The North Carolina Coast Sights

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

  • Nautical Site/Lighthouse

Published 07/23/2015

Fodor's Review

When the original red-and-white-striped 1812 lighthouse proved too short and unstable, the 1859 structure was built to replace it. The double walls allow the tower to rise as tall as required—169 feet—without making the building unstable. This lighthouse on Core Banks island withstood retreating Confederate troops' attempts to blow it up to keep it out of Union hands (they stole the lens instead). With its white-and-black diamond markings, the beacon continues to function as a navigational aid. A small museum inside the Harkers Island Visitor Center over on Harkers Island tells the story of the lighthouse from its first incarnation in 1812. A private ferry runs between Harkers Island and the lighthouse. Anyone 44 inches or taller may climb the tower's 207 steps from mid-May to mid-September. The climb is worth it for an incomparable view of Cape Lookout's wild shores. Tickets must be purchased at the lighthouse on a first-come, first-served basis; reservations are not accepted.

Sight Information


Harkers Island, North Carolina, 28531, United States


252-728–0708-lighthouse ticket reservations; 252-728–2250


Sight Details:

  • $8 to climb tower; $15 for ferry from Harkers Island
  • mid-May–mid-Sept., Wed.–Sat. 10–3:45 (to 4:45 early July–mid-Aug.)

Published 07/23/2015


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