Ya gotta go OF!
It was a lot easier to get there the second time we went. It takes a little planning because you have to make reservations for the Cedar Island ferry from Ocracoke the day before and you have to be there at your reservation time -- which was 7 a.m. for us since we were doing a day trip. We were leaving from Avon so we had to actually take three ferries to get to Lookout, which meant getting up about 4 a.m.
The ferry ride is $10 a car and takes two hours, but it's a good time to catch up on sleep When you get to Cedar, you drive to Harkers Island, which is about another half hour, and that is where you catch the people ferry for Cape Lookout. I think that ferry was $10 a person. The first time we went, we had to make a reservation for that boat too, which was just a big fishing boat (no cars on this one). It only left at certain times so we had to rush from Cedar Island to Harkers Island. And the trip over to Lookout took a half hour or more.
The second time we went a few years later, a couple marinas had gotten into the act and they had a lot more boats carrying people over to Lookout from Harkers, not just that one. And all you had to do was go to one of the marinas and they'd just take you over -- it was a much smaller and FASTER boat. Quite a difference. They leave you off at the dock by the lighthouse and tell you what time they will pick you up. You have to leave on time so you can get back to the ferry for the return to Ocracoke. It's not like the Hatteras ferry. Only leaves at certain times and if you miss the last one for the night ... you get to stay overnight on Cedar Island.
There is a nice little museum at the lighthouse and, to our surprise, there were flush toilets. Once you leave the area by the lighthouse, there is really but nothing but beach and a few shelters with picnic tables back in the dunes. Nice to get out of the sun for awhile. We packed a lunch and took water and had lots of fun.
The first time we went, the shells were AWESOME. Big whelk shells, the kind you find pieces of on the Hatteras beaches .. we were finding perfect ones -- too many to even carry. And full scotch bonnetts and sand dollars. Saw turtles and BIG crabs. Being a seasoned beachcomber, I was in heaven -- I'd never seen anything like it. I learned that trip just how heavy shells can get - haha. Anyway, it makes for a long day because we didn't get back to Avon until after midnight. Talk about being tired!!!!
The second time we went at the end of our stay in Avon ... stayed overnight on Ocracoke, went to Lookout and headed home to Ohio from there. Checked out Beaufort and Wilmington, then headed north. The shells weren't as good the second time but just being in such a natural area is special. There are some fishing camps there so you see an occasional 4x4.
It's been a couple years so we're going back next year. Can't wait.
Sorry this is so long ... I get carried away when talking about something I enjoy so much. We love Ocracoke too and go at least once during our week, and sometimes twice if Molasses Creek or the Ocrafolk Opry is playing. I recommend that too if you have never gone to one of their concerts.