Bird Shoal, Carrot Island, Sand Dollar Island & More!

Dive into an exploration of some of the Southern Outer Banks’ most remote shorelines with an excursion that’s led by Island Ferry Adventures.

Featuring both transport to the outlying islands as well as guided tours of some of the region’s most wild spots, this tour company has a lot to offer for shell seekers, nature buffs, and everyday adventurers alike.

Island Ferry Adventures is based out of Beaufort, and is easy to access via a waterfront locale along the central and always bustling Front Street. There are a lot of services to choose from, starting with ferry transport to the barely offshore Rachel Carson Reserve, where wild horses, hiking trails, and exceptional shelling are all waiting.

The islands of the Rachel Carson reserve are just as beautiful as they are educational. Only accessible by boat or ferry, these islands are one of the best kept secrets of the Crystal Coast.

Carrot Island (Part of the Rachel Carson Reserve)
Visit Carrot Island’s 2 self guided nature trails that run through, and around, the maritime forest. Take in the beautiful views and watch the wild horses and other wildlife that roam the reserve. Carrot Island also is great for the bird watching enthusiast. Make sure to bring your camera to capture the beautiful scenery of this island. Tennis shoes recommended. Not recommended for dogs.

Bird Shoals (Part of the Rachel Carson Reserve)
Bird Shoals offers more for the beach combers and those looking for a quiet, secret place to just “get away.” You will find approximately 3 miles of pristine beaches with a great view of the Beaufort Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean. With no big waves or currents, these beaches are some of the safest, and family orientated beaches in the Crystal Coast. This is also a local spot for finding sand dollars, shells, and searching for the wild horses. Pack like going to the beach with whatever you want to carry. “Stay for an hour or all day.” Great for dogs.

Sand Dollar Island
Accessible at low tide, this sandbar offers the best hunting grounds for sand dollars. Located between Bird Shoal and the Atlantic Ocean, the shallow tidal pools surrounding the sandbar offer a great swimming environment and excellent snorkeling opportunities. Pack light sunscreen, small cooler with drinks, shell bag or bucket for sand dollars. By Reservation only.

Island Ferry Adventures kiosk and ticket sales

Sand dollars found on an Island Ferry Adventures tour

A view of the Shackleford Banks wild horses from Island Ferry Adventures

For something more in-depth, visitors can also sign up for a 75-minute Rachel Carson Horse tour, where the wild mustangs can be admired up-close from the vantage point of a sea-worthy vessel, or can opt for an extended tour to the Cape Lookout National Seashore, which is renowned for its miles of beautiful, unspoiled beaches.
From short trips across Taylor’s Creek to longer expeditions that cross the miles-wide Pamlico Sound, virtually any on-the-water exploration can be accommodated through the popular and locally renowned Island Ferry Adventures.
SAFE Swimming Beaches – Shallow water, and NO RIP CURRENTS
They give you the option of relaxing and taking in the sun on the pristine shores or exploring the natural trails where you can observe wildlife, such as feral horses, gray foxes, river otters, sea turtles and many species of fish, in their natural habitat.


Wild horses spar among the dunes - Island Ferry Adventures

A view of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse from Island Ferry Adventures

See wild horses with Island Ferry Adventures

​Just call or email to get guarantee your seats!

The ferry to Bird Shoal & Rachel Carson Reserve runs every 30 minutes, and reservations are not required.

Reservations are required for some of the other trips & tours,
so call (252) 728-4129 to schedule.

About Island Ferry Adventures



Since 1989, Island Ferry Adventures, providing a one-of-a-kind experience for all members of the family.

Perry Barrow a local from Morehead City, grew up surfing, boating, and exploring the hidden treasures of the Crystal Coast. In 1989 he started in the ferry business, and he’s been on the water ever since. Barrow knows firsthand how much fun and relaxation can be had on the Crystal Coast, and he wants all families and customers to have this experience through Island Ferry Adventures.

“What we do here is fun,” Barrow said. ‘We want people to have a great experience.” Island Ferry Adventures puts the Crystal Coast in a new light through adventures, and exploration. Open year-round, seven days a week (weather permitting), Island Ferry Adventures leaves from the Beaufort Waterfront to transport visitors to one of the Crystal Coast’s hidden gems: the Islands of Rachel Carson Reserve.

The variety of islands and activities provides a one-of-a-kind experience for all members of the family, and choosing a ferry from Island Ferry Adventures to take you there leads to unforgettable memories for passengers both young and old.

All Island Ferry Adventures destinations give passengers the opportunity to relax on uncrowded shores and enjoy nature through shelling, hunting for sand dollars, and watching wild horses.

Carrot Island is a nature lover’s paradise, highlighted by its 2 self-guided nature trails through and around the Maritime Forrest that explains the ecosystems of the barrier islands, Passengers can hike through these trails and look for over 200 species of birds, along with other wildlife. You may also catch a glimpse of some wild horses, as they wander between Carrot Island and Bird Shoal.

Bird Shoal, with its approximately 3 miles of pristine beaches, offers a great place to bask in the sun and unwind. The shallow waters, and low currents make this spot perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and hunting for sand dollars and shells. Wild horses may be seen here when they move from one island to the next. With all these activities to offer you can stay for an hour, or all day, whatever your schedule permits.

Searching for sand dollars is a must-do when visiting the Crystal Coast, and Sand Dollar Island is the perfect spot for it. This sandbar is the best place to search and find these. Reservations are required for this ferry as we run 2 hours before low tide.

The best thing about Island Ferry Adventures is that visiting these beautiful islands is very affordable, with rates ranging between $10 and $15. Even with prices soaring for everything, Island Ferry Adventures has held the same rates for over 25 years. These reasonable prices make it possible for families to experience the wonders and beauty of the Crystal Coast all together.

“We’re making it affordable for the family to go to a beautiful island, see nature, and get away,” Barrow said.