Southeastern North Carolina Beach Access Rules for Dogs

By Judy Royal

If you’re in the market for Wilmington NC real estate or you just want to take a vacation in the area, there’s a good chance you might be factoring a four-legged family member into your plans, as pet ownership is steadily on the rise; 65 percent of U.S. households, or about 79.7 million, own a pet, according to the 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, an increase from 56 percent of U.S. households in 1988, the first year the survey was conducted.

While you’ll find a variety of pet types in American homes, the most common are dogs and cats. Cats can settle into (and, let’s face it, take over) practically any dwelling space and be perfectly content with never venturing beyond the walls of your residence. Dogs, however, are the pets you’ll be most likely to take on excursions with you. Southeastern North Carolina, with its numerous public beaches, is a prime location for an interactive adventure with your canine companion.

Before you pack up the pooch and embark on such an excursion, though, there are some things you need to know. It’s not a Fido free-for-all out there. Each beach has various rules (and hefty fines for those who don’t comply) so people and animals can live in harmony while enjoying fun in the sun. But no matter where you are, keep your dogs off the dunes and be sure to bring plenty of poop bags – and use them – so your furry pal doesn’t leave behind any unwanted surprises.

New Hanover County

Carolina Beach: Leashed dogs are allowed on the municipal beach strand anytime October 1-March 31 and only between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. April 1-September 30. Town Council recently voted on the latter, making its municipal beach strand the only one in New Hanover County to allow dogs during peak tourism months, even with restricted hours.

Freeman Park, however, located off the municipal beach strand on the north end of Pleasure Island, has the following rules: Leashed dogs are allowed year-round during all hours. They may be unleashed and under voice control October 1-March 31 if the owner is within a reasonable distance.

Kure Beach: Leashed dogs are allowed on the municipal beach strand anytime October 1-March 1. They are not allowed at all April 1- September 30.

Fort Fisher State Recreation, however, located off the municipal beach strand on the south end of Pleasure Island, has the following rules: Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach year-round during all hours.

Wrightsville Beach: Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach anytime October 1-March 1. They are not allowed at all April 1- September 30.

Masonboro Island, however, located across the rock jetty just south of Wrightsville Beach and accessible only by boat, has the following rules: Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach year-round during all hours.

Brunswick County

Bald Head Island: Dogs are allowed on the beach year-round during all hours. They must be on a leash from sunset to sunrise during sea turtle nesting season, which is May 1-November 15. They may be unleashed and under voice control at other times.

Caswell Beach: Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach year-round during all hours. They may be unleashed and under voice control year-round from dawn until 9 a.m. and additionally October 1-April 30 from 3 p.m. until dark.

Holden Beach: Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach anytime September 11-May 19 and only between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. May 20-September 10.

Oak Island: Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach year-round during all hours. They may be unleashed and under voice control October 16-March 15 between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. in locations with the rule indicated on beach access signs.

Ocean Isle Beach: Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach anytime Labor Day-Memorial Day and only between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. Memorial Day-Labor Day.

Sunset Beach: Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach anytime from the day after Labor Day-the Thursday preceding Memorial Day and only between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. from the Friday preceding Memorial Day-Labor Day.

Pender County

Surf City: Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach year-round during all hours.

Topsail Beach: Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach year-round during all hours. They may be unleashed and under voice control October 1-May 14.

Whether or not you have pets, Intracoastal Realty is here to meet your Wilmington NC real estate needs. We are a full-service real estate brokerage operating since 1976, and we currently have 12 offices with over 400 agents and staff to serve Southeastern North Carolina, including the areas of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Leland, Hampstead, and Topsail Island. Let us know how we can make your home or vacation dreams come true!