Everywhere you go, there are laws, from the stop sign we see on the side of the road to the local ordinances for different cities and towns concerning quiet hours and noise. Laws are designed to help us behave appropriately so we can all live together in our society.
Sometimes laws are different from one location to the next. For instance, using that same noise ordinance, one town or city might have a different time that is considered quiet time than another.
Some laws are put in place by federal, state, and local law enforcement, and in some instances, they are put into effect by private businesses or organizations when you are on their property.
When it comes to the beaches in North Carolina, each city or town will have its own rules and laws that must be followed when visiting their area, including the beaches they govern.
This will include such issues as dogs being allowed on the beach, parking, when the beach is open and closes, and drinking laws for when visiting the beaches.
Most beaches will have a sign or multiple signs that site the rules and laws that must be followed when visiting the beach. It is sometimes important to know those rules and laws before visiting the beach itself, especially when you are beach hopping or visiting more than one area in North Carolina.
Here is a listing of beaches where you can and can’t drink alcohol when visiting North Carolina.
North Carolina Drinking Laws
Thumbs Up – Beaches that allow alcohol
- Topsail Beach
- Surf City Beach
- Oak Island Beaches
- Emerald Isle
- Duck Beaches
- Cape Hatteras
- Avon Beach
- Kitty Hawk Beach
- Killy Devil Hills Beach
- Nags Head Beach
- Ocracoke Beach
- Bald Head Island Beach
- Atlantic Beach
- Sunset beach
Each of these beaches will have its own specific rules about alcohol on the beach; some will only allow beer, others will allow wine. Some of these beaches will allow you to only drink alcohol during certain times of the day or night.
The most important thing to remember that all beaches have in common is that they don’t allow anyone to bring glass bottles or hard alcohol on the beach. Glass bottles and hard liquor are prohibited on all beaches, even the ones listed above.
Glass bottles create many issues that go beyond drinking. Of course, there can be issues when mixing alcohol in bottles and drinking for those imbibing if fights or raucous activities happen, but glass bottles also mean others can get injured if the bottle break.
Some beaches won’t allow beer cans either, meaning the alcoholic beverage must be in a plastic cup. This prevents the likelihood that someone will get injured and creates a level of cleanliness that is a bit above bottles and cans.
Using plastic cups or something similar also allows the alcoholic beverage to be more concealed, so those who do not drink alcohol at the beach won’t easily notice and possibly be offended. It is also better for when children visit these beaches.
If they were to pick up a broken glass bottle or half-filled beer can, they are more likely to be harmed than if they found a plastic cup that got left in the sand.
Another important thing to remember when visiting the beaches of North Carolina and drinking alcohol on the beach is to clean up after yourself.
Regardless of the vessel, you are using or the alcohol in it, some people don’t drink alcohol and may be offended by finding and having to pick up someone else alcoholic drink.
Again, children can erroneously pick up things left behind, build a sandcastle, or play in the sand. This could be dangerous if any alcohol is accidentally left behind in the cup.
Aside from that, as a beachgoer, it is expected to visit any public park or place that you will clean up after yourself, regardless of the drink in the cup.
These beaches are provided to us as travelers for our enjoyment, and the more we respect them, those who also frequent them and the cities, towns, and states that provide us with this enjoyment, the higher likelihood that we will be able to continue this pastime for many years to come.
Cleanliness also protects the ocean itself and wildlife that live in the ocean. Anything left behind by visitors to the beach can accidentally end up in the ocean creating health issues for sea creatures and ruining the delicate ecosystem. It also wreaks havoc on our earth’s environment.
That is why it is important to do a final sweep of your area when you leave the beach to ensure you have taken everything you brought with you and disposed of everything that is trash.
Following the hiking and camping rule of “what your carry in you carry out” is a good idea. Therefore, having a garbage bag to place those things in when you are done immediately reduces the chance that any garbage, including alcohol, will be left behind.
Rules can change from time to time if there are issues at a certain beach. Therefore, it is always best for an adult wishing to drink alcohol on or near a certain beach to check the local websites, check-in town when they arrive or look for signs near the beaches they will be frequenting.
Thumbs Down – Beaches that don’t allow alcohol
- Carolina Beach
- Kure Beach
- Fort Fisher State Rec Area
- Wrightsville Beach
- Holden Beach
These beaches do not allow alcohol on the beach under any circumstances. In some instances, like Wrightsville Beach, they do not allow alcohol within a certain distance of the beach area itself. They insist that alcohol stays in restaurants, bars, and hotels and not anywhere near the beach.
This beach will impose fines if that rule is not respected, and then if you happen to bring alcohol on the beach that is in a glass bottle, you will get two fines.
Fines will be given if rules and laws are not adhered to when visiting the beach. This is true if you drink alcohol and want to bring it to the beach, but also for other issues like sleeping or pitching a tent on the beach and bringing your dog on the beach, to name a few.
I suggest reading our article on the least crowded beaches in North Carolina to avoid the big crowds.
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For some, an alcoholic drink can be a nice way to relax and enjoy a vacation, especially when visiting the beach.
In North Carolina, as is everywhere, each beach area will have its own set of rules and laws that must be followed regarding this adult pastime.
Knowing those laws is important; respecting them, our ecosystem, and the towns we visit are sometimes more important than what’s in the cup while were visiting!
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