Check deq.nc.gov for current regulations fishing from the beach and sound; NC fishing license required
Swim at your own risk as there are no lifeguards on duty
Leashed pets are welcome year-round
Hiking, Boating, Fishing, Birding, Swimming, Surfing, Shelling
Hiking Trails, Public Boat Ramp
Free to visit
$50 for 10-day beach parking pass; parking is free from Labor Day to Memorial Day
Coquina Beach (North Carolina)
Sandy Point Beach
Carova Beach, North Carolina is the northernmost Outer Banks community and possibly one of the most unique beach communities in the US. This east coast beach boasts miles of pristine white sand beaches scattered with vacation rentals and wild horses roaming freely.
In this guide, we're going to share all the details about this special destination!
Carova Beach History
Carova Beach was created as an unincorporated community in the 1960s on Currituck Banks, which are north of Bodie Island. Initially, there were several conversations about constructing a paved road from Sandbridge, VA, but that never happened.
Today, a permanent wall prevents vehicles from traveling across the Virginia border to Carova Beach, so you have to get there on foot, by bicycle, or drive in from within NC.
Fun fact: Its name comes from the combination of the first syllables in Carolina and Virginia.
Carova has about 50 year-round residents and about 740 vacation homes. There's very little commerce in the community. To go to grocery stores, shops, and gas stations, you'll have to head to the neighboring town of Corolla. That are also some delivery services that visit Carova.
Carova Beach is truly a slice of paradise off the beaten path where locals and vacationers enjoy getting away from the hustle.
Where to Stay
As there aren't any hotels at Carova, the option for overnight accommodations is vacation homes. There are multiple Outer Banks vacation rentals in the area. You can also stay in a nearby area like Virginia Beach or Corolla.
Note: If you stay north of Carova, keep in mind that you must travel to the beach via bicycle or on foot.
Although you don't find your usual beach activities at Carova, there's still so much to do! If you're looking for amusement parks, restaurants, and boardwalks, you'll want to visit other Outer Banks beaches. With that said, Carova Beach is the perfect place to spend time in nature and relax.
Let's take a look at some of our favorite activities in the area.
Best of all, simply enjoying the beach is easy to do! While there aren't any amenities, the 11-mile stretch between Corolla and Carova is some of the most scenic oceanfront in the world.
Unlike many nearby beaches, Carova is vehicle accessible. However, keep an eye out for the wild horses roaming around! Leashed pets are also welcome.
Not only do visitors enjoy strolling along Carova Beach, but you can also find various trails that are a part of the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge. With several moderate and challenging trails to an elevated boardwalk that winds through marshes and maritime forest, there's something for everyone! And, the views of Currituck Sound are incredible!
There are many boating options in both the Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean off Carova Beach. You can find a public access boat ramp at 2100 Ocean Pearl Road at the Carova Beach Park. There are also multiple places on the sound and in the city of Corolla to rent kayaks, paddleboards, pontoons, jet skis, and many other types of boats.
You can get the best of both fresh and saltwater fishing at Carova Beach. Many areas of the Currituck Sound are entirely freshwater.
Note: To fish anywhere on the Outer Banks, you'll need to obtain a fishing license. More on that here.
As part of the fishing in the area, vacationers also enjoy clamming, crabbing, and cold weather oystering.
It's hard to find a more diverse area for birdwatching than Carova Beach. While the best place to go is the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, you can see migrating birds all over the area.
Popular water activities at Carova include swimming, surfing, and bodyboarding. With that said, it's essential to be mindful of water conditions as there aren't any lifeguards on duty.
Carova is an excellent place to collect seashells as it's not filled with other sellers. The best time to hunt for seashells is just as the tide goes down or after a storm.
It's very typical to see wild horses exploring Carova Beach. Visitors are free to observe, but here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
- Don't feed or leave food out for them.
- Keep personal pets on leashes.
- Stay at least 50 feet from the horses.
- Avoid reckless driving on the beach.