19 Best North Carolina Beaches for 2024

Regarding coastal getaways, few destinations rival the allure of North Carolina’s pristine shores. With its expansive coastline stretching over 300 miles, North Carolina boasts some of the finest beaches on the East Coast. Whether you’re seeking secluded coves or bustling boardwalks, the beaches of North Carolina cater to every preference and taste. From the iconic beach at North Carolina’s Outer Banks to the hidden gems tucked away along the Crystal Coast, each stretch of sand holds its unique charm and appeal. From the northern reaches of the Outer Banks to the southern shores of Brunswick County, the beaches in North Carolina offer a diverse array of landscapes and experiences for beachgoers of all kinds. From family-friendly favorites to secluded havens, the most excellent beaches in North Carolina offer something for everyone.

The options for travelers searching for the best North Carolina beaches are endless. Whether you’re a sunseeker, a nature enthusiast, or a water sports lover, the great beaches in North Carolina provide the perfect backdrop for unforgettable coastal adventures. Exploring the beaches of North Carolina reveals a world of natural beauty and outdoor recreation. From the rugged shores of Cape Hatteras to the pristine sands of Emerald Isle, the best beaches in North Carolina beckon visitors with their scenic vistas and serene ambiance.

Whether you’re strolling along the shorelines, soaking up the sun, or diving into the clear blue waters, each beach in North Carolina offers a unique experience that captivates the senses and rejuvenates the soul. As you journey to discover the best beaches in North Carolina, you’ll encounter diverse coastal landscapes and attractions. From the historic lighthouses of the Outer Banks to the lively beach towns of the Crystal Coast, there’s always something new to explore and experience. So pack your beach essentials, grab your sense of adventure, and get ready to uncover the hidden treasures of the beaches in North Carolina.

List of 19 Best North Carolina Beaches

1. Cape Hatteras

Nestled on the Outer Banks, Cape Hatteras stands as a beacon of natural splendor and maritime heritage. Renowned for its pristine shores and iconic lighthouse, this coastal gem epitomizes the best beaches in North Carolina. Visitors are greeted with miles of unspoiled coastline, inviting them to indulge in activities like swimming, surfing, and beachcombing. The tranquil ambiance and breathtaking vistas of Cape Hatteras offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Moreover, its rich maritime history adds to its allure, with the historic lighthouse serving as a testament to its seafaring legacy. Whether seeking relaxation or adventure, Cape Hatteras promises an unforgettable coastal experience, making it a must-visit destination for beach enthusiasts and nature lovers.

2. Wrightsville Beach

Nestled near Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach stands out as one of the most excellent beaches in North Carolina. Its pristine shoreline lures visitors with crystal-clear waters and soft, powdery sands, perfect for soaking up the sun or engaging in water sports. The beach’s vibrant atmosphere adds to its allure, featuring waterfront restaurants, charming shops, and lively nightlife options. Wrightsville Beach caters to all preferences, whether you’re craving relaxation or adventure. Spend your days lounging on the shore, building sandcastles, or diving into thrilling activities like surfing and paddleboarding. As the sun sets, immerse yourself in the beach town’s lively scene, where you can dine on fresh seafood, shop for souvenirs, or dance the night away. With its picturesque setting and attractions, Wrightsville Beach promises an unforgettable coastal experience for beach lovers of all ages.

3. Outer Banks

The Outer Banks is a coastal paradise comprising a string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. Stretching for miles along the Atlantic Ocean, this breathtaking destination offers various attractions and activities for visitors. Explore the untamed beauty of Corolla Beach, where wild horses roam freely along the shoreline, or discover the rich history of Nags Head’s iconic lighthouses and historic sites. Whether you’re lounging on the sandy beaches, embarking on a thrilling water sports adventure, or indulging in fresh seafood at a local eatery, the Outer Banks promises an unforgettable vacation experience. With its stunning coastal landscapes, laid-back atmosphere, and endless opportunities for exploration and relaxation, it’s no wonder that the Outer Banks ranks among the best beaches in North Carolina.

4. Emerald Isle

Nestled along the pristine shores of the Crystal Coast, Emerald Isle emerges as a tranquil haven for beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Its emerald-green waters and soft, sandy beaches stretch as far as the eye can see, offering the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Spend your days basking in the warm sun, building sandcastles with your family, or simply strolling along the shoreline as gentle waves lap at your feet. For those seeking adventure, cast a line into the surf to reel in the day’s catch or explore the scenic beauty of nearby hiking trails. Whether planning a family-friendly getaway or a romantic retreat, Emerald Isle’s relaxed ambiance and natural splendor make it one of the top destinations for beachgoers in North Carolina, promising unforgettable moments by the sea.

5. Topsail Beach

Nestled on the serene Topsail Island, Topsail Beach embodies the essence of a secluded paradise nestled among the beaches of North Carolina. Its uncrowded shores and captivating sunsets paint a picture-perfect backdrop for relaxation and rejuvenation. Visitors can participate in many activities, from leisurely swimming and beachcombing to tranquil birdwatching along its expansive coastline. Embracing the unspoiled charm of this hidden gem, Topsail Beach offers a haven for those seeking solitude or quality time with loved ones. Its laid-back atmosphere encourages visitors to unwind amidst nature’s splendor, basking in the air’s tranquility. With its pristine beauty and tranquil ambiance, it is no surprise that Topsail Beach is esteemed as one of the best beaches in North Carolina, captivating the hearts of all who venture to its shores.

6. Carolina Beach

Nestled near Wilmington, Carolina Beach epitomizes the quintessential seaside experience with its vibrant boardwalk and classic attractions. Families and outdoor enthusiasts alike are drawn to its shores, where they can partake in many activities, from riding amusement rides to casting a line off the fishing pier. The gentle waves beckon beachgoers to swim, surf, or simply bask in the sun’s warmth on the soft sands. Carolina Beach’s dynamic atmosphere and amenities, such as beachfront eateries and rental shops, ensure an unforgettable beach getaway for visitors of all ages. With its timeless charm and coastal allure, Carolina Beach stands as a beacon among the best North Carolina beaches, offering a perfect blend of relaxation, recreation, and cherished memories by the sea.

7. Nags Head

Nestled on the picturesque Outer Banks, Nags Head offers a scenic coastline adorned with towering dunes and historic landmarks. Adventure seekers flock to its shores to indulge in many water sports opportunities, including surfing, kiteboarding, and stand-up paddleboarding in the Atlantic waters. Meanwhile, nature enthusiasts find solace in the vast expanse of Jockey’s Ridge State Park, home to the tallest natural dune system in the Eastern United States. Whether hiking along pristine trails or basking in the sun on the sandy shores, visitors to Nags Head are treated to an unparalleled coastal experience. With its rich history, natural beauty, and laid-back atmosphere, Nags Head remains a top contender among the best beaches in North Carolina, beckoning travelers to explore its wonders and create lasting memories by the sea.

8. Kill Devil Hills

Named after the infamous dunes where the Wright Brothers made their first powered flight, Kill Devil Hills is a historic beach destination with a vibrant coastal scene. Visitors can explore the Wright Brothers National Memorial, a tribute to the pioneers of aviation, and stroll along the oceanfront boardwalk, enjoying panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. The beach offers ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, including swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing. Adventure seekers can partake in water activities such as parasailing and jet skiing, while nature enthusiasts can explore the surrounding maritime forests and pristine dunes. With its rich history, recreational opportunities, and stunning natural beauty, Kill Devil Hills is among the best North Carolina beaches for families and outdoor enthusiasts.

9. Atlantic Beach

Nestled on Bogue Banks, Atlantic Beach paints a picturesque scene of coastal bliss, celebrated for its pristine sands and captivating vistas. Visitors are invited to surrender to the tranquil rhythm of the sea as they lounge on the beach, basking in the sun’s warmth and serenaded by the gentle lull of the waves. Fishing enthusiasts can try their luck off the pier, casting lines into the azure waters in search of a bounty of coastal species. For those seeking adventure, nearby Fort Macon State Park beckons with its scenic hiking trails, historic landmarks, and panoramic coastal views. With its laid-back ambiance, breathtaking natural beauty, and an array of recreational activities, Atlantic Beach is one of the most excellent beaches in North Carolina, offering an idyllic setting for a rejuvenating seaside escape.

10. Holden Beach

Nestled within the Brunswick Islands, Holden Beach beckons travelers with its tranquil shores and unspoiled scenery. Renowned for its inviting atmosphere and untouched coastline, this serene haven offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Families revel in the simple joys of sun-soaked days and playful moments in the gentle surf. Whether strolling along the sandy shoreline or embarking on thrilling boat adventures, Holden Beach captivates with its natural beauty and boundless opportunities for relaxation and recreation. Its pristine shores and welcoming community create an idyllic setting for cherished moments and unforgettable experiences. Amidst charming beach houses and warm hospitality, visitors find solace and contentment, forging cherished memories against the backdrop of the shimmering sea. Holden Beach stands as a treasured gem along the North Carolina coast, inviting all to unwind and embrace the tranquility of coastal living.

11. Oak Island

Nestled amidst maritime forests and expansive beaches, Oak Island captivates visitors with its tranquil charm and natural splendor. Here, beachcombers can leisurely wander along the sandy shores, collecting seashells and basking in the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Kayakers can glide through calm waters while swimmers revel in the refreshing waves. With its laid-back vibe and picturesque landscapes, Oak Island offers a rejuvenating escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, making it a beloved destination among beaches in North Carolina. Whether lounging on the beach or embarking on exploratory adventures, visitors are guaranteed to discover serenity and excitement on Oak Island’s shores. Its serene ambiance and scenic beauty make Oak Island an ideal retreat for those seeking relaxation and outdoor recreation amidst nature’s wonders.

12. Kitty Hawk

Famous for its role in aviation history, Kitty Hawk is a picturesque beach town on the Outer Banks. Visitors can explore the Wright Brothers National Memorial, stroll along the scenic beaches, or try hang gliding. With its rich history and outdoor activities, Kitty Hawk is among the best beaches in North Carolina. The Wright Brothers National Memorial is a tribute to the pioneers of aviation, offering fascinating exhibits and panoramic views of the coast. Additionally, the miles of pristine shoreline provide ample opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing. Thrill-seekers can take to the skies with hang gliding lessons or simply relax and watch the colorful kites dance in the ocean breeze. Whether marveling at the historic sites or soaring through the skies, Kitty Hawk offers a unique blend of adventure and relaxation for beachgoers of all ages.

13. Ocean Isle Beach

Ocean Isle Beach epitomizes coastal charm with its unspoiled beaches and breathtaking sunsets. Nestled on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, this hidden gem offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Visitors can immerse themselves in the coastline’s natural beauty, whether swimming in the gentle waves, surfing the breaks, or casting a line for the day’s catch. The laid-back atmosphere of Ocean Isle Beach invites leisurely walks along the shore, shell hunting, and birdwatching. As the sun dips below the horizon, the sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant hues, casting a warm glow over the tranquil waters. With its relaxed ambiance and natural allure, Ocean Isle Beach stands as one of the great beaches in North Carolina, beckoning visitors to unwind and reconnect with the coast’s beauty.

14. Sunset Beach

Nestled along the southern coastline of North Carolina, Sunset Beach captivates visitors with its serene ambiance and stunning natural beauty. Stretching for miles, its wide, sandy beaches offer ample space for sunbathing, beachcombing, and leisurely walks along the shore. The tranquil waters provide a perfect setting for swimming and water sports, while the nearby marshes offer birdwatching and wildlife observation opportunities. A highlight of Sunset Beach is the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, where visitors can leave their thoughts and reflections behind in the secluded dunes. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, Sunset Beach promises a rejuvenating escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, making it one of the most excellent beaches in North Carolina.

15. Corolla Beach

Tucked away on the northern Outer Banks, Corolla Beach beckons adventurers with its untamed landscapes and sense of discovery. Visitors can witness the majestic wild horses that roam freely along the pristine dunes, adding to the area’s allure and mystique. The iconic Currituck Beach Lighthouse stands as a sentinel over the coastline, offering panoramic views of the surrounding area. Off-road driving on the beach provides an exhilarating experience for those craving adventure, allowing access to remote stretches of coastline and hidden gems. Yet, amidst its rugged beauty, Corolla Beach retains an air of tranquillity, inviting visitors to unwind and soak in the coastal scenery. With its untouched landscapes and sense of adventure, Corolla Beach ranks among the best beaches in North Carolina.

16. Kure Beach

Nestled near Wilmington, Kure Beach offers an ideal blend of family-friendly attractions and outdoor adventures. Visitors are drawn to the renowned North Carolina Aquarium, where they can marvel at marine life and participate in interactive exhibits. A stroll along the scenic boardwalk provides picturesque coastline views, while water enthusiasts can partake in paddleboarding and kayaking adventures. Whether basking in the sun on the sandy shores or exploring the diverse marine ecosystem, Kure Beach provides a laid-back atmosphere and coastal charm that captivates visitors. Its reputation as one of the best beaches in North Carolina is well-deserved, appealing to both locals and tourists seeking relaxation and recreation amidst stunning natural surroundings.

17. Duck Beach

Nestled amidst the northern Outer Banks, it epitomizes coastal elegance with its upscale shops and delectable dining establishments. Here, visitors are treated to a serene seaside retreat where the pristine beaches beckon with their untouched beauty and tranquillity. The uncrowded shorelines offer ample space for leisurely swims and blissful sunbathing sessions, while beachcombers can indulge in the thrill of discovering seashells and treasures scattered along the coast. Families can create lasting memories by enjoying picnics and beach games amidst the soft sands and gentle ocean breeze. With its idyllic setting and natural allure, Duck Beach provides a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, making it a cherished destination among those seeking solace and relaxation on the shores of North Carolina.

18. Bald Head Island

Accessible only by ferry, Bald Head Island is a serene haven celebrated for its unspoiled beaches and pristine landscapes. Visitors discover a tranquil retreat where they can explore the island’s scenic beauty by bike or golf cart. The island’s sandy shores invite relaxation and rejuvenation, offering a perfect backdrop for sunbathing or leisurely walks along the coastline. Nature enthusiasts can venture into the maritime forests for birdwatching or simply immerse themselves in the island’s peaceful ambiance. With its secluded atmosphere and untouched natural splendor, Bald Head Island emerges as a hidden gem among the best beaches of North Carolina, promising an unforgettable escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

19. Surf City

Positioned on Topsail Island, Surf City exudes vibrant energy, captivating visitors with its eclectic blend of surf shops, seafood eateries, and breathtaking vistas. Beach enthusiasts can partake in various activities, from invigorating swims and thrilling surfing sessions to spirited beach volleyball games, all set against the town’s picturesque shoreline. Whether riding the waves or indulging in delectable fresh seafood, travelers find themselves enchanted by Surf City’s laid-back atmosphere and coastal allure. With its inviting ambiance and abundance of recreational opportunities, Surf City firmly establishes itself as one of the premier beaches in North Carolina, enticing travelers to immerse themselves in the coastal lifestyle and craft cherished memories along the seaside.

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