For generations, families have been drawn to the Outer Banks, known by many familiar with it as the OBX, for the unique blend of natural beauty, serenity, and adventure it has to offer. Outer Banks camping on the beach, amidst the majestic coastal landscapes, is more than a vacation—it’s a tradition.
Unfortunately, direct beach camping is not allowed in the OBX. However, fret not, as many campgrounds in the vicinity provide easy beach access, enabling visitors to immerse themselves in the coastal environment while complying with local regulations.
Exploring the Coastal Campgrounds
In the northern region, you can find campgrounds in Currituck County and Kitty Hawk, like the Outer Banks West/Currituck Sound KOA and Kitty Hawk RV Park, respectively.
These places promise more than just a place to pitch your tent or park your RV—they offer breathtaking views, convenient amenities, and close proximity to a variety of attractions.
The charm of Kill Devil Hills is captured by the OBX Campground, offering a unique vantage point from Colington Island and a tranquil ambiance.
Similarly, Nags Head’s Oregon Inlet Campground, nestled toward the town’s southern end, provides an escape from the everyday hustle, yet remains close to local attractions.
Camping options in the middle of the Outer Banks offer a unique mix of history and nature. Historic Roanoke Island, the site of America’s first English colony, hosts the Beechland Campground in Manteo and offers an array of amenities and picturesque views of the Croatan Sound.
With the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge just a short drive to the west, your wildlife photography opportunities are almost limitless! Keep in mind that you’ll need to check road conditions before going to avoid disappointment, as sometimes certain sections are closed for maintenance and wildlife management purposes.
Heading south, Cape Hatteras National Seashore stretches from South Nags Head to Ocracoke Island, with a plethora of campgrounds dotting the seashore. A few notable ones to the north of Salvo and Waves include Camp Hatteras RV Resort & Campground, Cape Hatteras KOA, and North Beach Family Campground.
Don’t forget the unique campgrounds to the South West on Ocracoke Island, an accessible gem via ferry, where you can enjoy the soothing melody of the waves while camping at Ocracoke Campground.
Ideal Campgrounds for Rooftop Tent Camping in the Outer Banks
For those seeking the best rooftop tent camping experience, in my opinion, Cape Hatteras National Seashore stands out.
The four campgrounds managed by the National Park Service – Oregon Inlet, Cape Point, Frisco, and Ocracoke – are all near the beach, giving you a quintessential Outer Banks camping experience. The perfect place to enjoy rooftop tent camping in the Outer Banks!
But if you’re more of an RV Camper, you would most likely find the OBX Campground in Kill Devil Hills and Cape Hatteras KOA in Rodanthe particularly appealing. These places offer convenient access to local attractions and a wealth of amenities, making your RV camping experience both enjoyable and comfortable.
Rooftop Camping in Outer Banks: Unleashing Adventure Amidst the Surf and Sky
The OBX of North Carolina provides a picturesque landscape that whispers tales of charming coastal communities, unspoiled beaches, and unmatched tranquility. But when it comes to camping, the OBX introduces an exciting twist: rooftop camping.
This contemporary camping style merges the traditional delight of outdoor living with the modern convenience of vehicle-based exploration, giving a new edge to the phrase “Outer Banks camping on the beach”.
The Allure of Rooftop Camping in OBX
What I love about it is that rooftop camping offers an elevated perspective, both literally and figuratively, to your OBX adventure.
Imagine waking up to the mesmerizing sunrise over the Atlantic or dozing off under a blanket of twinkling stars, all from the comfort of your rooftop tent. No risk of soggy ground underfoot. That sounds like the right way to do it to me. With this approach, you’ll have the charm of Outer Banks camping on the beach like no one else.
It’s truly amazing the difference that six or seven feet can make to your vantage point. Letting you relish panoramic views of the OBX coastline and beyond, your rooftop tent will more than serve you well.
Whether you’re stationed near the pristine shores of Kitty Hawk, the historical Cape Hatteras, or the secluded Ocracoke Island, every angle offers a new, awe-inspiring view, adding an extra dimension to Outer Banks camping on the beach.
Essential Gear for Rooftop Camping
I’ll give you the word on this; rooftop camping in the OBX requires some essential gear. The rooftop tent is, of course, the star of the show. Particularly when it’s a Thule Tepui Rooftop Tent! These are designed to mount directly onto your vehicle’s roof rack system, providing a safe and comfortable sleeping area above ground level.
Pro tip: ensure your vehicle’s pillar structure can handle the additional weight of the tent and its occupants.
You’ll also need proper bedding to ensure a good night’s sleep. Sleeping bags, pillows, and a comfortable mattress pad are critical.
Also, make sure you have a sturdy and secured ladder for safe entry and exit, a heavy-duty cover to protect your tent when driving, and appropriate tie-down straps are also necessary.
OBX Rooftop Camping Locations and Regulations
While there’s an abundance of dreamy rooftop camping spots in OBX, it’s essential to respect local rules and regulations.
As part of your Outer Banks camping on the beach experience, it’s crucial to note that, as previously mentioned, camping directly on the beach isn’t allowed. The last thing that you want to experience is being fined for camping somewhere you shouldn’t. That can really take the fun out of the day.
Make sure you check with each campground regarding specific limitations for rooftop camping, as some might have height and other restrictions.
Remember, every Outer Banks camping on the beach experience should blend adventure with respect for the local environment and community.
Which side of the fence the sign is on is going to make a difference!
Hmmmm…. what to do? Pitch a tent I guess pic.twitter.com/RooPpJIQ19— Rage Against The CBDC (@un_tldr) September 24, 2022
Enjoying the Outer Banks Experience
Rooftop camping serves as your ticket to experience the vibrant culture and natural beauty of the OBX.
Use the day for adrenaline-pumping water sports, beachcombing, or exploring nearby lighthouses and historical sites.
Then, as night falls, retreat to your rooftop nest for some stargazing.
After all, Outer Banks camping on the beach is as much about embracing the local vibes as it is about cherishing the tranquility of nature.
Outer Banks Camping on the Beach with Kids
As much as I’m a big kid, I’ve also got little kids I need to plan for when enjoying the OBX. So, for some kid-friendly tips on activities while Outer Banks camping on the beach, check out the suggestions for Cape Lookout camping below.
Not only are these fun activities to enjoy with your kids, but they are also a great opportunity to help share with them the values of being a responsible camper.
Are you allowed to camp on the beach in Outer Banks?
No. Outer Banks camping on the beach, as much as it may sound like you can, is not permitted. But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the OBX as many campsites and RV parks are virtually on the beach. It is recommended to stay within the permitted camping areas for your own enjoyment.
Is it legal to camp on the beach in North Carolina?
As long as you are in designated campgrounds, you can camp on the beach in NC. If there are signs indicating that you are in a “no camping” area, then abide by those instructions for your own enjoyment.
Can you camp on the beach on Ocracoke?
You can only camp in the designated campgrounds. Camping along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is not permitted. To the north of Ocracoke there are seasonally opened sites, and the town has private campgrounds.
Can you camp on Kitty Hawk beach?
Those seeking to immerse themselves in nature can enjoy Outer Banks camping on the beach near the edges of the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve. Two campgrounds are available, offering amenities such as electricity, water connections, and public restrooms. Each campground features a blend of sun-drenched and sheltered campsites, ensuring an added layer of seclusion for campers. These sites are versatile, catering to the needs of trailer camping, compact RVs, and tent camping.