Vacation Planning: Outer Banks Beach Safety & Tips

Beach & Ocean Safety

You should always use caution before entering the ocean. Stay alert for red warning flags. If the red flags are flying, it means swimming is prohibited. Although flags may be posted when the weather seems fine, it means that the water conditions are not safe to swim in. Strong rip currents can make swimming dangerous; please read and follow the safety instructions at lifeguard locations.

Helpful tips for ocean goers:

  • Never swim alone!
  • Check the ocean forecast.
  • Watch Channel 16 for weather and ocean conditions.
  • Be aware that even on low risk days rip currents can still exist.
  • Swim in front of a lifeguard.
  • Don't swim out too far.
  • Bring your cell phone and know your exact location at the beach.
  • In an emergency, to get the fastest response, a phone and address can save lives.
  • Also have someone on shore watching you.
  • Educate yourself and your family on rip currents.

Sun Protection

Bright, sunny days seem like the perfect recipe for a great Outer Banks vacation. However, if you aren't careful, the summer sun can be too much of a good thing. During the summer months, the sun's rays are especially intense. The reflection of the sun off of the ocean and sand can increase your chance for sunburn.

The following tips can help you avoid heat-related illnesses - including sunburn:

  • Remember, you can sunburn even on a cloudy day!
  • Avoid dehydration and drink plenty of water when outdoors.
  • Be watchful of children and older adults, their bodies don't regulate their temperatures efficiently.
  • Try to avoid exposure to the sun during the most intense hours of the sun’s rays (10:00AM - 5:00PM).
  • Apply sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15, paying special attention to the face, nose, ears scalp and shoulders.
  • Wear sunglasses with UV Protection.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Make sure you reapply sunscreen often - especially after swimming.
  • Whenever possible, wear a shirt or coverup to minimize your sun exposure.
  • Umbrellas, tents or cabanas are great devices for staying out of direct sunlight and will also help keep you cool.

Keep Our Beaches Clean & Beautiful

We need your help to keep our beaches clean and beautiful for years to come. When you head to the beach, be sure to bring some sort of trash bag with you to gather all of your trash items at the end of the day.

Also, be sure to always clean up after your dog. Pet waste contains harmful bacteria that spreads disease. Please be sure to pick up your pet's waste, seal it in a plastic bag (some beach accesses provide bags for this) and dispose of it in trash cans. Do not bury/cover it with sand!

Local Beach Rules & Regulations


  • Southern Shores

Guarded Beaches

Remember, it's always safer to swim in front of a lifeguard! The following Outer Banks beaches provide lifeguards from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Several areas also have roving lifeguards on atvs/bikes until mid to late October. Hours and locations are subject to change without notice. Phone numbers are for local fire / ocean rescue unless otherwise noted.


(252) 453-3242

9:30am - 5:30pm (Roving patrol until Oct. 15)

  • Ocean Hill
  • Corolla Light
    • Lighthouse Area
    • Shad Street
  • Whalehead
    • Sturgeon Street
    • Bonito Street
    • Sail Fish Street
  • Buck Island
  • Crown Point
  • Ocean Sands
    • Sections P,O,F, and D
  • Bathhouse at Currituck Club
  • Pine Island at Hampton Inn


(252) 255-1234

10:00am - 6:00pm: May 1st—October 31st (Roving patrol until Oct. 15)k


  • Plover Drive
  • Four Seasons Community
  • Schooner Ridge Drive
  • Barrier Island
  • Sprig Tail Drive

Southern Shores

(252) 261-2394

10:00am - 6:00pm: May 1st—October 15th (Roving patrol until Oct. 15)

  • Chicahauk Beach
  • Hillcrest Beach

Kitty Hawk

(252) 261-2666

10:00am - 7:00pm (Roving patrol until Oct. 15th)

  • Byrd Street
  • Eckner Street
  • Kitty Hawk Bath House (300 yds south of West Kitty Hawk Road)

Kill Devil Hills

(252) 480-4064

10:00am - 5:30pm (Roving patrol until Oct. 30)

  • Helga Street
  • Hayman Boulevard
  • 5th Street
  • Avalon Pier
  • 3rd Street
  • 2nd Street
  • 1st Street
  • Ashville Street
  • Carlow Avenue
  • Ocean Bay Boulevard
  • Oregon Avenue
  • Clark Street
  • Calvin Street
  • Martin Street
  • Atlantic Street
  • Neptune Drive - Ocean Acres
  • Lake Drive
  • 8th Street

Nags Head

(252) 441-5909

10:00am - 6:00pm (Roving patrol until mid October)

  • Albatross Street
  • Bonnett Street
  • Hollowell Street
  • Enterprise Street
  • Epstein Street
  • Forrest Street
  • Gray Eagle Street
  • Gulf Stream Street
  • Hargrove Street
  • Juncos Street
  • Conquina Beach












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