North Carolina is a beautiful state. Its Atlantic shore gives way to the Appalachian Mountains in the West, while the great American cities such as Charlotte and Raleigh are right in the center. North Carolina’s shore is full of barrier islands that jut into the ocean with lovely beaches everywhere. The beaches are a favorite nesting place for turtles and oysters, and small beachfront communities add to the romance of the place.
20 Best North Carolina Beaches
Here is a small list of the best beaches in North Carolina that you must explore on your trip to the US.
- Pine Knoll Strolls
- Shackleford Banks
- South Beach
- Topsail Beach
- Carolina Beach
- Wrightsville Beach
- Emerald Isle
- Kill Devil Hills
- Holden Beach
- Atlantic Beach
- Nags Head
- Carova Beach
- Nags Head
- Lake Lure Beach
- Kure Beach
- Currituck House
- Ocracoke Beach
- Oak Island Beach
- Frisco Beach
- Canadian Hole
1. Pine Knoll Strolls
Pine Knoll Strolls will delight people who love peace and quiet. Almost untouched, these beaches are hard to find, and yet are the finest of North Carolina beaches. The views from here are amazing, the Atlantic water is striking blue, and the beaches turn ember-red at sunrise and sunset. If the romance of the deserted beaches and the lapping ocean waters are not enough, you can visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll that has a number of excellent local exhibits. There is also the salt marsh that makes the beachfront aquarium’s backyard visit-worthy. To get to Pine Knoll, you just need to cross the Bogue Sound Causeway, pass the beach, and then go west till you no longer see any people around – that is the Strolls.
Location: NC 28512, USA
2. Shackleford Banks
One of North Carolina’s most scenic barrier island systems, Shackleford Banks is well known for the mounds of oyster shells that lie around the coast here. Located right at the tip of Cape Lookout National Seashore, the windblown shore is covered in shrubs and is popular amongst collectors looking for the precious pearls. However, the best thing about Shackleford Banks is probably the legions of wild and beautiful horses that you will chance upon. You can hop on the ferry from Harkers Island to this magical place.
Location: 2 miles south of Harkers Island, Harkers Island, NC
3. South Beach
This charming Atlantic village is a novel one! One, it is hard to get to this place, so once you are here, you will feel like you are the only one here. Two, there are barely any cars here and instead, people use automated golf carts to get around. Bald Head Island has one of the best beaches, including the South Beach, in North Carolina to go to if you want to de-stress. The three lighthouses will keep you company on this scenic island. To get here, you can either take the ferry from Southport or drive a car from Fort Fisher.
Location: Smithville, NC 28461, USA
4. Topsail Beach
The Topsail Island is another of North Carolina’s finest barrier islands. While the island has thick forests and the most amazing sea turtles, it is most popular with tourists for its spectacular beaches. Because the place is basically a finger jutting out in the ocean, there are beaches on both sides. The inlet prime is calm and perfect to go kayaking, or swimming. There are only two ways to get here, you can drive up the drawbridge in Surf City, or you can use the high rise bridge in North Topsail Beach.
Location: North Carolina, USA
5. Carolina Beach
While some of the barrier island beaches are better to visit alone, Carolina Beach is one of the best family beaches in North Carolina . While the beach has enough sand to make a small desert, the water here is also not very fierce and is safe for kids to go into. For the best views of the ocean, you should hike along the pine trails that will take you to the Carolina Beach National Park. There is also a whole boardwalk here where you can find ice cream and hot dog vendors and a ferris wheel that gives a bird’s eye view of the beach, ocean, and park. Proximity makes it really another Wilmington, North Carolina beach.
Location: North Carolina, USA
Suggested Read: 10 Destinations In U.S.A For That Perfect American Honeymoon!
6. Wrightsville Beach
This is probably the most accessible beach on the list and is one of the best beaches near Raleigh, North Carolina. Right off the I-40, the Wrightsville Beach is among the best beaches in North Carolina. However, easy accessibility to miles of golden sand and surf means that the beach is crowded, much more on holidays. An easy hack to this is to go away to the Masonboro Island, a protected island in the South that you can only reach via boat.
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7. Emerald Isle
Emerald Isle North Carolina Beach is popular with college kids on a spring break. Actually, the tiny oceanfront community is flooded with young revelers. If you are looking for a quieter time, go to the western half of the narrow beach. Here you will find a quieter place to chill with the nesting sea turtles which are protected by federal law. You should also go to the point where it runs into the Bogue Inlet. The narrow beach widens into a monstrous mouth, offering endless space for beach volleyball or frisbee tournaments. You can also rent beach houses here for the perfect beach holiday.
Location: North Carolina 28594, USA
8. Kill Devil Hills
Kill Devil has its place in history – this is where the Wright brothers flew the first ever plane. There was no Kill Devil town then, so you always read Kitty Hawk. There is a monument celebrating this fact. However, Kill Devil also has the most stunning and pristine beaches on the east, and there is miles and miles of sand along the Atlantic shore for you to walk on. The colorful cottages that occupy the shoreline add to the scenic views. The island is only accessible by ferry from the Roanoke Island.
Location: North Carolina 27948, USA
9. Holden Beach
This protected oceanfront settlement can not have buildings that are taller than 35 feet, meaning there are no views obstructed on this 8 mile long barrier island in Brunswick County. The town has a population of 575 and is a very quiet place for the perfect relaxing vacation with your family with the best of North Carolina beaches weather. To get here, you should take the NC 130 that goes to the Intracoastal Waterway. The island is connected to the mainland by ferry only.
Location: Ocean View Blvd, Holden Beach, NC
10. Atlantic Beach
A North Carolina beach extraordinaire, this popular vacation spot is in Bogue bank. Bound by the Bogue Sound and the Atlantic, the island has abundant public beaches and places to eat, shop, and party. This is a place to go to if you are really looking to let your hair down. However, if you do get tired of all the noise, head down to the Bogue on the Crystal Coast that offers the most majestic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Location: North Carolina, USA
11. Nags Head
A beach town located on North Carolina’s outer banks, Nags Head, is a great place to spend time on the beach with family. The beach activities, and other sport activities including, mini-golf courses, go-kart tracks for kids and a number of ice-cream shops. The beach is also pet-friendly, where you can also ride a horse. The are various restaurants near the beach that serve BBQ dishes and seafood snacks.
Location: North Carolina 27959, USA
12. Carova Beach
Carova Beach located in the extreme Northeast corner of North Carolina. The beach is relaxing and the Carova itself is a space suitable for family vacations. The place has minimal development but a lot of amenities. Carova has a multiple entertaining options for dining, shopping and watersports. Roaming on the beach, you will see a herd of wild colonial Spanish horses. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is another amazing attraction here.
Location: Corolla, Carova, NC
13. Nags Head
This beach offers a lot of activities and is perfect for all those who are interested in great thrill. It is a pet-friendly beach. It offers horse riding, go karting, mini golf and a lot more! So, if you are visiting North Carolina with friends, make sure you visit this beach.
Location: 2724 Memorial Hwy, Lake Lure, NC 28746, USA
14. Lake Lure Beach
This is one of the best man-made beaches in North Carolina. Located on the river Broad, lake Lure will lure you into its beauty and charm. Surrounded by blue ridge mountains, its shoreline will help you relax like never before!
15. Kure Beach
This beach is located on the banks of Bogue river. It is popular for water activities like scuba diving, snorkeling and more. Alos, it offers beautiful views, rich marine life and peaceful vibes. You can also go fishing here.
Location: North Carolina, USA
16. Currituck House
A clean, quiet, and serene beach, Currituck is one of the best North Carolina beaches for families. You have plenty of things to do. If you love horses, then you take a wild horse tour or even ride on them if you like. There are a number of tour companies in the regions which provide wild horse tours. You can also enjoy fishing, hunting, and more in Currituck Banks Reserves which is a natural area.
Location: Currituck Beach, Corolla
17. Ocracoke Beach
Ocracoke Beach is located on Ocracoke Island which is home to many more undeveloped wild beaches apart from Ocracoke. You can enjoy activities like surfing, sun-bathing, flying kites, and building sand castles. You can easily spend a day filled with fun and leisure with your friends and family on this beach. The region is also abundant in flora and fauna. You will find birds, turtles, fish, and other wildlife.
Location: Ocracoke, North Carolina
18. Oak Island Beach
Another one in the list of North Carolina Beaches is the Oak Island Beach on the Brunswick Island. You are going to love this beach because of its laid-back atmosphere and enchanting views. It is the perfect place to relax and peace out. There is a mini-golf course where you can enjoy a game of golf if you have had enough of sunbathing. Bike rentals and marinas are also available.
Location: Oak Island, North Carolina
19. Frisco Beach
Located on the southern tip of Hatteras Island, Frisco Beach is one of the most amazing beaches in North Carolina where you can spend moments of bliss and solitude. It is an ideal place for swimming. So, swimmers can enjoy swimming for hours here. There are a few restaurants and bars in a peaceful town where you can head to in the evening during your stay.
Location: Frisco, Hatteras Island, North Carolina
20. Canadian Hole
Another beach on Hatteras Island is the Canadian Hole which is a paradise for surfers and beach lovers. It is best known for water adventure sports it has to offer. The wind and water conditions for activities like surfing, paddling, kite0surfing, are always perfect. Its quiet waters make it popular among families. Stay till the sunset because it is spectacular.
Location: Hatteras Island, North Carolina
Further Read: 10 Breathtaking Honeymoon Destinations In North Carolina
If you have ever been to the beaches in South Carolina, you would agree that the ones in the North Carolina are highly exceptional. Offering a range of experiences going from the serene to the stunning, they don’t disappoint! Book your trip to the US and for the most enjoyable North Carolina beach vacations.
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