Stretching from the southern border of coastal Virginia to the tip of legendary Ocracoke Island, the Outer Banks of North Carolina feature some of the most dog-friendly beaches in the United States. Boasting more than 200 miles of unspoiled shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean, this picturesque string of barrier island beaches has beckoned vacationers to its sun-soaked seashore for more than a century—and what better way to enjoy some fun in the sun than letting your four-legged family member tag along on your trip?
To ensure your furry friend stays safe during your visit to the beach this year—and to avoid potentially being fined for breaking the rules and regulations regarding pets on the beach—it’s important to be aware of and to follow these Outer Banks leash laws. Whether you’re spending your week of rest and relaxation in Corolla, Kill Devil Hills, the tiny villages that comprise Hatteras Island or any of the beautiful beaches in between, we’ve got you covered with the most up-to-date Outer Banks leash laws for 2019 below.
OUTER BANKS LEASH LAWS ON THE NORTHERN BEACHES:
Learn the rules and regulations regarding Outer Banks leash laws in Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Corolla, Duck and Southern Shores.
Perhaps the most well-known of all the towns on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Nags Head is also one of the most popular, attracting tens of thousands of visitors to its shoreline each year.
Vacationers who travel to Nags Head with their dogs must keep them restrained with leashes no longer than 10 feet. Dogs are permitted on Nags Head beaches year-round; however, violations of the town’s leash law could result in a criminal and/or civil penalty.
KILL DEVIL HILLS:
Home to the Outer Banks’ largest year-round population, Kill Devil Hills is best-known for being the site where the Wright Brothers launched the world’s first powered flight on December 17, 1903—a historical accomplishment that is commemorated at the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
Because it has such a large population of local residents—approximately 7,000 people—in addition to the thousands of visitors that are drawn to the town for vacation each season, Kill Devil Hills also has some of the strictest Outer Banks leash laws.
During the in-season (from Memorial Day through Labor Day each year), dogs are only permitted to be on the beaches of Kill Devil Hills before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m.—with the exception of registered service dogs who are being used to aid an individual with a disability.
For the remainder of the year, dogs are permitted on the beach at any time; however, they must be kept on a leash and under the supervision and control of their owner or handler at all times.
Much like its neighbor to the south, Kitty Hawk is also home to a large population of local residents. This northern Outer Banks town is exceptionally pet-friendly—dogs are welcome on Kitty Hawk’s beaches year-round—although different sets of Outer Banks leash laws and restrictions apply depending upon both the time of year and the time of day.
During the in-season—which the town considers to be the Friday before Memorial Day until the day after Labor Day each year—dogs are permitted on the beaches in Kitty Hawk, but between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. they must be kept on a leash that does not exceed six feet in length.
Throughout the remainder of the year (the off-season), Kitty Hawk allows dogs to be on the town’s beaches with retractable leashes up to 12 feet in length. Dogs may be taken off leash on Kitty’s Hawk beaches only if they will not disturb or interfere with other beachgoers and their pets. Unleashed dogs are required to be under the strict control of their owner or handler, and this person must remain within 30 feet of their unleashed dog at all times.
Owners/handlers must also possess a leash for their dog, as well as a bag or container for pet waste removal at all times. Violation of these Outer Banks leash laws in Kitty Hawk is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $50.
Situated upon the northernmost portion of the Outer Banks, the village of Corolla is located in Currituck County and best-known for its most famous residents: the herd of wild horses that roam the beaches of this unique coastal community.
Dogs are permitted on the beaches of Corolla year-round; however, Outer Banks leash laws require that they be restrained on a leash at all times. There are currently no restrictions on the length of the leash.
When it comes to Outer Banks leash laws, Duck has one of the least restrictive of all of North Carolina’s pet-friendly barrier island beaches.
Dogs are permitted to be unleashed on the beaches of Duck at any time; however, they must remain under the supervision of their owner or handler at all times as a matter of courtesy and public safety.
Spanning fewer than five miles from north to south, Southern Shores’ coastline is one of the smallest stretches of beach on the Outer Banks.
During the in-season—which runs from May 15 to September 15 each year—dogs are allowed on the beaches of Southern Shores only before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
During the off-season—which runs from September 16 to May 14 each year—there are no restrictions on the hours that dogs are permitted to be on the town’s beaches.
Southern Shores enforces a year-round leash law, meaning dogs are NOT allowed to be off-leash on the beach at any time. In addition, the town mandates that leashes must not exceed 10 feet in length.
OUTER BANKS LEASH LAWS ON THE SOUTHERN BEACHES:
CAPE HATTERAS NATIONAL SEASHORE:
Learn the rules and regulations regarding Outer Banks leash laws within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This includes the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras, as well as Ocracoke Island.
Beginning in South Nags Head and continuing through both Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is the crown jewel of the North Carolina coastline. This 70-mile-long stretch of pristine and predominantly uninhabited shoreline is home to a wide array of attractions, including the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.
Dogs are welcome on the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore as long as they are restrained at all times on a leash that does not exceed six feet in length. However, pets are not permitted within any resource enclosures, on designated swim beaches (signs will notify you of these locations), or inside designated buildings—such as visitor centers, museums, etc.
THE TOP PET-FRIENDLY OUTER BANKS ATTRACTIONS:
Check out our list of the top pet-friendly attractions on the Outer Banks here!