10 Best Beaches in North Carolina

10 Best Beaches in North Carolina

The 10 best beaches in North Carolina for 2017!

Looking for a calm and relaxing place to feel the ocean breeze and get away from the hustle and bustle? Searching for waves, shells, fun, sun, or peace  and quiet? Check out my top picks for the 10 best beaches in North Carolina for 2017.

Emerald Isle

10 best beaches in nc

Emerald Isle is located in the southern Outer Banks of the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. Emerald Isle boasts a wide variety of outdoor activity including shelling, swimming, and the Bogue Island Pier makes for a great fishing spot for some of the best saltwater catches along the East Coast. The bicycle path, The Emerald Path extends approximately 11 miles from the Indian Beach town limits all the way to The Point at Bogue Inlet. The path winds through grassy areas along Coast Guard Road to Loon Drive, snakes through wooded areas from Loon Drive to the Welcome Center, meanders through the downtown district and passes the Municipal Complex at Black Skimmer Drive and ends at the eastern town limits.  The bike path provides an alternative means of transportation to key destinations in town, as well as provides an additional recreational opportunity in Emerald Isle. Shopping and restaurants are plentiful as well.

Emerald Isle lodging includes hotels and rental homes.

1. Avon, NC

top 10 beaches in north carolina

Avon is at the center of Hatteras Island, this beach is known for being clean, quiet, and recreational surf fishing. The Avon pier is a hot spot for those in pursuit of big gamefish like Red Drum.  Even though you can find fantastic seafood restaurants, a supermarket, and some of the conveniences of home, a rustic atmosphere still permeates in Avon. Exceptional shelling and fishing can be found just a mile or two outside of the town’s limits, but you’ll have to take a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get there. And because the area is so secluded, shell hunters will find undisturbed piles of shells to pick through!  You may hear Avon referred to as Kinnakeet by some locals. It was the name local tribe of Algonkian Indians gave the area, and later adopted by settlers. But in 1883, the U.S. Postal Service renamed the village Avon, like they did with most of the Hatteras Island communities.

Avon lodging includes rental homes and hotel lodging within 6 miles.

2. Bald Head Island

top 10 beaches in north carolina

When you board the ferry for the 20-minute ride to Bald Head Island, you leave your car behind, along with the stress of the mainland world. Golf carts, bikes, and your own two feet are the way to get around on Bald Head Island. Stroll 14 miles of pristine beaches, try your luck on the acclaimed seaside golf course, or just kick back on the porch of a cottage overlooking the Atlantic. Visit the oldest lighthouse in the state, “Old Baldy,” Smith Museum, take a ghost walk, or just enjoy the beach, shopping and food!

Bald Head Island lodging rental homes on the island, but hotels across the ferry in Southport.

3. Coquina Beach

The top 10 Beaches in North Carolina

Coquina Beach is named after the colorful coquina clams that are commonly spotted along the ocean wash of the Outer Banks, and can appear in abundance in the warm spring and summer months. This beach features golden sand dunes and is home to the shipwreck of Laura Barnes, a 4-masted schooner that was blown off-course from Maine in 1921. Coquina Beach is ideal for those who like to look for shells, surf, swim, fish, and birdwatch. Located just south of Nags Head, Coquina Beach is a refreshingly undeveloped stretch of shoreline that’s close to the central Outer Banks towns of Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and Kitty Hawk, but feels like it’s miles away. Coquina Beach is located along NC Highway 12, approximately 8 miles south of the Nags Head town borders, and is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. As a result, the beach is completely free of commercial development, allowing beach-goers to enjoy endless stretches of sand from the ocean to the natural dune line. And the only way there is by walking or via 4 wheel drive.

When visiting Coquina Beach, the closest lodging area would be in Kure Beach, Manteo or Nags Head – rental homes and hotels.

4. Harkers Island

Top 10 Beaches in North Carolina

This marshy region in Carteret County is known as “Down East” and has a total of only 3.8-square miles, (1.3-square miles is water) but it’s big on charm and beauty. Harker’s Island is a day trip away from Beaufort, Atlantic Beach, and Emerald Isle adventures.

Harker’s Island may be small but offers plenty to do. One of the most popular draws to this region are the Shackleford Banks, part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, where you can see wild horses, go shelling, fishing, lighthouse climbing or kayaking. Harker’s Island also offers the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center where you’ll find carvings, waterfowl art, music, storytelling, boat building and more. Don’t leave without stopping by the Harker’s Island Visitor Center. Here you can find an interactive map of the Cape Lookout National Seashore Park, the Kids’ Corner, a park film, informational materials, “Junior Ranger Adventure Books” and a gift shop.

Harkers Island lodging includes in nearby Atlantic Beach and Beaufort hotels and house rentals on Harkers Island.

5. Shackleford Banks

Top 10 Beaches in North Carolina

The uninhabited barrier islands of Cape Lookout National Seashore are a well known destination for “shelling” or collecting seashells. Knobbed Whelks, Bay Scallops, Scotch Bonnets, and other types of shells can be found washed up on the shores for visitors to collect. For the best shelling opportunities, try to comb the beach early in the morning, at low tide, after a storm, or during times of lower visitation such as the winter months. Shackleford Banks, the southern-most barrier island in Cape Lookout National Seashore, is home to more than 100 wild horses. Venture out by boat or passenger ferry to enjoy the rare privilege of watching horses that live without the help of man. Shackleford Banks becomes a nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles which come back to the shore each summer to lay their eggs before they return to sea.

Lodging near Shackleford Banks includes hotels in Atlantic Beach and Beaufort, house rentals in Nags Head, Harkers Island, and Atlantic Beach, or, just camp on Shackleford Banks!

6. Oak Island

Top 10 Beaches in North Carolina

Oak Island includes ten miles of uncrowded beaches, family-oriented attractions and cozy accommodations. Ice cream, mini-golf, and bicycles with bells and baskets complete the nostalgic feeling you’ll find there. On Oak Island, the water is always the center of attention with more than 60 public beach-access points, two fishing piers, two marinas and three public boat and canoe ramps. Cross the bridge to the mainland and enjoy strolling through a butterfly garden, or testing your game on several championship golf courses. Bring or rent a boat and visit the western tip of Oak Island where at low tide, you can walk across the tidal flats—almost to Holden Beach, and climb a small bluff for sweeping views of ocean and green marsh.

Lodging on Oak Island includes home rentals and hotels.

7. Kure Beach

top 10 beaches in North Carolina

Kure Beach is popularly referred to as “Pleasure Island.”  Colorful homes and billowing palmetto trees line Kure Beach, a white sandy beach located in New Hanover County, N.C.. History buffs can visit the Civil War relic Fort Fisher, while nature lovers take in the variety of marine critters at the aquarium including alligators, venomous snakes, sharks, stingrays, moray eels, seahorses, and sea turtles. Kure Beach is also a good place to get in a round of golf or explore the ocean by surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, or fishing. Did you know that the Kure Beach Fishing Pier is the OLDEST fishing pier on the East Coast? With its multitudes of shops and family-owned restaurants, Kure Beach is sure to please even the pickiest traveler.

Kure Beach lodging includes hotels and rental homes.

8. Duck

Top 10 Beaches in North Carolina

The beauty of Duck, NC is that there are so many things to do and most all of them are within walking distance. The village layout of Duck makes it easy and enjoyable to explore the town on foot or by bike. Stroll into town to shop or to get a bite to eat. Stop by one of the fresh fruit and vegetable stands to pick up something for dinner. Be sure to take in a breathtaking sunset over the Currituck Sound. The casual coastal vibe of Duck is sure to relax. Food, shopping, cycling, water sports, and beach. Who could ask for more?

Lodging in Duck, NC includes hotels and house rentals.

9. Carova Beach

Top 10 Beaches in North Carolina

Carova is renowned for its miles of privacy, including clean white beaches, a scattering of rental homes, and wild mustangs that roam freely from the ocean to Carova’s small residential neighborhoods. Carova’s seclusion is easy to explain, as there are no paved roads leading to this vacation spot, just miles of sand tracks that border the Atlantic Ocean. Vacationers who love the beach and don’t need all the extra fuss flock to the area in small crowds, soaking up private stretches of beaches, and enjoying the peace and quiet. Carova Beach is generally accessible by 4x4s only, and vacation rental homes are available for accommodation. It is strongly recommended that guests make reservations several months to a year in advance of their trip, as spots fill up quickly.

Lodging on Carova Beach includes house rentals.

10 best beaches in north carolina

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