The Outer Banks are a great destination for you and your pet if you’re looking to enjoy the waves. A lot of towns welcome pets on their local beaches—just be sure to follow their regulations, which are listed below by town.
In addition to local pet-friendly beaches, you’ve two spectacular pet-friendly national seashore parks that you and your pet can explore. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore extends along 75 miles of seashore, encompassing 30,000 acres. You can enjoy the surf your pooch (but be careful of the very strong currents), go off-roading with him, or take a walk over to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Cape Lookout National Seashore comprises more than 50 miles of undeveloped beach across four barrier islands three miles off the North Carolina coast. These islands are only accessible by ferry. Most of the ferries accept pets, but it’s best to call ahead or check online.
There is also Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nag’s Head, where you can see the tallest sand dune on the Atlantic coast, or enjoy the estuary waters of the Roanoke Sounds at its westernmost boundary.
Remember, no matter what beach you visit with your pet, be courteous and pick up after your pooch. Also remember that sand can be 30 degrees hotter than the ambient air temperature—be sure to protect your dog’s paws.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Northern entrance: U.S. 64 and Route 12, Nags Head
Southern entrance: Route 12, just north of Ocracoke. Accessible by ferry only; reservations required. Pets are allowed in personal vehicles as they board the ferries. A dog can get out and walk on the main deck of the ferry, but must be on leash at all times. If a dog is in the back of an open pickup truck or in a vehicle with windows down, the animal must be restrained so that it cannot reach passengers walking by. Pets on a 6-foot leash are allowed throughout the park, except for designated swimming beaches.
Cape Lookout National Seashore
Harkers Island, NC 28531
Pets on a 6-foot leash are permitted on the islands; be aware there are no shade and no fresh water available, so bring your own water.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Nags Head, NC 27959
Pets on a 6-foot leash are permitted. Pets are not permitted in park buildings or swimming areas.
Nags Head Town Beaches
Nags Head, NC 27959
Pets on a 10-foot leash are permitted on town beaches. You can find public beach access from; Eighth Street, Albatross, Gallery Row, Abaone, Admiral, Baltic, Bames, Blackman, Bonnett, Bittem, Bladen, Bainbridge, Curlew, Hollowell, Conch, Small Enterprise, Loggerhead, Town Hall, Epstein, Forrest, Grouse, Glidden, Gull, Gray Eagle, Gulfstream, Governor. Huon, Holden, Hargrove, Ida, Isabella, Islington, Indigo, Jay, June, James, Jacob, Juncos, and Ehrman.
Corolla Town Beaches
Pets on leash are permitted on town beaches. Pick up after your pet.
Currituck County Beaches
Pets are permitted on the beach on leash. Pick up after your pet.
Duck Town Beaches
Pets on a 10-foot leash or under voice control are permitted. Pick up after your pet.
Kill Devil Hills Town Beaches
Kill Devil Hills, NC
From May 15 through September 15 from 9 a.m. through 6 p.m., pets are not permitted on town beaches; at all other times, they may be on a 10-foot leash. You can find public beach access from: Helga Street, Hayman Boulevard, Fifth, Fourth, Second, and First streets, Asheville Street, Woodmere Avenue, Carlow Avenue, Oregon Avenue, Clark Street, Calvin Street, Martin Street, Atlantic Street, Ocean Acres, and Lake Drive.
Kitty Hawk Town Beach
Kitty Hawk, NC
From the Friday before Memorial Day until the day after Labor Day, pets on a 6-foot leash are permitted on THE town beach between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.; at all other times, they may be on a 12-foot retractable leash or under voice control, the dog being no further than 30 feet from the owner. The town beach is accessible (with parking) from the following spots: Balchen Street, Bennett Street, Bleriot Street, Fonck Street, Hawks Street, Maynard Street, Wilkins Street.
Manteo Town Beaches
Pets on a 6-foot leash are permitted on town beaches.
Ocracoke Island Beaches
Ocracoke Island, NC
Pets on a 6-foot leash are permitted on island beaches.
Southern Shores Town Beaches
Southern Shores, NC
From May 15 to September 15, pets are not permitted on town beaches; the rest of the year they are permitted on a 10-foot leash.