Pet-Friendly Trip to the Outer Banks: The Ultimate Guide

Imagine yourself walking along the sandy shores of the Outer Banks coastline, sand in your toes, a beachy breeze whipping through your hair, and the sound of waves crashing in the distance. Now, imagine that scene with your furry BFF beside you. 

Everythings better with your bestie in tow!

Luckily for you, the OBX is a virtual paradise for pet-owners, offering a plethora of pet-friendly beaches, accommodations, and activities. To help you and your good pal Spot plan your next beach trip, we’ve created this handy guide that will make planning your pet-friendly Outer Banks vacation a real treat! 

Pet-Friendly Rentals

Photo Credit: fizkes

The first step to planning the ultimate OBX trip for you and your furry friend is to secure accommodations in an Outer Banks pet-friendly rental. Fortunately for you, you’ll find plenty of options! 

Here at First Flight Rentals, we pride ourselves on offering a number of pet-friendly vacation rentals that include all the best amenities to make your trip feel like home! All our rentals provide free wi-fi. We even have options with private pools and hot tubs!

You and your pup can walk right out to the sandy shores with one of our ocean front properties with beach access. Or you can enjoy beautiful sunsets from a soundfront property with your bestie at your side. 

A quick search of our site will provide lots of pet-friendly options. Please note there may be some restrictions on dog breeds, sizes and quantities based on the owner’s preferences, and the size and location of the rental. These will be noted on the listing. 

Pet-Friendly Beaches on the OBX

Once you check-in to your rental home away from home, you’re probably going to want to hit the beach and soak up the sun with your four-legged friend. Luckily, on the OBX you’ll find many options to explore. 

1. Nags Head Beach

Photo Credit: K e v i n via Flickr CC2.0

With its wide sandy shores, and crashing waves, Nags Head is a popular destination for pet owners. This beach allows leashed dogs year-round. In addition to allowing dogs on the beach, you’ll find several multi-use paths in Nags Head as well as a dog park across from the beach on the soundside. 

2. Duck Beach

Previously named one of the most dog-friendly beaches in North Carolina, Duck Beach allows dogs on the beach year round. Your pup can even play on the beach unleashed, provided they stay under your control at all times. After a romp on the beach, you can walk your (leashed) pup along Duck’s Boardwalk. Here you’ll encounter many eateries with outdoor seating that welcomes well behaved fur babies to dine with their owners.  

3. Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Photo Credit: Cvandyke

Your furry family members are welcome to visit the Cape Hatteras National Seashore with you as long as you keep them on a 6 foot leash at all times. Pets are not permitted in buildings, on designated swim beaches, or around resource closures. 

4. Kitty Hawk Beach

Kitty Hawk’s beaches are also pet-friendly with a few restrictions. During the summer months (Friday before Memorial Day through the day after Labor Day), dogs are permitted but must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet. During other times throughout the year dogs are still permitted, but must be tethered on a leash no longer than 12 feet. All dogs must display a current rabies tag. 

5. Kill Devil Hills

Photo Credit: D H Photos

Restrictions on dogs on Kill Devil Hills beaches are a little more strict. Throughout the hours of 9 am to 6 pm between Memorial Day and Labor Day, dogs are not permitted at all. During the hours before and after, and days during the off season, leashed, well-behaved pups are welcome. Kill Devil Hills is also home to a popular dog park, Mary’s Paws Park. This inclusive park has designated spaces for all ages, sizes and abilities. 

6. Corolla 

The beautiful beaches of Corolla welcome pets all year long. There are no leash length requirements, but dogs must remain on a leash at all times. In addition to their pet-friendly beaches, Corolla also offers a number of pet-friendly places to grab a bite to eat. You can also enjoy a walk through Historic Corolla Park taking in views of both the Currituck Lighthouse and Whalehead at Corolla. 

 7. Southern Shores

Leashed dogs are permitted on the beaches of the Southern Shores, but specific time restrictions apply. During the summer season months (May 15 – September 15), dogs are not allowed during the hours of 9am – 6pm. Dogs are allowed at all other times, provided they are leashed. There are no requirements pertaining to the length of the leash. 

Other Pet-Friendly OBX Excursions

In addition to spending your days in the sun taking long walks by the sea, there are a number of other adventures in the Outer Banks you can experience with your four legged friend! 

Nags Head Woods Preserve

Nags Head Woods Preserve is a nature sanctuary offering miles of trails to explore with your leashed pup. Together you can experience the unique ecosystems and diverse wildlife abundant in the Outer Banks. 

Pea Island National Wildlife Park

Pea Island National Wildlife Park is a haven for migratory birds and nature lovers. Your pup is welcome to roam the area, provided they are on a leash no longer than 10 feet, and remain well-behaved at all times. 

Wright Brothers National Memorial

This 428-acre park commemorates the first flight of the Wright Brothers with a number of replicas and monuments displayed throughout the grounds. Pets are permitted in the park, providing they are leashed. Leashes must be no longer than 6 feet, and pets are not permitted within buildings. 

Outer Banks Lighthouses

Perhaps some of the most visited spots on the Outer Banks barrier islands, each of the four OBX lighthouses allow leashed, well-behaved pets on the grounds. Pets, however, are not permitted inside buildings

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

This historic museum explores the rich coastal heritage of the Outer Banks through shipwreck artifacts and maritime exhibits. Well-behaved, leashed pups are permitted on the grounds of the museum (which is closed for renovations until the fall of 2023).

Elizabethan Gardens

If you’re looking to stroll through a beautiful, historic garden, head over to Manteo for a visit to Elizabethan Gardens. Polite, leashed pups are welcome to explore the grounds with you for a small admission fee of $3. 

Jockey’s Ridge State Park

You can enjoy epic ocean views from the peaks of  the towering sand dunes in Jockey’s Ridge State Park. While pets are not allowed in the buildings, they are welcome to explore the park with you as long as they are leashed. Leashes must be 6 feet or shorter.

Essential Pet Packing List

To ensure your four-legged friend has an epic Outer Banks vacation, it’s important to pack all their essentials. To help you out, we’ve created a quick packing list to get you started. 

  • Food and Water Bowls
  • Pet Food and Treats
  • Leash and Collar (with ID tags!)
  • Poop Bags
  • Bed or Blanket
  • Toys and Entertainment
  • Medications and Health Records
  • Basic First Aid Kit
  • Travel Carrier or Crate
  • Grooming Supplies
  • Beach Gear (shade, portable water bowl)

Preparing in advance helps ensure a stress-free and enjoyable vacation for both you and your furry friend.

Be Mindful of Local Pet Laws and Ordinances

When visiting the OBX with your pet, it is essential to be mindful of current rules and regulations. These can vary depending on what area of the Outer Banks you visit, so be sure to visit each municipality’s website for information specific to the area. 

Leash Laws

Be sure to check the leash law for each beach before visiting with your pets. These are subject to change and you should make sure you are aware of the most current regulations. If a beach does not require leashes, it is extremely important your pet is well-behaved and you are always in control of your pup. 

Seasonal Restrictions

Certain beaches throughout the OBX have seasonal restrictions related to pet access. Some may have restrictions in busy summer seasons or during nesting season to protect turtles and other coastal species. Again, it’s important to check local ordinances before visiting.  

Clean-Up After Your Pet

When visiting the Outer Banks with your pet, please be respectful of our coastal oasis and clean up after your pet. Always carry poop bags with you and dispose of waste in designated receptacles. Failure to clean up after your pet can result in fines and a guilty conscience. 

Wildlife Protection

Throughout the Outer Banks you’ll encounter a diverse variety of natural wildlife. From the wild Spanish Mustangs of Corolla, to sea turtles nesting on the beach, it is essential to keep your pet away from area wildlife. This is for both the safety of the native animals and your pet. 

Experience the OBX with your Best Four-Legged Friend! 

A trip to the Outer Banks always makes for a great vacation, but it’s even better with your pup in tow. So book one of our pet-friendly Outer Banks vacation rentals and strap Fido in his car seat for a pawsome beach adventure you’re both sure to enjoy!

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