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10 Popular Beaches To Explore When In North Carolina (2022)

North Carolina is categorized by its wide, sandy coastline, conserved dunes, and rejuvenating beach life. Boasting roughly 322 miles of ocean shoreline, North Carolina is one of the top-beach destinations in the United States. North Carolina coast stretches from the state line in Virginia down towards Georgia. The Atlantic Shore around the State provides it with over 25 distinct beaches, from secluded and peaceful ones to busy and lively beachside. Not just that, but North Carolina also boasts quaint coastal towns, and endless outdoor recreational activities are guaranteed here.

Regardless of what you’re looking for in a beach vacation, the Atlantic Coast across North Carolina provides for its all. Beaches here offer the best environment for relaxation and vacation moments. Though not only that but activities like swimming, shelling, and water sports too have their fair share of popularity at the North Carolina beaches.

10 Popular Beaches To Explore When In North Carolina

To help plan your trip, here is a well-curated list of the Best North Carolina Beaches. We assure you that the recommendations given here won’t disappoint you. Have a look:

1. Atlantic Beach

Atlantic Beach is a beach and a coastal town in Carteret County. It is situated on a beautiful barrier island surrounded by both Bogue Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The sparkling beach water and the Atlantic Beach Boardwalk are the U.S.P of the place, along with the age-old local culture and history. Since it is a south-facing beach, the beach is always protected from wind and waves. Some of the popular activities here include fishing, swimming, lounging, beach combing, and shelling. The beach is also home to Fort Macon, a Civil war fort, and a popular state park that draws visitors throughout the year. This wide, white sandy beach is also backed by many shopping and dining options.

2. Nags Head

Nags head isn’t just a beach but a huge beach town in itself. Popular for having the largest natural dunes on the eastern shore, Nags head stores some tremendous natural beauty. It is home to 12 miles of wide-open beaches with golden sands. You might run out of time and energy on a sunny summer day, but the coastline at Nags head would still be a little extra there. The crystal clear Atlantic water is ideal for swimming, and that’s what summers here are all about. Or, individuals also head towards the 1,000-foot-long Jenette’s Pier for an extraordinary swimming experience. The fishing pier also consists of an aquarium which is good enough for a quick check. Another popular draw of Nags Head includes Jockey’s Ridge State Park and activities like nature hiking, hang-gliding, sand-castle-building contests, and more.

3. Wrightsville Beach

Wrightsville Beach is another popular beach to explore when in North Carolina. With the cleanest sand and water combination in the State, Wrightsville Beach is a hot spot for beach adventures. It is exactly where surfing started in North Carolina. Today, individuals can try their skills with several water crafts, including paddleboarding, kiteboarding, fishing off the Pier, and much more. Waves at Wrightsville roll gently, which means even beginners can try a game or two here. Right at the back of the beach are several rental shops that deal in rental gear and professional instructors. Besides fun and adventure, Wrightsville Beach is also popular for offering a relaxing vacation. The clean, spacious beach and its picturesque setting make the experience of being here absolutely worth it. Wrightsville Beach is within a short and easy driving distance from Wilmington and Charlotte.

4. Topsail Beach

Topsail is a beautiful beach in North Carolina that stretches from the town limits of Surf City to the southern end of Namesake Island. Stretching over 20 miles, it is one of the rare beaches that are on both the Sound and Atlantic sides. Topsail Beach is popular for its shallow, warm, calm waters and is a famous spot amongst kids and families. The main attraction of the beach is the 937-foot-long Surf City Pier. Not only for fishing, but the Pier is also popular for housing popular restaurants and an enjoyable atmosphere. Another popular feature of the beach is Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. Besides that, for individuals who want to stay back, there are many beach houses for rent.

5. Carolina Beach

Popular for its friendly atmosphere, signature boardwalk, and natural diversity, Carolina beach is another must-visit in North Carolina. It is right near the mouth of the Cape Fear River and has plenty of things to do. The beach features a historic wooden boardwalk with live music and an excellent evening vibe. The entire boardwalk is lined with restaurants and beach shops and is even home to a permanent midway with a Ferris Wheel. Throughout the summer, plenty of activities line through the Broadwalk, including arcade games, small, engaging events, and several rides. Individuals who want to get down on the water can try to stand up paddleboarding at Carolina Beach. Or, just in case you want to stay back, consider camping, tenting, or RVing nearby at Carolina Beach State Park.

6. Kure Beach

Another North Carolina beach on the Bogue Banks, Kure Beach, is popular for its beautiful settings and relaxed vibes. The beach has the right amount of development and adventure option that allows individuals to make out most of their vacation. Kure beach is home to the oldest fishing pier on the Atlantic Coast, and fishing is still a popular activity here. Enthusiasts from all across the state visit here to test their angling skills. Other popular activities here include scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, and swimming. When not enjoying the water sports, visitors can play a round of golf or go for a long walk on many hiking trails nearby. Kure Beach is also popular for hosting the Island of Lights Festival during the holiday season. The festival features a Christmas Flotilla and takes individuals on a tour of beautiful homes in the region.

7. Salvo Beach

Salvo Beach is a hidden treasure in North Carolina. It is located in the Outer Banks region and provides for a relaxing and secluded getaway. It isn’t like many other entertaining beach destinations in North Carolina, but Salvo’s simplicity is what draws several individuals here. The Salvo Day Use Area features recreational options with activities like kiteboarding, paddleboarding, and other sports. However, individuals who prefer calm water should check out the Pamlico Sound area for its shallow and calm. Those who want to stay back can check out the private rental homes on the property (no hotels or Inns, though). Salvo Beach is an ideal destination for those who prefer relaxed beach vibes instead of the crowd and loud entertainment.

8. Holden Beach

Holden Beach is a wonderful long stretch of sand facing out to the Atlantic in North Carolina. It is by far one of the most family-friendly beaches in the United States that has several permanent visitors every next year. The beach is just 35 minutes south of Wilmington and is popular for activities like swimming, canoeing, kayaking, shelling, and strolling. Though Holden Beach makes for an easy day trip, its beach houses also offer overnight stay options. Holden Beach is also popular for the annual North Carolina Festival by the Sea. The event is all about handicrafts and delicious food, especially the mouthwatering local seafood choices. Holden Beach is simply a piece of paradise with relaxed vibes and looks.

9. Avon Beach

Avon is a quaint North Carolina beach that makes up for an exceptional beach destination for families. Featuring stretches of sand backed by rolling dunes is less crowded than many other North Carolina beaches. The beach is adorned by miles of sandy shores, a few local restaurants, and a small decent confectionary/ grocery store. As you walk along the sand here, you will uncover a remote location yet an exciting and attractive one. One of the main highlights of Avon beach is the famous Avon Fishing Pier. For a small fishing fee, the Pier offers everything from great opportunities and requires gear. Since most of the beach business here is seasonal, Avon stays active only during the summertime. During the rest of the year, the area becomes more secluded with very few visitors.

10. Kitty Hawk Beach

Last but not least on our list is Kitty Hawk Beach. It offers a little something for everyone: fantastic beaches, a large section of maritime forest, plenty of shops and restaurants, and undisputed rustic beach beauty. The plethora of beach activities that are common on any other beaches has a fair share of popularity at Kitty Hawk as well. Kitty Hawk is steeped in history and known for its natural beauty. The beach’s weird name is associated with its Native American roots. The region is also popular for its dining choices, and the seafood (along with Sushi and some authentic Indian cuisine) here is a must-try. Also, do not forget to try your hand at some authentic coastal shopping.

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