We would like to Thank all of our wonderful customers for helping to make Island Express Ferry Service # 1 of Things to Do in Beaufort on TripAdvisor!!


Enjoy the short ride to one of the few remaining undeveloped Coastal Barrier Islands. Shackleford Banks is a pristine, 9 mile long island that is the southern-most barrier island in the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Seashell seekers can also build their shell collections on one of the best shelling beaches in NC.

A 15 minute boat ride from Harkers Island Visitors Center will bring you to the barrier islands and pristine waters of Cape Lookout National Seashore. Enjoy the beauty and tranquility of this island.  While you’re there take time to collect some of the most beautiful shells in the world, bird watch, climb the lighthouse or ride the famous Beach Shuttle. Journey to the historic island villages that were home to commercial fishermen and whalers from the early 1800′s, where fishermen from various shipwrecks sought shelter from dangerous storms.

Famous for the more than 110 wild Banker Horses that roam the uninhabited island. This is one of the few places in the eastern United States where wild horses can still be seen. These horses are possibly descendants of Spanish shipwrecks from over 500 years ago and one of the few remaining isolated groups in North America.

Picnic, swim, relax in the sun, camp, or fish at one of the locals' favorite fishing spots. A variety of species can be caught by first-time fishermen as well as seasoned professionals. Anyone 16 and older must have a coastal recreational fishing license. Campers are welcome. Our vessels can accommodate large parties to this campers' paradise.

There is something for EVERYONE to enjoy on this island paradise!

Wild Horses

The wild horses are protected by law. Feeding, touching, teasing or intentionally disturbing wildlife is dangerous and can result in a fine and/or jail time. You must remain a minimum of 50 feet away from the horses at all times. Interfering with the horses’ grazing, drinking or resting can endanger their social welfare and health. If horses come towards you, move away or, if you cannot, stay very still while they pass. Horses have the right of way.

Feeding animals teaches them to beg for scraps and may cause them to become dependent on human food for survival. Once habituated to humans, animals can become dangerous on their search for food.


Leave Only Your Footprints Behind

Our mission is to balance human use and recreation with the preservation of the park’s natural and cultural resources. Without proper care, people can have a devastating impact on natural ecosystems.

To reduce human impact on the islands, visitors should: 

  • Walk only in designated areas 
  • Avoid areas closed for wildlife protection 
  • Carry out trash and everything else which was carried in to the park 
  • Keep food away from animals 
  • Walk only on designated paths or ground with no vegetation

Walking over vegetation can not only damage or destroy those plants it can also destroy the root systems which stabilize these islands and feeds the animals. Some birds nest in the tall grass. While others will abandon nests when people get too close–leaving their eggs vulnerable to the heat of the sun.

Sea turtle hatchlings are always protected by law. Please avoid contact with hatchlings and eggs. All trash must be removed from the Island. Trash left behind can kill wildlife when it is mistaken for food. For all of these reasons, Cape Lookout National Seashore temporarily closes certain areas to reduce the impact of visitors on wildlife.

        Today's Schedule

We are the ONLY ferry service authorized to drop off at Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks!

UPDATE: Due to high winds, we will not be sailing out of Beaufort & Harkers Island on Tuesday, March 19, 2019.

Our Spring Schedule begins March 1, with daily trips running every hour.  Our "Combo Trip" is now availiable to book.  Depart from Harkers Island Ferry Gateway and visit both Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks in one day.  

Book ONLINE or

Please call us at


BEAUFORT to SHACKLEFORD BANKS: Departing Beaufort at 9:00 am, 10:00 am, 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm & 4:00 pm. Return pickups are at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm & 4:30 pm.

HARKERS ISLAND to SHACKLEFORD BANKS (East End) and/or CAPE LOOKOUT:  Departing Harkers Island at 9:15 am, 10:15 am, 11:15 am, 12:15 pm, 1:15 pm, 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm, 4:15 pm.  Return pickups are at 9:45 am, 10:45 am, 11:45 am, 12:45 pm, 1:45 pm, 2:45 pm, 3:45 pm, 4:45 pm.