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Outer Banks Rules and Regulations

Fishing, Boating and Personal Watercraft

Anyone over the age of 16 is required to obtain a Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL) in order to fish in coastal and joint waters in North Carolina. This requirement applies to fishing from a boat, shore or pier (unless the owner of the pier has purchased a blanket license). Ten-day licenses can be purchased at any DMF office for $10 by non-residents of North Carolina and $5 for residents. Annual and lifetime licenses can be purchased at the Walmart in Kitty Hawk, the Kmart in Kill Devil Hills, online at www.ncwildlife.org,or at any DMF office. The harvesting of oysters or clams does not require a license, only finfish. Click here for size and bag limits. State law now requires all children under the age of 13 to wear an approved personal floatation device (PFD) when in a vessel that is underway. Everyone else must also have an approved PFD available when aboard. Those operating personal watercraft (PWC) are required to wear an approved PFD at all times, regardless of age. No person under the age of 14 may operate PWC, and those between the ages of 14 and 16 may only operate PWC when accompanied by an adult 18 years or older, or when possessing ID proof of age and boating safety education certification. PWC cannot be operated on the water between sunset and sunrise. For more information regarding North Carolina boating and PWC requirements, click here to visit the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission's regulations page.
Corolla: Personal watercraft is not permitted in the ocean, but can be operated in the sound. A public soundside boat launch is located at the Whalehead Club in Heritage Park.
Duck: Personal watercraft is prohibited on the town’s beaches. You must go straight in and straight out within 900 feet of the shoreline at a speed no faster than necessary to maintain control, but not causing a wake or exceeding five miles per hour, whichever is less. Personal watercraft can only be operated during the hours of 9AM and 6PM. Operator must be at least 16 years of age.
Southern Shores: A permit and proof of insurance is required to operate personal watercraft in the town of Southern Shores. Permit requires a boat safety course. Operator must be at least 16 years of age. Personal watercraft is prohibited on all waters extending 200 yards into the ocean and 400 yards into the sound.
Kitty Hawk: Launching engine-powered watercraft from Kitty Hawk beaches is prohibited. Personal watercraft cannot be operated within 600 feet of the Atlantic Ocean beach within town limits.
Kill Devil Hills: Personal watercraft is allowed within the town of Kill Devil Hills; however, they cannot be operated within 300 feet of the ocean or sound shoreline or fishing pier.
Nags Head: Personal watercraft are allowed within the town of Nags Head; however, they cannot be operated within 300 feet of the ocean or sound shoreline or fishing pier. You must go straight in and straight out at a speed not causing a wake or exceeding five miles per hour, whichever is less. Personal watercraft may be launched only at permitted sites within the town. No motorized watercrafts may be launched at the Danube Street sound access or Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

Driving on the Beach

Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit when driving on the beach is 25 MPH. Enter and exit onlyat designated ramps, never between or over the dunes. Keep in mind that the beach is a state recognized "road," or Public Vehicular Area, and all traffic laws apply, including license, registration and insurance requirements.
Corolla: Driving on the beach south of the 4x4 area is permitted between October 1st and April 30th. Vehicles must enter the beach at designated access points. Driving on the beach in the 4x4 area (north of where the paved road ends) is permitted year round and is actually required in order to reach this area. Only local residents and property owners are permitted to drive ATV's on the beach and must have proper permits to do so.
Duck: There are NO public beach accesses through which vehicles can enter the beach, ONLY through private subdivisions. Driving on the beach is permitted ONLY from October 1st thru April 30 daily, and ONLY during the half hour prior to sunrise and the half hour following sunset. Pedestrians and swimmers always have the right-of-way over vehicles. Operators must have a current and valid operator’s license issued by the state of his or her residence.
Southern Shores: There is NO driving permitted on the beach at any time.
Kitty Hawk:There is NO driving permitted on the beach at any time.
Kill Devil Hills: Driving on the beach is permitted from October 1st thru April 30th. Vehicles must enter the beach at designated access points and must be registered, having passed safety inspections. No driving on or over the dunes.
Nags Head: Driving on the beach is allowed from October 1st thru April 30th from sunrise to sunset. A permit is required and can be purchased for $25. Vehicles must enter the beach at designated access points and must be registered, having passed safety inspections. Speed limit is 25mph. No driving on or over the dunes.

Leash Laws

Visit our Pet Friendly Information page for leash laws by town, health and safety tips, and boarding options.

Fireworks and Bonfires

North Carolina prohibits the possession of any pyrotechnics which launch or propel into the air and explode or make a sound or “report.” Sparklers, fountains, and ground displays are allowed in some towns when accompanied by adult supervision, extreme caution and fire prevention preparedness. Fireworks are illegal in all towns and villages and on all beaches in Dare County and Corolla. Corolla also prohibits the launching of sky lanterns (also known as Chinese lanterns, made of paper and similar to a miniature hot air balloon). Fires on the beach are permitted in Nags Head only and require a permit that can be obtained from the Town of Nags Head Fire Department Headquarters on the day the fire is requested. Fires will not be permitted if wind speeds are at or above 10 knots. Fires cannot be built within 50 feet of any combustible material. A hollowed-out pit must be no larger than three feet in diameter and no less than 1 foot deep. The fire must be supervised by an adult at all times and must be completely extinguished prior to leaving the beach.

Leaving Unattended Items on the Beach

Corolla: Unattended items should not be left on the beach overnight and should not obstruct vehicles or pedestrian movement during the day. Unattended items left on the beach will be tagged as a reminder to remove them each day after sunset. Any tagged items left on the beach after sunset will then be removed to ensure the safety of beach visitors, and will not be returned. Any holes or pits dug in the sand must be refilled at the end of each day to ensure the safety of vehicular and pedestrian movement.
Southern Shores: Leaving unattended personal articles on the beach between the hours of 5pm and 7am is prohibited and subject to removal and disposal. This includes volleyball nets, tents, chairs, umbrellas, sunshades, and other personal items. Any digging that presents a dangerous condition or is left unattended is prohibited.
Nags Head: Beachgoers are prohibited from leaving unattended personal equipment on the beach from 8pm until 7am daily. In addition, equipment must not obstruct the passage of vehicles on the beach or the line of sight of lifeguards to the ocean.

Important Information for Corolla Guests

Per Currituck County ordinance, stay at least 50 feet away from the wild horses, and DO NOT feed them.
Surfers in Corolla are required to use a leash at all times.

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