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Beach Hunting in the Carolinas: Top 5 Travel Tips

The Carolinas offer beautiful vacation destinations perfect for any beach trip with friends and family. When scouting options for your next vacation, consider the array of soft, sandy beaches of North and South Carolina.

Choose your destination

Does your family prefer to rent a house or condo, prefer smaller family-friendly hotels, or tend to seek out high-rise resorts? Taking the first step to planning your perfect beach getaway trip means selecting where you would like to stay and which area would be best for you. If you are craving a destination off the beaten path wrapped with solitude and quiet, consider the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina. The Seashore preserves 70 miles of the Outer Banks from Bodie Island to Ocracoke Island and is managed by the National Park Service. The park also offers certain amenities like bathhouses located at Coquina Beach, Salvo Day Use Area, Haulover Day Use Area, Frisco, and Ocracoke with ramps and accessible bathrooms as well as accessible bathrooms at all three visitor center locations. Cape Hatteras is the perfect option for those seeking peace and quiet without opting for complete remoteness.

Go off the beaten path

With roughly 200 to 300 year-round residents, Carova Beach is one of the most desolate regions of the Outer Banks although the population grows significantly over the summer months. If you’re looking for peace and seclusion, look to the northern portion of the Outer Banks including Seagull, Penny’s Hill, Swan Beach, North Swan Beach, and Carova Beach. Carova is approximately 11 miles long with its northern border touching the Virginia State Line.

There are a variety of private homes available for rent along the shoreline to ensure a quiet, relaxing escape. Keep in mind that in Carova there are no paved roads and the only way to access the region is through four-wheel-drive vehicles and most visitors staying in the area will be roughly 10 to 30 minutes away from the nearest grocery store, gas stations, and restaurants. However, due to loose building restrictions, Carova is home to some of the most lavish vacation rental in the Outer Banks with estates holding 25 bedrooms or more.

Find family-friendly shores

If you plan to take the little ones with you, consider scoping Kure Beach or Carolina Beach. These two beaches are small but scenic located roughly 20 minutes from Wilmington, North Carolina. Kure Beach offers premium fishing at the Kure Beach Fishing Pier, the oldest ocean pier in North Carolina and among the oldest on the East Coast. Check out Holden Beach between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. Holden Beach offers 9-miles of shoreline featuring quaint condos with small-town charm. Locals suggest renting bikes, enjoying the pier, and visiting the locally owned restaurants. Consider Topsail Beach situated between Wilmington and Jacksonville, North Carolina or Pawley’s Island in South Carolina. Pawley’s Island is a four-mile-long resort island featuring cottages and beachfront properties for families and groups as well as popular shopping and dining destinations.

Plan your attractions

For a destination packed with excitement and thrills, look toward Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Myrtle Beach spans 60 miles jammes with oceanfront high-rises and resorts. Visitors are treated to a variety of outlet malls, water parks, amusement parks and over 100 different golf courses. For oceanfront hotels, opt for a room along the Grand Stand, or the main beachfront strip. For beach home rentals search for a spot alongside Surfside Beach and Garden City. Visit Broadway at the Beach located roughly a mile and a half away from the Atlantic Ocean. For families and groups, Broadway at the Beach offers a slew of options for dining, nightlife, and entertainment with special events and firework shows throughout the year. Catch a live show, visit a comedy club, and grab a great drink all in one place. If you’re seeking thrills and sights, Myrtle Beach is your one stop shop for all your entertainment needs in the Carolinas.

Pack efficiently

Planning your visit to the Carolinas can be tricky when sizing up the space in your car. Deciding what to bring can be a headache without first securing your destination and the size of your group. Be sure that there will be enough space for everyone to fit comfortably among the luggage, planning ahead for car ride entertainment wouldn’t hurt either. When toting around the kiddos on vacation, it will be tempting to bring all the buckets, pales, and shovels with you as well as dolls and other toys they may insist on bringing. Depending on the number of children accompanying you to the beach, a good rule of thumb is to stick with minimal amounts of toys if possible therefore there will be less to keep track of. Plan to pack the essentials including towels, a beach umbrella, chairs, sunscreen, aloe vera, and bathing suits. For friends and family alike, a well stocked cooler is essentially to stay hydrated and happy on the shore. Opt for healthy options like fruits and veggies and easy to pack essentials like sandwiches. Packing your own meals can save cash especially if you visit a beach without a snack bar nearby.

Jeremy Alderman
Jeremy is an online journalist who focuses on travel and lifestyle related trends. As a former college baseball player, he is passionate about everything sports, as well as family, travel and outdoors. ​He can often be found splurging in episodes of Game of Thrones with his new puppy, Cooper.

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