What could be more fun than a beach vacation suitable for dogs to the Outer Banks of North Carolina? This is one of the best places in the country for history and beauty.
If you love beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the water and enjoy places where almost everyone you meet loves pets, a dog trip to Outer Banks may be the perfect vacation for you!
How comfortable for dogs are outside banks?
We got a little taste of what Outer Banks has to offer when a mechanical problem on our boat (as well as our home) made us stay there for repairs.
Since we wouldn’t be sailing for a while, we rented a car and took a whirlwind tour of the Outer Banks with our dog, Honey.
History and mystery of foreign banks
What will we find when we arrive at the Foreign Banks? Our travels through Beaufort, North Carolina had exposed us to tales of the most famous pirate in the state of Blackbeard (or Edward Teach, as his mother called him). His spirit (or at least his name) appears everywhere in the Foreign Banks.
READ MORE ⇒ Visit Beaufort, North Carolina with pets
Aviation enthusiasts will remember Outer Banks as the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flight.
And I remember being fascinated in high school by talking about the lost English colony on Roanoke Island. The only evidence of the disappearance of more than 100 colonists is the word “Croatoan” carved into the rock. Even today, there is not enough archaeological evidence to know what happened.
Some claim that the colonists assimilated into the local Algonquin community. Others point to the bad relations the first colonists had with the original inhabitants, claiming that the colonists were killed or simply starved without outside support.
Four hundred years later, we may never understand.
Would modern foreign banks show any signs of their historical and mysterious past? Or will it look like other beach communities we’ve visited? It was time to find out!
Navigation on external banks
External banks (or OBXs) are a series of barrier islands. Well, not entirely islands. Northern foreign banks are now linking to the mainland after years of storm damage. The northernmost peninsula is located south of Virginia Beach and close to the more interesting than it sounds, the Dark Swamp.
Route 12 in North Carolina connects most of the island settlements. It ends at the entrances, where the ferry service starts, until the journey starts again on the next island. And yes, all North Carolina ferries are suitable for pets!
Until the 1930s, no bridge reached the Foreign Banks. The only access was by boat. As a result, the accent of some of the locals is quite special, sounding more like the British Isles than the rest of North Carolina.
One thing Outer Banks shares with the rest of the South is hospitable hospitality, especially if you are accompanied by a hairy friend.
What to do with your dog on the outer shores
There is something for everyone in the Foreign Banks. Let’s start with the biggest attraction of the area … the beaches!
Dog-friendly outdoor beaches
Most beaches at the Foreign Bank are suitable for dogs at some point during the day with only a few restrictions. Of course, all beaches require you to clean up after your pet – packed and taken out, not buried in the sand.
All of the restrictions below do not apply to service dogs that are trained to assist a person with a disability.
Also keep in mind that wild horses live in the northernmost outer banks. So not following the laws of the leash can be dangerous if your puppy is curious about large creatures.
Here are the beaches of Outer Banks, from north to south:
Corolla – Corolla beaches are suitable for pets all year round at any time of the day. But you need to keep your pets on a leash at all times. Use the convenient city guide to find all public access points and amenities.
In addition, Heritage Park at Currituck Sound’s Whalehead Club welcomes dogs with a leash.
Duck – Your dog can have fun on Duck Beach without a leash, as long as it is under your voice control and does not harass wildlife or other visitors to the beach. However, you will not find public beach access points in Duck. Stay in a rental property suitable for pets, here and you will have fun on your almost private beach.
Dogs with a leash are welcome in the city, as long as they have proper identification and proof of rabies vaccination. This includes the promenade, Duck Trail and Duck Park.
Southern Shores – Dogs with a leash are welcome on the beach at any time of the day out of season and from 18:00 to 9:00 during the season (from 15 May to 15 September).
Kitty Hawk – From Friday before Remembrance Day to the day after Labor Day, dogs can walk on the beach on a 6-foot leash from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. From 18:00 to 10:00 in the morning, dogs can be on the beach on a 12-foot leash.
For the rest of the year, you can wear Fido to the beach without a leash, as long as he is about 30 feet away from you, coming back on call, and not harassing others.
READ MORE ⇒ Tips on how to keep your dog on the beach
Kill Devil Hills – Dogs with a leash are welcome on the beach at any time of the day in the off-season. But between Remembrance Day and Labor Day, their time on the beach is limited to before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
Nags Head – Your dog is welcome on the beach anytime, all year round. But pets should be on a leash at all times. Horseback riding is allowed on Nags Head Beach from 1 October until 30 April.
Cape Hateras National Beach – Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round if kept on a six-foot leash. But they can’t go to certain beaches for swimming or inside buildings.
The same rules apply to all cities on the island of Hateras, which include Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Ocracoke.
In the middle of the day, the sand burns to bare feet. So you may want to visit a grassy place instead. Why not take a look at the lighthouses or tour some of the historic sites in the area?
Although technically not part of the External Banks, Roanoke Island is located between the barrier islands and the mainland. And it’s worth a visit – especially if you love history.
You can learn about the first English settlements in the historic Fort Raleigh site. While you’re there, explore the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens. There is an entrance fee for the gardens and a small fee for your dog.
While on the island, the Victorian town of Manteo is a charming place to stop for lunch. Lost Colony Brewery and the more prestigious Avenue Waterfront Grille have outdoor seating.
Dining options are a short walk from Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse. The current building is a copy of the more unusual form of signal light with a screw pile in this area. You are free to look around, although your pet must be waiting for you outside.
Another interesting site for Outer Banks is the Wright Brothers National Monument. The markers indicate the start and end location of the most famous 12-second flight.
Finally, consider a trip to Okrakok – the furthest from the islands. Available only by ferry, private boat or small plane, for many years it served only as a pirate refuge.
What is now the Springro Point Nature Reserve of Ocrocoke was formerly known as the Blackbeard Plantation. Watch out for gold bars while looking for shells on the shores of Pamlico Sound!
Currituck Sound on the north side of Outer Banks is very shallow. In fact, it is ideal for kayaking. And the historic Corolla City Park has an excellent boat ramp from which to launch.
If you do not have your own kayak, the Outer Banks Kayak Adventure of Nags Head will allow you to take your dog on a private guided tour. Just be sure to call in advance to make an appointment.
READ MORE ⇒ Tips for canoeing or kayaking with dogs
Jockey’s Ridge State Park has the highest living sand dunes on the Atlantic coast. You need to keep your dog on a leash, but hiking through the sand will give you a good workout!
The sand is getting hot, so plan your dune exploration sooner or later during the day in the summer. Or enjoy the shady footpaths on the sound side of the park at any time of the day.
Plan your trip to external banks
Obviously there is no shortage of outdoor entertainment for dogs in the Foreign Banks! But it is worth thinking about the time before planning your vacation.
When to go
External banks are called the “cemetery of the Atlantic” for a reason. It is located on the road that hurricanes usually follow the east coast. And this is where most northeastern residents start before heading north to throw inches of rain or snow along the north coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
Autumn is a great time to see Outer Banks, but take out travel insurance and have a good backup plan in case a hurricane is expected to hit nearby. Even hurricanes at sea can cause damage to these fragile islands.
Summer is definitely the most popular time to visit. But the beaches are crowded and the sand is getting hot. Honey, I also learned that the hard way, when I left my shoes, we had to run to the surf to cool our burning feet!
Where to stay
You won’t find a shortage of pet-friendly accommodation in Outer Banks, from family beach motels to elegant inns. There are both private and public campsites where you can sleep on the beach. And there are many holiday homes suitable for pets for rent.
Where to eat
We found that most restaurants have outdoor seating. And during our short visit we did not find a single restaurant that would repel us with Honey. Fresh seafood is a huge attraction and you can find it everywhere, from modest ice cream and fried shrimp to high-end restaurants.
In a very short visit we got a tempting taste of a charming area. I have already started planning our next trip there with our boat. If you haven’t been there yet, add it to your future vacation plans. Your dog will thank you!
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