Are There Any White Sand Beaches In North Carolina?

North Carolina is one of the most popular States in the United States to go on vacation for domestic and international tourists. North Carolina is known for its diversity with bustling cities and incredible mountain towns, but does it have white sand beaches?

With 300 miles of coastline, North Carolina has some of the best beaches on the West Coast of the United States of America. Along this expanse of coastline, North Carolina has numerous top-ranked white sand beaches, many of which are worth further discussion and a potential visit!

Since North Carolina has such a wealth of world-class beaches on its coastline, it can be difficult to narrow down which of these white sand beaches are worth visiting. Therefore, this article highlights just seven beaches on the North Carolina coast to visit.

1. Atlantic Beach

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Aptly named for its easy access to the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic Beach is a well-known vacation destination found on North Carolina’s famous Crystal Coast.

Facing South, this white sand beach has ample space for visitors and is flanked by shopping and dining options that range from low-end convenience to high-end fine dining. These districts can be explored by taking one of the Walk Atlantic Beach loops. 

For fishing enthusiasts, the Anchorage Marina has an excellent fishing ramp and plenty of parking for your rig and trailer. The beach can be easily accessed anytime from one of the 44 access points, with parking nearby.

Outside of the picturesque beach, the nearby Fort Macon State Park and the North Carolina Aquarium offer entertainment and historical trips that the whole family can enjoy on a rainy day!

2. Kitty Hawk

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For those entering from the North, Kitty Hawk is one of the first towns you are likely to want to visit. With miles of white sand beaches, the ample space means you should be able to comfortably find a spot for a full-day family outing.

Most parking is free and readily available, while the town has various shops, restaurants, and retail outlets to cater to all needs. Outside of the beach, Kitty Hawk is home to the Wilbur Wright Memorial, a perfect outing for history buffs!

3. Carolina Beach

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Near to the port city of Wilmington, you’ll find the white sand Carolina Beach toward the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The beach sports a wooden boardwalk with an old-school feel, including restaurants, beach-themed shops, a Ferris Wheel, and other rides.

Various facilities offer activities for outdoor enthusiasts, such as the hiring of bicycles or paddleboards. Just be aware that should you bring your furry friends on vacation, that dogs are not allowed on the beach from 9 am to 5 pm or on the boardwalk at any time.

4. Wrightsville Beach

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The next white sand beach on our list, Wrightsville Beach, can also be found near the city of Wilmington. Famous for bringing surfing to North Carolina, Wrightsville Beach remains the perfect spot for water sports enthusiasts.

However, the steady roll of waves also makes Wrightsville Beach a great destination for those looking to learn how to surf; just be on the lookout for surf schools that offer multi-day camps and equipment for rent.

Fortunately, the diversity and laid-back nature of Wrightsville Beach means that it also caters to those that want to just take it easy on its golden sands or who want to take advantage of the fishing spots, as provided by two separate piers.

5. Topsail Island

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Topsail Island sports over 26 miles of coastline spread across North Topsail Beach, Topsail Beach, and Surf City. The variety of Topsail Island means that beaches are found on the Southside and the Atlantic side.

This variety means that Topsail Island is a perfect family destination should you be looking for safer, shallow waters for children to enjoy.

A must-see attraction is the 937-foot long Surf City Pier at Surf City. This pier boasts a popular restaurant, a welcoming atmosphere, and great fishing spots.

6. Nags Head

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Settled in the 1800s, Nags Head has proven to be a popular vacation destination for locals and tourists alike.  Known for its wide-open spaces and clear waters, Nags Head is perfect for those looking for lengthy beach walks or hours of swimming.

Jeannette’s Pier is a 1000 foot pier, with an aquarium, bait shops, and fantastic fishing spots. Just take note there is a small fee to access the pier and additional fees for fishing.

The nearby Jockey’s Ridge State Park is home to the Bodie Island Lighthouse for those with a nautical interest. Built in the 1870s, this historic lighthouse has the best views of the surrounding beach and ocean, ideal for that perfect Instagram snapshot!

7. Carova Beach

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While also a white sand beach, Carova Beach offers a completely different experience from the other beaches on this list. As rather than being a place to lounge in the sun and sip cocktails, Carova Beach is best suited for more adventurous tourists.

This is because Carova Beach, famous for its wild horses, allows visitors to drive four-wheel drive vehicles on the beach without a permit. This allows you to create your own beach game drive.

Carova Beach also has some of the best bird watching, game viewing, and shelling spots of any of the beaches in North Carolina. Just make sure to pack your own supplies as the rugged nature of the beach means a lack of amenities such as shops or restaurants.

8. Holden Beach

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Finalizing our list is yet another beach close to the city of Wilmington, that being Holden Beach. Recognized as one of the best family beaches in the United States of America, Holden Beach is located in the Brunswick Islands.

At just a 35 minute drive from Wilmington, it serves as the perfect day trip for those who would prefer a more urban feel while having easy access to wide stretches of coastline overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.   

With state regulations on the height of buildings in Wilmington, creating a comfortable, laidback, homely feel, ensuring your stay at Wilmington is a relaxed one. 


As can be seen in the list above, North Carolina has a multitude of different white sand beaches to cater to all different visitors!