From family-friendly beaches to romantic getaways, North Carolina, backed by the Atlantic to the east, is no wonder one of the nation’s best beach destinations. It boasts 300 miles of sandy coastlines, conserved dunes, beachfront rental houses, and a few charming mountain towns. However, it is the beaches in North Carolina that attract millions of tourists from far and wide. If you want to explore all the trail-blazing beaches, here we have narrowed down the best beaches you should consider for sunbathing, surfing, and tanning.
Best Time to Plan A Beach Vacation in North Carolina
Although summer is the peak season for coastal vacationers, fall is considered ideal among the tourists who like to avoid the scorching heat. The mountain towns of the state experience medium continental conditions and the southern region enjoys subtropical climate. Tourists flock to the beaches in large numbers during summers, but fall and winters are considered the best, as during these two seasons, there are fewer crowds.
Depending on the season you choose, book a flight to North Carolina and explore its coastal cities. Here is our list of beaches in North Carolina you should check out for the perfect beach vacation in the state.
This small town on Bogue Banks Island, part of North Carolina’s crystal coast offers never ending views of the Atlantic. Its 12 miles of clean beaches, laid-back vibe, and a popular fishing pier. Locals in large numbers flock to Emerald Isle for picnicking and sunbathing as it has amenities galore, including grills, showers, picnic pavilions, etc. This water sports hub has Emerald Isle Woods Park with a disc golf course and a dock, a dock, a shoreline, and forest trails. Additionally, it is also part of the North Carolina Birding trail. Visitors to the beach often meet the local fishermen and even sometimes get to relish the freshly caught grilled fish.
The nearest airport is in Raleigh and hence, you can book a Flight to Raleigh to visit the beach.
If you are looking for a beach with fewer crowds and 26 miles of pristine sandy shoreline, just south of Jacksonville, is an underrated beach destination. The island is popular as the nesting site of loggerhead sea turtles. Who visit the beach from the Atlantic in mid-May through August. Hence, it is best to visit the island during these months. However, the local authority takes extra precaution to protect them and access to their nesting sites is impossible. However, you can visit Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation center in Surf City. Additionally, beachgoers can enjoy boating, surfing, sunbathing, fishing, or jet skiing.
This otherwise sleepy seaside town becomes a bustling summer spot, when tourists from nearby states flock to Oak Island to enjoy water sports. Its quaint, small town charm makes it one of the best family-friendly North Carolina beach towns. For a full experience, soak in the sun at Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island. The views of these beaches from the old lighthouse is a must do here. The fishing piers, ramps for boating, thrilling water activities, and restaurants and shops are enough to make your visit to the island adventurous. Additionally, if you are looking for more than just the pristine beaches, there is also a Oak Island Nature Center, featuring local wildlife and fossil exhibits.
Bald Head Island
Historically known as Smith Island, Bald Head Island is a village in North Carolina, located on the east side of Cape Fear River in Brunswick County. This small village is only accessible by ferry, and a ferry ride to the village itself is a great experience. Since no cars are allowed, you can hop around the village in a golf cart, bicycle, or on foot. Its 14 miles of sandy shoreline is the main draw, where visitors from nearby cities come for sunbathing, surfing, and even find seashells. Interestingly, the village is also home to 260 species of birds as well as alligators and foxes.
It may be harder to reach the island, but visitors are ready to take all the hurdles to visit Ocracoke Island to admire the enthralling sunrise and sundown views in the Atlantic. Its beautiful beaches are worth the extra effort. One needs to hop on a ferry from Hatteras Cedar Island or Swan Quarter. Lounging and sun soaking in the 16 miles of long shoreline are the favorite activities here. However, you should not overlook fishing, boating, kayaking, sailing, and surfing in the gentle waves. You should also go for a nature walk on one of the trails it has. At the end of the day, reach Silver Lake Harbor to admire the sunset views. There are also several restaurants and shops.
Atlantic Beach town has the most popular North Carolina beach. This family-friendly beach is one of the most developed beaches in North Carolina, and is located in Crystal Coast across the causeway from Morehead City. The beach remains packed with families, where kids build sandcastles and adults enjoy fishing, surfing, swimming, and sunbathing. Locals bring their pets for long walks along the ocean in the morning or evening. Apart from sun, surf, sand, and sea, this vibrant community town in Carteret County has several restaurants, shops, and motels, where one can enjoy the local nightlife.
This small beach town in outer North Carolina, is another small town, where one can plan a long beach vacation in summers. Moreover, it is also home to Jockey’s Ridge State Park that’s known for towering sand dunes and rich native flora and fauna. To make your beach vacation an adventurous retreat, visit the Nag Heads Wood Preserve and hike through Roanoke trail that leads you through salt marsh to a quiet beach. However it is mainly known for the largest natural sand dunes on the eastern shore.
Kitty Hawk is the site where the Wright brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright. Who conducted the first flight in Kill Devils Hills in 1903. Today, this historic city draws a large crowd of beach vacationers, where they bring their furry friends to enjoy the soft golden sands. The broadwalk and picnic areas remain packed with locals and tourists. Apart from the beaches, this small town is also known for Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve, where one can hike and kayak. The entire area is packed with thrilling adventures.
There’s plenty of beaches in North Carolina, and each of them offers an impressive beach experience. Beachcombers who prefer less crowded beaches come to North Carolina instead of visiting other popular beaches of Miami and Hawaii. These beaches not only offer picturesque views of the Atlantic but also offer plenty of sunshine and water adventure.