• WiFi *
    • Keyless Entry *
    • Fully Equipped Kitchen *
    • Cook & Tableware *
    • Coffee Maker *
    • Outdoor Grill *
    • Sheets & Towels *
    • Signature Welcome Package *
    * All houses include these items.

    Driving on the Outer Banks Beaches

    Take your off-road 4×4 vehicle for a drive on the beach!

    The 4x4 Beaches of Carova

    Outer Banks beach driving is an activity that draws visitors from across the country! Whether you’re a 4×4 owner or looking for 4×4 rentals to get you out onto the the sandy shores, the Outer Banks is the place to be to fully enjoy this exhilerating activity!

    The Outer Banks, with its spectacular natural beauty, offers visitors opportunities to enjoy pleasures that are far from commonplace. Here, you can drive your four-wheel-drive vehicle along the many miles of accessible off-roading areas on the beach as you search for that perfect fishing spot, or spot to sit around a bonfire with the backdrop of the ocean waves.

    Outer Banks beach driving requires a 4×4 vehicle and a comfort with driving on rougher terrain. It’s not uncommon for an inexperienced driver to get stuck, which can lead to a very expensive tow so you will want to be sure you are equipped with the right 4×4 vehicle and knowledge before you set out on your Outer Banks beach dringin adventure!

    Below you will find more information on Outer Banks 4×4 beach driving and requirements.

    Driving an off-road vehicle (ORV) or 4×4 on the beaches of the Outer Banks

    Driving an off-road vehicle (ORV) or 4×4 on the beach can be fun where beach driving is permitted. Please observe the following rules:

    • The speed limit is 15 mph unless otherwise posted
    • Enter and leave the beach only at designated, open ramps (never between or on the dunes)
    • Drive only on the portion of the beach that lies between the foot of the dunes and the ocean
    • Proceed with caution and consideration for other beach visitors — pedestrians always have the right-of-way
    • All vehicles must have a valid vehicle registration, insurance, and license plate
    • The operator of the vehicle must have a current driver’s license

    Corolla, NC Beach Driving

    4×4 beach driving in Corolla takes place year-round at the northern end of NC12 where the pavement ends. In order to park while driving on the beach in Corolla between the last Saturday of April through the first Saturday in October, you must secure a Beach Parking Permit from Currituck County. The permits can be purchased through Currituck County’s website and are limited to 300 per week. For more information, contact the town’s administrative office at 252-453-9612 or visit ParkingOnTheBeach.com.

    The paved section of NC12 ends about a mile and a half north of Currituck Heritage Park, but for 4x4s and off-road vehicles, the 11 miles to the Virginia state line is still accessible. Although there are a number of subdivisions in this part of the Currituck Banks, collectively it is referred to as Carova–which is a small town at the northern end.

    The name Carova is a truncated version of Carolina (Caro) and Virginia (VA). At one time, it was possible to drive into Virginia from the Outer Banks, entering Virginia Beach at Sandbridge. However, because the Virginia side of the border is occupied by False Cape State Park and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, vehicular access is now restricted.

    The Carova beach in NC is patrolled by Currituck County police, and they do enforce traffic laws.

    Please be extra careful when driving north of where the pavement ends, because this is where wild Spanish mustangs roam free. One of the best ways to view the mustangs is to take a guided tour rather than attempting to view them on your own. Although the horses are the high point of any trek to the Carova area, there is much more to see, and a tour is a great way to discover what the northernmost reach of the Outer Banks has to offer. The most unsafe way to see the mustangs is to approach a horse or a herd on the beach. These are truly wild animals. Mares do not like strangers approaching their colts and stallions are proprietary of their herd. It is illegal to feed or come within 50 feet of these wild animals. This video from the Corolla Wild Horse Fund provides more information.

    So, while Corolla and Carova offer you fantastic Outer Banks beach driving terrain, it’s best to leave your wild horse viewing to a guided tour and stick to exploring the sandy beaches on your 4×4 beach adventure.

    Duck and Kitty Hawk, NC Beach Driving

    4x4s are permitted to drive on the Outer Banks beaches of Duck and Kitty Hawk between October 1st and April 30th. No permit is required. For more information on beach driving, contact the respective town’s administrative office.
    Duck: 252-255-1234
    Kitty Hawk: 252-261-3552

    Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head, NC Beach Driving

    Beach driving on the off-roading area of the Outer Banks is only allowed between October 1st and April 30th. In order to drive an ORV or 4×4 on the beach in Nags Head, visitors must apply for and receive a permit from the Nags Head Town Hall. Driving permits will be granted only with accompanying proof of state registration. Kill Devil Hills does not require a beach driving permit. For more information contact the respective town’s administrative office.
    Kill Devil Hills: 252-449-5300
    Nags Head: 252-441-5508

    Cape Hatteras National Seashore Beach Driving

    Use of ORVs and 4x4s when driving on the Outer Banks beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore is permitted year-round with limitations. Oceanfront beaches located in the Outer Banks towns of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras are closed to vehicles from May to September every year. Outer Banks beach driving at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is strictly prohibited. ORV and 4×4 accesses to beaches are open to vehicles by designated ramps only. For current information on ORV and 4×4 beach driving areas, contact National Park Service Headquarters at 252-473-2111 or visit any visitor center located throughout the park.

    Southern Shores, NC Beach Driving

    No motorized vehicles are allowed to drive on the beaches of Southern Shores.

    Information provided by the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau