The beaches of Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks are some of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches in the entire United States, offering great views of wildlife, surf, and weather. Hiking along the beach never fails to provide unique experiences and discoveries, but have you ever considered driving on the beach for a new perspective? It's fun! And Hatteras Island is one of the few remaining stretches of beaches where driving is allowed. Driving on the beach takes a little planning and preparation, so here's a short 5-step primer to help you out.
5 Tips & Tricks to Driving on the Beach in Hatteras
2. Get your beach driving permit.
You'll need a permit from the National Park Service to drive on the beach. There are two types of permits that you can purchase:
The permits can be purchased online or in-person at any one of the three area National Park Service Visitor Centers: Bodie Island Visitor Center and Lighthouse; Hatteras Island Visitor Center and Lighthouse; Ocracoke Island Visitor Center. In addition to your permit, you'll also need a Hatteras Beach driving map to learn where the various access points are - pick one up at the visitor center if you buy your permit in-person or print one ahead of time!
3. Plan your route carefully.
4. Deflate your tires just before entering the beach.
After you reach the beach ramp where you want to begin your adventure, pull over and deflate your tires to ~20 PSI. Why? Because your tires will become wider and flatter, giving you better traction in soft sand. OK, you're now ready to go for a drive on one of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S. Take your time and enjoy the experience - go find a secluded spot for a picnic or for fishing, hiking or just hanging out and enjoying the scenery. But remember: you're sharing the beach, so drive cautiously, use good common sense, and steer clear of other vehicles, people, and/or especially wildlife. Watch out for protected bird and turtle nesting areas too!
5. Re-inflate your tires and rinse off sand and salt.
When your drive is finished and you leave the beach, drive carefully to the nearest gas station and re-inflate your tires to their recommended pressure - the safety and control of your vehicle are dependent upon properly-inflated tires. And while you're at the gas station, take a moment to wash off the traces of sand and salt from your vehicle.
Following this guide will help to start enjoying the beach today. We hope you find this primer for driving on the beach helpful! If you have additional questions, the National Park Service's FAQs can help or you can contact them by phone at (252) 475-9054.
Drive safe, have fun, and go make some memories!