Your Guide to the Top 10 Best Beaches in North Carolina
If you’re looking to explore the best beaches in North Carolina, you’ll love our guide. Check out our top 10 list and start planning your trip!
When it comes to the beach, any time of year is a great time to hit it up. Sure, in the winter you can’t lay out in your bathing suit, but you can still enjoy the smells and sounds of the beach.
If it’s not too cold, you can even still walk along the sand in your bare feet. And in the summer, beaches are a great place to cool off, swim, surf, and work on your tan.
But not all beaches are the same. Especially in North Carolina. It’s worth it to take some time to locate the best beaches in North Carolina, especially if you’re on a budget.
To help you figure out where to go next, here’s a guide to the 10 North Carolina beaches you have to check out for yourself.
1. One of the Best Beaches in North Carolina is in Wrightsville
Wrightsville is just east of Wilmington, North Carolina. The beach is actually comprised of two small islands which are connected by Shell Road.
It also boasts the second oldest Yacht Club in the United States, which was built in 1884. It goes without saying that Wrightsville is one of the more popular beaches in North Carolina for paddling boarding, surfing, and kayaking.
For those who love fishing, head on over to Johnnie Mercer’s Pier. It extends out 1,200 feet into the Atlantic.
2. Emerald Isle
The Outer Banks is known for some of the best North Carolina beaches. You’ll find Emerald Isle located in the southern Outer Banks.
It’s considered the crown jewel of North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. Since the island is between the Atlantic Ocean and the Bogue Sound, you’ll enjoy calm, see-through waters that’s perfect for swimming in.
For those looking to spot marine life, take a coastal boat tour where you’re sure to spot local wildlife like dolphins, local birds, and even the wild ponies who live on the barrier islands.
3. Carova Beach
Also located on the Outer Banks is Carova Beach. For those who love North Carolina beaches but don’t want to deal with crowds, Carova Beach is the perfect spot.
It’s the most isolated of all Outer Banks beaches and you won’t find paved roads here. Instead, you will find gorgeous white sand and tons of privacy.
If you’re lucky, you’ll also get a glimpse of one of the stunning wild mustangs who roam the shores at Carova Beach.
Keep in mind you can only access the beach using a 4×4 but rental homes are available. Just make sure you book your trip early to ensure there’s availability.
4. Topsail Island
Three communities make up this 26-mile long barrier island located off the coast of North Carolina. You’ll find Topsail Beach, North Topsail Beach, and Surf City here.
Here, you’ll enjoy natural beauty as there are strict high-rise development rules and only about 500 full-time residents live here.
And, for those treasure hunters, there’s a rumor going around that Blackbeard’s treasure is located here. Whether you’re looking to learn its amazing history or you just want to get away from it all, Topsail Island will leave quite an impression.
5. Cape Hatteras
Cape Hatteras is spread out along 72 miles on the Atlantic Coast. It’s actually a strip of barrier islands starting from Nags Head to Ocracoke Island.
For those who want to sunbathe, body surf, and comb the beaches, this is the spot for you. And for those who love lighthouses, you’ll have to come here.
Cape Hatteras not only boasts some of the best North Carolina beaches but it also has our nation’s tallest lighthouse. It stands at a whopping 196 feet and offers amazing views of the seashore.
And visitors can now enter and climb the Bodie Island Lighthouse which dates back to 1870 and stands at 156 tall.
6. Ocracoke Island
If you love lighthouses, don’t forget to make a stop at Ocracoke Island. There’s another lighthouse here that stands at over 75 feet.
You’ll also get to enjoy a 2.5-hour ferry ride, as this is the only way to access Ocracoke Island.
Once there, you’ll find a laid-back atmosphere and beaches that are scarcely populated.
But it’s not just about the most popular beaches in North Carolina. Here you’ll also find Springer’s Point Nature Preserve and Ocracoke Pony Pen.
7. Oak Island
Oak Island is perfect if you’re looking for popular beaches in North Carolina but can’t commit to just one place. Oak Island is also perfect if you like being amongst crowds since it’s a huge summer spot.
It’s also only 60 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach. If you’re looking for condos, click here.
Oak Island is perfect for families who are looking for a small-town feel. There are miles of beach perfect for fishing, boating, and other types of water activities.
You’ll also find great restaurants and plenty of shopping.
8. Carolina Beach
At least one of the beaches in North Carolina should be named after it’s home state. Carolina Beach stands for everything that makes a beach great.
You’ll find rides and games located on the beach boardwalk, making this beach the perfect spot for families with kids. The beach itself features white sand and is perfect for fishing, surfing, or enjoying great seafood.
In the summer you’ll find plenty of places to enjoy live music and fireworks. And don’t forget to visit the famous Britts Donut shop.
9. Kitty Hawk
Aeronautical enthusiasts will love visiting Kitty Hawk to learn the history of the Wright Brothers.
But there’s more to Kitty Hawk than just being first in flight.
It also features a quaint, historical village, a great beachfront community, and Kitty Hawk Woods which is a maritime forest reserve. Here you’ll also find great, fresh seafood, some of the best barbecues in North Carolina, and homemade ice cream at Bick Bucks.
10. Atlantic Beach
Atlantic Beach is located on what’s known as North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. It’s one of five communities located in the Bogue Banks area.
You’ll find crystal clear waters and it’s a great spot to come with large groups. For those who enjoy history, you can hit the North Carolina Maritime Museum in nearby Beaufort.
There, you can learn all about Blackbeard’s ship, The Queen Anne’s Revenge.
Discover Where to Travel Next
Now that you know which ones are the best beaches in North Carolina, it’s time to start planning your vacation.
Whether you’re looking to figure out where to stay, what food to eat, or how to save the environment while traveling, we can help. Our blog is dedicated to those of us with wanderlust.
Click here to figure out where your next destination lies.