North Carolina is one of the most beautiful states to enjoy a family vacation.
From the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the 300 miles of barrier-island beaches, North Carolina is the perfect place to relax and unwind during your vacation.
Wide, sandy beaches are found across this great state’s coastline with conserved sand dunes waiting to be explored.
The lifestyle along the coast of North Carolina is one of relaxation and is certainly laid-back.
With over 300 miles of beaches to choose from, though, deciding where to go can be pretty tricky.
Although beautiful beaches adorn this Atlantic coastline, some offer outstanding beauty spots with the added bonus of amenities close by.
If you want to explore the hidden treasures, scenic landscapes, and rich history North Carolina has to offer, you should take advantage of the white, lean sandy beaches there, too.
Today, we have chosen the most beautiful beaches in North Carolina for you to visit on your next vacation.
Some of these are award-winning for their panoramic and awe-inspiring views and will certainly leave you breathless in wonder.
Most Beautiful Beaches In North Carolina
9. Bald Head Island
If you love a panoramic view of the ocean and a quiet spot to relax, Bald Head Island may be the best beach in North Carolina for you.
With no car access to the beach, you will need to either walk, ride a bike, or get a golf cart to get around.
Moreover, it is only accessible via ferry so you need to plan ahead for this visit. But, once you arrive, Bald Head Island is perfect for those looking for peace and solitude.
The only buildings present are beachfront rental properties and the High-end Bald Head Island Golf Club. So, if you love a round of golf on vacation, you can treat yourself here, too!
Most of the island’s 12,000 acres are undeveloped, meaning the South Beach and North Beach shorelines are pristine and tranquil.
And, if you like to do a little birdwatching, Bald Head Island is the place to do so with over 260 species of bird species living there.
There are other forms of wildlife, as well, such as foxes and (watch out for these) alligators.
8. Corolla/Currituck Beach
Loved for its secluded location between the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Sound, Corolla is found on the northern coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Perfect for relaxing and having a laid-back vacation, there is also enough here to keep you occupied. You can explore the historic district in the area and the imposing lighthouse.
But, the best thing to do here is to relax on the beaches. Just make sure you have a four-wheeled drive to get here as there are no tarmac roads nearby.
7. Emerald Isle
Often regarded as the best beach in North Carolina, Emerald Isle welcomes visitors from all over the world every year.
And, unsurprisingly, many of these are returning after they fell in love with the place in the first place.
When visiting the Emerald Isle, you will be met with 12 miles of pure, clean beaches, a world-renowned fishing pier, and a wonderfully relaxing vibe.
The beaches here are wide so you will never be cramped for room with your family.
Moreover, there are countless beach amenities, such as showers, grills, and picnic pavilions. There is also parking nearby for easy access.
Part of the Crystal Coast, Emerald Isle is close to the North Carolina Aquarium and Pine Knoll Shores. The perfect place to explore and forget your worries.
6. Ocracoke Island
North Carolina boasts over 130 miles of barrier islands, with Ocracoke Island being one of them. If you want somewhere to lay back and take in the rays, the top beach on this island is a must-visit.
16 miles of this shoreline is undeveloped, meaning everything is as it should be – natural, beautiful, and serene – a true slice of heaven.
The beaches here are not only pristine but also uncrowded, so you don’t have to fight for a place to sit on the sand. And, as well as being a tranquil paradise, there are outdoor activities if you’re more of a thrill seeker.
You can enjoy different water sports such as kayaking to see the shoreline in all its splendor.
5. Atlantic Beach
If you’re visiting Emerald Isle, we fully recommend heading 12 miles north to Atlantic Beach. For those of you who want a bit more adventure and life on your beach vacation, this is the place to try.
Atlantic Beach is one of the most developed beaches in North Carolina.
But, this isn’t a bad thing! Here, you can take advantage of a full range of amenities that are ideal for families, such as the fishing pier, water sports, and bike rentals.
If you love to explore on vacation, you can follow the four marked walking trails around the city.
These are all part of the Walk Atlantic Initiative to get more people out and about and become healthier. And, from here, you can also visit the aquarium and the Civil War-era Fort.
4. Wrightsville Beach
Here’s another one for the more active souls amongst us. Wrightsville Beach sports crystalline waters that look like they’re out of a fairy tale.
Once you pick your mouth up off the floor after seeing these waters, you can enjoy the different water sports on offer in the area, such as surfing, kayaking, and scuba diving.
Of course, you may just want to lay on the beach all day. Luckily, there is plenty of space to do just that at Wrightsville Beach.
You can access this beach via 40 different points and, when you want to wash that sand off you, there are several showers, as well as restrooms available.
Once “de-sanded” yourself, you can unwind in one of the countless restaurants and bars along the shore. Here, you can enjoy live music, a drink (or two), and a delicious seaside meal.
3. Topsail Island
If you’re looking for breathtaking scenery, mixed with some historical sites, then Topsail Island is well worth a visit. Here, you can explore and relax, enjoying the best of both worlds.
Topsail Island boasts some important historical ties to the Second World War, meaning it has to be checked out if you’re a history buff.
Not only that, but the beach is family-friendly and large enough to accommodate hundreds of people and still have room to run around with the kids.
Close by are restaurants, gift shops, motels, and much more to keep you entertained and occupied. We recommend visiting Serenity Point if you head to Topsail Beach. Here, you can enjoy panoramic views of the sunset that will stay in your mind forever.
2. Cape Hatteras
Almost 70 miles of cape Hatteras is renowned for its pristine, unspoiled white beaches that thousands of tourists visit every year. Here, you will find Cape Hatteras National Seashore and its iconic black and white lighthouse.
The sands here are generally free from large crowds so four-wheel-drive vehicles are allowed on the beaches.
When you arrive, you can set up camp in one of the four campgrounds in the area and, if you fancy a spot of wildlife watching, you can go searching for sea turtles during their nesting season.
A real treat is to climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse at night. Try to go on a full moon for the best sight! (You will need to pre-book, however).
1. Oak Island
Much of North Carolina’s coastline can be described as peaceful and somewhat sleepy. The same applies to Oak Island, which is 30 miles southwest of Wilmington.
When you visit here, you can access the beach via 65 different points and 10 of these are accessible to the handicapped. Two fishing piers are also present to stroll across or to try and get that catch of the day.
Caswell Beach and Long Beach are two very popular destinations on Oak Island thanks to the family-friendly atmosphere and large, wide shorelines.
If you have a vehicle, you can drive 12 miles to Southport to walk in the footsteps of movie stars. This is where movies such as I know What You Did Last Summer, A Walk to Remember, and Sage Haven were filmed.
If you like seafood, you will be spoiled for choice with the restaurants nearby and the charming shops offering all the souvenirs you could possibly dream of.
North Carolina is one heck of a picturesque state. From historical sites to mountainous treks and iconic architecture to white, sandy beaches, North Carolina has it all.
The coastline of this beautiful state is an absolute gem and a place you need to visit. Once you do check it out, we are pretty confident you will be planning your next trip here during your vacation.
Thanks for reading!
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