There’s no doubt that the Outer Banks is a beautiful place. It’s one of the top vacation destinations and honestly, how could it not be? Our beaches are wide open and spacious, there’s so many great local shops to support, and the seafood is locally caught and amazing. While the Outer Banks is beautiful, it also deserves an immense amount of respect. We’ve got a few Outer Banks rules and guidelines on how to respect the place you love and stay safe, all while enjoying everything it has to offer.

Leave Them Wild

Give the wild horses of Corolla respect and stay at least 50 feet away from them.

The wild horses of the Outer Banks have roamed the beaches of Corolla for over 500 years. When visiting the beaches of Corolla, you may see them strolling along the shoreline. If you do, PLEASE give them their space. Legally, you have to stay at least 50 feet away from the wild horses at all times; meaning no petting or feeding the horses. Breaking this law holds a heavy fine. If a wild horse comes near you during your beach time; move out of their way.

Feeding horses carrots, apples, or any type of food they’re not used to can kill them. Recently, a young colt named Danny, was killed by an apple left behind on the beach. So, follow the rules of the Outer Banks and leave the wild horses be. If you see anyone violating these rules, call the Currituck County Sheriff’s Department at 252-232-2216.

Pick Up Your Trash

Respecting the Outer Banks means cleaning up after yourself. Don't leave litter on our beaches, please!

Outer Banks beaches are beautiful and everyone wants to keep them that way! There’s a saying that most locals and long time visitors go by; “leave nothing but footprints.” When you leave the beach clean, it’s the ultimate way of respecting the Outer Banks. If you have any trash, hold on to it until the end of your beach day. Most, if not all beach accesses have their own trash and recycling receptacles for you to toss your trash in at the end of your time at the beach. Bring your own, recyclable bag to collect your trash (and some trash left behind) at the end of the beach day. This is a great way to keep our beaches clean and enjoyable! You can get some more ideas on how to do your best in keeping the OBX clean in our blog here!

Pack Up Your Beach Gear

At the end of a long beach day, remember to break down any equipment you used and take it home. Don't leave it on the beach overnight.

We know it’s tempting to just leave your beach chairs and tents on the beach after a long day. Especially if you’re staying in an oceanfront property. Everyone is tired from the sun, sand, and surf and the only thing on everyone’s mind is dinner and a good night’s sleep. Not only is this illegal in towns like Nags Head, it’s also dangerous to sea life. That canopy or your beach chair can easily end up in the ocean on a breezy night. It could also end up in the neighbors yard or, ultimately damaging their property. Leaving you with responsibility for the damage. Left equipment on the beach is also a target for theft. So, respect your neighbor and Outer Banks beaches and pack everything up at the end of the day.

Fill Any Holes You Dig

When visiting the Outer Banks, please respect the beach and others and fill in any holes you may have made.

Making sandcastles with the kids at the beach can be full of fun! Just be sure you fill back any holes you dig before you leave. Holes in the sand are a dangerous to those walking on the beach and on beaches that allow driving. In some towns, digging excessively large holes or mounding sand is illegal.

If In Doubt, Don’t Go Out

If there are yellow flags up, it means swim with caution. Red flags mean absolutely no swimming. If you’re not confident in the strength of your swimming, please don’t go out. Keep an eye on the little ones and if you have any questions, lifeguards at designated stands are there to help you. You can learn more about ocean and rip current safety on our blog here too.