The beautiful North Carolina coastline is a vacation hot spot, not just for local families but also for those countrywide!
From the diverse beaches, unique lighthouses, and rich history, it's easy to find an excellent coastal spot that's right for you. And, of course, bringing the fur babies along for all the fun makes the trip complete.
Luckily there are a plethora of dog-friendly activities in Wilmington, NC, and its surrounding cities. Discover the NC beaches that stand out from the rest when it comes to your pup being able to join you in the surf and sand.
In addition to the pet policies for each selected beach, pet-friendly lodging options and plenty of fun activities make the North Carolina coast the best of the best!
At Wrightsville Beach, all leashed dogs are welcome at any time during the off-season, which is October 1st - March 31st. However, throughout the rest of the year, dogs are not permitted on the beach. Some of the pet laws from the Town of Wrightsville Beach include:
- Your pet must always be on a leash while in the Town of Wrightsville Beach.
- You are required to clean up after your pet, have the means to always do so, and dispose of pet waste in available trash cans.
- No pets are allowed on the beach strand from April 1st through September 30th.
- Never leave your animal in a vehicle.
- The beach adjacent to the Mason's Inlet area is included in the Park Ranger's jurisdiction. All pet regulations apply to this area.
Wrightsville has various restaurants and bars that offer you and your best friend a place to rest. Some bars, such as Jimmy's, allows you to bring your dog with you to the establishment.
Another local dog-friendly community is Carolina Beach. Along with the numerous restaurants that offer outdoor seating for you and your pet, this beautiful beach allows leashed pets during the on-season, April 1st - September 30th, after 5:00 pm.
Some more pet laws from the Town of Carolina Beach include:
- All dogs are required to be always on a leash.
- April 1st through September 30th, dogs are allowed on the beach during restricted hours before 9:00 am and after 5:00 pm.
- October 1st through March 31st, dogs are allowed on the beach during all hours.
- You must always have a plastic or paper container on your person that can be used to clean up and contain dog waste until it can be disposed of in an appropriate container. This container must be produced and shown, upon request, to anyone authorized to enforce this ordinance.
- Dogs are not allowed on the historical wooden parts of the boardwalk at any time.
- Dogs are not allowed in the Boardwalk Business District at any time-this includes sidewalks, walkways, or public property east of Canal Dr. from the north side of Harper Ave. (Hampton Inn location) up to and including Cape Fear Blvd. (Gazebo area). See Town Ordinance Chapter 34, Article III, Section 34-64.
On the southern tip of North Carolina rests the famous pet-friendly 12-mile-long Oak Island Beach. Leashed pups are allowed year-round on Oak Island beaches and, if you want to have some leash-free time, unleashed doggies are allowed October 16th through March 15th from 6:00 am until 8:00 pm in certain designated areas marked by signs.
Oak Island is considered a classic family vacation spot in North Carolina, so not only will your pup be happy, but the rest of the family will be too.
Another island on the eastern seaboard of North Carolina is Topsail Beach. At this coastal hot spot, dogs must be on a leash (no longer than 20ft) when off their property limits from the period between May 15th through September 30th of each year. Additionally, all dogs must be on a leash from April 1st through September 30th of each year in the area designated as Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) Unit L07 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service marked by the town. The person must always be prepared to remove any "deposits" left by the dog. These regulations apply to the entire town, including the beach.
Topsail Island is a quaint town with a charming atmosphere full of unique restaurants and shops to suit anyone's style. The area has plenty of lodging options that allow pets and include ocean views, pools, hot tubs, outside showers, and patios.
Located just 18 miles from Wilmington, you'll find the kind of small-town beach from your childhood. Home to the oldest fishing pier on the Atlantic Coast, an oceanfront park, a state aquarium, and beautiful seaside surroundings, Kure Beach provides the perfect setting for you, your family, and your pup to explore and reconnect in this pure and natural playground.
Kure Beach allows pups on the beach from October 1st through March 31st. Leashes must be restrained to 15 ft, and dogs are not permitted on the beach during the town's season.
Figure Eight Island
Located just east of Wilmington, Figure Eight Island is a destination that has inspired curiosity for decades. The island is privately owned by its homeowners and a rumored haven for celebrities and any visitor who wants a luxurious and private escape.
The only way visitors can access Figure Eight Island is by renting or purchasing a vacation home or residence. While difficult to access, visitors who decide to rent or buy a home on the island will be treated to one of the quietest beach landscapes in the area. Figure Eight Island retains its reputation as one of the most pristine destinations in the coastal Cape Fear area. So, if you and Fido are looking for a serene escape, Figure Eight may be the place for you!
Leashed dogs are allowed from May 15th through September 30th on Figure Eight Island beaches.
Bald Head Island
Board the ferry for the 20-minute ride to Bald Head Island and leave your car behind, along with the stress of the mainland. This charming island will give you and your pup everything you want and more.
Bald Head Island is one of the few beaches that allow dogs to roam freely off-leash at any time of the year.
With so much freedom for your dog, it's no wonder these North Carolina beaches are highly rated for animal lovers and pet parents. Whichever coastal area you decide upon, there is no doubt that you and your best friend will be loving life in coastal North Carolina. Best of all, there are many more pet-friendly beaches in North Carolina to explore in addition to these great selections.
If you are ready to make any of these coastal towns your permanent residence, Coastal Carolina offers a selection of featured communities to begin your real estate journey.