With over 300 miles of coastline, North Carolina has one of the lengthiest shores in the US. The stretch has several beaches for residents and visitors to bask in the sun, swim, surf, build sandcastles and enjoy time outdoors.
Most of the shores are dog friendly, but each one has different rules. If you want to bring your canine friend next time you are having a family day out, here is a list of 12 dog-friendly beaches to check out.
Nags Head is usually referred to as the Outer Banks region by national media. The town boasts of low-density development, multiple open spaces, and an 11-mile shoreline.
With these characteristics, the area is a vacation hotspot for families in North Carolina. Dogs can enjoy the space between mile markers 10 and 21 all year, provided they are on a leash. The requirement is a 10-foot-long tether maximum.
If you want to give your pet some time off the leash, head over to Nags Head Dog Park, which is open to the public, and admission is free. Drinking water and waste bags are available in the park.
There are various vacation rental homes and cottages in the area for spending a few more days in town.
Manteo is a bed and breakfast haven as it hosts more of them than any other town in Outer Banks. Thus, you won’t lack a place to spend a few nights when exploring the area.
The town has a curved coastline that wraps around Shallowbag Bay on the eastern part of Roanoke Island. Here, you can explore the beaches with your furry friend, and he must have a leash 6 feet long or shorter.
While in the area, pass by Elizabethan Gardens to view the beautiful botanical garden and sculptures.
Another exciting place to check out is Island Farm. It is a living historical site where you can learn about how life was on the island in the mid-1800s. You’ll get to see the traditional farming practices, food preparation, animal feeding, blacksmithing, weaving, etc.
Corolla Beach is a secluded area in the Outer Banks region that is famous for its wild horses. Though they are beautiful creatures, both you and your pet must keep your distance (at least 50 feet from them).
Dogs should remain on a leash at all times, and you must clean up behind them. The beach does not have an off-season, and the rules are pretty much the same all year.
If you want to grab a bite, Corolla Cantina is a dog-friendly restaurant with an outdoor setting. They serve delicious Mexican cuisines with a coastal flair.
When the day is over, check-in at one of the many dog-friendly vacation homes in the area, or book a room/suite at the famous Inn at Corolla Lighthouse.
Emerald Isle Beach
Located on the Crystal Coast, Emerald Isle Beach has 12 miles of pristine shores. These banks give incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean. They are the ideal location for watersports, fishing, relaxing, and walking on the sand. Dogs are welcome on the beach all year, but they must be on a leash.
Beyond the sandy shores, the town has several forest paths and nature trails, such as the Emerald Isle Woods Park. The 41-acre facility has enough trails plus a pier and floating dock for exploring with your pet.
If you have the whole family with you, kids will enjoy a day out at Fun World Motorsports or Salty Pirate Water Park. You can also take a walk around town to explore the local shopping areas.
Indian Beach is right next to Emerald Isle Beach, with Bogue Sound to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. The area got its name from the Indian burial mounds discovered just before the town got incorporated in 1973.
Though the beach stretches for less than two square miles, the area is sparsely populated. There were 112 residents as per the 2010 census, so you will have lots of space to enjoy the pristine beaches and emerald green waters with your dog.
However, he must be on a leash. If you want to let him loose, Grande Villas has a bark park where your pet can go all out.
Fort Macon State Park
As a restored civil war fort, this park has one and a half miles of ocean beach where you can catch a glimpse of dolphins. Your pet must be on a leash, though, that is at most six feet long.
Sadly, pets are not allowed in the buildings and the designated swimming areas. However, you can walk around while observing the cannons and structures that were a fort in the Antebellum era.
Dogs are allowed on Wrightsville Beach only during the offseason (October to April), and they must be on leashes. In town, there are many water fountains for dogs to drink from and complimentary pick-up bags.
If you like urban life, Wilmington city is just a few miles west of the beach. It has a scenic Riverwalk with multiple restaurants, shops, galleries, etc.
On the other hand, Wrightsville Beach has several open-air villages, surf shops, and beach boutiques. Therefore, if you mistakenly visit the beach with your dog during the prime season, there are many other places to explore.
Carolina Beach has a laid-back vibe with live music, colorful characters, and a vintage boardwalk. It is 15 miles south of Wilmington, which means you can take a day trip down there with your dog and family.
During the prime season (April to September), you can access the beach with your leashed pet before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. The shore opens up for dogs all day through the low season (October to March).
While in the area, visit Freeman Park, which allows dogs to roam freely during the low season provided they remain close to the owner and are under voice command. You must carry at least two plastic bags to the park to clean up after your furry friend, whether it is low or high season.
Bald Head Island
If you want to explore an eco-friendly beach, we highly recommend Bald Head Island. No cars are allowed there. You can only access it via private boat or ferry, then move around using a boat, bike, or golf cart.
As a result, the area has unspoiled beaches, maritime forests, dunes, and salt marshes full of wildlife.
Dogs must have leashes on the beach during the prime season (May to November 15th) but can roam freely in the offseason.
The island is a perfect place to experience unplugged vacations while living in spacious beach homes.
Oak Island is a timeless location that has been attracting visitors since the early 19th century. It features a 12-mile-long pet-friendly shore with more than 60 public access points.
On top of that, there are several boat/kayak ramps, two fishing piers, and a marina. Therefore, if you are not walking your dog on the beach, there are tons of other activities to do on the beaches.
Dogs are allowed on the shores all year but must be on a leash during the peak season. However, you can let them loose from October 16th to March 15th in the designated areas marked with beach access signs.
The beaches in this town give sweeping views of endless sand uninterrupted by boardwalks and high rises. If you like watching the sunrise or sunset, this is the place to be.
You can take a walk to Bird Island, which is west of Sunset Beach. It is kind of like an extension of the unspoiled beaches.
However, pets are not allowed on the shores from May 31st to September 6th, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Offseason, they can get their paws on the sand, provided you have them on a leash 10 feet long maximum.
If you want to have a party, family reunion, or birthday party at the beach, check out the park pavilion rentals in Surf City. They have scenic views of the sunset and the inter-coastal waterway.
The beaches stretch across Topsail Island and are all dog-friendly. However, the rules require that he be on a leash that is 10 feet long or less. Also, you must pick up after your pooch to maintain cleanliness and hygiene.
Surf City Bark Park is the perfect place to give him space to run around and socialize with other dogs.
There are numerous restaurants in the town, and you should not leave before trying out the local cuisines.
North Carolina has some of the best beaches and beach towns in the country. All are worth exploring with family and furry friends because each one gives a slightly different outdoor experience.
Just remember to follow the rules set for each location, and you’ll be good to go. We hope this post will help you enjoy your time on the beach with your dog responsibly.