Why Is The Water At North Carolina Beaches So Murky?

While it’s true that North Carolina beaches offer beautiful white sand with wonderful amenities, the water simply doesn’t compare to the Caribbean.

When you see the water off of islands like Bermuda, you see crystal clear blue water. Off the North Carolina coast, not so much. It’s pretty murky, almost brown in some lights.

Why is that?

Why Is the Water Off the North Carolina Coast So Murky?

The water at the beach in North Carolina is murky because of the color of the sand the local weather. The sand is very dark, much darker than the white sand in the Caribbean, making the NC water appear darker. Local rainstorms can wash silt and debris into the ocean, further coloring the water off North Carolina beaches.

The color of the sand in North Carolina is darker than the sand in Bermuda; this will naturally make the water appear murkier and darker than what is typically seen in Bermuda but has no bearing on the cleanliness of the water.

Weather patterns play a huge part in how the water appears in any body of water. In North Carolina, if there has been a rainstorm in the last day or two, the water will appear murky or even dirty.

This is because the sand is different here than it is in Bermuda, and when it rains or there is a storm, the waters, and sand beneath are naturally stirred up, giving an off-color appearance.

The sand along the coast of North Carolina is lighter in weight. Therefore during a rainstorm, the sand beneath the water is stirred up and is suspended temporarily afloat in the water.

After a few days of clear skies and stable weather, the sand settles back down, and the water clears.

The sand in Bermuda is more coarse and heavy sand that doesn’t act the same way during and after a storm.

This can also make the waters murkier and appear to be polluted or unsafe to enjoy.

North Carolina is located along the southeastern coast of North America; this region is known for having some extremely beautiful weather, but it can also have some very harsh storms and weather conditions.

This is because, in North Carolina’s Outer Banks regions, the strand of barrier islands stretches out the farthest eastward into the Atlantic Ocean.

This makes it possible for the clarity of the water to change rather often, hourly, daily, or whenever the weather of this area changes.

Since there are more than 200 miles of beach in this area, it is possible for there to be very different weather conditions in different areas of the Outer Banks.

When is the water off the coast of North Carolina the clearest?

The water off the coast of North Carolina is usually the clearest during the Summer and a good portion of the beginning of Autumn and towards late Spring. 

Mild, breezy weather is enjoyed most of the time, and the weather patterns are more stable during these times.

This means that the water will be clearer and less murky than other times of the year. There are usually great periods of time, days in a row or weeks, where the weather and clarity of the water will be perfect.

A few unusual weather changes can happen here and there, but they are few and far between during the late Spring to early Autumn seasons, which is coincidentally the Peak Season for this tourist area.

When the weather settles down again, it can take a few days for the water and life beneath the surface to go back to normal. 

After a couple of days, the sand will settle, and the water will again look clear until the next storm arrives.

It should be noted that scientifically Ocean waters that are murky are usually a sign of good things happening under the water, as wildlife and plant life flourish as Ocean waters are rarely ever crystal clear.

What they use to determine the health of the Ocean and its underwater life is the color on the water’s surface which can be seen and watched via satellite.

The colors of the earth’s waters create a beautiful painting that helps oceanographers determine areas where there may be problems with pollution, and of course, where nutrient-rich healthy waters and undersea life exist.

Why Is The Water At North Carolina Beaches So Murky 2

Should I swim or go into the water off the coast of North Carolina if it appears murky?

Yes, you can go into the water off the coast of North Carolina if it appears murky. The murkiness is not always an indication of the pollution of bacteria.

Along the coast of North Carolina, the water is periodically tested for safety and issues with bacteria for the health of those visiting these beach areas. 

This will often happen numerous times throughout the day as the water is monitored for changes, which can happen for various reasons.

These tests will happen at various points along the North Carolina coast and the entire Eastern seaboard where the land meets the Atlantic Ocean.

If no signs are posted telling you to stay out of the water, and no one, such as a lifeguard, has told you to get out of the water, its appearance is not an indication of bacteria or pollution that you need to avoid.

If, however, this murkiness is worrisome for you, then, of course, do what you feel is best for your health and wellness.

What beach in North Carolina has the clearest blue waters?

The beach in North Carolina with the clearest blue waters is Shackleford Banks, a part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. 

The area, known as the Crystal Coast, has the clearest blue waters and many other natural wonders like the wild horses that run free.

Shackleford Banks is a beautiful place to collect shells and enjoy being with nature without the modern conveniences of electricity or houses because this area is remote and desolate.

Shackleford Banks is a great place to experience the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean and all that the seashore has to offer for the day. 

There are various sea animals, including loggerhead turtles, crabs, and scallops, and beach camping is possible for those who want to rough it to enjoy a night watching the stars and being one with mother nature.

In Conclusion

Crystal clear waters may not always be what vacationers see when they visit the beaches of North Carolina.

When this happens, it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with the water and that vacationers shouldn’t dive in to enjoy the waves.

While it might not be Bermuda, North Carolina has so much more to offer, and it is close to home, making it the perfect spot for an enjoyable beach vacation.

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