Beach Permit Now Required for Parking on Carova Beach

Carova where large numbers of people and vehicles mix on a daily basis during the summer tourist season.
Carova where large numbers of people and vehicles mix on a daily basis during the summer tourist season.
Permit Required for Parking on Beach Only

Heading to the Carova area of the Currituck Banks? If so, be sure to get a permit before parking on the beach.

Beginning this weekend—Memorial Day—a permit is required for anyone who is parking on the Carova beach. The very important word in that sentence is parking. In other words, if a family is planning on driving to the 4WD area, and stopping to go swimming or fishing, a permit will be needed.

However, no permit is needed for an excursion to Carova if there is no stopping on the beach. If, as an example, this is a family trip to the 4WD area where the Corolla Wild Horses roam, and the hope is to see how many horses can be found—no permit is required for the expedition.

This is an attempt by Currituck County to get a handle on summertime beach traffic north of Corolla. In the summer the beach often seems more like a highway than a place where a family can relax and enjoy their time by the sea.

There are some rules and regulations governing who will need a permit, and how to get them. Here’s the information from the Currituck County website.

Currituck County Information Beach Parking Permit

Beachgoers who wish to park (we added the emphasis) on Currituck County’s four-wheel drive beach this summer will need a county-issued beach parking permit displayed on their motor vehicle.

This new permit system was adopted by the Board of Commissioners in an effort to increase safety in the four-wheel drive area, where large numbers of people and vehicles mix on a daily basis during the summer tourist season.

The permit system will be effective from the Friday before Memorial Day until Labor Day. Key provisions in the policy include:

All county residents and property owners may receive a free Seasonal permit for each vehicle they own by providing proof of ownership and current liability insurance. The permits will be issued specific to each vehicle.

County residents who live full-time on the off road area north of the North Beach Access Ramp may obtain two additional Guest permits. These permits will not be specific to a motor vehicle and may be used by guests of the resident.

All others must pay a fee for a beach parking permit. These permits will be available for purchase from the Tourism Department on a temporary or seasonal basis.

Types of Parking Permits

Seasonal – This permit is assigned to a specific vehicle and is good for the entire vacation season.  Seasonal permits are free to county residents and property owners.  Others may purchase a Seasonal permit for $150.

10-Day – This permit is available for purchase ($50) by individuals who want to park on the four-wheel drive beach but are not Currituck County residents or property owners and are not renting a home on the off-road area.  This would apply to day-visitors or those staying anywhere other than the 4-wheel drive beach.

Permits are available at:

Currituck Outer Banks Welcome Center

106 Caratoke Highway

Moyock, North Carolina


Corolla Visitor’s Center

500 Hunt Club Drive

Corolla, North Carolina 


Or email:

Check out Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates. for the best locations on the Outer Banks.

Changes Coming to Carova Beach Use

County Commissioners Consider Beach Parking Fee for Northern Tip of Outer Banks
Carova Beach is the main thoroughfare north of Corolla.
Carova Beach is the main thoroughfare north of Corolla.

There may be some changes coming to how the beaches of Carova are enjoyed this summer.

The Currituck County Commissioners are considering an ordinance that would charge a fee to park—not drive—on county beaches in the 4WD area.

It is important to note that this is still tentative; the commissioners have not voted on any legislation yet. Equally important, this does not impose any fees on driving on the beach.

The proposal is a response to growing complaints and concerns that beachgoers parking in the middle of the beach are creating a hazard in the 4WD area. Because the beach is the the main thoroughfare between the end of the paved section of NC12 and Carova, the safety of drivers and the people enjoying the beach have become an issue.

As now proposed the fees would be somewhat similar to the structure used for NPS 4×4 permits.

As now proposed, there would be two parking pass fees—a $50 for a 10-day parking pass or $150 that would be valid for a calendar year.

According to the reporting we’ve seen, the permits could only be purchased at the County’s two visitors centers in Moyock, just over the state line, or at the visitor’s center in Corolla. Similar to the NPS system, purchasers of a permit would have to watch a video on safe use of the beaches.

There are a number of concerns with the proposal as written.

With travelers already using the visitor’s centers heavily during the summer, a number of critics have wondered if staff is adequate to handle the new demands. The purchase of a pass would also require a second stop for travelers who have often been driving for most of the day.

Under the current proposal, Currituck County residents and property owners would not be charged for a pass.