Beach Time On The Outer Banks

The main Outer Banks attraction: The BEACH! There are so many fun and relaxing ways to enjoy your beach time on the Outer Banks, and we’ve outlined some of our favorite activities below.

Beach Time On The Outer Banks

Outer Banks beach day

The main Outer Banks attraction:
The BEACH!

So much makes the Outer Banks special, but miles and miles of pristine coastline are what brings visitors back year after year. There are so many fun and relaxing ways to enjoy your beach time on the Outer Banks, and we’ve outlined some of our favorite activities below.


Reading a book on the beach.

Stretch out on a towel with a great book.

If you need some inspiration, we’ve reviewed several interesting Outer Banks-related books!


Seashell in the sand

Find a perfect seashell.

Several different shells can be found on our shores, and the best time to look is low tide. Our beachcombing guide will help you identify your treasures from the sea.


Go for a long beach run

Go for a long walk or beach run.

Hoping to fit in some exercise on vacation? Walking on sand is a workout! It can take more than twice the energy to walk or run on sand compared to hard surfaces. Plus, exercise with an ocean view isn’t so bad…


Outer Banks Sunrise

Catch the sunrise.

Set that alarm. We promise it’s worth it! Sunrises over the Atlantic are breathtaking. Plus, early mornings are one of the best times to spot pods of dolphins swimming parallel to the shoreline. (If you aren’t a morning person, sunset afterglows on the beach are truly beautiful too! Or you can catch the full sunset on the soundside. Check out our soundfront homes here.)


Go for a drive on the sand

Go for a drive on the sand.

Most Outer Banks towns allow off-roading on the beach during certain times of the year. It’s a ton of fun to pack a lunch, some beach gear, and take a four-wheel-drive vehicle out to find the perfect spot to spend the day. Learn more about each town’s rules and off-road vehicle safety.


Have a beach bonfire

Have a beach bonfire.

Few things are more relaxing than the sound of a crackling fire next to waves lapping the shore. Beach fires are only allowed in Nags Head and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Learn more about the regulations and required permits.


go fish

Go fish!

Surf fishing from the beach is a pastime enjoyed by all ages. Learn more about the required fishing license and all the other ways to fish on the Outer Banks.


Build a sand castle

Build a castle.

Sandcastles are a classic beach day activity. Add some friendly competition to the mix by having a sandcastle-building contest with others in your vacation group! You don’t have to stick to castles – your imagination is the limit.


Take in an Outer Banks surfing lesson

Take in a surfing lesson.

Surfing is a favorite local pastime, and there are great instructors on the Outer Banks ready to help you learn. No board? No problem – if the instructor doesn’t provide boards, they can be rented locally.


Give boogie boarding or skimboarding a try

Give boogie boarding or skimboarding a try!

Boogie boards (also known as bodyboards) are great for riding shore break waves back to shore. Skimboards are used to glide on the water’s surface closer to shore. Boogie boarding tends to be the easier of the two. Both types of boards can be rented or purchased locally.


Beach chair on the beach

Need more vacation inspiration?

Connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest! We have several recent blog articles that may inspire your trip planning too.

By the Sea Wedding Boutique | Southern Shores, NC

By the Sea Wedding Boutique offers formal wear for anyone from the bride, to the groom, from the bridesmaids, to the guests of the wedding. Find out more about them, other activities, and all you need to know to enjoy your stay on the OBX at CarolinaDesigns.com.

By the Sea Wedding Boutique
Photo: By the Sea Wedding Boutique Facebook

H1 – Company Name

1 Ocean Boulevard, Suite 108
Southern Shores, NC 27949
252-251-6688
Website

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The Outer Banks is such a popular wedding destination, that it only makes sense to have a bridal boutique in town. By the Sea Wedding Boutique is a locally owned boutique that offers designer gowns, off rack and consignment gowns, as well as bridesmaid and ladies formal wear, and tuxedos for rent or to buy. They aren’t only limited to dresses and tuxedos; they also offer accessories and wedding décor. As they say, “on vacation or local, last minute or next year. Get your ladies together, we’ll pop the bubbly and find you THE DRESS.”.

Duck Woods Country Club | Southern Shores, NC

The Duck Woods Country Club offers several activities for members and guests including golf, tennis, swimming, pickleball, and bocce ball. Find out more about them, other activities, and all you need to know to enjoy your stay on the OBX at CarolinaDesigns.com.

Duck Woods Country Club

Duck Woods Country Club

50 S. Dogwood Trail
Southern Shores, NC 27949
252-261-2744
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The Duck Woods Country Club began in the 60s as the Outer Banks Recreation Association. Over time, they expanded and built the golf course in May 1967. The name wasn’t changed to Duck Woods Country Club until 1988, and since they’ve been able to offer outdoor activities to boot. From golf to tennis, pickleball to bocce ball, Duck Woods Country Club offers it. Their 18-hole championship course was designed by the renowned architect, Ellis Maples. If you’re planning a wedding on the Outer Banks, the Country Club is nestled in the heart of Southern Shores and could be a great location to host your event.

Soundside Parks | Southern Shores, NC

 

The town of Southern Shores is home to many parks that include outdoor facilities like playgrounds, picnic tables and benches, basketball courts, and access to the sound. Find out more about them, other activities, and all you need to know to enjoy your stay on the OBX at CarolinaDesigns.com.

Soundside

Soundside Parks

Southern Shores, NC 27949

The Soundview Park on North Dogwood Trail provides panoramic water views, a children’s playground, a bocce ball court, a horseshoe pit, a kayak launching platform, and easy access to the sound, making it a great spot for picnics and family outings. Sea Oats Park is located at the intersection of Hickory Trail and Hillcrest Drive and has a playground, basketball half court and an open field for outdoor sports. Trinite Park, at the intersection of Trinite Trail and Chicahauk Trail has similar facilities. There is also a very good outdoor community tennis court located on Hillcrest Drive.

Printable Coloring Pages

Printable OBX Coloring Pages

Click on any coloring page to zoom in. Then simply right-click it, save it, and print it for coloring!

OBX Beachcombing & Shell Guide

Free souvenirs from the sea! This guide provides images of shells and other items found on the beaches of Corolla, Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head.

OBX Beachcombing & Shell Guide

Hand holding a scallop shell

Beachcombing is one of our favorite things to do.

Who doesn’t love free souvenirs from the sea? This guide provides images of shells and other items found on the beaches of Corolla, Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head.

Where is the best place to find shells on the Outer Banks?
Weather, currents, and our shoreline are constantly changing, so you never know quite where the best shell beds will be day-to-day. If you aren’t having luck at your nearest beach access, give a different one a try! There are many public beach accesses to choose from.

When is the best time to go shelling?
Beachcombing is in-season all year round. If you’re an early riser, head to the shore for sunrise. Some great shells may have washed up overnight, plus there’s nothing quite like watching the sun rise over the Atlantic. (This is also a common time of day to spot dolphins swimming offshore!) It’s also helpful to follow the tides. Low tide is the ideal time to beachcomb, before the water rises to cover what the waves brought onto the sand.

Scotch Bonnet Shells

Scotch Bonnets

Scotch Bonnets are the official North Carolina state seashell! The shell is grown by a type of sea snail and can be 2-4 inches on the longest side. They can be shades of brown, yellow, and orange.

Quahog Shells

Ocean Quahogs

Ocean Quahog shells are hinged clam shells, but it’s rare to find the two sides still attached once they wash up on the beach. These are thick shells that tend to have a white interior with a purple rim, but some have no purple coloring at all. The oldest living animal on the planet was a quahog at 507 years old!

Broken Pieces of Quahog Shells

Broken Pieces of Ocean Quahogs

When quahog shells break up into pieces, it can expose more of the purple coloring commonly found in the deeper layers of the shell. Over time these pieces become worn and smooth. White and purple quahog pieces were used by Native Americans to create wampum beads, which were used at currency.

Cockle Shells

Atlantic Giant Cockles

Cockles are radially-ribbed hinged clam shells, but it is uncommon to find the two sides still hinged together on Outer Banks beaches. Atlantic Giant Cockles range in size from about a half inch to six inches at their widest part. They are usually off-white with brown and red markings, and their interior is commonly smooth and pink.

Scallop Shells

Scallops

Scallops are clam shells, and they can be found in a wide variety of colors on the Outer Banks. They are typically about three inches at their widest width and are radially-ribbed with “ears” sticking out slightly on either side of their base where the hinge would be. It isn’t common to find the two sides still hinged together on the beach.

Coquina Shells

Coquinas

Coquinas are small hinged clam shells that grow to be smaller than an inch. You can find these on Outer Banks beaches at the tide line with both sides still held together by the delicate hinge, which give them a butterfly-like shape. They are typically white on both sides. The interior can have tinges of purple and yellow.

Whelk Shells

Whelks

A variety of Whelks are sea snails. A variety of whelk shells can be found on Outer Banks beaches, but the knobbed whelk and lightning whelk are the most common. Lightning whelk shells have their opening on the left side, and knobbed whelks have their opening on the right side. These sprial shells can be found in a variety of sizes.

Clam Shells

Atlantic Surf Clams

Atlantic Surf Clams are hinged clam shells that are usually white, gray, yellow, and brown. They can grow to be nearly 9 inches, but it’s very rare to find them that large.

Mussel Shells

Mussels

Mussel shells are wedge-shaped, hinged, and are typically black and dark blue or purple. It’s common to find these shells still hinged on the beach at the tide line.

Ark Shells

Ark Clams

Ark Clams are thick, hinged shells with radial ridges. They can be found in a wide variety of colors on the Outer Banks, but white and gray are the most common.

Oyster Shells

Oysters

Oyster shells are usually teardrop-shaped but can be found in other more freeform shapes as well. They’re comprised of many layers depending on how old they are.

Starfish

Sea Star

Sea Stars (or starfish) found on the Outer Banks have five tapered arms, also called rays, radiating out from their body. Sea stars are a wonderful beachcombing find, but they should not be taken out of the water or picked up from the sand if at all soft or limp — they could still be alive and are very fragile animals. Once dead, sea stars are dry and stiff.

Moon Snail Shells

Shark Eye Moon Snails

Shark Eye Moon Snail shells can be 5 inches at their widest point. They are smooth, spiral-shaped, spherical shells found in a variety of color ranging from brown to blue-gray.

Two Disc Dosinia Seashells

Disk Dosinias

Disk Dosinias are white, flat hinged clam shells. They can be about 3 inches wide.

Baby's Ear Moon Snail Shells

Baby’s Ear Moon Snails

Baby’s Ear Moon Snails have thin and fragile shells. They have a flattened spiral shape that resembles…and ear! They are typically white, yellow, brown, or gray.

Razor Seashells

Razor Clams

Razor Clam shells are smooth and delicate with a hinge on their long side. They can be up to 9 inches long and resemble the shape of a straight-razor.

Sand Dollar

Sand Dollar

Sand Dollars found on Outer Banks beaches are flat discs that can be about 1 to 4 inches at their widest point, and they have a flower-like shape in the center of their body. Sand dollars are brittle, fragile, and white from sun-bleaching. If you find a sand dollar that is a darker color and has fur-like growth on it, it may still be alive and should not be handled.

Driftwood

Driftwood

Driftwood is simply worn pieces of wood that have washed up on the shore. Salt water and wave action lighten and smooth the wood over time, removing any bark.

Sea Glass

Sea Glass

Sea glass comes from glass objects that made their way into the ocean, broke up, and eroded to small smooth pieces over time. The most common colors that wash up on the Outer Banks are white, amber, and green. Learn more about Outer Banks sea glass on our blog.

Fulgurite

Fulgurite

Fulgurite is sand and sediment fused together by lightning strikes! These pieces of petrified lightning are often mistaken for concrete because of their color (often gray on the Outer Banks) and odd shapes. Although they may not look like much from the outside, they’re usually hollow, and the inside is smooth glass.

3 Skate Egg Cases

Skate & Ray Egg Cases

Skate and Egg Cases, often called “mermaid purses” are black capsules with two skinny tendrils at the top and bottom.

We’d love to see your beachcombing finds!

Tag us in your shell photos on Instagram or send them to us on Facebook.
If you’re feeling creative, we’re always sharing new shell display and DIY ideas on Pinterest.

East Coast Sailboats | Southern Shores, NC

East Coast Sailboats offers youth camps, adult lessons, and private lessons for all skill levels on the Currituck Sound on the Outer Banks, NC. Find out more about them, other activities, and all you need to know to enjoy your stay on the OBX at CarolinaDesigns.com.

East Coast Sailboats
Photo credit: eastcoastsailboats.com

East Coast Sailboats

8865 Caratoke Hwy, Unit 5
Point Harbor, North Carolina
252-489-3491
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Do you ever dream of learning to sail the open seas? The Currituck Sound on the Outer Banks is a wonderful place to learn! East Coast Sailboats offers youth camps, adult lessons, and private lessons for all skill levels. The majority of lessons operate out of the Southern Shores Marina. With experienced instructors and a diverse fleet of boats, East Coast Sailboats is one of the most well-equipped sailing outfitters in the area.

OB-Xscape Rooms | Southern Shores, NC

OBXscape Rooms in Southern Shores has been a hit since it opened in 2017, featuring four rooms of challenging puzzles designed to be fun for the whole family. Find out more about them, other activities and things to do, and additional information to enjoy your stay on the OBX at CarolinaDesigns.com.|{ “@context”: “http://schema.org”, “@type”: “LocalBusiness”, “address”: { “@type”: “PostalAddress”, “addressLocality”: “Southern Shores”, “addressRegion”: “NC”, “postalCode”: “27949”, “streetAddress”: “1 Ocean Blvd Suite 109” }, “image”: “https://pages.carolinadesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2018/03/Screen-Shot-2018-04-24-at-1.23.29-PM.png”, “aggregateRating”: { “@type”: “AggregateRating”, “ratingValue”: “5”, “reviewCount”: “337” }, “name”: “OBXscape Rooms”, “telephone”: “252-564-9636”, “url”: “https://www.ob-xscape-rooms.com/”, “openingHours”: [ “Tu-Sa 16:00-21:00” ] }

OBXscape Rooms

OBXscape Rooms

1 Ocean Blvd Suite 109,
Southern Shores, NC 27949
252-564-9636
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OBX Escape Rooms in Southern Shores has been a hit since it opened in early 2017. This family-friendly business offers four different escape rooms, each uniquely challenging and with different storylines, in which you must discover hidden clues and solve a series of puzzles to escape. We tried “Mutiny on the Lark” and “The Cold Case Murder of Dawn Renee” – both were brain busters! The game master helps give clues if necessary, and the staff is super welcoming and helpful to beginners and escape room experts alike!