12 Best Beaches in North Carolina for Families

By Ketki Hanamshet on Dec 01, 2017
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Soft waves washing feet, warm sunshine kissing face, and toes tucked in silky sand - all this and much more beckons me to spend time at the beach. Walking along the everyday bustling streets, I yearn to be at some secluded beach to enjoy solitude. This got me to search for the beaches that would offer me peace and quietude, and here I am with my list of 12 Best Beaches in North Carolina for Families that remain uncrowded for the most part of the year. Care to take a look at it? I am sure you won’t be disappointed if the sun and sand are what you seek.

1. Emerald Isle

Emerald Isle

Imagine walking miles of an uninterrupted sandy beach on a balmy day with your loved ones. This is exactly what Emerald Isle has in store for you. Famous as a destination for a family getaway, this place sees families coming back year after year for reunions. You can occasionally get a glimpse of bottlenose dolphins bobbing on the waves as well as see wild ponies grazing in the nearby pastures. Perch yourself on the sandy beach with a glass of margarita and let the vast expanse of the aquamarine beach instantly calm you.

Best time to visit:

May - To enjoy the most pleasant atmosphere
September and October - When the crowds have receded

Best For Family vacations and seashells collection

2. Pine Knoll Shores

Pine Knoll ShoresPC: crystalcoastnc.org

This is one of the best-uncrowded beaches in North Carolina, thanks to visitors flooding its neighboring Atlantic beach. The pristine miles-of-shores are perfect to enjoy some beach activities such as throwing a frisbee, playing volleyball, surfing, wading, shelling, kite flying, and swimming. A leisure walk along the shores is just the thing to do upon visiting Pine Knoll Shores beach. The clean wide shores and the clear Atlantic waves do true justice to the ‘Crystal Coast’. Plan to spend your summers here to enjoy a relaxing vacation.

Best time to visit: Fall - When the weather is cool, but the water temperature is warm enough to enjoy swimming.

Best for: Outing enthusiasts wanting to enjoy plenty of beach activities.

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3. Topsail Beach

Topsail BeachPC: Flickr.com

Head towards Topsail beach with an empty bag in hand, for this, is the place to collect abundant conch shells. Another attraction of the beach is the loggerhead sea turtles who nestle at this place during summers. The turquoise seawater at this beach beckons you to have a cool relaxing dip to unwind yourself. You can also engage in kayaking, surfing, and fishing to make the most of your vacation here. The soft sandy beach is ideal to sit with your beloved, enjoying the breathtaking sunset view. Add a bottle of wine to the picture and you will have your perfect date.

Best time to visit: Fall - To see teeny-tiny sea turtle hatchlings

Best for Romantic getaways and relaxing vacations

4. Coquina Beach

Coquina BeachPC: Flickr.com

Haul a beach chair along with you to Coquina beach and stretch over it enjoying the panoramic vistas of the boundless sea. As the name suggests, parts of the seashore here are carpeted with vibrantly colorful coquina clams. You can engage yourself in collecting a variety of seashells including jingle shells, moon snails, vivid scallops and clams, whelks, and seagrasses. The beach is also a favorite amongst those who love fishing. If you are a bird-watcher, you can occasionally sport shorebirds like sandpipers, gulls, plovers, and cormorants.

Best time to visit: Late fall and early spring - Prime seasons to enjoy fishing and bird-watching.

Best for Beachcombing, shelling, fishing, birdwatching.

Must Visit: Shelling Beaches in Florida

5. Shackleford Beach: The beach of galloping mustangs

Shackleford Beach

Add a dash of 100 wild horses sprinting along the shoreline and you have Shackleford Beach. This untouched beauty is a paradise for any artist who seeks inspiration from nature. Characterized by gullies, valleys, and sand dunes, this is a postcard-perfect place. Sunsets are a must-not-miss when you are here. As the sun sets, the horizons are painted in golden hues that make for a mesmerizing sight to behold. Besides, you can also engage yourself in collecting a variety of seashells.

Best time to visit: Fall - To see migratory shorebirds

Best for Banker pony and wildlife watching, surfing, and kayaking.

6. Kure Beach

Kure BeachPC: Flickr.com

With Ocean Front Park developed at the beachfront, Kure beach is the best place to visit with kids in NC. The park features a boardwalk and has many fun activities, enabling children to enjoy to their heart’s content. It also has an open-air pavilion which has made Kure Beach a hit destination for weddings. The soft sandy beach is just right for the lazy bums to relax and drink in the breathtaking views of the roaring sea.

Best time to visit: Warm spring and summer months to enjoy the weather

Best for: Kids, beach weddings

7. Holden Beach

Holden BeachPC: Wikimedia Commons

Like many other beaches in NC, Holden beach sees very little crowd. You have vast stretches of beautiful clean beach all to yourself. Being least commercialized, this place is the ideal retreat to escape the hustle and bustle of the buzzing town. Bask in the sunshine and breathe in the salty air, Holden beach is all at your disposal. The beach is favored more by families who come together at this place to enjoy some bonding time.

Best time to visit: Fall - to enjoy a stroll along the beach on balmy nights.

Best for Family vacations

8. Ocracoke Beach

Ocracoke BeachPC: drbeach.org

Natural dunes, pristine seawater, and shorebirds make the Ocracoke beach a favorite destination amongst beach-goers. However, it yet remains much unexplored. The beach boasts of many facilities like showers, restrooms, and water fountains. The beach is continuously supervised by lifeguards. You can also take your pets to this beach, provided they are on a leash. There is a special doggie shower facility here to clean your pooches once they are done rolling on the sandy beach.

Best time to visit: September to November when the accommodation rates drop and the crowds recede.

Best for: Walking dogs, swimming, surf fishing.

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9. Wrightsville Beach

Wrightsville BeachPC: Flickr.com

Wrightsville Beach is a hit amongst those seeking the sun and the sand. Since it has easy access, you will usually find it a little crowded. The beach equally offers a lot to its visitors. From a variety of watersports to scenic beach tours, you will be spoilt for choice. Also, with hundreds of birds like Least Terns, American Oystercatchers, Willets, and Black skimmers nesting at the beach, it is one of the best beaches in North Carolina for bird-watching.

Best time to visit: September and October when the beach is less crowded and continues to have enough warmth and sunshine.

Best for Water sports competitions, birdwatching.

10. Oak Island Beach

Oak Island BeachPC: Wikipedia.org

Oak Island Beach is the go-to destination for those wanting to enjoy a variety of beach sports. Kayaking, surfing, fishing, and boating are just a few of the many watersports enjoyed at this beach. With miles and miles of uncrowded stretches, this place is perfect to engage in a game of volleyball or kite-flying. A leisure stroll along the shoreline during sunrise will instantly rejuvenate you. The beach is lined with a few cozy houses that are ideal for a comfortable stay at the beachfront.

Best time to visit:

4th July to enjoy the fun activities
September to May when the beach is less crowded

Best for Watersports and a relaxing vacation

11. Carova Beach

Carova BeachPC: Wikimedia Commons

This is one of the most isolated outer bank's beach, which makes it the best place to seek solitude. Blessed with a cool breeze and warm water, this is an ideal place to relax and enjoy quietude. If you visit it with family, the kids can have fun running wild across the uncrowded beach while you can enjoy a cool dip in the crystal clear waters on a hot summer day. You will also find wild horses along the shorelines. The beach can be accessed only by 4WD vehicles since it does not have paved paths.

Best time to visit: Summer - To enjoy the warm ocean temperatures

Best for Laidback vacations

12. Currituck Beach

Currituck BeachPC: Wikimedia Commons

Currituck Beach is the best-kept-secret of NC. The place is far away from any trace of commercialization, making it a perfect retreat to seek the much-needed solitude. It is just you, the sand dunes, and the soft waves at Currituck beach. You will occasionally find yourself in the company of the wild ponies here. To watch them frolicking in their natural habitat is an unforgettable memory. Lie on the silky beach for hours together, basking in the sunshine and drinking in the enthralling views. You can also visit the lighthouse near the beach.

Best time to visit: Fall - to enjoy beautiful weather by day and crisp cool breeze by evening

Best for: Wildlife watching and relaxing

Walk along the shores with your loved one or engage yourself in some adventurous watersport, the beaches in North Carolina will surely help you have the best beach vacation.

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