There is nothing better than finding that ideal spot on the beach and feeling the warm sand between your toes while you dig into a favorite book. Whether you’re lucky enough to spend every day along the Crystal Coast or are just here for a weekend, beach days are certainly a perk of being in Eastern Carolina.
While there are more than 100 access points located in neighborhoods along Bogue Banks, the 25-mile stretch of barrier island that runs from Fort Macon to Emerald Isle, they are generally designed for the residents who live in the area and offer limited to no parking. There are, however, a large number of public beach access points with generous parking for visitors to the area.
Several of the larger sites do charge for parking during the season (generally April-September) through either a parking attendant or meters. We have noted where a charge may be incurred. The list below follows the beach from the east to west.
- Fort Macon State Park – Two locations are offered within the boundaries of the state park. At the end of Hwy 58, guests will find 277 free parking spaces, with the fort on one side and beach access points on the other. Headed back toward Atlantic Beach, the Bath House area features 317 free parking spots, bathrooms, concessions and a boardwalk.
- Tom Doe Regional Access – Offers 47 paid parking spaces, bathrooms, showers and a playground.
- New Bern Street – In Atlantic Beach, this site offers 50 paid sites, bathrooms and showers.
- The Circle & Bathhouse – The Circle in Atlantic Beach has paid parking for 146 vehicles and the nearby bathhouse has 64, along with picnic tables and outside showers.
- Memorial Park – In the town limits of Pine Knoll Shores, just west of Mile Marker 6, this smaller beach access site offers paid parking for 35 cars, an overlook deck and a picnic table.
- Iron Steamer – With 45 paid parking spaces, bathroom facilities and showers this popular spot at Mile Marker 7.5 is home to the former Iron Steamer Pier and the wreckage of the Confederate blockade runner Prevensey.
- Trinity Center – This retreat at Mile Marker 9.5 reserves 20 free parking spaces for beach access under the water tower. Of note, parking is located on the south side of Hwy 58.
- Salter Path – The site offers 75 parking spaces, outside showers, picnic tables and bathrooms and is located within the Roosevelt State Park area.
- Indian Beach – This unpaid lot offers 36 parking spaces and a 4-wheel drive access ramp for off-season use.
- Eastern Ocean Regional Access – One of the largest public access sites in Emerald Isle, this popular beach near Mile Marker 15 and features 245 paid parking sites, a picnic gazebo, outdoor showers, bathrooms and drink machines.
- Western Ocean Regional Access – In the curve of the Cameron Langston Bridge, this access site offers 250 paid parking slots, picnic area, showers and bathroom facilities.
- Radio Island – Located off the island between Morehead City and Beaufort, the Radio Island access provides plenty of parking, restrooms, showers and a narrow inland beach with limited wave action, perfect for a family with young children