Harkers Island, NC

Harkers Island (17.5 miles from Beaufort, NC), originally called Craney Island before Ebenezer Harker purchased it in 1730, is a small community along the Core Sound steeped in local tradition. Harkers Island was originally home to a thriving band of Tuscarora Indians, but by the turn of the 20th century, the only remnant of their settlement was a great mound of sea shells at the east end of the island. Legend has it that the shells were laid in an attempt to build a foot bridge to the Core Banks. The site is now called Shell Point and is the site of a park from where visitors can catch sight of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and many nearby islands.

Island Road is the main thoroughfare that runs from one end of the island to the other. Near the end of this road are a number of local ferries and charter boats which transport visitors to Cape Lookout National Seashore for a closer look at the Cape Lookout Lighthouse or unparalleled fishing and shelling. A list of ferry services from Harkers Island to the Cape can be obtained by clicking here or calling the National Park Service at (252) 728-2250. At the end of Island Road is the National Park Service office which offers a wealth of information regarding the area’s natural resources and coastal wildlife. Another point of interest is the Angeline Cemetery which lies at the west end of the island. The oldest recorded date of anyone buried here is January 29, 1938.

Harkers Island is probably most well known for its many talented artisans and crafters, including renowned decoy carvers and signature flare-bowed boat builders. The area is home to the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum. Their annual Waterfowl Weekend festival is held the first weekend of December each year. One of the largest off-season events in the area, it — and the concurrently running Decoy Festival — attracts nearly 10,000 people to see the work of and meet the most renowned of active waterfowl carvers. Display areas, auctions and competitions fill the weekend with interesting activities including decoy carving, painting and retriever demonstrations. Entertainment and food are also popular festival staples.

The Core Sound Waterfowl Museum is just east of Harkers Island Elementary School on Island Road. The museum is open year round and admission is free. Local carvers demonstrate their talents on the porch of the museum Thursday-Sunday. Information, (252) 728-1500.