The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. --Jacques Yves Cousteau

H2O Captain is an authorized holder of a commercial license approved by the National Park Service for tours of Shackleford Island and Cape Lookout!  For your assurance and safety, travel with H2O Captain a permittee of the NPS!

Been on a Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Oceania, Quark, Carnival, Cunard, Hurtigruten, Norwegian, Azamara, Holland America, Windstar, Silversea, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Seabourn, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Regent, Crystal, MSC, Costa, Pullmantur, SeaDream, Star Clippers, Ponant, P&O or Disney cruise lately?  Our cruises are MUCH DIFFERENT!

Approximately 4 Hour Tours and Excursions     


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HorseLinda3400BWB Repeat - Boat, Walk, Beach...Repeat

Captain Mark's favorite, the trifecta of excursions (Boat Walk Beach), with a destination right dab in the middle of Shackelford Island. This is truly an "Instagramable" day and our most popular tour!

We first cross the Beaufort Inlet, a natural passageway into the Atlantic Ocean, then travel approximately 4+ miles on the protected waters along Shackelford Banks to historic Whale Creek/Gehrman's Pond.

Captain Mark will lead you on a guided land tour utilizing a circuit trail to the ocean side of the island. On this hike/walk through a maritime forest, grasslands, and dunes, Captain Mark expects to enjoy seeing the famous wild Shackelford Banker Horses.

Then, as if we were the first people to sight the ocean you will arrive at a heavenly beach to discover, most likely by ourselves. Identifying marine shells, including the Scotch bonnet which is the official state shell of NC, will be our activity, and appreciating the sheer beauty of the dunes and waves will be our companion as we walk along this beach. Then, and almost without notice, we will head back into the dunes for a dramatic scene of the sound with its picturesque colors. 

Keith Rittmaster and Captain MarkOf course, a dip in the water, whether in the protected waters of Back Sound or the Atlantic ocean, is always delightful!

Back in the boat, Captain Mark will take you through the north end of Middle Marshes of The Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve (RCR) up the entire Taylor Creek along historic Beaufort’s Front Street. From Lennoxville Point west to downtown you will have the town on your right and the RCR on your left. We have often seen wild horses on these islands as well.

Photo right:  Meeting at USCG Station Ft. Macon (March 5, 2020) with Keith Rittmaster (R), Director of Bonehenge Whale Center in Beaufort, NC. with Captain Mark Sonder, Flotilla Commander holding the bottom jaw bone of a bottle-nosed dolphin!  Photo top:  a wild Shackleford Banker Horse on the side of our trail!


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On The “Outside” 

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

This excursion is more susceptible and dependent upon wave heights, air temperature, and wind speed.  Local mariners & lore will tell you about going on “The Outside.” This is pure ocean-spanning as we travel in unprotected waters first to The Cape Lookout Bight then to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse.

With The Cape Lookout Lighthouse as our backdrop, & with his local knowledge, Captain Mark will take you to this ever-shifting sand area at The Bight. Look onto the ocean, breathe the air, take a dip on either side Ocean or the waters leading to Barden Inlet, this is what an ocean trip on The Outside is all about! It’s always a gift when we find a pod of bottle-nosed dolphins going to or coming from The Cape.

An abundance of shorebirds and shellfish species line the shore. We will find many and hope to identify some as we walk both sides together.

Then it is on to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse itself, with its Lighthouse Keepers house, now utilized as a small museum. The Lighthouse is a 163-foot high lighthouse located on the most southern point in The Outer Banks. It flashes every 15 seconds and is visible at least 12 miles out to sea. It is one of the very few lighthouses that operate during the day. It became fully automated in 1950.

We go back the way we came along the ocean shore of Shackleford Banks in the hopes of seeing the famous wild Shackleford horses walking along the beach.  Or, should Mother Nature raise her head, we will head back on the inside in protected waters.


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The Other ½ 
The Other Half Pine Knoll Shores CanalsIt begins with you coming down for the weekend. Then you rent for the week. Followed by many years renting with the conversation around the dinner table dreaming about owning a place down here. Then, the final decision to sell your home in the Coastal Plain, Piedmont, or Mountains and move down to the coast full-time. We will be “visiting” right by the homes and docks of the fine people who have already made that decision!

With your cruise commencing right by Money Island in Atlantic Beach, we will travel along the Intracoastal Waterway, a route between New Jersey and the Texas/Mexico Border, and view the homes of Spooner’s Creek on the mainland, then travel across Bogue Sound to the Canals of Pine Knoll Shores closely following the shoreline of the island back (tide dependant) and going right by historic Civil War Hoop Pole Creek to find ourselves looking at homes in the canal system of the Atlantic Beach Causeway. Bring your real estate agent, you won’t want to miss how the other ½ live!


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'Round We Go! 
Round We Go Beaufort Rachel Carson ReserveThis excursion was designed for the visitor looking for a shorter tour.  Feel like some Atlantic Ocean waves today? How about the sights and sounds the bustling historic town of Beaufort while passing by the Rachel Carson Preserve? This cruise will amaze you with sights of The NC Maritime Museum, Duke Marine Laboratory, Radio Island, location of U.S. Marine Amphibious landings, USCG Station Ft. Macon, Beaufort Inlet, Shackleford Banks, the Rachel Carson Preserve and its Boardwalk, North River, Taylors Creek, Town of Beaufort along all of Front Street, and Carrot Island.  Wow!


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Lunch in Swansboro and the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway)
Lunch In SwansboroThis is approximately a 5+ hour day. Captain’s Choice for lunch. The cost of lunch will be borne by passengers. The Captain will eat by himself.
Experience this classic East/West portion of the North/South ICW for approximately a 50-mile round trip. View various islands in either high or low tide as well as Carteret Community College, The Emerald Isle and Atlantic Beach Causeways (which we will travel under), Pelletier Creek, Spooner Creek, Jumping Run, Gales Creek, Broad Creek, Sanders Creek, Goose Creek, Deer Creek, and the mouth of the White Oak River.  This excursion carries a special rate.  Please see FEES.


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1st Mate Lucky the DogDon’t see your dream voyage? Want to explore another nearby area, for example up to Oriental for lunch, area rivers, etc. Please tell us where you wish to go and or what you are looking for and we’ll try really hard to make it happen. Captain Mark's License allows him to take you out as far as 100 nautical miles (115 miles) from the coast in any vessel up to 100 Gross Tons.

In addition, Captain Mark has obtained a TWIC license (Transportation Worker Identification Credential). The TWIC program provides a tamper-resistant biometric credential to maritime workers who require unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities, outer continental shelf facilities, and vessels regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.  Let Captain Mark know as he is looking to assist our passengers looking for even more adventure!

Cost dependent upon job description.

Photo right:  H2O Captain's 1st Mate...Lucky the Dog