Top Dog Friendly Beaches in North Carolina

Dog friendly beaches are heaven on earth for Fido. And since sandy paws equal happy dogs, we’ve sniffed out the best beaches in North Carolina where dogs can run, swim, and frolic in the sand. Use the links/map below to find a dog-friendly beach in North Carolina.

Freeman Park

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Freeman Park on Carolina Beach welcomes dogs between October 1 to March 31. Owners must carry a minimum of two suitable plastic or paper waste containers until it can be disposed of in an appropriate receptacle. The bags must be produced and shown upon request.

Oak Island Beaches

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Oak Island is an island off the North Carolina coast about 30 minutes south of Wilmington, NC. It is accessible across a bridge (you do not need to take a ferry to get there). Oak Island beaches (Caswell, Yaupon, & Long Beach) are very family and pet friendly. The atmosphere is quiet, relaxing and laid back. Dogs have a wonderful time running on the beach or retrieving toys from the low surf.

Fort Fisher State Park

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Dogs are allowed on leash year round at the Ft. Fisher State Park. This very wide beach is great for your dog to run and swim with other dogs. Pet waste cleanup laws are strict, and bags are provided for this purpose. Please pick up after your pet so we do not lose dog privileges at this beautiful beach!

Topsail Beach Off Leash Dog Beach

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Dog's must be on a leash from May 15th through September 30th. At other times the dog are required to be under voice command of a responsible person, but does not have to be on a leash. The person must always be prepared to remove any waste left by dogs. These regulations apply to the entire town including the beach.

Nags Head Beach

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Dogs are allowed on the beach year-round as long as they are restrained by a leash not exceeding 10 feet.

Caswell Beach

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Caswell Beach, located on Oak Island, is a dog friendly beach year round. Walking on or over sand dunes or beach vegetation by persons or pets is prohibited - $100 fine per occurrence. Dogs must be on a leash - $25 fine Only summer exception: Dawn - 9:00AM on the beach only while under adult owner’s strict supervision and control. You must carry and use plastic bags to scoop up after your dog - $25 fine

Emerald Isle Beach

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Emerald Isle allows dogs on the beach year-round, but they must be leashed at all times.

Wrightsville Beach

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Leashed pets are welcome during the off-season (Oct 1st to April 1st) at this beautiful, clean beach. Please note: Leash laws are strictly enforced.

Oregon Inlet 4WD Beach

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This is a 4 wheel drive beach across the street from Oregon Inlet Fishing center. The fishing center offers free air to re-inflate your tires once you are done your day at the beach. All of the beach rules are posted on a sign at the drive-on entrance. Dogs are very welcome. It is a very open atmosphere - beach goers are not squished together, so there is plenty of space for some off-leash fetch and swimming with your pooch. Make sure to bring your own fresh water as well since there is no shower/spigot at this beach. Be sure to stay off the turtle nesting areas which are clearly marked and as always, pooper scoop after your pooch.

Kitty Hawk Off Leash Beach

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This beach requires varying leash lengths based on the time of year. Dogs are allowed off-leash in close proximity and control of owner.

Carolina Beach State Park

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Pets are welcome to join you on-leash on the beach and campsites of this state park near Wilmington.

Sunset Beach

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Sunset Beach allows dogs, but they must be leashed at all times. From the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day, dogs are not allowed on the beach from 8am through 6pm.

Atlantic Beach, NC

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Dog friendly for dogs on a leash. Great place to walk the dog or let them swim in the beautiful ocean!

Topsail Island

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Yes, dogs are allowed, but they must be on a leash from May 15th through September 30th. At other times the dog must be under voice command of a responsible person, but does not have to be on a leash. The person must always be prepared to remove any "deposits" left by the dog. These regulations apply to the entire town including the beach.

Fort Macon State Park

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Great beach for pets and families; get there early as the FREE parking fills up fast!

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

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Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, located about 15 minutes south of Nags Head, is comprised of beaches, dunes, freshwater ponds, salt flats and marshes, and upland. Wildlife includes over 365 species of birds, 25 species of mammals, 24 species of reptiles, and 5 species of amphibians. Pets are welcome year-round.

Jockey's Ridge State Park

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Jockey's Ridge State Park welcomes leashed dogs. There are trails that will take you into multiple environments including wetlands, sandy beaches, and grassy dunes. Note: Jockey's Ridge State Park also allows dogs on the sand dunes however, sand spurs are present (ouch!). The sand can also reach temperatures that are 30 degrees higher than the air temperature. Please make sure paws are protected and water is always available during hotter months.

Bald Head Island Beaches

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Bald Head Island is surrounded by 14-miles of pristine beaches. You'll need to take a pet-friendly ferry to get there (from Southport), but once you arrive, you'll find that dogs are allowed off-leash on any of them year-round. The only exception to this is in turtle nesting season, when dogs must be leashed from sunset to sunrise. South Beach features long stretches of sand and calmer waters, while East Beach is better for boogie boarding and surfing. If you don't want to bring beach gear along with you on the ferry, you can rent everything you'll need from Riverside Adventure Company.

Hammocks Beach State Park

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Hammocks Beach State Park welcomes leashed dogs. Dogs are welcome on the beach but are not allowed in the water at the swimming area. Outside of the swimming area, dogs are allowed in the water but must remain on their leash at all times. Pets are also welcomed on Bear Island but owners must find their own way over as dogs are not allowed on the ferry.

Hatteras Island

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Very dog friendly beaches. Just need a 6 foot leash. And please pick up after your dog so we don't lose our beach privileges!

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

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Take your four-legged companion for a splash! Dogs are permitted on all beaches, except those designated as swimming beaches. Keep Fido on a leash of six or less feet, as this shore is not off leash.

Town of Duck Dogs on Beach Policy

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Dogs are allowed on the beaches of Duck, NC unleashed, but as a matter of public safety and courtesy, they should be under the watchful eye and contact of their owner. Dogs are required to be vaccinated for rabies, collared with proper identification at all times, and controlled by a leash (10 feet or less) or restraint throughout Town including at the park, boardwalk, and Duck Trail.