Surf fishing available; fishing license required
Calm waters for safe swimming
Lifeguards are on duty during daylight hours in the summer
Leashed pets are welcome year-round
Surf fishing, Shelling, Swimming, Bodyboarding, Snorkeling, Sunbathing
Restrooms, Showers, Lifeguards, Picnic Tables
Free to access on foot
Beach parking is $50 for a 10-day permit or $120 for an annual pass; plenty of free parking outside of the beach
Sandy Point Beach
Coquina Beach is a slice of paradise in the Outer Banks. It's known for expansive stretches of white sand beaches that make for a relaxing getaway. In this guide, we'll tell you everything you need to know about Coquina Beach, including activities, fun facts, and answers to common questions.
The public beach is an undeveloped section of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. There isn't any commercial development, but you will find stunning ocean views on one side and dunes on the other.
There are also tons of activities to enjoy, including swimming, surf fishing, and surfing. And, if you're simply looking to relax, it's also an excellent spot for that!
Coquina Beach History
Coquina Beach is named after coquina clams, which burrow in the sand along the shore, especially during the warm months. Visitors can find these colorful, butterfly-shaped shells in the sand throughout the year.
The beach is also famous for its 1921 shipwreck. One of the last of America's coastal schooners Laura A. Barnes was built in Camden in 1918. When it was sailing from New York to South Carolina in 1921, a storm caused it to crash into the Outer Banks. Everyone on board the Laura A. Barnes was rescued by Bodie Island Lifesaving Station personnel. Unfortunately, the ship was destroyed during the crash.
The wreck lived off the coast of the Outer Banks for decades until it washed ashore at Coquina Beach, NC, in the 1970s. Today, visitors can go snorkeling to check out the wreckage or walk down the boardwalk and cross the dunes to view it.
East Carolina University’s Field School of Maritime History partnered with the Shipwrecks of the Graveyard of the Atlantic project in 2010. They plan to move the wreck into the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras in order to preserve and protect it from further damage in future storms.
Today, Coquina Beach is most known as a family-oriented beach, where beachgoers can enjoy the ocean and relax.
Location & Getting There
Coquina Beach is on Bodie Island. It's situated off Highway 12, just south of Nags Head and north. of Rodanthe. The Bodie Island Lighthouse, one of 7 coastal NC lighthouses, is right across the road.
When you arrive, you'll find ample parking. If you park in a lot, the parking is free. If you park on the beach, you'll need to buy a pass.
There’s one parking lot on the north side of the bathhouse and two on the south side. Each parking lot has about 50+ spaces available. If you have an RV or large car, park in the northern lot.
You can also park on the beach if you have a permit and off-road vehicle. If you choose this option, the off-road vehicle ramp is in the south end lot.
There are two different types of permits available to park on the shore. There's a 10-day permit for $50 and an annual pass for $120. Permits are available online at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s website. The application is a simple, three-step process:
- Watch a short video about driving on the beach.
- Fill out an online application.
- Put your printed permit in your vehicle.
The printed permit is valid for 30 days after you purchase it and will work for annual permit holders until your sticker comes in the mail. The printed permit is the only thing you need for 10-day permit holders.
Coquina Beach Activities
There's something for everyone at Coquina Beach, whether you're on a romantic vacation, visiting with the entire family, or a solo beachgoer.
Beachcombing and Shelling
Coquina Beach is a great place to walk along the long stretch of shoreline. This lovely beach is filled with seashells. You can also find colorful coquinas and moon snails. Sometimes, you can even find some sea glass and sand dollars.
Tip: Go early in the morning at low tide to find the best treasures.
If you like playing in the water, you're in luck! Coquina is a great beach to participate in water activities. Visitors enjoy surfing, swimming, bodyboarding, surf fishing, and snorkeling.
While the water is typically calm, the tides, waves, and winds can pick up. Be sure to check up-to-date water conditions.
Lifeguards are on duty from 9 AM to 5 PM between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Coquina Beach is just a lovely beach for you to visit if you're a wildlife enthusiast. There's always something to see, from birds to sea turtles and other ocean animals. Bird watchers especially love that there are tons of mid-Atlantic shorebirds to spot, including sandpipers, plovers, and seagulls. Be sure to bring your camera!
Coquina Beach Review
If you're looking for a more secluded beach getaway, Coquina Beach, North Carolina, is an excellent choice. With that said, it's not the best destination for a lively beach trip.
This spot doesn’t get quite as crowded as some of the more popular beaches in the Outer Banks. It's considered a hidden gem that offers peace, quiet, and gorgeous scenery.
You won't find restaurants, stores, and homes along the beach. However, you'll find plenty of space to sunbathe, swim, fish, and build sandcastles. Leashed pets are even welcome on the beach year-round. There's something for the whole family to enjoy.
Many visitors especially enjoy exploring the historic shipwreck, checking out the lighthouse, and watching sunrises and sunsets at Coquina Beach.
The beach is also very accessible with lots of amenities, including ample parking, picnic tables, onsite bathrooms, and showers.