Our Beach

While Enjoying Duck’s Beaches, Be Safe, Be Courteous, Be Green; Keep it Beautiful and Clean.

Duck is nationally-recognized as one of the “Top 15 Family-Friendly Beaches in America.”

Click here for information on the Duck Beach Nourishment Project.

For a complete copy of the Town ordinance on beach safety, click here. Click here for a PDF version of the Beach Rules sign.

When visiting our beach, remember to be aware of the following:

  • All cautions and advisories issued by lifeguards are for your safety.
  • Unattended personal items, including tents, chairs, umbrellas, etc., should not be left on the beach between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. or they may be removed as litter.
  • Tents can only by 12′ x 12′ or smaller, must be placed 10′ apart or more, and cannot be tied together. This is for safety to allow lifeguards views and quick access to the water.
  • Attend to and refill all beach holes.
  • Place all beach items at least 15 feet away from the base of the dune to allow for emergency access.
  • Pets may play unleashed, but must be under the watchful eye of a guardian.
  • When red flags are flying, do not go into or swim in the ocean.
  • Dispose of all trash in proper receptacles, including pet waste.
  • See lifeguards for beach safety tips and rip current information.
  • Protect our dunes by not walking, digging, or climbing on them.
  • Utilize designated dune crossovers to access our beach, as they offer the first line of defense against wave action.
  • Report stranded sea life or sea turtle nests to the lifeguards.
  • Shipwrecks are part of our area’s history and should be reported, but not disturbed.
  • Fireworks, beach fires, and bonfires are prohibited.
  • Vehicles are not permitted on the beach between May 1 and September 30.
  • The use of personal motorized watercraft is prohibited.
  • Warnings or citations may be issued for non-compliance of these rules.
  • Remember, by working together we can keep our beach beautiful and safe.

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

From May 26 through September 4: Caffey’s Inlet, Sprigtail Drive, Barrier Island Stations, Schooner Ridge Drive, Christopher Drive, Four Seasons Lane.

From June 16 through August 12: Ocean Pines, Widgeon Drive, South Snow Geese, Speckle Trouth Drive, Scarborough Lane, Plover Drive.

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!

*Locations and dates are subject to change based upon beach and weather conditions.

The Town of Duck neither owns nor maintains any public beach access 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.

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.

Our beach utilizes 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.

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 beach. Dune walkovers can be fairly elaborate with benches, roofs, stairs, railings, and decking, while others are fairly simple with only decking or sand paths. For photographs of some of the dune walkovers within Town, click here.

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 motorized watercraft is prohibited on the Town’s ocean beach. Personal watercraft may be used in the Currituck Sound between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., and must be at least 900 feet from the shore. Visit the Personal Watercraft page for complete information.

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.

Beach Access FAQ’s

The Town of Duck was incorporated on May 1, 2002. By that date, all oceanfront property, excluding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility, had been platted as private property. The vast majority of private oceanfront properties were developed as individual subdivisions. Many of these subdivisions were set up by the subdivision developers to be governed by a homeowners’ association (HOA).

The recorded plats for many of these subdivisions depict access points for the owners of property within the subdivision, their renters and guests, to the public beaches in Duck. Neither the Town of Duck, nor Dare County before it, own or maintain any beach access points within the Town of Duck. Of the more than 60 subdivisions that are located in the Town of Duck, only a few do not have platted beach access points associated with the subdivision.

The Town does not provide oversight or guidance as to who has the right to use a beach access point in a particular subdivision. The Town does not monitor the use of beach access points in the Town.

If you are staying in a rental home, please ask your rental agent or property manager if the house has access to a beach access point and if so, its location. When purchasing a property in Duck, please work with your real estate broker and attorney to obtain beach access information and rules for your subdivision.

No. The Town does not have any authority to settle disputes between private parties over the use of beach access points in the Town. That is because the Town does not own, maintain, supervise or monitor any beach access points within the Town. Therefore, these disputes are civil matters and must ultimately be decided by the courts.

If a call is made to the police, the police must respond to investigate the complaint. As with many disputes in which tensions arise and tempers flare, police may be called to mediate or otherwise effect a peaceful resolution to the conflict. This may include the arrest of one or more parties involved as determined by the responding officer.

Beach nourishment in the Town of Duck is funded by a combination of the Dare County Beach Nourishment Fund (occupancy tax authorized for this purpose), the Town’s Municipal Service Districts (MSDs), and the Town’s General Fund revenues. Properties in Duck historically generate more occupancy tax revenue paid to Dare County than the Town receives back from the County as the Town’s share of occupancy taxes collected by the County. No ad valorem property taxes collected by Dare County are used to pay for beach nourishment in the Town of Duck.

The Town of Duck’s recent beach nourishment project cost was approximately $14,057,929. The recent project was funded through revenue derived from the Dare County Beach Nourishment Fund ($7,094,929), with the remaining $6,963,000 funded through 5-year special obligation bonds (SOBs). The sources of funds for the Town’s repayment of SOBs are MSD revenues, Town General Fund appropriation, and the Dare County Beach Nourishment Fund.

The Town of Duck’s annual repayment obligation for the 5-year SOBs is $1,221,390, with approximately $1 million derived from the Town MSD taxes, and the remainder derived from the Town’s General Fund.

Under State law, a portion of the 6 ) collected by Dare County is set aside by the County for the Beach Nourishment Fund. The occupancy tax is levied on gross receipts derived from the rental of rooms, lodging, campsite, or similar accommodation furnished by any hotel, motel, inn, tourist camp including private residence and cottages rented to visitors. The Beach Nourishment Fund must be used for the placement of sand, from other sand sources, the planting of vegetation, and the construction of structures that are in conformity with the North Carolina Coastal Area Management Act, such as sand fences and dunes, on beaches of the Atlantics Ocean of North Carolina for the purpose of widening the beach to benefit public recreational use and mitigating damage and erosion from storms to inland property.

The following is how the Occupancy Tax is distributed:
• 3 of net proceeds to Duck, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Manteo, Nags Head and Southern Shores in proportion to the amount of ad valorem taxes levied by each town for the preceding fiscal year and 32% to Dare County)
• 1% Room Occupancy and Tourism Development Tax (net proceeds to the Dare County Tourism Board)
• 2% Room Occupancy and Tourism Development Tax for Beach Nourishment