed most of the time.


Helpful Hints:
The ferry we took through Island Express typically leaves every half hour, making it convenient to get to and from the island at your own pace. However, when we went, it was very sindy, so they were only leaving once per hour. I would recommend calling ahead to confirm how often the ferry is leaving. The ferry ride is approximately 15-20 minutse, but because of the wind, we had to take a longer route and the ride was approximately 45 minutes instead.

While the walk to the beach side of the island isn’t bad, the sand was very hot (too hot to be able to remove your shoes and walk barefoot). I’m sure you all know how difficult it can be to walk in flipflops in the sand, so I would recommend better shoes for walking.


We were lucky and saw horses before we even got off of the ferry, but this isn’t always the case. If you don’t see horses, you can go off the beaten path to look for them (it’s also fun to explore!)If you anticipate doing this, I again recommend better shoes than just flip flops.


We had such a great getaway at Shackleford Banks, and the town of Beaufort was gorgeous as well. I would recommend this trip to anyone, and it makes me want to explore other parts of the Outer Banks.

Stay tuned for a post about Washington, D.C. because we are headed that way tonight!

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