As the Outer Banks community prepares to re-open to visitors on Saturday, May 16th (entry FAQs here), we want to share a few important safety tips and reminders with you. This includes not only how to be safe when spending time near the ocean, but also guidelines for ensuring your summer trip is still safe during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, while the grounds at all three of your OBX national parks are accessible, not all facilities have re-opened. Click here for the latest updates on reopening from your parks.

Ocean Safety

A perfect day on the beach doesn’t always mean that it’s a perfect day in the ocean:

  • Check the beach forecast before visiting the beach. Remember: If in doubt, don’t go out. To sign up for text alerts on beach conditions, text ‘Join OBXBeachConditions’ to 30890.
  • Always enter the ocean with something that floats, such as a boogie/body board, innertube or life vest.
  • If you find yourself caught in a rip current, remember: Float, don’t fight.
  • Be aware that the ocean presents additional hazards, such as shorebreak, high surf, and longshore currents.
  • Avoid swimming in rough seas, inlets, around fishing piers and surfers, at night or during thunderstorms. It is unlawful to enter the ocean if red “No Swimming” flags are posted on the beach.
  • Never swim alone, no matter your age, and have adult supervision for all children. Swimming in the ocean is physically taxing and may make underlying medical issues worse, especially in swimmers over 50 years of age.
  • Avoid wearing shiny objects that may attract sharks and other fish.

We also highly recommend that you only swim in lifeguarded areas. At Cape Hatteras National Seashore, these include:

  • Coquina Beach
  • Lighthouse Beach (Buxton)
  • Frisco Beach
  • Ocracoke Beaches

The lifeguarded beaches will be open beginning May 23rd. Learn more about ocean safety at


Social Distancing at the Beach

We are excited to welcome you back to the Outer Banks! A friendly reminder, the current pandemic doesn’t take a vacation just because you do.

Remember, the same basic guidelines apply here as you have at home:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Social distance when you can (6ft. apart!)
  • Wear a cloth face mask when out and about or when social distancing is difficult

Click here for the most up to date OBX community guidelines pertaining to COVID-19.