North Carolina

North Carolina is a coastal state with miles of coastline, and beaches are what make the Outer Banks so popular. However, not all North Carolina beaches are created equal; some are better than others. So we’ve put together this list of the best North Carolina beaches to help you find your happy place on vacation.

North Carolina’s Best Beaches

Emerald Isle

A quieter version of nearby Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle is known for its beautiful views over Bogue Sound. This beach is great for swimming or boating due to its shallow waters. Kids and adults can both have a fun time at nearby Salty Pirate Waterpark.

Ocracoke Island

This secluded beach will take you quite a long time to get to as it is only accessible by ferry, but it is well worth the trip. The landmark Ocracoke Lighthouse is one of the most famous lighthouses in North Carolina, and the beaches here are gorgeous.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

The sun rises at 6 am in August on this beach, so pack a breakfast picnic and enjoy some stunning views of the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. It’s also one of the best places in North Carolina for fishing and surfing!

Wrightsville Beach

Located in Wilmington, this public beach is divided into six sections that wind along a half-mile of the waterfront. There’s always something going on here, from music festivals to summer fireworks shows and outdoor movies.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park

This massive sand dune is one of the tallest in the country at 345 feet above sea level it towers over nearby Nags Head. The views from the top are spectacular and hiking trails allow you to walk up or down this massive mound depending on your preference.

Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw is another great place to stop if you’re looking for a quiet and peaceful day at a beach on an inland lake. Located in Columbus County off N.C. Highway 130, this spot features an active canoe launch area and shaded picnic tables shaded by towering trees lining the sandy shoreline.

The best part about Lake Waccamaw is that dogs are allowed on leashes near the water (and on trails leading away from the water) so you can bring your furry family members along for an outing like no other! Please note that this location does not offer any amenities such as showers or drinking fountains; please plan accordingly before heading out with your pet(s).

Ocean Isle Beach

Located on the state line between North Carolina and South Carolina, this town offers some of the best access to Myrtle Beach you’ll find inland. In fact, there is a nice strip of sand running from the center of town all the way to Oak Island’s beachfront located roughly 20 minutes south of Ocean Isle by car. This area provides excellent opportunities for swimming and fishing – just be sure to follow any posted rules and regulations set out by local law enforcement before entering the water! Also note that pets aren’t allowed near Myrtle Beach unless they’re service animals so it might be a good idea to plan your trip accordingly if you’re looking to take your furry family members along with you.

Bonus: South Carolina

North Carolina’s closest neighbors aren’t too far away with miles of scenic beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. Head south to find even more sandy spots perfect for tanning or surfing!