Visiting the Beaches of Outer Banks, NC with a Dog

Guest post by Caitlyn Bell

What could be more delightful than a dog-friendly beach vacation to the famous Outer Banks, off the coast of North Carolina? One of the most wonderful places in the United States, it has the perfect blend of history, pristine land, and unmeasurable beauty. The Outer Banks (or OBX for short) not only attracts people from all over the world, but it is also a popular destination among dog owners and their dogs.

Any place where you can enjoy both beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the water, with endless beaches stretching endlessly, is nothing short of a paradise for dogs. Almost every tourist you meet there will be a dog lover.

But before letting you let your dog go wild on the beaches and let them off their leash, make sure you’re aware of the regulations for dogs, including whether they need to stay leashed. An important thing to note at the OBX is that each beach has its own rules and regulations, which can differ. To help you out, we’ve collated the rules for the most popular beaches together in one convenient place.

Visiting Kitty Hawk Beach

If you’re traveling from the north, Kitty Hawk is the first destination you’ll arrive at after crossing the Wright Brother’s Memorial Bridge. Dogs are freely allowed on the beach at Kitty Hawk depending on the season of the year you visit.

From the Friday before Memorial Day up until the day after Labor Day, dogs must remain on a leash that cannot exceed 6-feet, between 10am and 6pm. During the rest of the year, they are permitted on a leash up to 12-feet long.

If your dog is an innocent-looking pug or a friendly lab then you don’t need to worry, because during the off season it’s also permitted to allow well-behaved dogs off their leash on the beach, as long as they don’t disturb other people and remain under your control. However, make sure you keep their leash close by and don’t allow them to run further than 30-feet away from you!

Visiting Nags Head Beaches

Nags Head is the largest locale inside the Outer Banks, with a population that is twice as many as other locations in the entire Banks.

While some beaches at OBX have stringent regulations, the rules at the beaches here are very relaxed. Dogs are permitted on the beach all the time, as long as they are on a leash no longer than 10-feet. Don’t also forget to take poop bags to clean up after your dog.

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Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in the Outer Banks

Visiting Carova Beach (4 x 4 Beach)

The 4×4 Carova Beach has the most relaxed rules amongst all the beaches of the Outer Banks. There are not many restrictions here as long as your dog is leashed at all times. However, unlike other beaches such as Kitty Hawk, there is no limit on the length of the leash. 

Since there is a lot of vehicular traffic here, dogs staying leashed are best for the 4×4 as it makes for a safe stroll, for you and your pup. Make sure you get a permit if you are driving a 4×4 and wish to park on the beach.

Visiting Kill Devil Hills Beaches

Kill Devil Hills is arguably the most popular destination of the Outer Banks. Dogs are usually allowed on the beach here, but there are restrictions on time. Between Labour Day and Memorial Day, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, dogs are not allowed at all on the beach.

At all other times, dogs that are leashed are permitted to join you on the beautiful sandy beach.

Handy Tips for Walks on the Beach

When the sun is hot and high in the sky during summer, the sand absorbs so much heat, making it difficult to walk on. As dogs have unprotected soles on their paws, your dog is as risk of suffering from skin burns, unless they are equipped with shoes (and consent to wearing them!) Alternatively, visit the beach during the evening with your pup to keep them safe.

While at the beach, keep a careful look out for signs warning of currents. High currents on the shores could sweep your dog out to sea, especially if they aren’t a strong swimmer. Also be aware that if dogs swallow salt water, they are at risk of getting sick, so keep them away from the water if they start to do this.

In Conclusion…

It’s the perfect time to plan for a beach vacation, both for you and your little pup! So go on, make some plans and set them into action! But firstly, be prepared with all the relevant rules and follow our tips for a paw-some day at the beach.

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