Looking for a calm and relaxing place to get away from the hustle and bustle? Well, look no further! Whether you’re on the hunt for waves, sun, or simply a little peace and quiet, the beaches of North Carolina have got you covered. Here are our top 10 best beaches to visit in North Carolina:

Visit The Top 10 North Carolina Beaches In 2018

1. Atlantic Beach

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Located in Carteret County, NC, Atlantic Beach is one of five communities in the Bogue Banks portion of “North Carolina’s Crystal Coast,” aptly named for its crystal water beaches. This sunny spot is popular for a big group getaway with friends or a family vacation. The infamous pirate Blackbeard ran his flagship, The Queen Anne’s Revenge, aground a few miles from the beach, and buccaneers of all ages can learn more about the ship’s history at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in nearby Beaufort.

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2. Bald Head Island

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Bald Head Island is situated in Brunswick County, N.C., near the city of Wilmington. Only accessible by ferry from the town of Southport, the abundance of sea turtle nests have led many visitors to coin the phrase, “I’m on Turtle Time,” in reference to the “care-free/car-free” environment of Bald Head Island. For beach-goers, there is a delightful, long stretch of sandy coastline along Cape Fear. The island is also home to a now out-of-service lighthouse fondly called “Old Baldy,” which is the oldest lighthouse in the state, built all the way back in 1817.

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3. Carolina Beach

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Located in New Hanover County, Carolina Beach’s white sand shoreline is perfect for surfing, fishing, and seafood. The rides and games of the beach boardwalk make this spot a particularly kid-friendly location. If you’re the type that prefers a stroll to sitting out in the sun, the town’s small strip includes several local eateries, including the famously delicious Britts Donuts shop. Summer visitors can often enjoy an evening of live music and fireworks.

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4. Carova Beach

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Carova Beach is the most isolated of North Carolina’s Outer Banks beaches, largely due to the lack of paved roads. However, those looking for a private getaway with clean white sands may love this out-of-the-way destination. Animal lovers can also keep their eyes peeled for the gorgeous wild mustangs roaming the shore. Carova Beach is generally accessible by 4x4s only, and vacation rental homes are available for accommodation. It is strongly recommended that guests make reservations several months to a year in advance of their trip, as spots fill up quickly.

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5. Coquina Beach

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Coquina Beach is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and gets its name for the colorful coquina clams that amass on the margins of the beach. This beach features golden sun-kissed sand dunes and is home to the shipwreck of Laura Barnes, a 4-masted schooner that was blown off-course from Maine in 1921. Coquina Beach is ideal for those who like to surf, swim, fish, and birdwatch. The best time to visit is during the warm spring and summer months, when the shore becomes a beachcomber’s heaven with various shells, coquina clams, sea glass, and the occasional starfish or sand dollar.

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6. Topsail Beach

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Situated in Pender County, Topsail Beach is a common summer nesting place for the loggerhead sea turtle. This beach boasts the best conch shells on the East Coast, and there is also justifiable pride for the entertainment and dining options in nearby Surf City. Visitors have a whole array of beachside activities to choose from: sunbathing, surfing, fishing, boating — and even ice skating!

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7. Shackleford Banks

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Shackleford Banks is located in Carteret County, N.C. and is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. This seaside town is home to feral “Banker” horses that can occasionally be spotted along the coast. This is a great place to go shelling, scalloping, and camping. In the summer, Shackleford Banks becomes a nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles which come back to the shore each summer to lay their eggs before they return to sea.

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8. Kure Beach

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Colorful homes and billowing palmetto trees line Kure Beach, a white sandy beach located in New Hanover County, N.C.. History buffs can visit the Civil War relic Fort Fisher, while nature lovers take in the variety of marine critters at the aquarium including alligators, venomous snakes, sharks, stingrays, moray eels, seahorses, and sea turtles. Kure Beach is also a good place to get in a round of golf or explore the ocean by surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, or fishing. With its multitudes of shops and family-owned restaurants, Kure Beach is sure to please even the pickiest traveler.

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9. Harkers Island

Situated in Carteret County, NC, Harkers Island has a little of everything: white sand beaches perfect for sunbathing, nature trails for hiking, and Cape Lookout lighthouse for historical exploration. The main industries of this town are duck hunting, fishing, boat building, and traditional waterfowl decoy carving. Interestingly, as a result of being in largely in isolation from the rest of the Outer Banks for 250 years, the local people of Harkers Island speak a very distinct dialect commonly known as “High Tider,” which can be traced back to Elizabethan England.

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10. Emerald Isle

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Situated in Carteret County, NC, Emerald Isle is a great family-friendly location with quiet beaches and the occasional bottlenose dolphin sighting. Fishermen can aim for catches like wahoo, speckled trout, king mackerel, and red drum. Emerald Isle prides itself on an “unspoiled” atmosphere with no oceanfront hotels, so visitors should look to book a vacation home there or in nearby Swansboro or Bogue.

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This article was written by Content Contributor Laura Hu and edited by Anne Harris.