Surf Rescue

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Beach Safety

Lifeguards are on duty from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. between May 1 and October 31. The Town maintains lifeguard stations* at various locations throughout the summer. These locations include the following:

From May 28 through September 5, 2016:

  • Caffey’s Inlet
  • Barrier Island Station
  • Schooner Ridge Drive
  • Christopher Drive
  • Four Seasons

From June 20 through August 12, 2016:

  • Snow Geese
  • Scarborough Lane
  • Plover Drive

Please note, should conditions on the beach change, stand locations may be shifted. Please check here for any changes or updates. Lifeguards also patrol our beach on ATV’s. Please heed words of caution, advisories, and/or the flying of red (no swimming) flags. They are issued for your safety.

Beach Rules:

Click here for a PDF version of the Beach Rules sign.


Destination Dares Government Channel Episode from Town of Duck and Southern Shores

Ocean Swimming:

Please heed words of caution, advisories, and/or the flying of red (no swimming) flags as they are issued for your safety. Although the Atlantic Ocean may be inviting and look calm, be alert as conditions can change rapidly and there is constant motion beneath the surface.

Take a few precautions before swimming:

  • Swim Near A Lifeguard!
  • Never swim alone.
  • Wait for at least a dozen waves to break, and decide if any one of them are bigger than you would want to ride.
  • Non-swimming companions should stay in the sand well above the watermark caused by the biggest wave. Wave wash is deceptively strong and anyone playing in it should be able to swim long enough to await rescue.
  • Look for rip currents and strong shore breaks.
  • If you have been drinking alcohol stay out of the water. Alcohol can impair your judgement, breathing, coordination, and swimming ability.
  • In an electrical storm, give yourself plenty of time to leave the beach and find shelter. Storms approach quickly.
  • Do not use flotation devices or rafts as substitutes for swimming ability. Southwesterly winds can push them far from shore.

The Town of Duck neither owns nor maintains any public beach access locations. Access to our beach is limited to Duck residents, Duck renters, and their guests through privately owned and maintained locations. The Town of Duck does not allow parking along state roads, and there are no public parking areas at beach accesses. Please check with the homeowners’ association for your vacation rental or with your rental company for beach access questions.

The Town of Duck incorporated on May 1, 2002, and by that time all oceanfront property, excluding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility, had been platted as private property, the vast majority of which was developed as a part of an individual subdivision, typically governed by a homeowners’ association (HOA). These subdivisions, approved by Dare County prior to the Town’s incorporation, typically provide access for the owners of property within the subdivision, their renters and guests, to the public beaches in Duck through private access locations. Whether a separate parcel of property or an easement on a property and irrespective of whether or not the streets in these subdivisions are public or private, access to the beach in these subdivisions can legally be restricted if located on private property, which, as a result of the Town’s historic development, all of the beach access locations in Duck are located on private property with the exception of an easement at the end of Plover Drive. The Plover Drive Easement was identified in a 1970 deed, however Dare County never accepted this easement as a public access. The Town’s position has consistently been, and currently remains, that an easement exists but that it is neither a Town owned nor Town maintained beach access location and as such the Town does not monitor or enforce its use. The Town does; however, monitor and when necessary enforce parking in the cul-de-sac at the end of Plover Drive in response to complaints and public safety concerns.


Our beach employs a warning system — a large red flag flying indicates that the currents are strong and the water is unsafe for swimming. DO NOT GO IN THE WATER — YOU PUT YOURSELF AND LIFEGUARDS AT RISK! Local safety officials determine when such conditions exist and also make the decision as to when to take the flags down. Conditions may change during the course of the day — pay attention! Just because red flags are not posted does not mean the ocean is safe; there is always a risk when swimming or wading in open waters. If you are concerned about the conditions, check with a lifeguard at one of the designated lifeguard stands.


Strong rip currents can start very near the beach and carry you into deep water in seconds. They are caused by a slight depression in the beach between breaking waves. The returning water will head for the depression and soon become a dangerously strong seaward flow.

If you are caught in a rip, do NOT try and swim straight back to shore. Swim parallel to shore until you feel the current weaken or let the current take you out until it weakens. Then swim back to shore at a 45-degree angle.

Rip Current Sign

For additional information on rip current safety, please visit:

National Weather Service Rip Current Awareness

National Weather Service Local Forecast


The Town has installed markers at various points along our beach. These markers are designed to assist beach goers in determining where they are as they are enjoying our beach, giving directions, or during the event an an emergency.


The dunes offer our community the first line of defense against wave action. Please utilize the designated dune crossovers to access our beach. These are in place to preserve the dune system and the beaches. Dune walkovers can be fairly elaborate with benches, roofs, stairs, railings, and decking, while others are fairly simple with only decking or sand paths. Photographs of some dune walkovers within town.


Vehicles are NOT permitted on our beach between May 1 and September 30.
Vehicles are permitted during the other months of the year using designated PRIVATE vehicular access points. There are no PUBLIC access points for vehicles within the town.
Driving on the dunes is prohibited at all times!


The landing and launching of personal watercraft is prohibited on the town’s beach.



If you are interested in working for the Town’s Surf Rescue, Email Us or Download an Application for Employment and submit it to the Town of Duck at the address listed above