Which is the best beach in NC? US News ranks the top 10

The 1870 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
The 1870 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Of all the beaches up and down the North Carolina coast, which is the best? And what makes one beach better from another?

U.S. News & World Report weighs in with a ranking of the top 10 Tar Heel beaches, though it's up to you if you take their word for it.

VIDEO: Experience the untamed environment along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Climb a lighthouse, charter a deep sea fishing trip, or just relax on unspoiled beaches.

"From a family-friendly vacation to a Nicholas Sparks-inspired getaway, the coast of North Carolina is characterized by wide, sandy beaches with conserved dunes, beachfront rental houses and a laid-back approach to life," U.S. News wrote, though we knew that already.

To decide which stretches of shoreline are worth your vacation days, U.S. News factored in scenic beauty, nearby amenities and the opinions of "experts and travelers."

In order, the top 10, according to U.S. News are:

1. Cape Hatteras

2. Corolla/Currituck Beach

3. Bald Head Island

4. Nags Head

5. Duck

6. Emerald Isle

7. Oak Island

8. Ocracoke Island

9. Topsail Island

10. Atlantic Beach

For Cape Hatteras, U.S. News lauded uncrowded "unspoiled beaches and (the) black-and-white-striped lighthouse" along with the chance to drive off-road vehicles on the beach and see sea turtles during nesting season.

Cape Point on Hatteras Island is crowded with fishermen in this photo looking north from September 2011. NC Attorney General Josh Stein has assembled a coalition of attorneys general from across the country to oppose President Donald Trump’s plans to open more ocean waters to offshore drilling. CHUCK LIDDY cliddy@newsobserver.com

Corolla was chosen for its seclusion, and U.S. News noted its lighthouse and historic district, along with the chance to see wild Spanish Mustang horses.

Bald Head Island's beachfront rentals, club golf course and largely undeveloped land earned it the No. 3 spot.

Because Nags Head is easily accessed and has a "wealth of amenities" including fishing piers and the Bodie Island Lighthouse, it earned the No. 4 spot.

Duck was chosen for its lack of development and expansive beaches for seashell collecting.

Emerald Isle came in at No. 6 for clean beaches, a popular fishing pier and the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.

The Town of Emerald Isle debuted this promotional video in May 2017 to illustrate everything that makes their town great. On April 6, 2018 USA Today named the isle the best beach in North Carolina.

Oak Island, described as "sleepy" was chosen for its 60 public beach access points, fishing piers and proximity to Southport, the filming location for several movies.

Ocracoke is No. 8 on U.S. News' list for its views from the coast and its history as Blackbeard the pirate's stomping grounds.

Topsail Island was chosen for its history as a pirate hideout home to three beaches, the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center and Serenity Point.

Rounding out the top 10 is Atlantic Beach, one of the most developed beach areas in North Carolina, chosen for its many amenities including a fishing pier, bike and water sports equipment rentals and more.

This 275 lb. loggerhead turtle, was one of twelve released Wednesday, April 25, 2018 off Ocracoke Island, NC after being rehabilitated at the NC Aquaruim on Roanoke Island. The turtles were rehabilitated after being stunned by cold ocean waters.

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