Beach Birds



On our last excursion to Cape Lookout Island, as we were riding along in the back of a truck to the sandy point, we came upon an enormous flock of seagulls. It was the biggest gathering of birds I had ever seen.


We first spotted them from far away and got closer and closer until the finally decided to get out of the way and fly into the air above us in one huge swarm. They hovered in the air just a few momentsuntil the truck passed, before returning to their place on the sand.


It was like riding through a bird tornado.


As soon as the truck dropped us off, I raced back to the birds.



They waited until I got very close and then they all flew off together, but then landed just a few feet farther away after circling around the water.




Times like this are one of the reasons I love coming to the sandy point of Cape Lookout island so much. It is a very uninhabited area and you just never know what you will see.


What I Wore at the Harbor

As the summer evening crept closer, and the blazing sun began to set, I wandered along the harbor, waiting for the boat that would take me out past the islands, and onto the sea.

I could explore the little islands all day!
I miss the ocean.

Beaufort Harbor

The Crystal Coast is bountiful with islands to visit and explore. 
The harbor is always filled with boats of every kind; ferries, yachts, fishing boats, house boats, and even the occasional pirate ship. (Pictured to the left!)

We traveled one evening, to the picturesque town of Beaufort, to wander along the boardwalk and watch the boats come and go, before boarding one for a sunset cruise along the islands. 

It was a peaceful weekday, not too crowded. The sun was bright and the wind was warm.

We boarded the little boat and set off on the adventure, weaving through all the other sea vessels and leaving the harbor behind. 

Boat travels are one of my favorite things about coming to this place!

A Walk Among the Dunes

On our beach trip we saw a sign for a 3 mile nature walk that we had never been on in our six years of coming here, so we decided it was time to check it out.
I brought bug spray with me, because on past trips we have been attacked by swarms of all kinds of biting bugs that live in the marshes of the sound side. But for some reason, I thought it would be a fantastic idea to leave it in the car, and come back for it if we needed it.. (What was I thinking?!)

Sure enough, after about a mile in, we started getting attacked by bugs, and the bug spray was far behind us. We contemplated turning around, but we were almost halfway, so we continued on with a bit of a sprint, in hopes that the bugs wouldn’t catch us.
After sustaining a fair amount of bug bites, we crossed a road and found ourselves among the sand dunes, close to the ocean. No bugs here!

As the brilliant blue, late summer sky hung above us, we caught a glimpse of the ocean on just the other side of the dunes. The bug bites all of a sudden seemed worth it. 

We could see the ships coming and going from the port as we climbed along the sandy ridges. 

It was a lovely hike, but it was midday in the middle of august, so there came a point where I wondered if I would ever survive the heat.

 I ended up making it back, but just barely! It was definitely an adventure!

Sunset on the Sand

As the sun set on the first day of our beach trip, the sky turned many shades of golden pink, and illuminated the water below. The sand turned from boiling hot to refreshingly cold, but the air stayed nice and warm. It was the perfect beach evening.

The tide was going out, leaving behind hundreds of tiny shells….

(And I wanted to search through them all!)

The whole shore was washed in pastel colors!

We wandered along the beach until the sun completely disappeared and the sky turned darker and darker shades of pink and orange. 

I love the beach!

Aquarium Visit

When we were at the beach last month, we checked out the aquarium on a slightly rainy day.

I love watching all the fish swimming around, it’s so peaceful.

I was very relieved that the only sharks I saw were at the aquarium. There were so many shark attacks this year, and so many of them were close to the beach we stay at! I definitely stayed out of the water this time around.

The first time we went to this particular beach, years ago, we didn’t have enough money to buy aquarium tickets, but we asked the people at the front desk if we could look around the gift shop and they said that was fine as long as we only went in the gift shop. We went in there with the best intentions, however, the gift shop basically opens up to the entire aquarium so we couldn’t resist taking a quick peek at the fish. We were only in there a couple minutes when all of a sudden we saw the person who had let us in the gift shop coming straight towards us!  We raced out of there so fast, jumped in the car and sped away. I don’t think the person even saw or recognized us though, but we sure thought we were in big trouble. Haha!

It was nice to return as paying customers this time. 

Adventures on Cape Lookout Island

If you asked me what my favorite place in the world was, I would have to tell you it is Cape Lookout Island.

It is an uninhabited Island, only accessible by ferry and is home to the Cape Lookout lighthouse.

On the ferry ride over, you may be lucky enough to spot the wild horses that roam these islands!

All the lighthouses on the outer banks are painted different colors as a way for sailors to recognize what part of the coast they are at. Cape lookout is unique in that it is the only lighthouse that not only tells you where you are but also what direction you’re facing. The center of the black diamonds point north/south, and the white ones point east/west.

The island is quite large, so there is a truck shuttle that will take you on a short tour through what used to be a little village, before dropping you off at the sandy point. 
(Say hello to Mr. Dragonfly who photobombed my picture!)

Many years ago Cape Lookout was home to a small village. However, when the island became a national park, the residents were evicted and many of the homes were either moved or burned down. A few of the houses remain today, and act as places to stay for researchers and members of the coat guard.

I would love to live in this peaceful little spot.

The truck weaves down a bumpy sandy path, through brush and sea grass, until you find yourself on a thin strip on sand extending out into the vast Atlantic ocean. 

The view of the point from space!

The view here is different than on the regular shore. The water is more blue and crystal clear, the sand is softer, there are almost no other people in sight, and the only building you can see is the lighthouse off in the distance. I feel like I could spend days here.

As we explored, we found there was a small lake that formed in the middle of the point. The sand there was so mushy, it made me think of cornflakes! You know, like after they have been sitting in the milk for a while and get all soggy.. It was quite funny to walk through.

The lighthouse is always in sight. Keeping watch over the shores.

The best part about Cape Lookout, are the shells! This area is known as one of the best shelling spots on the coast. I’m not sure exactly what makes it the best location; maybe because the point is so far out into the sea, or maybe it has something to do with all the old wrecked ships beneath the water that provide the perfect home for sea snails, or maybe because there’s just less people around to snatch them up. Whatever the reason is, there are hundreds of them just laying on the sand, waiting to be picked up and given a good home. 

It was a dream come true. For years I have been wandering the beaches, looking the perfect conch shell. When I saw all these guys just laying on the sand, I raced around like a maniac, stuffing them into my beach bag, and watching in amazement as more washed up in the waves.

During this trip I had hoped to find just one conch that wasn’t too broken. I got way more than I ever thought possible!  I’m not sure what I plan to do with so many shells, but they make a pretty cute collection, and remind me of my favorite place in the world.

I am already dreaming of the day I can come here again.

On the Beach at Night

We usually sit under the stars on the beach once or twice during our trip. But we had so much fun doing it the first night, we went out just about every single night we were there! The best part was seeing SO many shooting starts, which we found out later was due to the Perseid meteor shower. What luck!

I haven’t had the chance to do a lot of long exposure star shots before, so it was great to get some practice and play around with settings. I love how the photos reveal strange colors and things you can’t see with the naked eye.  We learned that what we thought was a cloud in the sky, was actually the milky way!  It was the first time I have ever seen the milky way! I have always lived in the city and rarely venture out into the country, so I was quite amazed by all the starry sights.
During the day we could see this ship sitting just off the coast. It was there every day.

 I zoomed in and saw what pretty lights he had.
This was the result of somebody walking through my shot with a flashlight. I kinda like it! 

And in this one, some crazy dogs with lights around their collars were running rampant. 

 This shot reminds me of the beach scene in the movie Contact.

I didn’t alter the color of any of these photos, I was too intrigued by how they naturally came out.

I want to take so many more photos of the night sky! 

What I Wore at the Beach

Most days we were at the beach, I lived in my bathing suit. But the times I wore actual clothes, I chose pastels and white because they seemed like the perfect beach colors.

The only time I really wear contacts is at the beach, and that means I can wear my beloved sunglasses! I probably have about ten pairs that are just sitting around collecting dust because I used to be a sunglasses fool back in the day, before my eyes went bad. This pair is one of my favorites.

Waves are really unpredictable…..
And that one got me bum all wet!
I wish I was back at the beach.

Outfit Details
Shirt: Forever 21
Shorts: Target
Sunglasses: I forget!
Sunhat: Target

Sand Dollar Island

While we were at the beach, we took a trip to one of my favorite places. Sand Dollar Island!
You can only get to Sand Dollar Island by ferry, so we headed down to the docks to catch a ride over.
 It is actually more of a giant sand bar then an island, and it is only accessible during low tide because it can get completely submerged during high tide!
 The ferry drops you off on this deserted island and comes back about two hours later, after you’ve had plenty of time to scour the waters for Sand Dollar treasure.

The water surrounding  the island isn’t very deep. Here I was kneeling on the bottom searching for the perfect Sand Dollars.
 The live ones must be left on the island though to continue their little sand dollar lives.  I had never seen a live one before, which are the dark brown fuzzy ones. There are so many that if you reach down into the sand at any point, you are sure to grab one! Finding dead ones takes a little more luck, but they are usually plenty.
If you’re lucky you may even find a lovely conch shell specimen!  I was so excited when I stumbled upon this guy, only to find that…
 Somebody was still home! I plopped him back in the water and watched him inch along the sand. It is so neat to see a living conch.
The view here is so pretty; other smaller sand bars stick out as a lovely golden among the bright blue water and then blend in with the cloudless sky. Sand Dollar Island is in the sound side, sandwiched between a few other islands so the waters are calm, and there are no big waves to worry about.

When we come to Sand Dollar Island, I never want to leave!