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Corolla Beach Safety

Beach Safety in Corolla, NC

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We want to ensure that our guests are safe on our beaches and that our natural environment is maintained, so we hope you find the tips and laws below to be helpful.

Rules and Regulations for Corolla Beaches

  • There is a fine for walking and driving a vehicle on the North Beach dunes.
  • Open-burning, including bonfires on the beach, is prohibited. This includes the dunes and the subdivisions/areas behind the dunes.
  • Overnight camping on the beach is prohibited.
  • ATV permits are issued to Currituck County property owners and residents only.
  • Jet skis are not allowed to be launched on the ocean at any location on the Currituck Outer Banks. Riding a jet ski is permitted in the Currituck Sound; however, there are no public ramps on the Sound side of the North Beach area.
  • Fireworks that are self-propelled, spin, or explode are illegal in North Carolina. This State regulation is enforced on the beach and behind the dunes. Fireworks, including those that are legal, are extremely hazardous because of dry beach grasses, closely-built wood structures, high winds, and other factors.
  • Parking on the beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day requires a county-issued parking permit displayed on the vehicle.  Permits may be purchased from the Currituck Tourism Department.  For more info on parking permits, please call 252.435.2947.

Driving on the Beach in Corolla

  • Driving on the beach is a unique experience and requires drivers to take many safety measures.
  • Well before approaching the beach ramp (four-wheel-drive area), stop in a legal parking area and adjust the air pressure to 15-20 psi in all four tires. This will provide more surface contact with the sand.
  • Do not stop or park in the beach ramp area. Use 4WD onto the ramp and maintain a slow, steady speed, watching for pedestrians at all times.
  • Once on the beach there is no parking allowed in the first mile and a half. Do not stop on narrow sections of the beach; continue driving to an area where the beach is wide enough to allow other travelers to pass, both at the water’s edge and at the dune line.
  • Parking on the beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day requires a county-issued parking permit displayed on the vehicle.  Permits may be purchased from the Currituck Tourism Department.  For more info on parking permits, please call 252.435.2947.
  • The speed limit on the beach is 35 mph. On the shore or beach strand, the speed limit is 15 mph when traveling within 300 feet of any person or animal. When approaching another vehicle, use your turn signal to indicate on which side you plan to pass. (It is customary to pass on the right, when practical.) The other vehicle should respond with a corresponding signal.
  • The beach is a State recognized “road” or Public Vehicular Area (PVA). The shoreline (next to the water’s edge) and dune traffic lane (those deeply rutted tracks next to the dunes) are designated Fire, Emergency, and Vehicular traffic lanes. Parking or setting up beach equipment is not permitted in these lanes. Do not impede traffic by stopping, setting up beach chairs, digging holes, or building sand structures in the designated traffic lanes.
  • Remember to WATCH FOR PEDESTRIANS! The loud sound of the surf can make it difficult for people to hear approaching vehicles. In addition, children are often distracted and dart in front of cars. As a driver, it is your responsibility to not impede traffic.
  • Driving a vehicle in a repeated circular motion – doing “donuts” – or driving in the surf are examples of careless and reckless driving. Reckless driving and other traffic offenses are violations of North Carolina Motor Vehicle laws.  The beach and the sand roads behind the dunes are Public Vehicular Areas, and these laws are enforced.
  • All vehicles to be driven on the beach and roads behind the dunes must be registered, properly licensed, and insured.

Protect the Currituck Wild Horses

The wild horses of the Currituck Outer Banks are descendents of Spanish mustangs brought to the North Carolina coastline in the 1600s. These horses are WILD and should be enjoyed from a safe distance. A County ordinance prohibits people from getting within 50 feet of the horses. DO NOT FEED THE HORSES.

In recent years, the horses have suffered from many acts of violence. Some have been shot and others have been hit by careless drivers. As a result, a reward fund has been established for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons who commit crimes against the horses. To report violations, call the Currituck Sheriff’s Office at 252-453-8204. For more information about the wild horses, call the Corolla Wild Horse Fund at 252-453-8002 or visit their website.

If You Need Help …

Call 9-1-1 for emergency assistance at any time. When you dial 9-1-1, you will reach Currituck County Communications. Dispatchers will contact the appropriate emergency personnel. Currituck County is proud to have competent fire and rescue squads in both Corolla and Carova Beach. Please report any questionable activities to the proper authorities:

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergency: 252-232-2216

The Carova Beach Volunteer Fire Department is located at 2169 Ocean Pearl Road. To get to the station from the beach, turn at the ramp located between the 21 and 22 mile markers. The ramp has a Fire House sign marking the turn. The Fire Station is not staffed at all times.

Many people and animals live on the North Beach. The dunes and property behind them are privately owned. Please restrict driving to the traveled roads. The laws of the beach are enforceable in this area as well.

Things to Remember When Using the Beach in Corolla

  • Fill your gas tank before driving onto the beach. There are no gas stations located in the four-wheel-drive area.
  • The beach is a Public Vehicular Area. Emergency and personal vehicles drive this strip of land each day. The law requires that individuals fill ruts, holes, and sand structures they have created. Parking correctly on the beach is critical for the safety of people and pets. 
  • Always keep your vehicle and personal property such as chairs, beach umbrellas, etc. centered between the waterline and the dune line.This may involve moving vehicles and belongings with the tide change.
  • Addresses (house numbers) behind the dunes correspond with the beach mile markers (x 100).
  • The Carova Beach Volunteer Fire Department sells T-shirts, ice, and cold drinks. It is open 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the summer.
  • An outside pay telephone is available at the Carova Beach Fire Station.

For more information, visit Currituck County’s website.