Shackleford Banks

Shackleford Banks, Harkers Island: Address, Phone Number, Shackleford Banks Reviews: 4.5/5

Shackleford Banks
4.5
Islands • Nature & Wildlife Areas
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.5
234 reviews
Excellent
186
Very good
32
Average
9
Poor
4
Terrible
3

jcmnpf
Swansboro, NC17 contributions
Couples
The shelling is always amazing! Large whelks, helmets and the occasional Florida fighting conch to be found. We take the Island Express Ferry Service out of Beaufort and the captain/staff are always wonderful. The ferry trip is $20/adult. Bring sunscreen and maybe bug spray if you plan on hiking around to see the horses. There are tiny cactus growing out of the sand in spots so no flip flops (if hiking around).
To address the "terrible" reviews... I've taken many trips to Shackleford and never experienced what these people are complaining about. Obviously look into the type of your you're choosing and what you want out of your experience. Gas isn't cheap and they run every 15-30 minutes (not sure about the other ferry company). I have NEVER walked through ankle deep horse crap and urine and definitely never ruined shoes...unless I purposely found a pile and chose to step in it. Watch where you're walking because yes, wild horses live there. If you walk along the beach there won't be an issue. Hike through the island and you're going to see crap. The waves can be brutal out there and best the crap out of you..they can't control the ocean ..or weather. Check the weather before you go and be prepared..it can be windy out there..it's an island. If the weather looks iffy the day of your trip, check with them to make sure they're running. They post on their Facebook page early as to whether or not they're running. There are bathrooms to the left of ferry drop off and they tell you this.
Written June 5, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Loren C
Indianapolis, IN307 contributions
This 8 mile long island is home to wild Spanish Mustangs! The only building on the island is a bathroom. (Note: I've seen several reviews mention there is no bathroom on the island - I'm not sure when it was added but there IS a bathroom on one side.) While the island is undeveloped there are locals who like to bring their boats by and it can get a bit more crowded that you may expect - don't let this discourage you because there is plenty of island for everyone to enjoy.

To get here we took the ferry from Beaufort. Be prepared for the heat in the afternoon and bring plenty of sunscreen and drinking water. There isn't much shade and it does get very, very hot. If you're looking for shells I recommend arriving as early as possible. We weren't able to find any that weren't broken. To find the horses you may have to hike through the center of the island where they like to graze. I recommend wearing tennis shoes because the sand is very hot and there are small, spiky cacti.
Written July 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

John M
Raleigh, NC1,844 contributions
We used the only national park concessionaire, Island Express Ferry Service, to safely reach the Banks in 20 minutes. This is a peaceful and idyllic area of pristine beaches and rolling dunes. The shelling is fantastic - more than we've ever seen elsewhere on the North Carolina coast. And we saw at close distance four of the resident feral descendants of Spanish mustangs. Wonderful! It's a great way to spend three or more hours. There is a primitive bathroom, but no water. Bring what you need!
Written May 14, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

John W
1 contribution
Couples
At first, I thought they were great. We overslept and they graciously moved our tour to the following day. But then at 8:26 AM as we were pulling in to park, after getting up early and driving half an hour, they called to inform us they’re canceling due to weather. The kicker? The day before, even after the tour left, we still could have just taken the ferry on our own, seen the horses on our own, and collected shells on our own. Don’t bother making advance bookings unless it’s super busy. Now I have to wait a week while the refund processes, and I’m out the gas. This might be a good time, but do it on your own.
Written October 7, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Anthony C
1 contribution
Friends
Overall it was a successful day but I’d suggest just taking the ferry to the island to explore yourself rather than doing the horse tour. I understand these are wild creatures and may or may not appear while there, but the trip was described as a horse and shelling tour. The guide would stop every 20 feet or so to tell a long winded story and any time we provided any sort of banter (as she started the trip very light hearted and fun) we were met with digs such as “this isn’t the time to be funny or to be a marine”. There were others but without the context they won’t make sense. We finally made it to the beach to shell after only seeing ONE horse on the horizon (needed to use a zoom lens to see it) where she said we had an hour on the beach before needing to be back at the boat. Well after about 10 minutes of shelling she went up ahead with the rest of the group leaving 5 of us behind! We stayed there to shell not knowing really where to go and ultimately missed the ferry back. Luckily they come hourly so that wasn’t a big deal. It just seemed unorganized and lack-luster. After she left us we actually found 6 horses on our own! I’d still suggest going to the island for the day- but explore on your own! The tour wasn’t all that great.
Written May 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Sharon M
27 contributions
Family
Seeing the wild horses was worth every penny of the ferry fee! We spent two hours exploring the island and had a blast. Be aware there are no restroom facilities on the island and depending on where you disembark the ferry you may be wading in ankle deep water. Other than that you couldn’t ask for a better wildlife adventure with beautiful sea shells to boot!
Written October 29, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Karl N
Chesapeake, VA65 contributions
Family
My family and I visited Cape Lookout for an unfortunately rainy weekend in June.
The highlight of the trip was the afternoon we got at Shackleford Banks.
If you're a fan of remote beaches, and getting away from people, this is your happy place. The place is totally undisturbed by people, not even a trash can.. you can walk for miles on the shoreline and not see another person, just birds, bunnies, wild horses, and sea shells. It's a little muddy, lots of bugs, some sticker grass inland, but definitely a memorable place to unwind..
Bring bug spray, shoes to walk in mud, (flip flops don't work), water and sunscreen!
Written June 14, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Morgan S
8 contributions
Couples
We took a ferry from the park service to Shackleford Banks and to Cedar Point. At Shackleford Banks we saw the wild horses and walked around the shore for an hour. It was very peaceful - I’d definitely recommend it!
Written May 19, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

mikeandterri
Vienna, VA129 contributions
Took the Island Express ferry with Captain Amy to the island. She was funny and informative and the trip was pleasant even though we had to wear a mask. The island was beautiful and the horses were pure bred Spanish Mustangs. If you want shells, go early or on the first boat after high tide. The best shelling is when the tide is going out.
Written October 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Sarah A
Carroll, OH39 contributions
Family
Great day trip for families. We had a great day on the island. We took the ferry which was fun. We took our kids ages 11,8, and 3. Very fun looking around at horses and the shells. We never did find the bathroom. We were able to stay 3 hours. The kids just got tired of walking and there’s not much shade. You must bring everything you would need . You can swim there if you bring your swimming things and are careful.
Written July 11, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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