With summer in full swing, North Carolina beaches are drawing visitors in droves – and many of those visitors want to bring their canine pals along with them.
It’s wise to check ahead, however, and make sure dogs are allowed on your beach of choice and, if so, what specific laws apply.
Many beaches have strict leash laws (like those common inland) and require you to clean up after your pet (again, the same as inland), so don’t be inconsiderate: pack a leash and some bags. Some places allow dogs off-leash, while others require leashed year-round or prohibit pets during the summer.
We’ve collected the dog-specific regulations on popular North Carolina beaches. If you don’t see your beach of choice on our list, find its official website.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Bald Head Island: Dogs are allowed if they’re on a leash.
Caswell Beach: At Caswell Beach, dogs must be leashed on the beach except between dawn and 9 a.m. From October until April, dogs are also allowed off-leash from 3 p.m. to dark.
Holden Beach: Dogs are not allowed on Holden Beach from May 20 and Sept. 10 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Outside of those hours and dates, dogs are allowed, but they must always be leashed.
Oak Island: Where signage allows, dogs in Oak Island are allowed off-leash between Oct. 16 and March 15 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Its animal control ordinances are listed at oakislandnc.com.
Ocean Isle: From Memorial Day through Labor Day, dogs are only permitted after 6 p.m. and before 9 a.m. Dogs must be leashed at all times.
Sunset Beach: Dogs are not allowed on the beach from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from the Friday before Memorial Day to Labor Day. Other than that, dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash 10 ft. or less at all times.
For more information about Brunswick beaches, visit bit.ly/2uz4UIU.
Atlantic Beach: Dogs are allowed at all times, provided that they are leashed and cleaned up after. They can walk through the Circle Area, where there are town lifeguards, but they are not permitted to stay there.
Emerald Isle: Dogs must be leashed, even in the water and surf zone. emeraldisle-nc.org/faq.
Pine Knoll Shores: Dogs must be leashed. Visit townofpks.com/faq.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore: Dogs are prohibited at designated swimming beaches and must be on a 6-foot leash at all other beaches.
Corolla: Dogs are allowed on the beach leashed.
Duck: Dogs are allowed unleashed, but under the supervision of their owner.
Kill Devil Hills: Dogs are not allowed between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. from May 1 until Sept. 30. Otherwise, dogs are allowed leashed.
Kitty Hawk: Dogs must be leashed from the Friday before Memorial Day until the day after Labor Day between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Nags Head: Dogs are allowed on the beach leashed.
Ocracoke Island: Dogs are prohibited at designated swimming beaches and must be on a 6-foot leash at all other beaches.
For more information about Outer Banks beaches, consult the FAQ section under “Vacation Guide” at outerbankschamber.com.
Topsail Beach: Dogs must be leashed between May 15 and Sept. 30. The rest of the year, however, they may be off-leash so long as they’re under voice command of a responsible person. The full FAQ is at topsailbeach.org.
Carolina Beach: Freeman Park at the northern tip of Carolina Beach is a dog-friendly beach, with dogs allowed off-leash during the off-season (October through March) and requiring a leash during the busy months (April through September). However, Freeman Park is a four-wheel-drive beach, and daily access permits are $30. Visit carolinabeach.org/visitors/freeman_park.
Fort Fisher: Dogs are allowed as long as they’re on a leash at all times.
Kure Beach: Kure Beach allows leashed dogs October through March. It’s illegal to take your dog to the beach strand from April through September, though. They’ve obviously gotten this question a lot: townofkurebeach.org/faqs.aspx.
Wrightsville Beach: No dogs are allowed on Wrightsville Beach between April 1 and Sept. 30. The rest of the year, dogs are allowed, but only if they’re on a leash. It’s all spelled out in this document bit.ly/2sVBd2E.