Nags Head, like the other islands in the Outer Banks, is a long, thin strip of land jutting away from the North Carolina coast. This scenic barrier island is tailor-made for summertime adventures with long strips of beaches and amazingly blue waters. The same wind that once inspired the Wright brothers to change the history of flight leads to perfect conditions for hang gliding and windsurfing. Even if you prefer to stay on land, you will have a long list of things to enjoy in this charming resort town.
Bonnet Public Beach Access
Like many North Carolina beaches, Nags Head Beach has several public access points. In this case, there are 30 some access points along the Atlantic coast. Several of the beach points have bathhouses and lifeguards stands. The ocean rescue team is on duty between Memorial Day and Labor Day on the public beaches—they also maintain ATV patrols. Bonnet Beach and some of the other access points are handicapped accessible. Lifeguards can help with beach wheelchairs at both Bonnet Beach and Hargrove Beach. The Eighth Street access has a mat, which makes it easier for wheelchairs and strollers to take to sandy shores.
While most of the Nags Head beach access is located along the Atlantic Ocean, a few public access points can be round along the Roanoke Sound, the body of water that separates Nags Head from neighboring Bodie Island. This beach, too, is handicapped accessible and open to non-motorized personal watercraft, like kayaks and canoes. Other beaches are open to jet skis and other big beach toys. In the summertime, the beaches are closed to vehicles, but the rest of the year you can drive SUVs and others on the beach as long as you have a permit. Drive-up beaches also can be found in nearby Ocracoke Island. In between the beaches along the sound, there are several piers, perfect for anyone who wants to cast a link or get an up-close view of the beach.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
The state preserves one of the largest sand dunes found along the East Coast, which have become recognizable symbols in any Outer Banks photos. Nature trails wind through the park and up the dunes. If you’re planning on climbing the dunes, you’ll want to bring some good footwear with you. The sand is often 25 degrees warmer than the air temperature. A 360-foot boardwalk also provides access to the dunes without the strenuous climb. Some of the dunes provide a launching point for hang-gliding adventures. Jockey’s Ridge State Park also is a popular place for watersports, including windsurfing. The shallow Roanoke Sound is an excellent place for swimming. Park rangers host fun clinics and classes throughout the year, including sunset watches on most summer evenings.
Part of the Nags Head beach scene is preserved and protected as a portion of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This meandering nature preserve, watched over by the National Park Service, stretches for more than 70 miles, from the southern tip of Nags Head Island south to Ocracoke Island. Here, you’ll find plenty of shoreline where you can go for a swim, look for shells, and simply enjoy the scenery. The park has plenty of room to go camping and spend time enjoying the natural wonders of the Outer Banks.