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What makes a great OBX beach? Best sand/water combination?

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What makes a great OBX beach? Best sand/water combination?

First time OBX planner here and I've been trying to read and research as much as possible.

My trip is being planned for June 2015 for several families, including kids under the age of 4.

Bottom line, is there a difference in the actual beaches amongst the OBX towns?

I've read some beaches have quick dropoffs, ie kids can't go very far in the water.

I've read some beaches have softer sand.

I've read some beaches have calmer waters and some have rougher waters.

Are these real differences?

I want to base my choice of towns on which beach (sand/water) combination is the best for our families, including young children.

Any advice, personal favorites, or good descriptions of the different types of actual beaches would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance for your time responding.

Brookneal, Virginia
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1. Re: What makes a great OBX beach? Best sand/water combination?

On the OBX most of the beaches are about the same in my experience, so no big differences.

The conditions on the beach are relative to recent storms regarding drop offs, sand bars, etc.

How rough the water is depends on recent storm activity too.

It's like playing roulette- you don't know what you are going to get.

One thing you can do- avoid areas where there is a lot of beach erosion, the beach tends to be steeper there, water is very close to the houses, waves break on shore istead of out on a sand bar.

Sometimes all you have to do is walk down the beach a little to find a better spot.

If you want consistently calmer waters, warmer water, you need to head south of the OBX to South Carolina - GA- Florida.

The Labrador current can make the OBX water chilly even in mid summer.

Sand softness?

Above the high tide water line it's softer, down in the breakers it's really shell-ey and rough in some places.

Wear water shoes if your feet are tender.

Have a great vacation~ :)

Chapel Hill, North...
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7,734 posts
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2. Re: What makes a great OBX beach? Best sand/water combination?

Actually, the southern NC beaches have calmer, warmer waters and softer sand than the OBX. No need to go to South Carolina.

You might like to check out the Brunswick County, NC beaches.

Edited: 22 July 2014, 20:31
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109 posts
30 reviews
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3. Re: What makes a great OBX beach? Best sand/water combination?

I agree, no need to go to SC, or FL! We've been going to OBX for years. Couple times we went further south to Atlantic Beach, Topsail or Holden Beach. Water was calmer, beach longer & (as I remember) at least Topsail had more of the 'old time' beach town feel. Can't remember what the sand was like & as another poster said, all those thing can vary in the course of a week, let alone almost a year. It's been several years since we've been down that way so my memory is a little cloudy but I can tell you if it wasn't for the added 2 hours, I'd go back there more often. At least check out that area, I think you'll be surprised. Happy planning & hope you have a great trip.

Kitty Hawk, North...
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for Outer Banks
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4. Re: What makes a great OBX beach? Best sand/water combination?

Be careful about what you read from people visiting here, they mean well but really they see the world from their eyes and sometimes that is a very small window. The OBX is about 100 miles long from Corolla to Hatteras. If a visitor stays in Avon and makes a report it might not be the same in Nags Head or Corolla, but you might think it is the same for everywhere here, it's not. Beaches and drop offs change with the winds and tides. Some beaches are different, some wider most of the time and some narrower much of the time, so there are differences between areas. To say an area always has a drop off and another area never does is just incorrect. They report what they see that day, not what is there the other 98% of the time because they are not here to see it.

Columbia, Maryland
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5. Re: What makes a great OBX beach? Best sand/water combination?

If you go a little further south to Emerald Isle the water will be warmer in June than the OBX and the price of rental houses cheaper. The rest of the beach conditions still apply. It can be rough, it can be like a lake. The sand can be soft and fine, the sand can be coarse and shelly. THere can be a gradual slope, there can be a dropoff. It can vary from day to day and depends on the tides and how the weather is affecting the ocean.

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6. Re: What makes a great OBX beach? Best sand/water combination?

Thanks for the replies.

Good to know that the beaches change and I've learned we can't expect certain conditions.

What exactly is a wider and/or a narrower beach?

Are some OBX beaches known as either wide or narrow?

Are some OBX beaches known as having bigger dropoffs vs gradual slopes?

Are some OBX beaches known as being calmer vs rougher?

7. Re: What makes a great OBX beach? Best sand/water combination?

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