Retiring in North Carolina had been my mother’s long-time dream. The sun, the beaches, the mountains – was always her dream to rest and relax.
My mom has a sweet, handsome Shih Tzu – Coffee, whom she loves more than me. Just kidding! He suffered from anxiety and epileptic seizures.
So, my mom took good care of him. Moreover, she was ready to put the perfect retirement plan on hold for him. But, Lady Luck was with her.
She found everything that will make Coffee happy in North Carolina. Oh, I forgot to say, Coffee is a beach bum!
So, my mom’s first research was on pet friendly North Carolina beaches. After they moved to North Carolina in 2019, I came to stay with her for a few months.
Picture courtesy: puppytoob
However, I got stuck because of the pandemic and ended up deciding to spend my life in North Carolina with my mom and Coffee.
So, with three years of experience, I’ll take you around the best dog friendly beaches in North Carolina that you can choose for your next vacation.
Pet Friendly North Carolina Beaches
Nags Head Beach
Address: E Hargrove St, Nags Head North Carolina
Nags Head Beach is a jewel treasure of Outer Banks, sitting between Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil in the north and Cape Hatteras National Seashore in the south.
Nags Head Beach can be accessed from S. Virginia Dare Trail or North Carolina Highway 12, Town Hall Street, Grey Eagle Street, and Albatross Street.
Nags Head Beach is one of the most popular dog friendly beaches in North Carolina. The fancy 11-mile shoreline is the best escape retreat destination.
Things to do in Nags Head Beach with dog:
- Go For A Fancy Dip In The Water, Stroll Along The Coast, Or Run With Your Canine Pal. Seeing Him Sinking His Paws Into The Sand And Enjoying Is So Satisfying.
- Walk to explore the Nag’s Head Pier, Outer Banks Pier, or Jennette’s Pier
- A photo at the backdrop of Bodie Island Light Station is a must
- Also, just south of Nags Head Beach is Hatteras Island, a laid-back free environment to relax.
- Be fit and hike to Jockey’s Ridge State Park and Nags Head Beach Cottage Row Historic District. Jockey’s Ridge State Park is another favorite pet friendly location.
- From 1st October to 30th April, get ready to witness cruises on the beach.
- During summertime, the beach hosts water sports events and festivals.
- Let your barking friend be free in Nags Head Dog Park. This park allows the dog to be off-the-leash
Tips for Nags Head Beach with dog
- Dogs are allowed only between mile markers 10 and 21
- During summertime, from 15th May to 15th September of every year, dogs are allowed on the beach before 9 am and after 6 pm
- Digging large holes in the sand is illegal
- Dogs should be on-a-leash no longer than 10 feet
- Sand dunes are your limit to taking your pup
- Bring a bottle of drinking water
Address: Duck Town Park Boardwalk, Duck, NC 27949
Duck Beach is the most charming North Carolina beach town featuring gorgeous beaches and electrifying oceanic sound.
Duck Beach is north of Outer Banks sitting between Southern Shores and Corolla. Also, here you will find a large number of ducks quacking around.
The 7 miles of sandy coastline of Duck Beach with its quaint village charm and jaw-dropping scenery makes it the most pet friendly North Carolina beach.
If you’re planning for Town Park with your dog, you’re free to go but remember to keep him on a leash (not less than 10 feet).
Things to do in Duck Beach with a dog:
- Sit And Enjoy The View Of The Turquoise Water Of The Atlantic Ocean And The Grassy Field Dancing As The Air Blows.
- Walk to give a sweet treat of banana splits, and blended iced coffee at Sunset Ice Cream & Cappuccino.
Tips for Duck Beach with dog
- Your Dog Should Have An ID Collar And Proper Vaccination Reports And Certificates
- Keep your dog off the leash but make sure he is under voice command
- The best time to come to Duck Beach with the dog is in the evening. The sunset view from here is amazing
- The access is limited to Homeowner group residents and guests.
- The sand can be very hot during the day, so be careful.
Kitty Hawk Beach
Address: Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
For a unique relaxing vacation atmosphere with your dog, come to Kitty Hawk Beach, the best public beach to have a blast!
For off-leash pet friendly beaches in North Carolina, Kitty Hawk Beach is one of the ideal destinations.
It sits north of Outer Banks between Kill Devil Hills and Southern Shores. Kitty Hawk Beach is accessible from Hawks Street, Maynard Street, Byrd Street, and Balchen.
The beach is the best spot for water activities; also it holds huge importance in history. The Wright brothers flew their first airplane flight here.
Things to do in Kitty Hawk Beach with a dog:
- Quiet hike through Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve to enjoy the peace and test your dog’s strength. Also, you can go for the Virginia Dare Trail hike. Sit with your dog and watch the birds
- Enjoy the water – splash the cool water and play. Remember, you should stay within 30 feet
- Pitch your umbrella, sit down under the shade and just chill
- The long coastline is a blessing for casual strolling with your dog
- Try your luck in shelling
Tips for Kitty Hawk Beach with dog
- From 2nd May (the day after Labor Day) to 28th May (Friday before Memorial Day) you can ditch the leash and let your dog run free. However, your dog should be under voice control. If your dog is small and not under voice control, keep him on a leash not more than 12 feet
- From February to 1st May to Memorial Day dogs are allowed on the beach between 10 am to 6 pm, keep him on a leash not more than 6 feet. He can be there after hours.
- He should have a recent rabies tag on his collar
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Address: 1401 National Park Drive Manteo, NC 27954
For a sweet memorable walk with your dog along the nature trails, Cape Hatteras National Seashore is one of the best pet friendly North Carolina beaches.
The 70 miles of protected shoreline along the Outer Banks with an array of flora and fauna, and the pure scent of salty air, makes this place the best coastal escape treasure.
The gorgeous Cape Hatteras National Seashore is home to some spectacular beaches like Frisco Beach, Waves, Salvo, and Rodanthe.
Things to do in Cape Hatteras National Seashore with a dog:
- Enjoy the view of the wind-swept dunes lining the side of the beach. Also, the refreshing ocean water is so calming to enjoy America’s summer
- Take a scenic hike, enjoying the god-created natural views from the top
- I would suggest visiting Bodie Island Light Station and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse for some good snaps
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore is gifted with pastoral landscapes and golden sunlight. This is one of the magical dog friendly North Carolina places.
- The woodland area is pet friendly, go for a walk
Tips for Cape Hatteras National Seashore with dog:
- Your pet should be on a leash of not more than 6 feet
- Pets are not allowed only on the swim beaches
- If you’ve a horse, bring him for a walk. However, horse riding is not allowed
- Your dog should not chase the sea turtles
Address: North Carolina 27954, USA
On Roanoke Island sits Manteo, one of the gorgeous small picturesque North Carolina beach towns that are a must-visit destination with your pet.
You should spend the night in Manteo, exploring the marina, waterfront view, residential quiet streets, and views of Shallowbag Bay.
Things to do in Manteo with a dog:
- Know the history of Manteo, at the George Washington Creek Boathouse, Roanoke Island Festival Park, and Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse. Here, you can see the life of fishermen
- Bring your dog to the simple yet beautiful Elizabethan Garden
- To learn more about the 1800s, come to Island Farm
- Come to Roanoke Island Festive Park to know more about the first English settlers
- Keep your dog on a leash, not more than 6 feet
Emerald Isle Beach
Address: 100 Bogue Inlet Dr Emerald Isle, NC
Emerald Isle Beach should be on your bucket list! It offers incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean and perfect place for fishing, walking, and performing water activities.
You have a golden opportunity to spot King Mackerel, Wahoo, and Sea Mullet in the emerald-green water.
Emerald Isle Beach’s proximity to the Gulf Stream and warm water compared to other places, and abundance of the sun is ideal for tanning and relaxing.
Things to do in Emerald Isle Beach with a dog:
- Beyond beach air, Emerald is home to Emerald Isle Woods Park, a 41-acre forested trail. Here you can see a pier and floating dock. Don’t forget to come here!
- Welcome to Salty Pirate Water Park, the most pet-friendly North Carolina place. You can go to Fun World Motorsports to make your child happy
- Come to Morehead City for pet friendly food and delicious treats. I would recommend Muttigans, the best coffee and pet shop
Tip for Emerald Isle Beach with dog:
- Dogs must be always on-a-leash. I would suggest a getting retractable leash that offers your dog to run as much as he wants
- Always throw your dog’s waste in the bin
- Pay $10 for parking at the Western Ocean Regional Area
Address: 1425 Salter Path Road, Indian Beach, NC 28575
Indian Beach sits next to Emerald Beach, north to Bogue Sound, and south to the Atlantic Ocean. This is one of my favorite pet friendly places in North Carolina.
The beach has a small significance in history; in 1973 Indian burial mounds were discovered from here since then it got its name.
Try to enter the beach from the CAMA Public Beach Access sign board. The pristine sand and less crowdedness make Indian Beach one of the ideal locations to chill by the beach.
The thing to do in Indian Beach with a dog:
- Stroll The 2 Miles Coastal Stretch Enjoying The View Of The Lush Maritime Forest At The Bay And the Clear Blue Sky
- Enjoy the soft sand at Pine Knoll Shore Beach. Remember to keep your dog on a leash.
Tips For Indian Beach With Dog:
- The dog should be on-a-leash in Indian Beach. For an off-the-leash experience go to Grande Villas Dog Park
- You can also access Indian Beach from the Salter Path Access point
Cape Lookout National Seashore
Address: 1800 Island Road, Harker Island, NC, 28531
If you’re in search of unique pet-friendly North Carolina beaches, go no further than Cape Lookout National Seashore. You have to take a ferry service to reach here!
Outskirts of Beaufort, Morehead City sits Cape Lookout National Seashore, the longest undeveloped shoreline of Crystal Coast that is ideal to relax.
The three-mile boat ride offers a thrilling experience that adds cake to your pawfect vacation at Cape Lookout National Seashore. You can see horses.
The thing to do in Cape Lookout National Seashore with a dog:
- Casual strolling or beach hike along the gorgeous coastline of Cape Lookout Seashore with your dog is something most memorable.
- Do not forget to capture Banker Ponies, wild horses running along the South Core Banks and Shackleford Banks.
- To all Lighthouse fans, check the 1850’s lighthouse
- How can you miss Portsmouth Village on Portsmouth Island? It was born in 1753 and now almost left deserted.
- High chance to spot Loggerhead seas turtles, Seabeach Amaranth, and Piping Plover
Tip for Cape Lookout National Seashore with dog:
- The dog should be on a leash, not more than 6 feet
- There are affordable pet friendly North Carolina beach rentals – rustic campgrounds to stay and enjoy early morning looks
- Bring a lot of drinking water, snakes, and food
- If you want to drive to reach Cape Lookout National Seashore, 4WD vehicles and ATVs are needed.
- Ferries are available that operate from April through November.
Wilmington and Topsail
Address: Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Southeast of North Carolina sits Wrightsville, one of the vibrant North Carolina beach towns that are also known as the best surfing town in the world.
From running on the beach, to paddle boarding, surfing, or just chilling with your dog, the Wrightsville environment and stunning vistas are for every treasure of living things.
Things to do in Wrightsville Beach with a dog:
- Wrightsville city is just west of the beach, come here for shopping, and have good food. The Wrightsville Riverwalk is stunning
- You have to go for any water sports activity – Surfing.
Tips for Wrightsville Beach with dog:
- Dogs are allowed only from 1st October to 31st March (offseason). They should be on a leash, not more than 6 feet long.
- Parking is limited
- Fountains are dog friendly
Carolina Beach and Kure Beach
Address: 15 miles from Wilmington, North Carolina 28428, USA
Beach-loving people with puppies and dogs are welcome to the famous Carolina Beach, 15 miles south of Wilmington, one of the best pet friendly North Carolina beaches.
Carolina Beaches is one of the renowned fishing beaches that are famous for kayaking on the open waves with your dog.
The coastal ecosystem and white sand at Kure Beach make nature walks so memorable with your dog. Get some Scooby snacks, water, and a lot of moments!
Things to do in Carolina Beach with a dog:
- Carolina Beach is one of the best dog friendly North Carolina beaches where you can plan a picnic with your four-legged best friend. The beauty that surrounds you is mesmerizing
- Take a leisurely stroll or dip your toes in the refreshing water
Tips for Carolina Beach with dog:
- On-a-leash dogs are allowed from 1st April to 30th September between 9 am and after 5 pm
- For some off-leash walkies come to Freeman Park. The park is open from October through March. You can come in the off-season but keep your dog on-a-leash
- Watch the carnivorous plant known as the Venus flytrap
- Swimming can be dangerous during high current
Tips for Kure Beach with dog:
- Leashed dogs are allowed in Kure Beach from 1st October – 31st March, not more than 15-foot length. No dogs from 1st April to 30th September.
- Enjoy a free run at Joe Eakes Park down the Gurney Hood Barking Lot
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area
Address: 1000 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach, NC 28449
Near Wilmington, south of Pleasure Island sits Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, one of the beautiful pet-friendly North Carolina beaches.
The 6-mile primitive trail leads through marshes, sandy shore, Loggerhead sea turtles, rare flora, and Cape Fear River on the west.
The view of birds flying high, and Zeke’s Island from Fort Fisher State Recreation Area in the evening looks so gorgeous. This place is a photographers’ paradise.
Things to do in Fort Fisher State Recreation Area with a dog:
- There is a shaded picnic area with a grill, someday plan a weekend lunch with your barking friend
- You can go for a paddling launch or boating. Check with the authorities
Tips for Fort Fisher State Recreation Area with dog:
- Dogs are allowed throughout the year but always on leashes.
- No dogs in designated swimming areas
Address: 7719 8th Ave, North Topsail Beach, NC
A simple quiet island on the East of North Carolina, Topsail Beach, an ideal beach getaway, has so many stories of pirates hiding their ships.
The spectacular 26-mile shoreline of Topsail Island is also home to calmness, unique shops, closed-knitted communities, and plenty of amenities to perform.
The pet-friendly North Carolina cabins are perfect to find a home in Topsail to stay in. In the off-season, you will find only 9-12 people.
The thing to do in Topsail Beach with a dog:
- Explore the sleepy island on your feet with your dog
Tips for Topsail Beach with dog:
- If you’re coming to the beach between 15th May – 30th September keep your dog on a leash. Keep your dog under a leash of not more than 20 feet.
- During other times of the year, your dog can run freely without leashing. Let him run wild!
- Preserve the white sand. Do not dig a huge hole
Bald Head Island
Address: 1301 Ferry Road in Southport, NC
Beach rule: On-a-leash on the prime season and off-leash on off-season
Bald Head Island is one of the most adventurous eco-friendly and preserved islands on the East coast of America.
Here, you won’t hear any sound of honking cars because no vehicles are allowed. The island is accessed only via ferry or private boat.
The endless stretches of shoreline, palm-filled forest, maritime forest, and magical salt marshes make Bald Head Island unmatched by any other around.
The thing to do in Bald Head Island with a dog:
- Get a gold cart and bicycle, and go for a leisurely walk exploring the beach and clicking pictures. 14 miles of shoreline is just for you!
- Bald Head Island is home to Old Baldy, the oldest standing lighthouse in America.
- For adventure, hike through the Bald Head Woods Maritime Forest Preserve. Take the Federal Road trail
- Golf lovers, welcome to Bald Head Island Club. You can check Island Events & Activities for more fun!
- Sip a cup of coffee and tea from Sandpiper Ice Cream & Coffee.
Tip for Bald Head Island with dog:
- If You’re In Bald Head Island In The Prime Season (May To Mid-November) You’ve To Keep Your Dog Leashed. In The Offseason, He Is Free To Run Without Being Leashed
Address: 110 Rothschild Street Holden Beach, NC 28462
Beach rule: Pets must be on a leash
A trip to Holden Beach for a barking holiday is a must if you’re from Myrtle Beach. Bring him to enjoy a positive atmosphere, incredible beauty, and a small town warm.
Holden Beach is one of the most pet friendly North Carolina beaches where you can spend a day hunting for crabs, kayaking, biking, hiking, or even spotting a dolphin.
The thing to do in Holden Beach with a dog:
- Spend your day in Holden Beach, the most dog friendly beach in North Carolina enjoying the white sand shores, clear water, and a small lunch date with your dog.
Tip for Holden Beach with dog:
- Dogs are not allowed during the summer months – 20th May to 10th September from 9 am – 5 pm. Other times you can bring your dog but remember to keep him leashed.
Address: southern end of North Carolina
Beach rule: Dog must be on a leash. Offleash dogs are allowed from 15th October to 15th March
Since the 19th century, Oak Island has been the best North Carolina beach along the Atlantic Ocean. This gorgeous 12-mile shore has 60 access points.
However, this island is split into two islands – Caswell Beach and Oak Island. September to December, and from February to April, it is the best time to explore.
Things to do in Oak Island with a dog:
- Bring your dog near The Point to enjoy amazing ocean views and marshlands. There are two fishing piers too. The view is simply breathtaking.
- Go for a run along the sandy beach. You can spot sea turtle doing nests or hatching eggs
- Let your dog romp in the sand and splash some water
Tips for Oak Island with a dog:
- From 16th October to 15th March (off-season), you can keep your dog off-leash on the beach from 6 am – 8 pm.
- During the prime season, keep your dog on-leash
Address: 101 W. Main Street Sunset Beach, North Carolina, 28468
Beach rule: Dog must be on a leash
Sunset Beach is sure to bring a big smile to your face, seeing your dog wagging his tail in joy! A Sunrise or sunset plan is a must to make watery memories enchanting.
Dogs are most welcome to witness the cotton candy sunset and explore the sandy coastline at Sunset Beach.
The thing to do in Sunset Beach with a dog:
- Take a casual stroll the west of Sunset Beach, Bird Island, the best pet friendly North Carolina beach.
- Hangout and enjoy the peaceful environment in Sunset Beach
Tips for Sunset Beach with a dog:
- Avoid beach strands between 8 am-6 pm during prime season. Also, on Memorial Day and Labor Day.
- Keep your dog on a leash not more than 8 feet in length
Ocean Isle Beach
Address: between Wilmington, North Carolina, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Beach rule: Dog must be on a leash
Ocean Isle Beach is one of the wonderful beaches to romp on the sand and splash water with your furry friend.
The seven miles of shoreline are perfect for hanging out with your family, friends, and pup! However, the beach has few restrictions.
The thing to do in Ocean Isle Beach with a dog:
- Enjoy Incredible Views Of Dunes With Your Dog
- Stroll casually, and spot sea oats, or local sea turtles. However, remember, not to harm the ecosystem
Tips for Ocean Isle Beach with dog:
- Dogs are not allowed on Memorial Day and Labor Day between 9 am – 6 pm. You can bring him either early morning or late evening
- The dog should be always on-a-leash on the beach
- Violation of Town Ocean Isle Beach can result in a $25.00 fine
- Dogs should be on the beach and not in the public area
- Umbrellas are allowed no larger than 46’L*36’D*36’H
- Stay off the dunes
Few More: Dog-Friendly Beaches in North Carolina
- Currituck – Dogs must be on a leash
- Southern Shores – Dogs must be on a leash from 15th May to 15th September
- Kill Devil Hills – Dogs must be on a leash
- Pine Knoll Shores Beach – Dogs must be on a leash
- Atlantic Beach – Dogs must be on a leash
- Fort Macon State Park – Dogs must be on a leash
- Carolina Beach State Park – Dogs must be on a leash
- Surf City – leashed all the time
Next time you won’t be afraid to bring your dog to any of these pet-friendly North Carolina beaches. Cherish the secluded and relaxing beach experience with your pup! Pups are welcome to get and have fun.