North Carolina’s coast is a popular pick for summer getaways, for families who live in the state and for those all over the U.S.! From the historically famous northern Outer Banks all the way down south to the charming Oak Island beach areas, it’s easy to find the perfect coastal destination for you and your family. What could make the trip even better? How about being able to bring your furry family members along for all the fun! We recently dove into which of these NC beaches are the pet friendliest, so you’ll be sure to know where your entire family is welcome to visit on your next shore vacation.
At the southernmost tip of North Carolina is the town of Caswell Beach, where obedient, leashed dogs are permitted year-round. Unleashed dogs who respond to voice commands are permitted year-round from dawn till 9:00 a.m. but from October 1 through April 30, unleashed (but controlled!) dogs are allowed on the beach from 3:00 p.m. until dark. Caswell Beach allows your pup to have freedom in the sand, so they can enjoy the sun and waves right along with you.
Caswell Beach has the least amount of people of the Oak Island beaches, so it can be a low-key and relaxing vacation for all. Smaller crowds around you often translates into a more calming atmosphere for your dog, so you won’t need to worry about overwhelming your furkid. You can often take leisurely strolls along the shoreline or simply rest on the sand without having to stress about too many distractions nearby for your pup!
Oak Island Beach
Another southern NC beach is the incredibly pet friendly Oak Island Beach. Leashed pups are allowed year-round on Oak Island beaches and, if you want to enjoy some leash-free time, unleashed doggies are allowed October 16 through March 15 from 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Oak Island is considered one of the best family vacation spots in North Carolina, so not only will your pet be feeling fine and carefree, but your family will be too! And, if you want a break from the beach itself, there are multiple marinas, shops, and restaurants that you are welcome to explore with your pet.
The opposite end of North Carolina, on the northern coast, features beautiful Corolla Beach. Pets are allowed year-round as long as they are leashed at all times. It is a perfect place to bring your pet any time of year, since you won’t have to worry about the rules changing with the seasons or time of day.
There are pet friendly hotels, inns, and vacation rentals along the entire strip of beach, so it’s easy to be in an accessible area. There are also many great places to hang out in-town, besides the beach! You can even take a horse tour around the historic sites of Corolla and the local sanctuaries, all with your pup by your side. Local restaurants in the area often have outdoor seating options, so your fur babies can join you for a great meal!
Emerald Isle Beach
Right below the Croatan National Forest, on an island off the eastern coast of the state, are the crystal-clear waters of Emerald Isle Beach. The best part about this beach is that leashed pups can play here any time of year! Take time with your dog to rest, relax, and play in the heart of the NC’s coast.
On your non-beach days, check out places like Emerald Isle Woods Park Trail. This huge park comes complete with walking and hiking trails, a floating dock, and a pier for you and your dog to explore and enjoy. You can also tromp along the city streets and peruse the local shopping areas. Emerald isle is a beautiful and calming place to spend your vacation, with many beaches and pet friendly activities to keep you busy if you choose!
Topsail Island Beach
Another island on the eastern seaboard of North Carolina is Topsail Beach. At this coastal hotspot, dogs must be on leashes from May 15 through September 30, and all other times they can go leash-free! Any time is a great time to visit this popular coastal destination with your beach-loving dog! And, the quaint town on Topsail Island will charm you with an atmosphere that is made up of unique shops and restaurants for any type of tastes. Your dog can join you on many of the island’s excursions, so not only will your furry friend be happy, but the whole family will be, too!
Kitty Hawk Beach
You will find Kitty Hawk Beach on the long stretch of island at the northern tip of North Carolina. From the Friday before Memorial Day until the day after Labor Day, dogs must be on a 6-foot leash on the beaches between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Every other time of year, the leash can be as long as 12 feet. Either way, your leashed pup can play on the beach year-round!
Beyond the beach are plenty of other outdoor, pet friendly activities to experience. There’s the expansive Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve and the Sandy Run Park, where maritime forests are available to saunter through and get connected with nature. Outdoor seating is included at many local restaurants, so your furkid can join you for a great meal! Kitty Hawk is a great coastal vacation destination that is more than ready to take on your trip with your pet.
It’s truly no wonder that these North Carolina beaches are highly-rated by animal lovers and fellow pet parents. Whichever North Carolina coastal area you decide to visit, there is no doubt that you and your furry best friend will be well taken care of and have the beach trip of a lifetime.
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