Nature September 10, 2017
10 North Carolina Beaches Worth Visiting In The Offseason
Many people don’t realize one of the best-kept secrets of our state: visiting the beach in the offseason is almost better than the summer. The crowds have diminished, views are still beautiful, the air a perfect coolness and the water still fairly warm. While locals have known this for years (and honestly, love when tourist season ends) if you didn’t have time to hit the beach this summer or even just want to get away for a day or two, these ten beaches are the perfect place to do so.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Emerald Isle
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. 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
If you're really 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 it's own energy and charm, as well as walking and biking trails if it's a bit too chilly to beach that day.
For more information on Bald Head Island,
read our guide here.
3. Wrightsville Beach
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.
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 it 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 the beach 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,
read our guide here
to learn about Ocracoke's haunting history and some must-visit spots. Even if you don't run into any ghosts, you're still treated to beautiful scenery on this unique island.
Cuddling up with an attractive stranger in the midst of a terrible storm, both literally and metaphorically, might be the plot to Nicholas Sparks' Nights in Rodanthe, but 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.
8. Caswell Beach
Caswell Beach is the perfect fall getaway as 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 our guide 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
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 sport enthusiasts like surfers, kite surfers, and paddle boarders.
10. Kure Beach
Pronounced "CURE-ee," this stretch of sand is in close proximity to Carolina Beach and 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.
Honestly, I think ALL North Carolina beaches are worth visiting in the offseason, but these ten are indeed some of my favorites for a quick fall getaway. What are your favorite North Carolina beaches for the offseason?
The beach might not be the most fall-centric activity you can do, but these
8 charming apple orchards will really make it feel like autumn.