Iconic sights, like the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum and the Civil War Trail, aren’t the only things that make up for a mesmerizing Outer Banks vacation. This island in North Carolina has incredible beaches, some ranked by popularity. And even though many people assume it’s one beach, they all have distinct features that make them stand out.
Some have a lively summer scene, while others are great for shelling, a family beach getaway, or engaging in high-spirited water sports. No matter the case, adventurers will find what matches their needs on one of these 10 beaches.
10 Carova Beach
Carova’s pristine beaches are known for swimming, fishing, and surfing. The secluded beaches make ideal spots for relaxing or driving around in a 4WD. The moderate waves are perfect for kids to swim as their guardians enjoy refreshing drinks. What’s more, tourists get to see the widely known wild horses roaming in the expansive spaces.
After storms or during low tides, beachcombers can arm themselves with pails to collect periwinkles and coquinas. These sea treasures make beautiful souvenirs and craft items after washing them.
9 Coquina Beach
Coquina Beach is a haven for beachcombers and sellers since it’s rich in coquina clams, clamshells, and jingle shells. These treasures are easier to find here than on other beaches. However, visitors should go early in the morning for the best discoveries.
The moss-covered rock surface against the blue sea creates a unique beauty. The best time to see it is at low tide when the surface of the moss-covered rock is fully exposed. Vacationers can also stop by in the evening to watch the breathtaking sunset while strolling along the shores.
8 Portsmouth Island
Portsmouth Island was once a thriving town, but a declining economy and shipping route changes caused the inhabitants to abandon their settlements. Explorers can see the restored church, post office, and Coast Guard station to look into the lives of those who lived here.
Besides being a historical village, Portsmouth Island has spacious, clean, and natural beaches worth visiting. The beaches offer excellent camping, swimming, and bird-watching sites. Visitors should carry lots of water, snacks, insect repellents, and sunscreen when coming to Portsmouth Island.
7 Cape Point Beach
Cape Point Beach is one of the best locations to go for shore fishing. The two intersecting currents provide the region with a variety of fish as anglers can reel in bluefish, drum, tarpon, and many others.
Cape Point Beach also has spectacular scenery worth exploring. Birdwatchers look out for birds in the nearby forest and along the shores. But those seeking relaxation, sun, and sand can pull out their beach chairs along the coastline. A barbeque grill plus refreshing drinks will make the sand and sun time more exciting.
6 Waves Beach
Waves Beach has a long stretch of undeveloped shoreline, popular with water sports enthusiasts, especially kitesurfers. Water sports lovers flood the beach during spring and autumn when the water and wind conditions are favorable. Visitors can also kayak, windsurf, and surf in the area.
In addition to hosting the annual Tripple-S kiteboarding competition, Waves is home to REAL Watersports. The popularity of kiteboarding in Waves led REAL Watersports to build a complex where adventurers can have fun in the waters, shop, and stay.
5 Nags Head Beach
Despite its odd name, Nags Head is a sanctuary of relaxation for anyone looking for a quiet place to recharge and enjoy nature in all its glory. The beach has 30 access points and is about 12 miles long.
The 1,000 feet long Jennette’s Pier offers panoramic ocean vistas from the top. Watching awe-inspiring sunrise or sunset from this jetty leaves vacationers in awe and with incredible memories. Additionally, anglers can catch fish from here with their own or rented fishing equipment.
4 Rodanthe Beach
Besides having a 700-foot-long fishing pier and being a filming location for the 2008 movie ‘Nights in Rodanthe,’ Rodanthe Beach has much more to offer vacationers. Nature lovers can head to the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to see shorebirds, raptors, and migratory birds. This sanctuary is also a habitat for endangered species like the Loggerhead sea turtles, which lay their eggs on the shore.
History buffs can explore the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station and learn about the historical heritage of this town. Visitors gain insights about the coast guards and artifacts from the exhibits.
3 Kitty Hawk Beach
A rich history, serene surroundings, and a beach with summer vibes are the main things that attract visitors to Kitty Hawk. Twelve boardwalks lead vacationers to the beach, but there are 266 parking spots available. Playing Frisbee or football are popular activities, but beginner swimmers can practice as there are lifeguards on duty at different points like Byrd Street access.
Kitty Hawk also offers a vibrant nightlife that lasts well into the evening. Popular beach bars like Ocean Boulevard Bistro and Barefoot Bernie’s Tropical Grill & Bar entertain party lovers with lively music and refreshing drinks.
2 Ocracoke Island
It takes two long routes to Ocracoke Island, but they are worth the effort and time. The 16-mile-long beach has a few campsites and offers impressive spots for shelling. Some magnificent finds along the shorelines include whelks, moon, and olive shells.
The Ocracoke Lighthouse, which is 75 feet tall, is a must-see when visiting Ocracoke. It’s one of the oldest lighthouses in the USA and the oldest functioning lighthouse in North Carolina. Visitors aren’t allowed in, but they can take stunning pictures with the lighthouse as the backdrop.
1 Corolla Beach
Corolla’s wild Spanish Mustangs are a sight to behold as they roam around the beach and in the community. Adventurers take guided or solo tours on 4WD to see these magnificent animals. However, adventurers should not approach them or feed them.
Thrill seekers ascend 220 steps to the top of the Currituck Lighthouse to get unobstructed of the Outer Banks. Vacationers learn about the maritime history of Corolla from this red lighthouse. The wooded areas surrounding this monument are ideal for biking and strolling around.