Dog Friendly Vacations: Outer Banks, North Carolina – Dog Friendly Beaches, Restaurants & Rental Homes

The Outer Banks (OBX): North Carolina

We love traveling, but the hardest part has always been leaving our two dogs behind. When we’re not on vacation, we are 100% with our dogs Chloè and Coco Chanel.  For our big vacation this year, we wanted to do something we’ve never done before – take a vacation the whole family will enjoy with our dogs! 

When we were researching places that the whole family could enjoy, the one pet-friendly place we kept coming back to was The Outer Banks, North Carolina. In addition to being beautiful, every single beach throughout the Outer Banks is dog-friendly which means you and your four-legged friends can enjoy miles of sun, sand, and salt water together all year round. Our girls, Chloè & Coco Chanel, were living for all of the ball and frisbee time they had on the beaches of the OBX.  However, dogs must be leashed at all times, even while swimming.

Beach Dogs

Chloè, our 13 ½ year old yellow Labrador Retriever, made her first trip to the beach when she was just four months old.  We were visiting the Jersey Shore point of Wildwood, NJ for Labor Day weekend when Chloè came along for her first trip.  Back then, Chloè hated the ocean.  She was so scared of the fast moving and crashing waves that she ran away every chance she got.  Now, on her second trip back to the beach at 13 ½ years old, Chloè loves the beach so much, she never wants to leave!

Our beach dogs, Chloè (right) & Coco Chanel (left)

This is Coco Chanel’s first ever visit to the beach.  She is our 11 year old chocolate Labrador Retriever. Like most siblings, Coco is the complete opposite of Chloè.  Although Coco loves to chase her sister Chloè in the ocean and fetch her ball in the water, Coco prefers long naps on the beach and people (…and dog) watching from her spot on the sand.  One of Coco’s favorite things to do while at the beach is to watch the other dogs and all of the children play on the beach.  She doesn’t bark or try to approach them.  Coco simply enjoys taking it all in from the shade of her beach umbrella while her sister Chloè swims the day away.

Janine, Chloè & Coco Chanel relaxing on the beaches of Corolla

Morning walks on the beaches of Corolla with Coco Chanel
Chloè always looks for approval & permission before jumping into the ocean
Chloè loves chasing fish and other marine life

Every morning, we hit the beaches of Corolla before the crowds, and we walked at least two miles up and down the beach before we settled into our spot in the sand.  During our walks, Chloè and Coco would dip in and out of the water chasing each other, their balls, and even fish.  This was a great way to get our girls some light exercise early in the day, and then we would all relax together in the sun the rest of the morning.  While we enjoy the warm sunshine and a few cold beers on the sand, Chloè and Coco Chanel relaxed in the shade under our beach umbrella.

Chloè relaxing on her beach blanket on the beaches of Corolla

Most days, we kept our beach time with the dogs under four hours.  We never spent a full day at the beach with our pups.  This allowed us to all have some time together on the beach each morning, and then Jared and I would explore the Outer Banks together in the afternoon either by bicycle, on foot, or in our truck. Even in October, the afternoon sun can be too much for our old girls.  In addition, there were a lot of stairs to climb when making the trip back home and our girls don’t do stairs very well, so we never wanted them to be too tired to make the trip home.  

We packed everything we needed into our Truck and headed to the 4×4 beaches of Carova with our girls

Our girls love lounging in the bed of our pickup truck after a good swim on the 4×4 beaches of Carova.  It allowed us to keep them safe from the beach traffic, and their sandy paws off of our beach blankets and chairs.  Meanwhile, we lounged in the sand watching as powered paragliders passed over us from high above.

If you visit Carova, here are a few tips:

  • A four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle is required to access the Carova 4×4 beaches.  There are no paved roads.
  • Tire pressure must be deflated prior to driving on the sand.
  • Pets are permitted, but must be leashed at all times.
  • Carova is the steady stream of traffic heading up and down the beach as opposed to the pedestrian beaches of Corolla.  Dogs must be leashed at all times, and parents of pets and children must keep a close eye on their loved ones to be sure they don’t wander into traffic.

Things to Know Before Bringing Your Dogs to the Beach:

  • Pets are permitted, but must be leashed at all times.
  • The beaches from Corolla south are strictly pedestrian beaches.  No vehicles are allowed on these beach. Carova 4×4 beach is the only beach that allows visitors to drive on the sand.
  • Lifeguards are on duty on the beaches of Corolla and south from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There are no lifeguards on duty on the 4×4 beaches of Carova.
  • Please help keep the beach beautiful by taking all trash and waste with you when you leave.
  • Provide your dog with shade to stay cool throughout your time at the beach.  Be careful not to let your pets overheat in the sun.
  • Keep your dog hydrated.  Bring along a dog bowl and a few bottles of water for your dog to drink.  Don’t pour all of the water in the bowl at once otherwise it will get hot or sand may blow into it.  We brought one gallon of water along each day and kept it in the cooler.  We’d pour small amounts of the water into their bowl for them to drink and we filled it up as needed. 
  • Know your dogs limits and recognize any changes in behavior that may be due to the sun, heat, or something else.  
  • Do not let them drink the ocean water.  Our girls were very interested in drinking the ocean water as the waves splashed in their faces at first.  However, we had to train them not to do this as the American Kennel Club advises that drinking large amounts of salt water can be deadly to our pets.  When our dogs consume salt, water drains from the blood and into their intestines causing vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration (source:
  • We had a hard time keeping Chloè out of the oceanwater because she loves to swim so much.  She is the type of dog who will swim until her body cannot swim anymore, but she’ll still keep trying.  Chloè doesn’t understand that swimming in the ocean is much harder on her body (causing her to tire more easily) and as a result, more dangerous than swimming at home in our pool.  Our girls were always tethered/leashed to us, wore life vests, never too far out of reach, and only swam in small doses with large breaks in the shade in-between.

Dog-Friendly Dining

There are a number of dog-friendly restaurants that can be found from Corolla, Southern Shores, and Duck, to Nag’s Head, Kitty Hawk, and beyond. Many of these dog-friendly restaurants offer special menus just for your pups.  As a special treat, they also keep dog bowls on hand to keep everyone hydrated.

Corolla Cantina

Corolla Light Town Center – 1159 NC-12, Corolla, NC 27927

Located just outside Corolla Light Resort, this laid-back venue quickly became our favorite place for food and drinks in all of the Outer Banks.  They offer outdoor seating, are pet-friendly, and have some of the best food and drinks around.  The Blackened Sesame Ahi Tuna kept us coming back!

Mama Easley’s Grub Hut

Timbuck II Shopping Village, Building #799

Conveniently located just across the street from Buck Island and tucked into a small corner of Timbuck II Shopping Village, Mama Easley’s is a great spot for a burger or a bite day or night. Although the location itself is small and somewhat hidden, they sure do a lot with the little space they do have.  Mama Easley’s offers outdoor seating with incredible views of the soundfront from the back patio.  The staff does an amazing job of making you feel at home, and the best part is they are all dog-friendly!

Shrimp, scallops, fish & chips, fried green tomatoes, and onion rings are all delicious.  We grabbed a few beers (ice cold PBR’s for $1.00!!) on the patio on our first visit, ordered takeout another day, and then returned one last time for a full meal outdoors with our pups. 

Uncle Ike’s

Corolla Light Town Center – 1159 Austin Street #111AB, Corolla, NC 27927

Also located just outside Corolla Light Resort, this location features both indoor and outdoor dining.  We prefer a table outside on the covered patio.  We grabbed lunch and a few margaritas here during one of our bike rides from Buck Island to Corolla Light.  Our dogs did not join us for a meal, but there were plenty of other patrons who were dining with their pups.  


Pet-Friendly Rental Properties

There are a number of accommodations available for pets and their owners throughout the Outer Banks.  Visitors can utilize independent services like Airbnb and Vrbo to book directly with home owners, but we prefer the service and expertise of a third party management company.  These companies offer a searchable feature down to each and every single home amenity from heated swimming pools to fireplaces and pool tables, we had no trouble finding exactly the home we were looking for.  Some excellent rental agencies in The Outer Banks are:

Tangerine Dream

Physically located at 797 Mercury Rd Corolla, NC 27927 in the private community of Buck Island, Tangerine Dream is a beautiful vacation home located just steps from the ocean.  This pet-friendly beach house has five bedrooms, four full bathrooms, one half bathroom, an inground swimming pool, and an incredible amount of outdoor deck space throughout the home.   Jared and I really enjoyed evenings under the stars in our home’s elevated hot tub just steps from the ocean.  Meanwhile, our girls loved lounging on the many multi-level wrap around decks the home had to offer.  

Tangerine Dream is located in the private beachfront community of Buck Island in Corolla, NC

The third floor Main Living Area is the perfect spot for puzzling day or night

Breakfast on the top patio overlooking the Ocean
A view of the home’s inground swimming pool from the Master Suite balcony
Our girls loved the short walk from our home to the beach
Tangerine Dream is located at the end of a cul-de-sac in a private gated residential community

The third floor master bedroom and bath were very nice.  The bed was large, the closet was also large.  We really liked all of the outdoor living spaces – the multiple patios and decks.  It was nice to sit outside and enjoy the area day and night.

We loved cooking a full breakfast each morning in our fully stocked kitchen complete with pots and pans, cooking utensils, dinnerware and flatware, and then enjoying our delicious meal on our rooftop ocean-view patio.  The home’s high ceilings and oversize windows allowed for ample natural light, and the fireplace in the Main Living room was a nice feature in the evenings.

We really fell in love with the community of Buck Island.  The community seemed very quiet and peaceful.  We’re not sure if this was just because it was the offseason or if it is always like that, but we really enjoyed the peace and quiet and how pet-friendly the neighborhood was.  It is conveniently located near the beach and Timbuck II, and those were the two biggest selling points for us.

Reserve your stay at Tangerine Dream in the Outer Banks today through Brindley Beach Vacation & Sales: 

It’s no secret that we love traveling, but the hardest part has always been leaving our dogs behind.  In our opinion, the Outer Banks really is the perfect place to vacation with your pups.  We’re so happy to have our girls along on this adventure, and we couldn’t be more proud of how well-behaved they were throughout the entire trip.  Our tans may fade, but the memories we made in the Outer Banks will last FURREVER!

Have you visited the Outer Banks? If so, please leave a comment below with all your OBX tips and tricks to help us plan our next visit! 

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