North Carolina is already a hit when it comes to finding breathtaking beaches with crystal blue water, but there's another reason to embark on a trip to the state's east coast. The barrier islands off the coast are rich in undeveloped land, meaning nature is at its peak here. These North Carolina islands to visit are abundant in rare shells, and you can gather them at little to no cost. 

Cape Lookout National Seashore is a 56-mile stretch of beaches that span across three teeny islands. It'll take a little planning to get there because it's only accessible by boat or ferry. Outside of the developed loading deck, it's essentially deserted on the seashore - no paved roads, no restaurants, not even a public trash can.  

Have no fear, there is still some form of civilization. There are island rangers and guided tours you can take to get some semblance of humanity.

Even though there's a lack of people, there is no shortage of wild horses. During your shell hunting experience, you'll be surrounded by wild horses that seriously roam every corner of the island. 

The best time to collect shells is at the crack of dawn, at low tide or after a storm. It's also been suggested to come during the off-season, as shells are more plentiful with fewer visitors. 

You can collect up to two gallons of seashells in a single day. Expect to find everything from full mollusk shells to intact sand dollars to shark teeth

You can opt for a guided tour for a helping hand finding shells, or you can save a few dollars and go wandering on your own. 

If you're a fan of shelling, you'll equally be a fan of these mines where you can dig for your own crystals. 


Cape Lookout 

Price: $16+ ferry ride

Address: Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina

Why You Need To Go: You'll find peace, quiet and seashells on these remote North Carolina islands. 


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