Best Beaches Closest to Raleigh, NC (In a 3-hour drive)

Raleigh, a busy city in the center of North Carolina, is well-known for its varied cultural offerings, lengthy history, and fast-paced metropolitan lifestyle. On the other side, people seeking a tranquil getaway from the bustle of the city can find the beach intriguing.

Raleigh is fortunately adjacent to several amazing coastal locations despite its inner location, providing locals and tourists with the perfect chance to enjoy the sun, feel the sand between their toes, and immerse themselves in coastal charm. This article will examine the nearest beach to Raleigh, North Carolina, offering a tranquil coastal haven that is only a short drive away and is sure to satiate your need for a beach holiday.

Best Beaches Closest to Raleigh, NC (In a 3-hour drive)

ALSO READ: Durham, NC’s Nearest Beach



Time: 2 hours | Distance: 131 miles

Wrightsville Beach in Raleigh, North Carolina, is renowned for its dazzling blue sea and is just nine miles from Wilmington. It was listed as one of the top ten “South’s Best Beach Towns” by Southern Living. It is a well-liked destination for beachgoers and one of North Carolina’s most easily accessible beaches. They are renowned for their surfing and world-class waves.

There are retail centers, dining options, exciting nightlife, and spas if you’re searching for anything more than beach days. There are also many different aquatic sports available. Go fishing or just enjoy the scenery at Johnnie Mercers Pier.

The 1,200-foot-long pier offers dining options and other amenities. Leashed dogs are only allowed on the beach from October 1 through March 31. Dogs are allowed on the beach from April 1 through September 30 before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. This beach is the nearest to Raleigh, North Carolina, and is an excellent alternative.


Distance: 132 kilometers | Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Three charming communities dot this idyllic seaside area, Raleigh’s Surf City among them. Surf City is located on Topsail Island. You may take in the breathtaking scenery of the neighboring beaches and visit the well-known Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Centre while you’re at this delightful resort.

Surf City offers excellent conditions for surfing waves, so surfers will be in heaven. Anyone who wants to improve their talents should check out the surf school, which offers instruction to help you become an expert surfer.

Raleigh’s Topsail Island has a unique history that includes the US Navy using it as a missile testing base after World War II. The Missiles and More Museum is a popular destination for tourists who want to learn more about Operation Bumblebee.

A beloved landmark in Surf City, the well-known Surf City Pier provides fantastic fishing chances in addition to magnificent views. The pier is gorgeously lit at dusk, which makes for a fantastic setting for night anglers.


Distance: 138 miles | Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

The smallest of the island’s three villages is Raleigh’s Topsail Beach (pronounced “Tops’l”). Some believe the name originated with the pirates who destroyed their ships in the strait that separates the island and the mainland, and who were frequent visitors to the area. Their top sail was the only one visible from the boat.

Point of Serenity Topsail Island, North Carolina

Some claim that Blackbeard’s wealth is still hidden here. Currently, there are two methods to access the island: a swing bridge linking Surf City and a high-rise bridge on the north side. From April to September, sea turtles use Topsail as a popular location for their nests and egg laying.


Distance: 141 miles | Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Enjoy a serene seaside setting within 15 miles of Wilmington, North Carolina. The beach is home to several amazing events all year long, such as the Carolina Beach Music Festival, which is the only beach-based music festival in the state. Additionally, there’s a nationally known antique boardwalk.

The boardwalk was ranked among the best 10 in the nation by Food and Wine magazine. They also have a lively nightlife and excellent eateries. The approximately 100-foot-tall Carolina Beach Giant Ferris Wheel sits adjacent to the boardwalk and is open for rides.

Enjoy the outdoors and come in touch with nature by going for a stroll at Carolina Beach State Park. There are miles of hiking paths within the park, which spans 761 acres. Make sure to visit the 50-foot Sugarloaf dune if you go. One interesting fact is that the park is home to the carnivorous Venus flytrap plant.


Distance: 144 miles | Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Kure Beach in Raleigh is the oldest fishing pier on the Atlantic Coast. In 1923, the 700-foot pier was built. This is the beach for you if you enjoy history. This is the site of the biggest earthen fort in the South, Fort Fisher State Historic Site. Currently, just around 10% of the fort is intact. At Fort Fisher, there is also the North Carolina Aquarium.

Kure Beach is home to more than 200 shipwrecks, among them The Condor, a Civil War-era blockade runner whose location is indicated by buoys. Six miles of unspoiled coastline may be found in Fort Fisher, which is also a well-liked sea turtle nesting location. Additionally, you may take a ferry from Fort to return to the mainland.


Distance: 140 kilometers | Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Reached exclusively by boat or ferry (the latter unavailable from November to the end of March), Raleigh’s Hammocks Beach State Park is a distinctive and serene haven. For those looking for a more daring experience, kayak rentals are offered, letting you explore this natural marvel on your own.

Large salt marshes and picturesque swamp forests are just two of the park’s numerous features that will enthrall nature enthusiasts. There are plenty of opportunities for bird watching and spending time in the peaceful surroundings. At Hammocks Beach State Park, sea turtles will lay their eggs on the beach, providing a chance to witness them.

Primitive camping is allowed if you would want to extend your stay and make use of the park’s offerings. This allows you to have a genuine overnight experience in the breathtaking surroundings of nature. Although there is no charge to enter the park, using the boat launch or ferry incurs expenses.

Pets are welcome anywhere in the park as well as in approved campgrounds, so your furry friends may enjoy Hammocks Beach State Park’s natural beauty with you.


Distance: 162 miles | Time: 2 hours and 25 minutes

Searching for a well-liked beach resort for families? Oak Island is a well-liked destination! Savour ice cream, mini-golfing, and other pastimes. There are two fishing piers, around 60 public beach access spots, and several locations to launch a kayak or boat. They could go to eateries and stores in the area. Seashell collecting is another favorite activity on Oak Island!

With leashed pets allowed all year round, the island is also quite pet-friendly. Moreover, history buffs should go see the 1958-completed Oak Island Lighthouse, which was the final lighthouse in North Carolina. All year long, guided tours are open to visitors nine years of age and up.


Distance: 166 miles | Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Holden Beach in Raleigh is another small beach town ideal for a fun getaway. Situated on the southernmost point of North Carolina’s coast, it was selected by National Geographic Traveller as one of the country’s top family beaches.

Come enjoy some downtime on the sand, construct sandcastles, launch kites, or just lounge on a beach chair. There won’t be as many people. You may also take advantage of the Intracoastal Waterway by watching shrimp boats pass by or going on a kayak or paddleboard ride while looking for dolphins. At Holden Beach, pets are allowed before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. between May 20 and September 10 and between September 11 and May 19.


Distance: 174 miles | Time: 2 hours and 35 minutes

The little hamlet of Ocean Isle Beach near Raleigh is home to gorgeous white sand beaches as well as a wide range of regional events, festivals, and activities. Family-friendly attractions near the beach include the ATV Centre, River Country Mini Golf, The Swamp Park Zip Line, and the Museum of Coastal Carolina. Visit the Carolina School of Surf near the Ocean Isle Beach Pier to pick up surfing skills.


Distance: 145 kilometers | Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes

The Emerald Isle of Raleigh may be found on the Bogue Banks. Come take in the breathtaking waves of the crystal-blue Atlantic Ocean and its gorgeous sand beaches. During the summer months, this little seaside town comes alive with some 50,000 people every week.

Along with learning about the history and significance of Fort Macon State Park in American history, you can also take surf lessons, unwind on the beach, and gather lovely seashells. There are many routes for biking and trekking to discover. Visit the Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier, which provides stunning views of the ocean along with many other attractions. Although it was constructed in the 1950s, storm damage has required many restorations. Its length is one thousand feet.


Distance: 151 miles | Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes

Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Bogue Sound, Raleigh’s Atlantic Beach is a stunning barrier island. Everyone likes this beach area because of its unending stretch of fine sand beachfront. Get ready for an amazing day at the beach! Gather seashells, make sandcastles, and enjoy the cool sea wind on your face.

Remember to go kayaking along the dazzling waters and fishing off the pier, where you may see dolphins. Visit one of the neighborhood seafood eateries for the greatest catches when you’re hungry. Visit the neighboring Fort Macon State Park or the North Carolina Aquarium if you’re feeling very daring.


Distance: 177 miles | Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes

Which of the twenty-one finest beaches in the world, according to National Geographic, would you like to visit? You may find natural gems and lovely sandy beaches at Sunset Beach. Considering that it faces east, why is this beach named Sunset Beach? The island’s location allows you to witness the sun rise and set over the lake from late October to the beginning of March.

Take a fishing trip to the Sunset Beach Pier or visit Bird Island to explore its 1,200 acres. Are you a fan of astronomy? Schedule some time to visit the SciDome for a show and the Ingram Planetarium.


Distance: 168 miles | Time: 3 hours and 10 minutes

The rush of daily life may be avoided by visiting Bald Head Island. The only way to get to the island is by private boat or ferry. Bicycles and golf carts are the only modes of transportation permitted; cars are not. One of North Carolina’s most significant sea turtle breeding sites is on Bald Head Island.

Furthermore, the oldest lighthouse still standing in North Carolina, Old Baldy, was finished in 1817. The 108 stairs up to the summit of this sturdy brick lighthouse are well worth the views! The journey on the boat from the mainland takes around twenty minutes, departing from Southport, North Carolina. Enjoy a stunning day on the island by coming.


Distance: 197 miles | Time: 3 hours and 11 minutes

On the breathtaking Outer Banks of North Carolina, there lies a little beachside village called Nags Head. Nags Head is a great option for beachgoers and families alike because of its stunning beaches and fascinating history.

The huge sandy beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see will amaze you. Engage in beach activities or just unwind in the warm sunlight. Fans of water sports will also like Nags Head! Surf for yourself or just have a cool dip in the Atlantic. Apart from the beach, Nags Head has an interesting past that is well worth researching. See the well-known Nags Head Woods Preserve, a stunning natural refuge with hiking paths.


Time: 3 hours | Distance: 181 miles

Myrtle Beach in Raleigh is a well-liked beach resort with a sizable visitor base. There are 50 miles of gorgeous beaches, a promenade along the coast, several eateries, and the highest Ferris wheel in the nation, the SkyWheel.

This is not the place to go if you want a calm beach unless you come here in the off-season! This is the spot to go if you want to enjoy yourself and visit the beach! They give a large selection of activities. Partygoers will love the evenings here since there are many places to enjoy live music and dancing.

Best Beaches Closest to Raleigh, NC (In a 3-hour drive)



As we conclude looking for the beaches closest to Raleigh, North Carolina, we can see that you have a tonne of great possibilities. The surrounding beaches provide the perfect environment for you to indulge your interests, whether you love the outdoors, adventure, or just lounging by the sea.

The lovely beaches of Atlantic Beach, which is the meeting point of the Atlantic Ocean and Bogue Sound, and the charming seaside community of Nags Head, which has broad beaches and a fascinating past, are your options.

Whichever beach you choose, you could be treated to stunning views of the surrounding landscape, smooth sand under your toes, and the calming sound of breaking waves. Seize the chance to engage in a range of outdoor pursuits, such as swimming, tanning, beachcombing, surfing, fishing, and kayaking.

Gather your beach gear, load up the car, and embark on a fantastic drive to the closest seaside haven. Immerse yourself in the tranquility and breathtaking scenery that greets you after letting go of the stress and bustle of everyday life.

3 thoughts on “Best Beaches Closest to Raleigh, NC (In a 3-hour drive)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *