Shackleford Banks, Harkers Island

Shackleford Banks is a barrier island system on the coast of Carteret County, North Carolina. It contains a herd of feral horses, scallop, crabs and various sea animals, including summer nesting by loggerhead turtles. It is a tourist and beach camping site.
Shackleford Banks is located near Harkers Island, North Carolina, Beaufort, North Carolina, and Fort Macon State Park, and is a part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore.
In 1713, the Virginia planter John Shackleford acquired several large tracts of land in Bath County, which included Shackleford Banks. Among these was a grant of land containing seven thousand acres (28 km²). This tract on the early maps was known as Sea Banks. It was then, and is now, part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Carteret County.
When John Shackleford first acquired his tract at Shackleford Banks, the island was known as "Cart Island," most likely after Carteret County. The last of the Virginia Shacklefords apparently sold their generations-old holding in 1805, when James Shackleford (the spelling of the name varies) of Carteret County sold his holdings on the Banks to Roger and John Shackleford of Georgetown, South Carolina, where a branch of the Virginia Shackleford family had eventually migrated. That deed specified "a certain parcel of land on Old Topsail Inlet, beginning at Whaler's Creek on said Banks and across to the sea; thence back to Old Topsail Inlet." (The Shackleford family traced their Virginia origins to the village of Shacklefords in King and Queen County.)
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Shackleford Banks Reviews
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208 reviews
  • My family and I took the ferry here for the afternoon and our only regret was that we didn’t get there earlier in the day. The beach was great and the water was much clearer and shallower than on Atla...  more »
  • We took the Island Express Ferry from Beaufort to Shackleford. We were greeted by a mare and foal as soon as we got off the ferry. We kept our distance, but were able to admire them and take wonderful...  more »
  • Worth the trip! Beautiful unspoiled beach! Wild horses are amazing and great place for shelling! We packed a picnic lunch for the day! Suggest wearing good shoes, bringing an umbrella to get out of the sun, and lots of bottled water and sunscreen!
  • What an amazing island experience! We went on a sunny but chilly late winter day, but the beach side was still warm. We thought we would have to choose between shelling and seeing the horses, but while walking down the beach we ran into nearly a dozen horses grazing on beach grass. We walked further than most folks, well past any fresh human tracks, and were rewarded with a backpack full of medium to large conch shells in perfect condition and even a sand dollar (which I've never had the luck of finding before). Well worth the time and money, and we'll probably come back again prepared for camping overnight. Absolutely gorgeous place! If you come for the day make sure you bring a plastic bag and pick up trash that has washed in from the ocean on your way back to the ferry!

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