The Beach-Is There One that is the Best on the Outer Banks?

Kitty Hawk Beach in the summertime.
Kitty Hawk Beach in the summertime.

People are always asking us, “What is your favorite Outer Banks beach?” 

It’s a tough question to answer, because the truth is, we don’t have one.

When it comes to the beach, or at least an Outer Banks beaches, all of them have a some characteristics in common. From Carova to Ocracoke all of our beaches have a nice soft sand and especially now that so many have been nourished, they tend to be fairly wide. Although there are some exceptions, for the most part, Outer Banks beaches are pretty easy to get to.

All North Carolina ocean beaches are in the public domain, meaning anyone can use the beach when they are on it. Access to the beach, however, is not a public right, and crossing private property to get to the beach is trespassing. Please use public access to get on the beach.

Rather than call out specific beaches, we thought it would be better to give a more general description of each area and what the beaches in each area have to offer.

Corolla

From the southern border of Currituck County at the Sanderling in Duck or where the NC 12 pavement ends north of the Village of Corolla, there’s about 12 miles of wonderful, soft sand.

Currituck County provides four parking areas for beach access. By far the largest is the southern access off Yaupon Road, a little bit south of the Harris Teeter shopping center.

The bathhouse at this access is wonderful. Large and well-maintained, there are a good number of outdoor showers and a fairly large parking area.

One thing to be aware of though, it is a fairly long trek to the beach; about a quarter of a mile, although there is a boardwalk that makes things easier. However, this is one of the best beaches anywhere with a lot of room between the sea and the dunes. 

Farther north in the more built up areas of Corolla, parking for beach access is either immediately adjacent to the dunes or across the street.

Something for parents with younger children to consider, the Albacore Beach Access is very close to the Food Lion in Monterey Plaza, and is the closest to retail stores and businesses.

The beach tends to be a bit wider farther south than on the north end toward Carova.

Carova is the 4WD area of the Currituck Banks, north of Corolla. It’s’ a very nice beach but be aware, the beach is the road in this area. If you do decide to drive to Carova to enjoy the beach, Currituck County does require a permit to park on the beach.

Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head

These three towns, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head are actually the core of the traditional Outer Banks vacation spots. They are the most built up and because of that, they will have more businesses, stores and services within easy walking distance than other areas.

Kitty Hawk has the name recognition. Kill Devil Hills is actually the largest town on the Outer Banks. And Nags Head is where it all began–the first tourists started coming to Nags Head in the 1820s.

There are too many parking areas and beach access points to note them all. Look for the CAMA Beach Access sign. Generally that denotes a parking lot for the beach, although sometimes it’s simply an access point with parking elsewhere.

Beach access sign.
Beach access sign.

All of the beaches in this area have been nourished and they are in very good condition, and we don’t have a clear favorite at all. 

The widest beach is probably south of Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head. It is a great location for families. The bathhouse is large and well-maintained and there are a couple of places very close by for food and beach necessities. That area is also a popular surfing site.

Coquina Beach, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, South Nags Head

We had to include Coquina Beach. The entrance is directly across from the entrance to Bodie Island Lighthouse about a mile and a half south of the intersection of Old Oregon Inlet Road and NC 12, which is considered South Nags Head.

This is very much the original look to the Outer Banks. Not a home in sight; rolling sand dunes covered in sea grass; and a beautiful beach.

The parking lot is huge and there is a wind powered bathhouse with showers.

We highly recommend this beach—it is absolutely beautiful. But, be sure to take everything you’re going to need. The nearest businesses, stores or restaurants are at least four or five miles away.

About Duck and Southern Shores

We haven’t included the towns of Duck or Southern Shores for a reason. Their beaches are wonderful, but access to their beaches is permit only for property owners. People renting in a home in those towns do have permission to use the beach.

A recent lawsuit in the town of Duck may allow public access, although that ruling may be appealed.

Are you ready for summer? Here at Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates we’re gearing up and can’t wait to hear from you.

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