In Sway Guides

So quarantine prevented the arrival your beach bod this year, but it can’t prevent North Carolina beaches from offering you a dose of vitamin sea. There’s no doubt that a trip to one of the North Carolina beaches is a summertime staple in our state. Whether you take a day trip or stay a while, vitamin sea is a necessity this year.Here are a few of our favorite beaches where you can practice social distancing while perfecting your tan.

Oak Island

Just under three hours from town, spans 11 miles and offers the classic family experience — including cruising the entire, car-free island as fast as your golf cart allows. All of their public beach accesses are open, and there’s plenty of space to keep your distance. Here’s what else is open in Oak Island:

:: The splash pad. Located at 133 SE 48th St. at Middleton Park, you can get your splash on from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily. The playground at Middleton Park remains closed.

:: Hotels and motels. Beachfront motels like the Ocean Crest Motel in Oak Island are welcoming visitors. They’re taking precautions to ensure rooms are clean and sanitary and guests are comfortable. Check out their Facebook page for updates.

:: Restaurants: Oak Island and Southport favorites like Provision Company and Old Bridge Diner are allowing guests at a limited capacity. If you don’t want to brave the wait list, you can still pick up takeout.

Ocean Isle Beach

You’ll feel like a local and a tourist at the same time at Ocean Isle Beach. Ocean Isle Beach is one of the most up-and-coming North Carolina beaches. It’s located about 2.5 hours from home, and all public beach accesses are now open. You can also rent a house, but good luck finding an open weekend. Here’s what else is open at Ocean Isle Beach:

:: The splash pad. Yes, they’ve also jumped on the splash pad train. Located at 6483 Old Georgetown Rd., the splash pad at Ocean Isle Beach Park is open from 7:30 a.m. until 10 p.m., and nine people are allowed in the water at one time. The playground at OIB Park is closed.

:: The pier. The OIB pier is open for fishing, and they’re even offering fishing classes this year. Check the Facebook page for more information.

:: Hotels and Motels. Beachfront lodging like the Ocean Isle Inn and Islander Inn are open with average rates coming in at around $180 a night.

:: Restaurants. Dine in at OIB favorites like The Isles Restaurant and Tiki Bar and Castaway Grill, or pick up Jamaican takeout from Sugar Shack.

Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach offers an old-school “my grandparents met here 50 years ago” vibe that attracts visitors from near and far each year. Public beach accesses are open, and this family beach sits just under three hours from Moore County. Here’s what else is open:

:: The Carolina Beach Boardwalk. The boardwalk at Carolina Beach is filled with ice cream shops, souvenir stores and more. It’s one of the only old-fashioned boardwalks left in the country.

:: Hotels and motels. Live large at the oceanfront Courtyard by Marriott Carolina Beach, or go with a no-frills option at the Golden Sands Motel, which is also beachfront.

:: Restaurants. Dine in for a casual beachfront meal at Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar, or stop by Nauti Dog and see how they put a creative spin on hot dogs and nachos.

Atlantic Beach

A low-key option bursting with open public beach accesses, Atlantic Beach is about 3.5 hours from Moore County.

:: Atlantic Beach Town Park: The playground is closed, but the splash pad is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. There’s also a brand new picnic shelter, a mini golf course and a skate park at AB Town Park.

:: Oceanana Pier. Catch a sunset or a fish on Atlantic Beach’s only pier. The restaurant at the pier is currently only offering takeout food, but fishing and walking are permitted.

:: Hotels and motels. Stay beachfront and close to pier at The Oceanana Resort. Looking for a more modest option? Try the Island Inn of Atlantic Beach, complete with an outdoor pool and Wifi access.

:: Restaurants. Get a dose of nostalgia at On the Rocks — a classic seafood spot now offering dine-in services, or pick up a burger or fried fish sandwich from The Shark Shack and enjoy it from a distance.

Outer Banks

You’ve binge-watched the Netflix show, so you might as well see what the real Outer Banks is all about. Hint: there’s less drama and plenty of public beach accesses that are currently open in this beach town. It’s about four hours from home, but it’s worth the drive.

If you’re bringing along a pet, check out Duck, but if you’re looking for plenty of public access, shopping and dining, check out Nags Head or Hatteras. Here are a few things to do.

:: Jockey’s Ridge State Park: Check out the largest natural living sand dune (as in you can hang glide off of it) on the east coast at Jockey’s Ridge in Nags Head. It’s all outdoors, so it’s open to the public during COVID.

:: Avon Fishing Pier. A sign at the entrance reads “Welcome to America’s Pier,” so the fishing at this OBX staple must be pretty legit. We do know that it’s open for fishing right now.

:: Restaurants. Tortugas’ Lie Shellfish Bar & Grill is a Nags Head staple. Although their dining room isn’t open yet, you can enjoy takeout at the picnic tables behind the restaurant. If you’re in Hatteras, check out Kat’s Deli by the beach. We trolled the OBX Dine-In and Takeout Options Facebook page and it’s a big recommendation by locals.

:: Hotels and motels. Surf Side Hotel is a modest option in Nags Head. If you want a solid spot for your IG photos, check out the Inn at Rodanthe — AKA the house in the film adaption of Nicholas Sparks’ Nights in Rodanthe.

The Outer Banks consists of multiple towns and beaches, but you can get a more in-depth and take a virtual tour here. Don’t forget about the wild horses, found in Corolla and nearby nature preserves.


There’s no doubt that a trip to one of the North Carolina beaches is a summertime staple in our state. Plan your visit today.


Bonus: Looking for something to wear? Check out the options at Knickers Lingerie.

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