Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beach Driving

Many of our readers will have already heard that, beginning February 15 of this year, the National Park Service will be requiring a special permit to drive on the beach in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, including on Ocracoke Island. The regulation is described as an attempt to balance environmental concerns with recreational access to the beaches. Some details have yet to be worked out, but the latest information is available here (click on "The Final Rule").

If you plan on driving on the beach please become familiar with the regulation and the details in order to avoid problems.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Joe Bell flowers. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous7:53 AM

    With a permit now needed to drive on the beach and the new ferry increases. Is Ocracoke doomed?

  2. Anonymous8:19 AM

    with the lack of a daily permit... I will have to think twice about the effort it takes to get to Ocracoke only to hang around the village.

  3. Anonymous10:48 AM

    As much as my family and I have enjoyed Ocracoke village, the people of Ocracoke, and the beautiful beach; we will not be vacationing there this year due to the permit needed to drive on the beach. I haven’t followed this regulation enough to make a comment on the right or wrong of it. I can only hope that the small businesses of Ocracoke do not suffer from the repercussions of this regulation.

  4. debbie s.10:49 AM

    While I strongly oppose this new ruling (as well as some other recent ones, sigh....) there are many things to do on ocracoke even if you cant drive on the beach. Park at the beach access and haul your stuff down and have fun in the sun- take a charter boat fishing, go parasailing, explore springers point and look for blackbeard, go clamming or looking for oysters, surf, etc. its a great place and I'll be going as long as there is a bed for me to lay in and some yummy food to eat :)

    See you in June, Philip :)

  5. debbie s.10:50 AM

    and you can drive on the beach, with a permit. if its that important to you, you will budget it in.

    again, i strongly disagree with this new rule, but it is something we will have to live with until (hopefully?) we get it changed (not holding my breath, but hope springs eternal)

  6. Not visit wonderful Ocracoke because of a silly government regulation: ridiculous!
    We just need to know where we take the little class and how to acquire the needed permit.

    We'll be there in June if not sooner!

  7. Debbie Leonard11:16 AM

    I actually don't have a problem with it at all. I have driven on the beach but I don't consider it a necessary part of my vacation.

    For those people who really want to do it, especially for fishing, etc. getting a permit shouldn't be such a problem. You have to have a permit to fish anyway.

    I think that it will keep more irresponsible people from driving on the beach.

  8. The permit is just a minor detail and shouldn't hurt Ocracoke in any way. Less vehicles on the beach sounds like a good idea to me.

  9. Anonymous4:44 PM

    And next year you will need a permit to WALK on the beach.

  10. Anonymous5:27 PM

    This is going to hurt Ocracoke when people find out about this they are going to think twice before coming!

  11. Anonymous2:55 AM

    How many cars get stuck in the sand each year and need help getting unstuck? How many cars have ever needed assistance when the tide rolled in "unexpectedly"

  12. Anonymous4:55 PM

    For crying out loud. Get out of your vehicle and WALK on the beach. I hate vehicle tracks on the beach and always go to the beach (on Ocracoke or otherwise) that is least likely to have them.

    I am very thankful for this new regulation. It should have been done long ago. If it keeps lazy folks from coming to Ocracoke & Hatteras, so be it.

  13. Anonymous2:57 AM

    Many National Parks also have a Daily Fee for using them....Hopefully those money hungry bastards won't apply that rule to the Ocracoke Beaches too.

  14. Anonymous9:48 AM

    With the talk of paying for the ferry system to and from Ocracoke and with the $50 7 day pass for driving on the beach, I am starting to dislike NC state government. I have vacationed on OBX and Ocracoke for the last 8 years. I will be spending my vacations at another seashore and not in NC. Sorry Ocracoke businesses.

    And for you folks that state get out of your vehicles and walk the beach, tell that to all of fishermen that make up the majority of people on the beaches in vehicles, who giving their $$ to the businesses around those area.

  15. Anonymous9:57 AM

    I can see a dramatic decrease in fishermen who vacation along Cape Hatteras/Ocracoke areas. Not only do they need to purchase a fishing licenses but pay a $50 permit fee to drive to on the beach as well. Who helps the small businesses income during off-seasons? It is the fishermen who fish all season in OBX and most of them cast from the beach areas.

  16. Anonymous8:36 AM

    This is very disappointing.

    Every year for the last decade plus we have spent two weeks on Ocracoke and the previous five years on Hatteras. We drove on the beach a 2-3 times each visit and drove on some of the access trails now considered "OHV", to put our kayaks in the sound 6-7 times per visit. I can live without driving on the beach, but now to enjoy kayaking certain areas of the sound I essentially have to pay $100?

    I would much rather have a daily use pass for the days that we use it ($50/week = $7.14, call it $7.25). If it rains or is very windy we won't kayak, so potentially $50 wasted.

    We have already booked our house for this season, but this is likely the last time. This has pushed us over the edge. We love the island but like many folks (I would guess) can't take the increased costs of everything (rental properties, gas for the drive down and now this).

  17. Anonymous7:38 AM

    I am conflicted about this decision. While it may keep ppl off the beaches, thus the crowds down, I think that the reason for doing it "preservation" is a crock. Every year for the past 10 + years there have been certain sections of the beach closed off for turtle nests and just go and park somewhere else. No biggie, I go down there for 2 weeks each year, one being the week of the 4th of July with is undoubtably the busiest week of the Summer. Sure, the beach when free, may have been a bit more crowded, but there was plenty of room. I have been going to Ocracoke for 30+ years. In my younger years before SUV's were common, we would park and walk to the "people" beach. It was quite a long walk and carrying anything other than and towel, beach bag and chair was nearly impossible...not to mention the fast sprint on the scorching hot sand from the end of the boardwalk to the water. We have been driving on the beach for over 20 years now and it has made for a much more enjoyable vacation since we can bring coolers, tents and such and make a full day out of it. So before you comment on getting off my lazy butt and try walking.....I already have. Its much easier to drive. I worry that the tourist industry on Ocracoke may suffer with this bill, but I glad if it keeps some of the daytrippers off the island.

  18. Anonymous5:25 PM

    Im conflicted as well. I enjoy walking on the beach with no traffic. Its beautiful and when the beach is full of cars its like a costco parking lot. Who wants to take a picture of that? Also with all the traffic it becomes a bit dangerous to play any kind of beach game with the family. I mean soccer, football, i dont want my kids chasing after a ball into oncoming traffic. And how many people speed, drive recklessly, and destroy sand dunes?

    With that being said one of the main reasons i love Ocracoke is that they have an area to drive on and an area that was off limits. This was the perfect set up. People had options. Im not against a fee and i agree with the poster above who suggested the 7 dollar daily fee. A weekly fee is ridiculous. I dont even stay in OBX for a week!

    The business will survive as much as theyve been surving for the past 20 years, barely. They really wont be affected. OBX has some of the best fishing, beaches and waves in the world and that will bring in plenty of people. If anything obx has gotten overpopulated and is starting to become a tourist trap. I wouldnt mind seeing a few less put put courses.

  19. It's so easy to get the permit, I wouldn't even think about letting that small detail stop me from visiting my beloved Ocracoke!

  20. Anonymous8:44 PM

    Its not stopping me! Ive got Ocracoke fishing FEVER!!!