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27 Oct 2022
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Environment & Nature

We know that you love the beaches of the Outer Banks as much as we do! Crisp, crashing waves, warm sands, and plenty of wildlife flitting around and enjoying the beautiful natural environment and precious ecosystems. 

But as we humans visit the beach more and more, it’s important that we take into consideration the things that we can do to make sure that these spectacular beaches stay clean both for our own enjoyment and for the good of the birds, sealife, and other animals that call these areas home. Protect what you love so that it can be enjoyed by future generations of beach-goers and wildlife. Here are some things that you can do both while on vacation and once you’re back home to help protect and restore the beautiful beaches of the Outer Banks!

Ways to Help During Your Vacation

We hope that during your stay, you're enjoying lots of fun and relaxing time at the beach! Here are some things that you can do to help protect those beautiful beaches and keep them clean for your stay.

Bring Your Own Trash Bag - And Use It

This is probably the biggest and most important way to preserve the pristine beauty of the Outer Banks. Whether you keep it in your cooler or your beach bag, bring your own trash bag with you to the beach and be sure to clean up everything that you use during your time on the sand. 

Don’t leave plastic bags, cups, old food, or packaging behind in the sand. Trash not only creates a really unpleasant environment for everyone else visiting the beach, but it can be dangerous and deadly for sealife who call the Outer Banks home, especially if it gets washed out with the waves.

Pick Up Trash On The Beach

And while you’re at it, why not turn trash pick-up into a game for the whole family? Do your part to keep our beaches clean and help preserve our beaches for future generations by cleaning up the trash left behind by other beachgoers. Not only does it help keep the area clean for your enjoyment, but it can also be a great game that shows your kiddos how good it feels to do good for the environment!

Reduce Your Plastic Use

This is one we hear about a lot, but it’s worth repeating. Consider bringing reusable water bottles, utensils, and snack/sandwich bags with you on your trip to the beach. And we know that straws are important for families with small kids and people with disabilities, so why not consider swapping out those plastic straws for reusable ones? We love this set of Reusable Stanless Steel Straws with a travel case and soft color-coded tips, making this the perfect way to reduce waste for the whole family!

Using sustainable food and drinkware can help eliminate waste that can end up in the sand or the water. Plus, it’s super fun to customize snack bags so that each family has their own themed set of reusable bags. These bags have fun themes like unicorns, dinosaurs, and sea life! Perfect for bringing those snacks to the beach AND you can keep using them when you head back home.

Don’t Put Cigarette Butts in the Sand

While it may be tempting to bury those cigarette butts in the sand, this is actually an extremely harmful pollutant that damages beach habitats and can be toxic to marine life. Consider investing in a portable ash try or waiting until you get back to your car to properly dispose of debris leftover from smoking.

Don’t Release Balloons or Plastic Bags

We know that balloons are fun at parties and weddings, but once they’re released into the atmosphere, they inevitably make their way back down, creating a dangerous situation for wildlife. Many different types of animals including sea turtles and shorebirds can be harmed and killed by ballon debris. Plastic bags that make their way into the natural environment can have a similarly dangerous effect. 

For alternative ways to celebrate your loved ones or important events, consider blowing bubbles, painting shells or stones, or flying a kite at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. These ideas can be fun and therapeutic without damaging the natural environment around us or harming the animals that live here.

Join a Beach Cleanup

During the summer months, many locals businesses and organizations host beach cleanup events that can be a lot of fun! Join together with the local community to help preserve our beautiful beaches while meeting new people and supporting a great cause. Check out our local Outer Banks Surfrider Foundation to see when their next beach cleanup will be taking place and how you can help!

Ways to Help When You Return Home

And while it can be rewarding to help with beach cleanup while you’re on vacation, it’s just as important to continue taking action once you’re back home!


Consider making a one-time or monthly donation to an organization dedicated to protecting our beaches and the wildlife that call them home. The Outer Banks Surfrider Foundation holds regular beach cleanups, offers an adopt-a-beach program for local businesses, and offers the Larry Gray Environmental Sciences scholarship for students pursuing careers in environmental protection and resource management. 

If ocean wildlife is more your passion, consider donating to the North Carolina Aquarium Society where you can adopt an animal or fish while supporting ongoing conservation efforts at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island and at Jennette’s Pier. Whichever organization you choose to support, your donation will help preserve our beaches and wildlife for years to come, ensuring that each visit to the Outer Banks is a clean and beautiful one!

Spread Awareness

This one is almost effortless but can have a huge impact on beach preservation. Be vocal about your commitment to protecting our beaches and oceans! Let people on your social media feeds and in your community know how easy it is to help keep our beaches clean. Share your ideas and experiences with them and encourage others to take the same steps to protect the Outer Banks’ beautiful beaches on their vacation. Kindness spreads! And you can be an all-important first step. 

What’s Next?

From time to time it is necessary to replenish our beaches through Beach Nourishment Projects. During these projects, sand will be pumped onto the shoreline by offshore dredges to widen the existing beaches, which have suffered from erosion in many places. The goal of these beach nourishment projects is to replenish and protect the homes and beaches we all love, from coastal storms that threaten our shoreline. These projects will be completed in sections to minimize the impact on visitors to the area and ensure that the beaches are still accessible for your enjoyment. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as these projects are necessary so that everyone can continue to return to the Outer Banks and enjoy our beautiful wide stretches of beach for many years to come.

Learn more about ongoing beach nourishment projects here.

Book Your Beach Vacation Today!

When you’re ready to book your next Outer Banks vacation and enjoy these spectacular beaches, all kept clean and enjoyable with YOUR help, check out our available rentals for the perfect Outer Banks vacation home for your trip. We offer a fantastic selection of beach homes and condos with a wide variety of amenities with many homes offering private pools, hot tubs, and game rooms. We can’t wait to help you enjoy your vacation at the beautiful Outer Banks and hope to hear from you soon!

It’s never too early or too late to book your Outer Banks vacation, so be sure to book your next hassle-free Outer Banks vacation with Seaside Vacations today!

About the Author:  Lauren is an Outer Banks local, mom, trained historian, and travel enthusiast. When she isn’t writing for the Seaside Vacations Travel Blog, Lauren can usually be found with her nose in a book or cuddling with her cats.