Shackleford Banks is a tiny island just off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There’s really not much there except… well, horses. Yes, wild horses. Dozens of them, descended from beasts that either were abandoned by settlers or, according to legend, survived a Spanish shipwreck centuries ago. Either way, they’re very intriguing and friendly animals who don’t seem the least bit spooked by the many human invaders of their island retreat.
To pay them a visit, you have to take a ferry from Beaufort or Harkers Island. We chose the latter, since parking in Beaufort is very precious, whereas the Visitors Center at Harkers Island has plenty of free parking, even for an oversized monster like we drive. And it’s right next to the ferry terminal.
It’s only a short ride to Shackleford, and we spotted horses right away. Altogether, we counted 14 of them in the 3 hours or so we were there. In addition to crabs, birds, fish and jellyfish. And a few stinging and biting insects.
Just a short distance away from Shackleford is Cape Lookout, which features an imposing old lighthouse you can climb to the top of, as well as a historic ghost town and a beach. The ferry also goes there, but we’ll have to save it for a future expedition. Hey, how did our feet get sunburned?