Cape Lookout National Seashore, located on the central coast of North Carolina, was a destination that’s been on my short list for roughly a decade. It offers what are possibly some of the most remote, unspoiled, and adventure-friendly beaches on the east coast of the mainland United States.
I’ve missed multiple opportunities to visit Cape Lookout over the years. So when our friends, Overland Kwest, consisting of Tyler, Christine, and pups, Brady and Grace, extended a public invite for other overland enthusiasts to join them for a long weekend of beach camping, I jumped at the chance.
With the James Baroud Rooftop Tent freshly installed on the roof of the new Jeep, and Tyler with his brand new, 2016 Toyota 4Runner, Premium Trail Edition, we were all chomping at the bit for some oceanside adventure.
The trip was to span four full days: Thursday through Sunday, and it was approximately an eight hour, 500 mile drive from home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In order to maximize my time, I left directly from work at 4:30 PM on Wednesday, and departed from the island at the same time on Sunday. That was a brutal travel itinerary – especially on I-95, which I’m pretty sure is the 10th circle of hell.
One thing that contributes to the relatively low population of Cape Lookout, which is located near many popular Outer Banks vacation spots, is that it is only accessible by ferry. If you’re not interested in taking a vehicle, you can take a passenger ferry for $16.00 per person. If vehicle-supported adventure is your forte, you can expect to pay at least $40.00, one-way, for a reservation on a vehicle ferry.
The ferries are small, accommodating approximately four to six vehicles in one trip, and during the summer, the service supposedly gets reasonably busy, so plan your trip and make reservations well in advance.
I arrived in Davis, North Carolina, at 1:45 AM on Thursday, well in advance of my 8:30 AM ferry reservation at Cape Lookout Cabins. So I pulled into a parking lot where I could discreetly deploy the rooftop tent to get some sleep for the remainder of the night.