Best Beaches in North Carolina

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North Carolina, without a doubt, has some of the most beautiful beaches on the East coast, even all of the United States. While the Carolina coastline isn’t as long as Florida or California, the jaw-dropping views and relaxation make up for it. North Carolina has lively coastal cities, secluded barrier islands, and a lot of fun for any type of traveler. 

Visitors come to North Carolina to enjoy the laid-back approach to life and the 300 miles of pristine coastline. The quaint seaside towns and unique vibe the region brings to visitors, keep them falling in love and coming back for more year after year. 

While there are dozens of beaches in North Carolina to choose from, these are some of the most popular. 

Nags Head


Known for having the largest and most natural sand dunes on the east coast, Nags Head is one of the most attractive beaches in the state of North Carolina. It is in the heart of the Outer Banks and has become a family friend’s go-to destination for years. Located on the coastal stretch called The Graveyard of the Atlantic, Nags Heads is a quaint coastal town near Jockey’s Ridge State Park. 

Nags Head is small in size but loaded with things to see and do. Beautiful beach houses and hotels with ocean views line the coastline, and surf shops, local boutiques, and exceptional seafood restaurants fill up the rest. The area has something for visitors of all ages and is filled with local legends and a lot of history just waiting to be discovered. 

Wrightville Beach

Located right outside of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach has been named one of the South’s best beaches for many years. It’s known for having clean and well-kept beaches, and gorgeous ocean views, especially at sunrise. There are crystal blue waters and miles of sandy coastline to enjoy an active island lifestyle. 

Wrightville is perfect for visitors who live a healthy and active lifestyle. It has some of the best surfing spots in the country, the island itself is easily walkable, and the amount of water sports available is unmatched. The town has everything a quaint beach town needs, local markets, surf shops, cafes, and open-air villages. Additionally, the nightlife scene in Wrightville shouldn’t be missed. With the abundance of taverns and seafood bars, the town really comes alive when the sun goes down. 

Emerald Isle

Looking for a slice of tranquility? Emerald Isle is the perfect place. There are miles of uncrowded beaches, and a wealth of marine life, and the beach is even known for being a hot spot for nesting sea turtles. Known for having gorgeous emerald and turquoise green waters and some of the best fishing opportunities in the state, Emerald Ise is by far one of the most attractive beaches in North Carolina. 

The island is packed with history, as Native Americans were settled here for thousands of years before fisherman, pirates, and whalers took over the area. Now, Emerald Isle has an endless amount of possibilities for travelers. Besides the abundance of fishing opportunities and miles of sandy beaches, there are various outdoor parks, dozens of seafood cuisine options, and even a water park for those who have had enough of the sand. 

Topsail Island

Topsail Island has some of the least crowded beaches in the state and is home to the most incredible scenic views. Legend has it, that Black Beard the pirate even buried the remaining portion of his treasure somewhere on the island. Known for its abundance of nature and sanctuary for sea turtles, Topsail Island has become a perfect place for a slow-paced and relaxing family holiday at the beach. 

The island itself consists of 3 small coastal towns, close in proximity up the coast, and 1 main road. Restaurants, shops, and cafes are scattered throughout the area, but the further north you go on the island, the fewer people you will see. Topsail is the place to be if you are looking for a secluded and peaceful beach trip; it’s perfect for solo travelers and those who want to live the island life at a slow pace. 

Oak Island

Dive into the world of Nicholas Sparks at Oak Island. Oak Island, a smaller island on Brunswick island, has great fishing opportunities, white sandy beaches, and unique natural wonders. It is the perfect picturesque place for a nostalgic beach holiday. 

Since the 1930s, Oak Island has had a lot to offer visitors. The shoreline is filled with stunning shells brought in from the ocean of all different shapes and sizes, on both sides of the island. The beach is a great spot to listen to waves crashing, take a long breezy walk, or just sit back and relax to take in the views. The island is very family-friendly, with various shops, and restaurants, and filled with happy and kind locals ready to help show off their island. 

Cape Hatteras

Welcome to the end of the world, Cape Hatteras. While not literally, it could easily feel like it as it is a magnet for peace, tranquility, and ocean views as far as the eye can see. Cape Hatteras has been known for its lively nautical scene, offshore fishing, and great surfing opportunities. 

Cape Hatteras is home to the tallest brick lighthouse in the country and the tallest of any lighthouse in North Carolina. It is famously noticeable for its black and white striped pattern, making it a distinguished and unique landmark for North Carolina. The seashore of Cape Hatteras is preserved and protected by the National Service on North Carolinas Outer Banks, and has a lot to discover. There are natural, cultural, and historical opportunities for any type of traveler, and is one of the best places in the country to catch a sunrise. 

So, it’s clear to see that North Carolina is nowhere short on beaches. While there are an endless amount of beaches and coastal towns to choose from, these are some of the old local favorites. Whatever destination is chosen, it is guaranteed to be packed with some of the best activities one can discover in the beautiful state of North Carolina. 


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