Many people may be surprised to learn that visiting
beaches in North Carolina in the offseason is almost better than spending time on one during the summer. During this time of year, the crowds have diminished, the views are still beautiful, the air still has a perfect coolness, and the water is still fairly warm.
Locals have known that visiting beaches in North Carolina any time of year is one of the best-kept secrets in the state. To learn more about some of the best North Carolina beaches worth checking out, read on to learn about why the following ten destinations are ideal for a day trip or weekend away during the offseason.
1. Emerald Isle
Emerald Isle, NC 28594, USA
Tucked in the Crystal Coast, Emerald Isle can already feel like a well-kept secret during the summer months, making fall and early winter even more prime for vacationing on what's known as one of the
best beaches in NC.
Several of the quintessential attractions and restaurants stay open through the offseason with nearby Swansboro, Morehead City, and Beaufort providing plenty of daytime and nighttime activity.
2. Bald Head Island
Bald Head Island, NC 28461, USA
If you're needing a long weekend away, Bald Head Island transports you from the (literal) mainland and essentially, the world. While the BHI ferry might be overwhelmingly crowded in peak season, the fall is perfect for a day trip without the pressure of waiting, parking, etc. Each beach at BHI possesses its energy and charm, as well as walking and biking trails if it's a bit too chilly to wade on these North Carolina beaches when you go.
For more information on Bald Head Island,
read our North Carolina guide.
3. Wrightsville Beach
Wrightsville Beach, NC, USA
Just twenty-five minutes east of Wilmington, both locals and college students know how perfect of an escape WB is during the offseason. With water temperatures staying fairly warm through October, summer lasts a bit longer here. Even in the winter, you'll see surfers adorning wetsuits and catching waves. Hence, another reason why this is one of the
best beaches in North Carolina.
Sure, the northernmost point of the Outer Banks might experience chillier conditions than its southern counterparts, but it has one special aspect, wild horses. While the horses have grown quite accustomed to humans, you're more likely to get the full experience once the crowds diminish. If you already thought the Outer Banks felt like an uncharted land, wait till you experience this exquisite beach in North Carolina in the offseason. It's a truly special experience.
For more information on Corolla and Carova,
read our guide here.
5. Topsail Beach
Topsail Beach is already calm and quiet during summer, in the offseason it's even more of a private utopia. Don't be surprised if you have a large stretch of beach to yourself! This thin island north of Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach puts you in a great location to explore nearby New Bern or to just sit back and take it all in on one of the
best beaches in NC
with a cold one.
6. Ocracoke Island
For a perfect, spooky-centric October trip, Ocracoke is the place to do so. The most isolated part of North Carolina is also one of the most haunted. It's not surprising when you think of the long and intertwined history the island is home to, including Blackbeard's beheading not far from Teach's Hole. If you love a good ghost story or exploration, check out our guide about
-- including its haunting history and some must-visit spots. Even if you don't run into any ghosts, you're still treated to the beautiful scenery on this unique island.
Cuddling up with an attractive stranger amid a terrible storm, both literally and metaphorically, might be the plot to Nicholas Sparks' Nights in Rodanthe. This plot can surely be recreated to some degree on a chilly, romantic fall vacation. It's easy to see why Sparks chose this location as the backdrop. While the Serendipity House no longer sits beside the ocean, it still operates as a charming Inn for far-flung travelers looking for a dose of fiction within reality while also visiting one of the most notable
beaches in North Carolina.
8. Caswell Beach
Caswell is one of North Carolina's beaches that's an ideal destination that you can do a two-in-one trip and stay in nearby Southport or vice versa. The small, south-facing beach is home to rare beachside sunsets over the water and calm tides perfect for small swimmers. Its southern location also means the water and weather will stay slightly on the warmer side. Book a weekend away in nearby Southport, recently named America's Happiest Town. Wondering what to do while there? Read out guide about
here -- and don't forget to stop by the delicious and cool
for steamed shrimp, an ice-cold beer, and panoramic water views.
9. Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Hatteras National Park Road, Nags Head, NC 27959, USA
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore encompasses 72 miles of charted and uncharted coastline. The barrier islands range from dreamy, secret beach spots you can take four-wheel drive to, or more popular tourist destinations like Nags Head; there's a bit of everything 'OBX' here. Hurricane season also brings large waves and challenging surf that attracts water sports enthusiasts like surfers, kite surfers, and paddle boarders to this
North Carolina beach.
10. Kure Beach
Pronounced "CURE-ee," this stretch of sand is near Carolina Beach and is also only a 45-minute drive from downtown Wilmington. Yet, with attractions like Fort Fisher and the nearby aquarium, you might just want to stay put for a long weekend to explore one of the
best beaches in North Carolina.
Honestly, I think ALL North Carolina beaches are worth visiting any time of year, but these ten are indeed some of my favorites for a quick off-season getaway. Feel free to share some of your top North Carolina beaches in the following comments section too.
Along with spending time on the beach, how about taking a hike too when you head to the water? For ideas of where to go, I suggest checking out
Croatan National Forest At Flanners Beach.
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More to Explore
Beaches in North Carolina
What are some of the best-overlooked beaches in North Carolina?
Here are some of the
best-overlooked beaches in North Carolina:
Cape Lookout: Discover 56 miles of scenic views when you head to this stretch of beach along North Carolina's coast.
Holden Beach: Explore a jaw-dropping beach and more when you head to this charming town in North Carolina.
Sunset Beach: You'll get to enjoy peace when you spend the day at this stunning beach that's about three miles long and in the southern part of the state.
For more options, take a look at our coverage of one of the best beaches in North Carolina too.
What are some of the most picturesque hikes that lead to North Carolina beaches?
Check out some of the most picturesque hikes that lead to North Carolina beaches:
Lake Glenville: Discover a waterfall and more when you explore this spot in the midst of Pines Recreation Area in North Carolina.
Croatan National Forest: Keep an eye out for wildlife as you stroll along scenic hiking trails that lead to Flanners Beach.
Carolina Beach State Park: You'll be able to hike and more when you explore this natural area behind Carolina Beach on Pleasure Island.
If you're looking for more ideas of where to spend time in nature, take a look at these
hiking trails in North Carolina too.
Explore North Carolina