Beach driving is the perfect weekend activity to do while at the ocean. Of the many attractions that Emerald Isle brings, beach driving is always a favorite! So, can you drive on Emerald Isle Beach? Short answer: YES! Long answer: You will need to apply for a permit before you can drive on the beach strand. Let’s get into the details!
What time of year can I drive on the beach in Emerald Isle?
According to the town of Emerald Isle, beach driving opens in mid-September and runs to late April of the next year. For 2021-2022, Emerald Isle beach driving runs from September 15th to April 30th. However, beach driving is closed in Emerald Isle from April 15th – 25th for the Easter Holiday. Due to the time change, the beach will have differing operating hours throughout the year. Check out the list below for a full breakdown.
EMERALD ISLE BEACH DRIVING HOURS 2021-2022
- September 15th to November 6th – 5:00 am to 9:00 pm
- November 7th to March 12th – 5:00 am to 7:00 pm
- March 13th to April 30th – 5:00 am to 9:00 pm
*Note: All vehicles must be off of the beach strand before closing hours. Vehicles not off the beach strand may be cited by the police department.
Do I need a permit to drive on Emerald Isle Beach?
Yes. All vehicles require an annual beach driving permit issued by the Town of Emerald Isle. For non-residents, a beach driving permit is $175, for Carteret County residents, a beach driving permit is $100, and for Emerald Isle residents under 65, a beach driving permit is $50. If you are a person with a disability, a Veteran with a disability, a Town employee, or an Emerald Isle resident over age 65, your beach driving permit will be free of charge.
What type of vehicle do I need for beach driving?
At Emerald Isle beaches, all vehicles must be 4-wheel drive vehicles. All-wheel drive vehicles are prohibited.
How do I apply for a beach driving permit in Emerald Isle?
The application process is very simple. Just visit the Town of Emerald Isle’s website and apply online. You will need a valid driver’s license, your vehicle registration, any supporting documentation, and payment information ready. Apply for a beach driving permit here.
What are the beach driving rules for Emerald Isle?
All vehicles must abide by North Carolina Vehicle laws while driving on the strand. The speed limit is 20 MPH and all vehicles must allow pedestrians the right of way. Please reduce speed and avoid driving near beachgoers. Also, be on the lookout for any sea turtle nests or other wildlife that may have come ashore.
Driving on the dunes is not allowed at any time. This is vital to the environment and vehicles should stay a minimum of 10 feet away from any primary dunes. Occasionally, beach driving locations may be closed to all guests, in which case a sign will be posted at the entrance to the beach.
Where can I enter to drive on Emerald Isle beach?
Authorized beach access ramps for entry and exit are located at the following sites.
Ocean Drive Ramp – “dog-leg” (located on the east end near mile marker 15 on NC 58 near 3101 Ocean Drive and the Emerald Isle Dollar General) **Fun fact: Our vacation rental property Blue Sapphire is located across the street from this driving ramp!
Black Skimmer Ramp – Black Skimmer Drive (located across from the Police Department near 7501 Ocean Drive)
Point Ramp – The Point (located at the terminus of Inlet Drive and Bogue Ct. near 100 Bogue Ct.)
Other things to know about Emerald Isle Beach Driving
Please be sure to adhere your Beach Driving Permit to the inside of the lower left-hand side of your front window and remove decals from all previous years. The Emerald Isle Police Department strictly enforces these rules. Please also allow 20 feet from the primary dunes to remain open for first responders and town vehicles to pass by once on the beach strand. If any of your party digs holes in the sand while visiting, please fill in the holes before leaving as these can be detrimental to other cars.
Last but not least, HAVE FUN, bring your dog, your family, and enjoy our beautiful Emerald Isle beach! If you have any further questions, please be sure to visit EmeraldIsleNC.org for more information.