Coquina Beach (North Carolina): Your Ultimate Guide in 2024


Coquina Beach, Florida | Guided Tour | Anna Maria Island


If you’re dreaming of a perfect beach getaway along the stunning shores of North Carolina, then Coquina Beach is a name that should be on the top of your list. With its pristine white sands, serene waters, and a vibrant history, Coquina Beach is a true coastal gem that welcomes travelers of all interests and ages.

Whether you’re looking to relax under the sun, dive into water adventures, explore maritime history, or simply enjoy a family day out, this slice of paradise offers it all.

In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey to discover the allure of Coquina Beach, from its rich past to its array of activities and nearby attractions. So, grab your beach gear, and let’s dive into the beauty of Coquina Beach, your ultimate coastal escape.

About Coquina Beach (North Carolina)

Coquina Beach, located in North Carolina, stands as a serene oasis for those who seek both a peaceful retreat and exciting adventures. Nestled within the Outer Banks, this beach offers an enchanting blend of pristine landscapes and an array of activities to cater to every visitor. With its expansive stretches of white sand beaches, Coquina Beach is the ideal destination to unwind, explore, and make cherished memories.

Coquina Beach History

Coquina Beach derives its name from the coquina clams that call its shores home. These small, colorful, butterfly-shaped shells are a year-round feature of the beach, offering beachcombers a visual delight. They are not just aesthetically pleasing but also ecologically important, as they play a role in the beach’s ecosystem.

An intriguing part of Coquina Beach’s history revolves around the 1921 shipwreck of the Laura A. Barnes. This coastal schooner, built in 1918, met its fate during a storm while en route from New York to South Carolina. The ship’s collision with the Outer Banks led to its ultimate destruction. Remarkably, everyone on board was saved by the dedicated personnel of the Bodie Island Lifesaving Station.

The shipwreck remained off the coast of the Outer Banks for several decades until it washed ashore at Coquina Beach in the 1970s. Recognizing the historical and cultural significance of this shipwreck, efforts have been undertaken to preserve and protect it. This involves collaboration between East Carolina University’s Field School of Maritime History and the Shipwrecks of the Graveyard of the Atlantic project. The intention is to move the shipwreck to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, ensuring its safeguarding from future storm-related damage.

How to get there: Location & Access

 Address: Coquina Beach, North Carolina 27959, USA

Getting to Coquina Beach in North Carolina, USA, is relatively straightforward, as it’s conveniently located on Bodie Island within the Outer Banks. Here are the directions to Coquina Beach:

By Car:

  • From the North (Nags Head): If you’re coming from the North, such as Nags Head, start by heading south on NC-12 S (Virginia Dare Trail). You’ll continue on this scenic route that runs along the Outer Banks. Coquina Beach is situated on Bodie Island, and you’ll find it on the left side of the road.
  • From the South (Rodanthe, Hatteras Island): If you’re traveling from the south, like Rodanthe or Hatteras Island, head north on NC-12 N (Virginia Dare Trail). Continue on this road until you reach Coquina Beach, which will be on your right.

By Public Transportation: Shuttle Services: Some shuttle services and tour operators in the Outer Banks area provide transportation to Coquina Beach. You can check with local shuttle companies for availability and schedules.

By Air: Norfolk International Airport (ORF): If you’re arriving by air, the nearest major airport is Norfolk International Airport in Norfolk, Virginia. From there, you can rent a car and drive to Coquina Beach, which is approximately a 2 to 2.5-hour drive.


Once you arrive at Coquina Beach, you’ll find parking options available:

  • Free Parking: There are parking lots provided at the beach, and parking is free in these designated areas. These lots are easily accessible and are located near amenities.
  • Beach Parking: If you prefer to park directly on the beach, you can do so with a permit. You can obtain a permit for either a 10-day period for $50 or an annual pass for $120. The process for obtaining these permits is typically straightforward and can be done online through the Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s website.

When parking on the beach, you’ll typically need to follow specific guidelines to ensure safety and protect the natural environment. Make sure to pay attention to any regulations provided when you purchase your permit.

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Best Times to Visit

The best times to visit Coquina Beach in North Carolina depend on your preferences and the type of experience you’re seeking. Here are the different seasons and their characteristics to help you choose the ideal time for your visit:

Spring (March to May):

  • Weather: Spring is a pleasant time to visit Coquina Beach. The weather is mild, with average daytime temperatures ranging from the upper 50s to the mid-70s Fahrenheit. The evenings can be cooler.
  • Wildlife: Spring is a great time for birdwatching, as many migratory birds pass through the area. You might also spot sea turtles returning to nest in the later part of spring.
  • Crowds: Early spring tends to be less crowded compared to the peak summer season, making it a good time for those seeking a more peaceful experience.

Summer (June to August):

  • Weather: Summer is the high season, with warm and sunny weather. Average daytime temperatures range from the mid-70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit. Humidity levels can be high.
  • Beach Activities: This is the prime time for water activities like swimming, surfing, and snorkeling. Lifeguards are on duty during the day for added safety.
  • Crowds: Summer is the busiest time at Coquina Beach, with more visitors. If you enjoy a lively atmosphere and don’t mind crowds, this is the season for you.

Fall (September to November):

  • Weather: Fall is another pleasant season with comfortable temperatures. Daytime temperatures range from the mid-70s to the mid-60s Fahrenheit. Nights gradually become cooler.
  • Shelling: Fall is an excellent time for beachcombing and shelling, as storms and changing tides can reveal new treasures.
  • Crowds: As the summer season winds down, crowds begin to thin out. Fall offers a balance between pleasant weather and fewer visitors.

Winter (December to February):

  • Weather: Winter at Coquina Beach is the least crowded but also the coolest. Daytime temperatures range from the upper 40s to the upper 50s Fahrenheit. Nights can be chilly.
  • Solitude: If you seek solitude and enjoy brisk beach walks without the crowds, winter may be an appealing time. It’s also a period for observing the coastal environment in its quieter state.
  • Water Activities: Water activities are less popular during this season due to the cooler temperatures, but fishing can still be enjoyable.

Activity and things to do

Coquina Beach in North Carolina offers a wide range of activities and things to do, making it a versatile and enjoyable destination for a variety of interests. Here’s a detailed look at the activities and experiences you can enjoy at Coquina Beach:

Beachcombing and Shelling:

  • Activity: Coquina Beach is renowned for its abundance of seashells, making it an excellent spot for beachcombing and shelling. You can take leisurely walks along the shoreline to collect a variety of shells, including coquinas, moon snails, and more.
  • Tips: To enhance your shelling experience, consider the following tips:
    • Visit the beach during low tide and early morning for the best shell-hunting opportunities.
    • Bring a small mesh bag or bucket to carry your finds.
    • Be mindful of the fragile ecosystem and leave shells with living creatures in their natural habitat.

Water Activities:

  • Surfing: Coquina Beach’s waters offer good conditions for surfers. The beach is especially suitable for beginners, and you can enjoy the thrill of riding the waves in this scenic location.
  • Swimming: The beach’s calm waters are ideal for safe swimming. Whether you’re a skilled swimmer or a novice, the gentle waves make for a pleasant and refreshing swim.
  • Surf Fishing: Coquina Beach is a fantastic place for surf fishing. You can try your hand at catching a variety of fish species, making it a great spot for both experienced and novice anglers. Keep in mind that a fishing license is required.
  • Snorkeling: Explore the underwater world by snorkeling around the shipwreck site. It’s a unique opportunity to see the remnants of the Laura A. Barnes and the marine life that has made this area its home.
  • Tips: When engaging in water activities, consider these tips for a safe and enjoyable experience:
    • Check the local conditions, including water depth, currents, and potential hazards.
    • Be aware of any flags or warnings provided by lifeguards or park authorities.
    • Respect the marine environment and avoid disturbing wildlife.

Wildlife Watching:

  • Bird Watching: Coquina Beach is a haven for birdwatchers. You’ll have the chance to spot various mid-Atlantic shorebirds, including sandpipers, plovers, and seagulls. Be sure to bring your binoculars and camera to capture these feathered friends.
  • Sea Turtles: The area is known for its sea turtle population. If you’re lucky, you might witness sea turtles nesting or hatching during the nesting season. Remember to maintain a respectful distance to avoid disturbing these fascinating creatures.
  • Other Ocean Animals: Beyond birds and turtles, the waters off Coquina Beach are home to a diverse range of oceanic species. Keep an eye out for dolphins, fish, and other marine life as you explore the shoreline.

Relaxation and Enjoyment: Sunbathing: Coquina Beach’s pristine sands and tranquil atmosphere make it an ideal place to relax, unwind, and soak up the sun.

Lifeguard Services: Lifeguards are on duty at Coquina Beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day, ensuring the safety of beachgoers during this period.

Coquina Beach offers a diverse range of activities, making it an all-encompassing destination for nature lovers, water sports enthusiasts, history buffs, and those simply seeking relaxation. Whether you’re exploring the shore, taking to the waves, or observing the local wildlife, Coquina Beach has something for everyone to enjoy.

Coquina Beach Review


Coquina Beach, North Carolina, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. This beach offers a unique experience that sets it apart from more popular destinations in the Outer Banks. Here’s a closer look at what makes Coquina Beach such a special place:

Tranquility and Seclusion: Coquina Beach is prized for its serene and uncrowded environment. Unlike some of the more bustling and commercialized beaches in the area, this beach provides visitors with a peaceful escape. The absence of restaurants, stores, and homes along the beachfront contributes to its tranquil ambiance. It’s the perfect location for those who seek solitude, relaxation, and a deep connection with nature.

Family-Friendly Features: Coquina Beach is an excellent destination for families. With ample space to spread out, sunbathe, swim, fish, and build sandcastles, it caters to visitors of all ages. Leashed pets are even welcome year-round, ensuring that your four-legged family members can enjoy the beach experience as well. The family-friendly atmosphere and welcoming policies make Coquina Beach an ideal spot for quality time with loved ones.

Historical Attractions: Coquina Beach offers more than just natural beauty. Visitors can explore the historic shipwreck of the Laura A. Barnes, which tells a fascinating story of maritime history. The presence of the Bodie Island Lighthouse adds another layer of historical charm. Additionally, the beach provides an excellent vantage point for capturing breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, making it a photographer’s dream.

Accessibility and Amenities: Coquina Beach makes it easy for visitors to enjoy their day at the shore. The availability of ample parking, including RV-friendly spaces, ensures that getting to the beach is hassle-free. Onsite amenities such as picnic tables, restrooms, and showers make it convenient for visitors to relax and refresh during their visit. The combination of natural beauty and these practical conveniences ensures a memorable beach experience for all.

Nearby Attractions.

Coquina Beach in North Carolina is a wonderful destination, and if you’re looking to explore nearby attractions and activities in the Outer Banks region, you’re in luck. Here are some of the fantastic nearby attractions and places to visit:

  1. Bodie Island Lighthouse:
  • Location: Nags Head, NC
  • About: The Bodie Island Lighthouse, situated nearby, is a historic and iconic lighthouse that offers stunning views from its top. You can climb the lighthouse for panoramic vistas of the surrounding area and the Atlantic Ocean.
  1. Cape Hatteras National Seashore:
  • Location: Outer Banks, NC
  • About: The Cape Hatteras National Seashore stretches for miles along the Outer Banks and offers a variety of outdoor activities. Explore nature trails, go birdwatching, or learn about the area’s maritime history.
  1. Wright Brothers National Memorial:
  • Location: Kill Devil Hills, NC
  • About: Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial to learn about the pioneering aviation history of the Wright brothers. The park includes a visitor center with exhibits and a reconstructed model of the Wright brothers’ first powered airplane.
  1. Jockey’s Ridge State Park:
  • Location: Nags Head, NC
  • About: Jockey’s Ridge is home to the tallest sand dune on the East Coast. Visitors can engage in activities like hang gliding, kite flying, hiking, and taking in the breathtaking views from the top of the dunes.
  1. Roanoke Island:
  • Location: Manteo, NC
  • About: Roanoke Island is known for its rich history, including the Lost Colony and the Elizabethan Gardens. Explore the historic town of Manteo, visit the aquarium, and learn about the island’s role in early American history.
  1. Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry:
  • Location: Hatteras, NC
  • About: Take a scenic ferry ride from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island. The journey is a delightful way to enjoy the Outer Banks’ coastal beauty, and Ocracoke Island offers its own unique charm and attractions.
  1. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge:
  • Location: Hatteras Island, NC
  • About: This refuge is a fantastic spot for birdwatching, wildlife photography, and nature walks. It’s an important resting and feeding area for migratory birds.
  1. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse:
  • Location: Buxton, NC
  • About: The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is another historic and iconic lighthouse in the area. Visitors can climb to the top for breathtaking views of the ocean and surrounding landscapes.
  1. The Lost Colony Outdoor Drama:
  • Location: Manteo, NC
  • About: This outdoor drama tells the story of the first English colony in America, which mysteriously disappeared. It’s a fascinating historical performance in a unique setting.
  1. Pea Island Art Gallery:
  • Location: Salvo, NC
  • About: If you’re interested in local art and craftsmanship, this gallery features works by Outer Banks artists, making it a great place to discover unique piece

Amenities And Facilities

Restrooms: Coquina Beach provides restroom facilities, allowing visitors to freshen up and use the facilities during their visit.

Showers: There are shower facilities available, making it convenient for beachgoers to rinse off sand and saltwater after a swim or water activity.

Lifeguards: Lifeguards are on duty during the daylight hours between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Their presence enhances the safety of swimmers and beach visitors during the busy summer season.

Picnic Tables: Coquina Beach offers picnic tables where visitors can enjoy beachside meals or snacks. These tables provide a place to relax and take in the scenic surroundings.

Onsite Bathhouse: An onsite bathhouse is available, which is beneficial for those who need to change into or out of their swimwear or simply freshen up after a day at the beach.

Accessibility: Coquina Beach is designed to be accessible to all visitors, with parking, restrooms, and other amenities available for those with different mobility needs.

Leashed Pets: Coquina Beach welcomes leashed pets year-round. This pet-friendly policy allows beachgoers to enjoy the experience with their four-legged companions.

Beachcombing and Shelling: Coquina Beach is renowned for its shelling opportunities. Visitors can explore the shoreline to find a variety of seashells, including coquinas and moon snails.

Water Activities: The beach provides a range of water activities, such as surfing, swimming, bodyboarding, surf fishing, and snorkeling. Lifeguards are on duty to ensure safety during the busy season.

Historic Shipwreck Site: Visitors can explore the shipwreck site of the Laura A. Barnes, a 1921 coastal schooner that washed ashore in the 1970s. This site offers a unique glimpse into the area’s maritime history.

Coquina Beach’s amenities and facilities ensure that visitors have a convenient and enjoyable experience. Whether you’re looking to relax, take part in water activities, explore the beach’s history, or simply enjoy a beachside picnic, Coquina Beach provides the necessary amenities to meet your needs.


Coquina Beach in North Carolina is a delightful coastal destination known for its natural beauty and a wide range of activities. Its white sand beaches, calm waters, and seashell-filled shores make it an appealing spot. The beach has a fascinating history, including a 1921 shipwreck that you can explore.

Visitors to Coquina Beach can enjoy various activities. From shelling and surfing to swimming and birdwatching, there’s something for everyone. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer season to ensure safety. It’s a family-friendly place, and leashed pets are welcome year-round.

Amenities at Coquina Beach make your visit comfortable. Restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and parking facilities are available. You can even park on the beach with a permit. The beach is accessible for all visitors, including those with different mobility needs.

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