Everything You Need to Know About Driving on the Beach on the Outer Banks

access the vacation guide, beach, waves, starfishWhen you plan a visit to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, expect to surround yourself with beautiful landscapes and dozens of exciting things to do. The Outer Banks is known for having more than 100 miles of gorgeous shoreline. With such many beaches, it’s no wonder people want to spend their vacation along the shore. During your stay, you can spend time sunbathing, participating in water activities, horseback riding, and even driving on the beach on the Outer Banks. Even in the winter, there are plenty of places to explore and experience.

As you begin planning your getaway to the Outer Banks, be sure to request your copy of our complimentary Vacation Guide. Packed with great information from locals, this handy travel planner will guide you toward the best activities. You’ll get recommendations on restaurants, bars, beaches, and more!

Get the Guide!

What to Expect When Driving on the Beach on the Outer Banks

What Does ORV Mean?

ORV is the abbreviation for off-road vehicle.

Do I Need a Permit to Drive on the Beach?

Yes. You must obtain a permit to drive your ORV on the beach in Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, or Hatteras Island.

Where Do I Get a Permit?

Cape Hatteras ORV Permits

ORV permits for Cape Hatteras are only available online, where you can obtain permits 24 hours a day. You must watch their short permitting video and fill out the application.

What do I Need to Get a Permit?

Here are the items required to get a permit:

  • $10-50 for short-term permits, $25-$120 for season/annual permits
  • A road-licensed & state-inspected vehicle
  • Four-wheel drive
  • Driver must have a valid driver’s license
  • Low-pressure tire gauge (you will lower your tire pressure to 20 psi)
  • Shovel
  • Jack
  • Jack support board


  • Tow strap
  • Air compressor for airing tires (you will need to reinflate your tires before driving on paved roads)
  • First aid kit
  • Full-sized spare tire
  • Trash bags
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Flashlight (for night driving)


When Are Beaches Open for ORVs?

With the proper permit, beach driving is allowed year-round on Hatteras Island. In Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills, ORVs are permitted (with a permit) from October 1st through April 30th.

Where Can I Drive on the Beach?

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore offers multiple access ramps. Click here to view updated ramps and a map.

Cape Hatteras Permit — https://www.recreation.gov/vehiclepermits/249978

Nags Head

Beach driving on the Outer Banks in Nags Head is only permitted for those who are residents or homeowners.

Kill Devil Hills

With multiple ramps onto the beach, Kill Devil Hills offers seasonal and temporary ORV permits. Permits can be obtained at the Kill Devil Hills Finance Department, the Stop N Shop, or online. Be sure to look through the entire information package for Beach Driving Permits.

Kill Devil Hills Permit — https://www.kdhnc.com/FormCenter/Finance-Department-13/20232024-Beach-Driving-Permit-Applicatio-64

What Else Do I Need to Know?

Please respect the regulations outlined, which include rules like allowing off-roading during specific times, dates, and beach areas. Do your research beforehand, and you’ll be well-prepared for a thrilling day of off-roading. Be courteous of other drivers, beachgoers, and wildlife. Observe all posted signs.

Is There Anywhere to Rent an ORV or Jeep?

Yes!! If you’re craving adventure but don’t have an ORV, or your vehicle isn’t suitable for off-roading, have no fear! You can rent cars designed for driving on the beach in the Outer Banks. Outer Banks Jeep Rentals is a reputable business where you can rent a tricked-out Jeep specially equipped to drive along the sandy shores.


Where Should I Stay on the Outer Banks?

outer banks vacation rental living room with yellow couches, rug, coffee table, kitchenAfter an adventurous day of driving on the beach on the Outer Banks, you’ll be exhausted and looking for the perfect place to rest. With Paramount Destinations, you’ll have everything you need in one of our beautiful rental properties, which have room for parties of any size. Each property is located near all the best attractions in the area, providing you with easy access to everything you’ll want to do during your trip. 

This property, Memories, is a gorgeous four-bedroom house that can accommodate up to 12 guests. Spend your evenings cooking a delicious dinner in the fully equipped modern kitchen, or gather around the living room for a game night together.

Browse the other properties in our catalog and book your stay today!