Durham, NC’s Nearest Beach & 17 Fantastic Choices

Durham, a historic and culturally diverse city in central North Carolina, enthralls its citizens daily with its dynamic metropolitan culture. Sometimes, even the most committed city people need the soothing embrace of the ocean.

There’s no denying the beach’s gravitational pull, what with its salty breeze and repetitive ocean waves. Durham is landlocked, but fortunately, the sea is never far away. We’ll look for the beach that is closest to Durham, North Carolina, in this post. In a kind, interesting, and inclusive way that fits with the inclusive spirit of our community, we’ll offer crucial information and statistics.

We’ve thoughtfully arranged our list of easily accessible beach getaways from Durham to include some that are a bit further out. Without further ado, let’s head out to sea and locate the beach that is closest to Durham, North Carolina.

Durham, NC's Nearest Beach & 17 Fantastic Choices

ALSO READ: Beaches That Are Nearest To Fayetteville



Distance: 156 miles | Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Our nearest beach to Durham, North Carolina, is Wrightsville Beach, which is around 9 miles from Wilmington, North Carolina. Southern Living named it one of the “South’s Best Beach Towns” because of its lovely blue waves and accessibility. In addition to offering top-notch surfing, it’s a well-liked spot for dining, shopping, nightlife, and water sports.

See Johnnie Mercers Pier, which features a restaurant and bathrooms and juts 1,200 feet into the water. Owners of dogs, take note: leashed dogs are permitted from October 1 through March 31 and from April 1 through September 30 before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m.


Distance: 167 miles | Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes

Explore this relaxed beachfront gem, which is just 15 miles from Wilmington, North Carolina. The Carolina Beach Music event, the only beachfront music event in the state, takes place on Durham’s beach, which is a hive of activity. Discover the well-known historic beachfront, which was named one of the top ten by Restaurants & Wine magazine. Take advantage of the mouthwatering dining options and exciting nightlife.

Located next to the boardwalk, the approximately 100-foot-tall Carolina Beach Giant Ferris Wheel offers exhilarating rides. Visitors who enjoy the outdoors may explore the 761-acre Carolina Beach State Park, which features miles of picturesque hiking paths and the 50-foot Sugarloaf dune. They can also discover more about the park’s unusual inhabitants, the carnivorous Venus flytrap.


Distance: 165 kilometers | Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

On Topsail Island, there are three charming coastal settlements, including Surf City. Relax on the gorgeous beaches and visit the well-known Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Centre. Surfers will love the perfect weather and the growth of their skills at the surf school.

The island of Topsail was used as a US Navy missile testing facility after World War II. One great resource for information on this topic is the Missiles and More Museum. Don’t pass on the famous Surf City Pier’s fishing and breathtaking landscape. At night, it becomes a gorgeously lit spot that is ideal for night fishing.


Distance: 164 miles | Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Unique and peaceful, Hammocks Beach State Park is only reachable by boat or ferry (not available from November to March). Its varied habitats, which vary from saltwater marshes to swamp forests excellent for bird viewing, may be explored with the help of kayak rentals.

When kayaking in the surrounding waters, it’s fascinating to observe sea turtles swimming, since they come to the park’s coastlines to lay their eggs. For total absorption in the natural world, primitive camping is an alternative. Ferry and boat access are not free, but park entry is. Given that pets are allowed, this facility is pet-friendly.


Distance: 169 miles | Time: 2 hours and 50 minutes

Kure Beach’s 700-foot fishing pier, built in 1923, is a well-known landmark. The biggest earthen fort in the South, Fort Fisher State Historic Site, is a must-see for history buffs. 10% of the fort is still standing. The location also houses the North Carolina Aquarium.

With more than 200 shipwrecks, including the Civil War-era Blockade Runner “The Condor,” Kure Beach is a haven for SCUBA divers. The unspoiled 6-mile shoreline of Fort Fisher is a sea turtle breeding area. Furthermore, there’s a nearby ferry that makes getting back to the mainland simple.


Distance: 186 miles | Time: 2 hours and 50 minutes

Renowned for being a family-friendly beach resort, Oak Island offers ice cream, mini-golf, and other amenities. With more than 60 public beach access spots, two fishing piers, and facilities for kayak and boat launches, it’s ideal for outdoor lovers. Look for nearby establishments and eateries that allow pets. Gather distinctive seashells and take a guided tour of the Oak Island Lighthouse, the final lighthouse built in North Carolina (finished in 1958), which is open to visitors nine years of age and older.


Distance: 171 miles | Time: 2 hours and 55 minutes

The smallest of the three communities on Topsail Island (pronounced “Tops’l”), Durham’s Topsail Beach boasts a rich history that includes pirates and tales of Blackbeard’s hidden treasure. Accessible by a swing bridge leading to Surf City or a high-rise bridge on the north side, the island serves as a sanctuary for sea turtles that nest there from April to September. Topsail is a fantastic place for anybody looking to relax on gorgeous beaches while learning about fascinating history because of its well-known turtle conservation initiatives.


Distance: 191 miles | Time: 2 hours and 55 minutes

Holden Beach near Durham, North Carolina, is a serene small-town escape that has been named one of the best family beaches in the nation by National Geographic Traveller. With fewer people around, you may unwind on the quiet beach, construct sandcastles, fly kites, or just lounge in your beach chair.

See dolphins and shrimp boats as you kayak or paddleboard along the Intracoastal Waterway. On Holden Beach, pets are allowed before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. between May 20 and September 10 and between September 11 and May 19.


Time: 3 hours | Distance: 199 miles

The charming hamlet of Ocean Isle Beach in Durham is well-known for its lovely white sand beaches as well as its local landmarks, celebrations, and events. In addition to the beach, there is the Museum of Coastal Carolina, River Country Mini Golf, The Swamp Park Zip Line and ATV Centre, Ocean Isle Beach Pier, and even the Carolina School of Surf, where guests may learn to surf.


Time: 3 hours | Distance: 169 miles

Emerald Isle is a white sand beach town on the Bogue Banks with pristine seas from the Atlantic Ocean. During the summer months, it is a little beach town, but every week it becomes a busy summer attraction with over 50,000 tourists.

Here you may pick up surfing skills, gather stunning seashells, and discover the background of Fort Macon State Park. There are hiking and biking trails close by, and you shouldn’t miss the magnificent Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier, which is one of the longest on the coast of North Carolina and spans over 4 miles. It offers stunning views of the ocean.


175 kilometres | 3 hours and 5 minutes

Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and Bogue Sound, Durham’s Atlantic Beach is a stunning barrier island. It is a beach lover’s paradise with infinite sand beaches. Make sandcastles, collect seashells, and savor the crisp sea wind.

Try your hand at kayaking, pier fishing, or maybe even dolphin watching. Try the delicious seafood at neighborhood restaurants and visit neighboring sites like the North Carolina Aquarium and historic Fort Macon State Park for a fun day.


Distance: 203 miles | Time: 3 hours and 5 minutes

Sunset Beach’s stunning sandy shorelines and breathtaking natural features were highlighted by National Geographic when they named it one of the top 21 beaches in the world. Owing to the island’s peculiar location, from late October until early March, you may watch both dawn and sunset over the lake. See the 1,200-acre Bird Island, the Sunset Beach Pier for fishing, and the Ingram Planetarium, which has the SciDome Sky Theatre for astronomy aficionados.


Distance: 193 miles | Time: 3 hours and 35 minutes (including ferry)

Only private boats or ferries can get you to Durham’s Bald Head Island, a private island where only golf carts and bicycles are permitted. It is well recognized for being home to one of the main sea turtle breeding sites in North Carolina.

Built in 1817, Old Baldy is the oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina and is located on the island. There are amazing views when reaching the top of the 108 steps. After a 20-minute boat voyage from Southport, North Carolina, you arrive at stunning South Beach, which has superb beaches that appeal to all ages.


219 miles | 3 hours and 30 minutes

A delightful seaside town on North Carolina’s picturesque Outer Banks, Nags Head is a terrific place for beachgoers and families. Wide sandy beaches are perfect for relaxing and enjoying water sports. The Atlantic waves are pleasant for swimmers and surfers.

Discover the rich history of the area by visiting the Nags Head Woods Preserve, which offers hiking and bird-watching paths. Visit the neighboring Roanoke Island Festival Park or Bodie Island Lighthouse to learn more about the history of the area.


224 miles | 3 hours and 35 minutes

Stretching over 70 miles along North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is home to amazing beaches, world-class surf fishing, and an array of water activities. For astronomy aficionados, it’s a favorite location because of the low light pollution.

Park Service of the National Parks Permits for 4WD vehicles grant access to specific locations. The beach is devoted to the preservation of wildlife, especially shorebirds and sea turtles. Along NC Highway 12, accommodations on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands offer easy access to the beach, public parking, and other amenities.


Time: 4 hours and 25 minutes | Distance: 251 miles

In the Outer Banks, Corolla (pronounced “Cor-RAH-lah” instead of “Cor-OLL-lah”) is a tranquil coastal town renowned for its 24-mile stretch of immaculate beach and tranquil ambiance. It provides a peaceful break from the commercial cacophony and hustle of other beach resorts. One unique feature of the area’s beaches is the untamed Spanish mustangs.

Along with retail and eating opportunities, Corolla is home to historical sites including the Whalehead Club and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. It’s the perfect place for a beach holiday because of its wide beaches, breathtaking scenery, and sophisticated touches.


Distance: 203 miles | Time: 3 hours and 30 minutes

Myrtle Beach in Durham is a well-liked beach resort area that brings in a sizable number of visitors. The 50 kilometers of stunning beaches are enhanced by the tall SkyWheel Ferris wheel, a busy seaside boardwalk, and several eateries. Myrtle Beach in Durham is not the best place to go if you’re seeking for a quiet beach experience unless you go during the off-season. It’s known for its rowdy attitude.

But this is the place to go if you’re looking for a little bit of sunshine and excitement together. The city is a popular party destination since it has a lot to offer in terms of activities and comes alive at night with live music and dance clubs.

Durham, NC's Nearest Beach & 17 Fantastic Choices



Lastly, there is a range of activities available in the beach resorts close to Durham, each with a special draw. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly vacation spot, an adventurous beach outing, or a peaceful getaway, there’s a beach for you.

The alternatives range from the undisturbed peacefulness of Hammocks Beach State Park to the historical charm of Topsail Island, and from the busy ambiance of Myrtle Beach to the serene beauty of Wrightsville Beach. The choices are as varied as the Carolina environment itself.

Whichever beach you visit in Durham, you will always be drawn to its attraction. So grab your beachwear and sunscreen and head off on a breathtaking coastal trip where you can enjoy the sun, sand, and tranquil sounds of the waves. These coastal communities provide an abundance of natural beauty, leisure activities, and relaxation possibilities, making them the perfect beachfront getaway for locals and tourists alike.

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