20 Best North Carolina Beaches To Visit

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North Carolina is bordered to the north by Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and Tennessee to the west. It’s no surprise that North Carolina beaches are some of the most exotic in the United States. 

With 300 miles of beaches identified by charming coastal towns and beautiful culture, beaches in North Carolina are the best to visit for your vacation or weekend getaway. 

If you are planning for a vacation, a good weekend with family and friends, or maybe just a travel inspiration, then look no further. We will look at some of the best beaches in North Carolina that you can visit. Here are 20 of the most stunning North Carolina beaches you should explore.

Best Charlotte, North Carolina Beaches

While beaches might not be the first things Charlotte is known for, there are some beautiful shores you can explore near the city.

Emerald Isle

The Emerald Isle is one of the beaches in North Carolina, with miles of crystal clear shorelines, a calm atmosphere, and a popular fishing site for fish enthusiasts. There are plenty of reasons to call this long expanse of sand and water one of the best North Carolina beaches. 

To get a firsthand experience, stroll along one of the numerous nature trails that make their way through the forest. Whether you’re visiting for water sports or to listen and enjoy the sounds made by the splash of water or the waves rolling in, Emerald is one of the beaches in North Carolina you should visit.

Wrightsville Beach

This beach is probably the most accessible of all the beaches in North Carolina. Wrightsville Beach is along a town in New Hanover County, North Carolina. It is one of the popular beaches near Charlotte. 

With easy access and a stretch of golden sand, this beach is crowded most of the time, especially on weekends and holidays. For those who are not lovers of water activities, the fine sands and crystal-clear waters are perfect for relaxing and adjusting to the beautiful scenery. 

The beach is wide and long, with two piers jutting into the ocean, perfect for catching sunrise and sunset or exploring the marine life there. 

Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach sits along the Cape Fear River. She is home to a beautiful stretch of shoreline housing restaurants, amusement rides, and fishing sports. While some beaches are better to visit alone, Carolina beach is one of the best North Carolina beaches for friends and loved ones. 

Although the beach houses enough sand to build a small city, the water is relatively calm and is safe for kids. To get the best ocean views, take a hike along the pine trails leading to Carolina Beach National Park. 

There is also a whole boardwalk where you can treat yourself to delicious ice cream, hot dogs, and barbecue.

Atlantic Beach

One of the best North Carolina beaches, Atlantic Beach, is in Carteret County. This well-known relaxation spot is in Bogue bank. Bordered by the Bogue Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, the Atlantic beach is home to an extraordinary stretch of beautiful golden sand and a lovely view.

When you are tired of the city and need a serene place to get away for the weekend, you should head down to the Bogue. On the Crystal Coast, you’ll find one of the top North Carolina beaches that offer the most majestic views of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Topsail Beach

In North Carolina, you have numerous choices. Topsail beach is a 26-mile stretch of nature, and beauty is waiting to greet your presence.

The Topsail beach, located in Pender County, greets its visitors with thick forests and incredible sea turtles. It is popular among the North Carolina beaches as tourists flock there for its alluring nature.

The inlet prime is calm and perfect for kayaking or swimming. There are only two ways to access the beach. You can drive up Surf City’s drawbridge or use North Topsail Beach’s high-rise bridge. 

On the Atlantic side, there is a seemingly endless stretch of sand for visitors to take a walk. If you’re picking seashells, you will find some of the finest collections of shells that North Carolina’s coast offers.


Best Raleigh, North Carolina Beaches

Kure Beach

Kure beach is along the banks of the Bogue river in North Carolina. It is well known for water activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, and more. Kure beach has beautiful views, abundant marine life, and peaceful and quiet vibes, making it among the most beautiful beaches in North Carolina. Aquatic lovers can also go fishing and explore the marine life there. 

Holden Beach

Holden is a North Carolina beach that is renowned for its tranquil and calm environment and fantastic weather. This beach is only connected to the mainland by ferry, and there is no obstruction of views on this 8-mile extended mix of nature and elegance. On ocean view blvd, Holden beach is one of the best beaches in North Carolina for a beautiful vacation with your family. 

Oak Island Beach

There are many scenic beaches in North Carolina, and Oak island beach is certainly one. It is located on Brunswick Island. On the southern end of North Carolina’s magnificent and picture-perfect coastline, the Town of Oak Island has about 10 miles of beachfront along the 12-mile-long Oak Island, from which it got its name.

This beach is captivating because of its calm atmosphere and breathtaking views. It is the perfect place to relax from the stress and hustle of the city. You have a mini-golf course where you can have fun after walking along the shore. 

Bike rentals and marinas are also available. With its incredible southward facing shoreline, visitors receive a beautiful view of the sunrise and sunset over the ocean. It is one of the finest North Carolina beaches.

Best Beaches In North Carolina For Families

Families love some of the beaches because they have access to many fun activities. Your family members, regardless of age, will undoubtedly have a wonderful time exploring the best North Carolina beaches.

Nags Head Beach – Nags Head

Nags Head beach is located on North Carolina’s outer banks and is renowned for its towering dunes. It is one of the best beaches in North Carolina to spend quality time with family. 

This location has amenities for sports activities, including mini-golf courses, horse riding, beach soccer, and go-kart tracks for kids. Along the beach, treat yourself to delicious ice cream and outer banks restaurants where you can get BBQ dishes and seafood snacks. 

Close by is Jockey’s Ridge State Park, with giant dunes and the Bodie Island Lighthouse going back to the early 1870s. It takes effort to climb the stairs to the top, but the view up and down the coast is incredible and worth it. The beach is also pet-friendly, so if you are looking for the best beaches in North Carolina for families to visit, Nags Head is just the right pick. 

Corolla Beach – Corolla

Corolla Beach is in the extreme Northeast corner of North Carolina. It is undoubtedly one of the top beaches for families to have vacations filled with beautiful memories. 

The beach is relaxing and calm. Corolla offers several intriguing options for dining, shopping, and water sports. It is not uncommon for you to encounter a herd of wild Colonial Spanish horses. It is also an ideal area for bird-watching and wildlife spotting, and a great spot if you wish to go shelling in the Outer Banks. 

There are no services available, so do not forget to bring all your beach or outdoor supplies. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is another very fantastic allure here. Corolla beach is one of the North Carolina Beaches where you can witness nature, elegance, and quiet at once. 

Kill Devil Hills Beach – Kill Devil Hills

History remembers Kill Devil Hills as the site of the Wright brothers memorial, where the Wright brothers flew the first ever plane on Thursday, December 17, 1903. This memory already writes the kill devil hills into the heart of tourists as one of the most outstanding North Carolina beaches. 

The Kill Devil Hills is not just a memorial site. Still, it’s also home to very extraordinary and beautiful beaches. There are miles and miles of sand along the Atlantic shore for you to take a walk with your spouse or family. Kill Devil Hills is in Dare County, North Carolina, with several beachside restaurants and hotels. 

South Beach – Buxton

Are you around Smithville and thinking to spend some time by the water? Then south beach is a charming and wonderful pick for you and your family. But don’t forget that it’s one of the beaches in North Carolina that is home to sharks. Beauty, elegance, and warm water await you at the south beach.

If you’re going to be in Buxton for a while, Lighthouse View is a nice seafront accommodation that is also near to the Buxton Woods Nature Trail. It is a great base for both hiking in nature and relaxing on the beach.

Ocracoke Beach – Ocracoke

Ocracoke Beach is on Ocracoke Island that houses various undeveloped wild beaches asides from Ocracoke. On this beach, you can engage in activities like surfing, sun-bathing, kite flying, and building sand castles. 

You can also spend leisure time with your friends and family and enjoy beautiful sights of birds, turtles, fish, and various wildlife here. Ocracoke beach is up there with the best North Carolina beaches. 

Shackleford Banks – Shackleford

An excellent beach camping site, Shackleford Banks is home to mounds of oyster shells, a herd of wild horses, scallops, crabs, and numerous sea animals. Located 2 miles south of Harkers Island, Shackleford Banks is one of the most fantastic North Carolina beaches. If you love precious pearls, this is just the right pick for you as it greets you with collections of beautiful stones.

Currituck Beach – Corolla

Currituck offers a neat, peaceful, and serene beach on the outer banks of Corolla. Several tour companies in the region provide services for horse tours. You may go on a wild horse tour or even ride on them if you can. For fishing enthusiasts, you can enjoy fishing, hunting, and more in Currituck Banks Reserves, a natural area. These qualities make it one of the best North Carolina beaches for families to visit. 

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Other Popular Beaches In North Carolina

Canadian Hole – Buxton

Canadian Hole may not sound familiar to the vacationer. But to windsurfers nationwide, the name summons thoughts of a picturesque locale on the Outer Banks, where windsurfing and water sports conditions are at their global peak. Any given day is a great day to enjoy the ride. As beaches in North Carolina go, you can’t miss the sunset of the Canadian Hole. 

Lake Lure – Rutherford County

Lake Lure is in Rutherford County. It is one of the best artificial beaches in North Carolina. As the name implies, lake Lure will lure you into its elegance and charm. Blue ridge mountains surround the beach. Located on the broad river and is home to a stretch of shoreline that allows you to relax like never before. 

Pine Knoll Shores – Carteret County 

Let your worry fade for a moment as Pine Knoll Strolls bring you joy. The pine knoll strolls are a one-of-a-kind beach and one of the most elegant North Carolina beaches. It is home to amazing views, striking blue water, and beaches that turn ember-red at sunrise and in the cool of the evening. 

Aside from taking a stroll along the beautiful stretch of the beach, you can visit the North Carolina Aquarium aquarium, nature areas, and golf courses to have fun during your stay. If you want nature, quiet, and serenity at its best, then Pine Knoll Stroll is one of the top beaches in North Carolina you must visit. 

Frisco Beach – Hatteras Island

Frisco beach is in the small town of Frisco, situated at the southern end of Hatteras Island. It is a haven for beach lovers escaping the stress and activities of the city. Frisco Beach is undeniably one of the most amazing beaches in North Carolina, where you can spend moments of calm and relaxation. 

It is an excellent place for swimming, even for an extended period. There are bars and restaurants along the shores where you can head in the evening to get some delicious North Carolina food or treat yourself to ice cream. If you are searching for the best beaches in North Carolina, look no further. 

Beaches in the Tri Villages: Rodanthe, Waves & Salvo – Hatteras Island

The beaches in these three cities are seen as one because they form into one another as you go down the Atlantic coastline. Like the other North Carolina beaches along the Outer Banks, the beach along the Atlantic is also comprehensive and backed by dunes. 

These beaches are perfect for those looking to escape the stress that comes with the city because it offers solitude and serenity. The National Parks Service manages the beaches, and there is less and less development as you go down south. 

Kitesurfing and flying are also a big thing in this area. So if it’s your thing, then you’re in luck as it is one of the beaches in North Carolina where you can get this experience. The ideal location for kiteboarding is in the towns of Salvo and Waves. You can find excellent learning facilities, purchase gear, or explore the water there.

Enjoying Beautiful North Carolina Beaches

The North Carolina coast is amongst the most popular vacation destinations in the United States. With more than 300 miles of pristine sand, North Carolina beaches offer the ideal spot to relax on a sunny day. 

The beaches in North Carolina attract millions of tourists every year. If you’re planning to visit the state, there are numerous coastal views you won’t want to miss. Thanks to the state’s mild climate, you can enjoy the ocean all year. In addition, there are many things that North Carolina is known for that makes it an interesting travel destination.



Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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