State of the Beach/State Reports/NC/Surfing Areas

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North Carolina Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access108
Water Quality67
Beach Erosion10-
Erosion Response-7
Beach Fill7-
Shoreline Structures5 8
Beach Ecology5-
Surfing Areas38
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}

Inventory and Perception of Status

Along southern North Carolina and the Cape Fear region, there are 21 surf spots, all in good condition. The relocation of Mason Inlet has impacted the break at Shell Island. North Carolina conducts frequent large beach fill projects, such as at Wrightsville Beach, which have the potential to modify surf breaks. There is also an access restriction to surfers at Wrightsville Beach from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the summer.

On the Outer Banks of North Carolina erosion is a constant battle, with areas of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and elsewhere facing large beach fill projects in the coming years. Chronic erosion in the "S-turns" area has resulted in temporary closures of NC-12. The NC Department of Transportation is evaluating long-term options for this area. Since beach fill projects at the Rodanthe breach area are not considered feasible, that leaves only the options of building a bridge in the existing right-of-way or one that loops over the Pamlico Sound and bypasses the area altogether, which would cut off direct access to the surf break. More info. Trash pollution is a common problem in this area, including tires and debris from oceangoing ships.

The local chapters of Surfrider Foundation report that while surfers in North Carolina do not often suffer the ocean pollution-related health problems that plague surfers in California and other states, there are serious problems with hog waste in rivers and estuaries. There are also many problems with coastal erosion.

Two fill projects have caused concern. In Pineknoll Shores on Bogue Bank sharp and fragmental shell hash cannot be walked on with bare feet. On Oak Island, south of Cape Fear, is the nation's first fill project carried out under the category of habitat restoration. Unbelievably, the US Army Corps of Engineers deposited muddy sand full of cobble-sized rocks, creating a beach too hard for turtles to excavate - a true disaster.

Recognition by State

According to staff at NCDCM, waves are recognized by the state as a valuable natural resource for recreation.

There is a large surfing community along the southern North Carolina coast and in the Cape Fear region, and the cities are very responsive to any potential concerns that affect the surfing areas.

Surfrider Foundation Chapters

Bogue Banks34° 41' 39.84" N, 77° 3' 33.12" W
Cape Fear Chapter34° 13' 32.61" N, 77° 56' 40.96" W
Charlotte Chapter35° 13' 36.84" N, 80° 50' 35.88" W
Outer Banks Chapter36° 1' 50.60" N, 75° 40' 33.64" W

<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>Bogue Banks<html></legend></html>

The Bogue Banks, North Carolina Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation covers the area from Bogue Inlet on the west to Beaufort Inlet on the east. We have a dedicated community of surfers and local businesses that can truly make a difference in teaching our youth to take care of our beaches and carrying forward our mission of keeping our beaches clean for years to come.

Here are some of our plans for pushing forward with this foundation; really making a difference in our community and hopefully encouraging others to do the same.

- Creating awareness and educating both our residents and tourists of the importance of protecting our beaches and that it is never ok to leave cigarette butts or trash behind (perhaps via bumper-stickers, etc.)

- Creating and posting signs that explain the penalties for littering as there are currently none on our beaches

- Properly labeling the unlabeled blue recycling receptacles on our beaches so that people are aware that they may recycle and to keep trash out of the recycling receptacles and in the trash cans

- Hosting periodic beach sweeps / cleanups

- Working to encourage the beach patrol to step up their efforts in fining littering beach goers

- Placing cigarette receptacles located on the pier

- Getting anti- littering message on electronic highway sign

- Putting up anti- littering banners on hwy 24/58 intersection

- Involving schools in our mission (educating our youth)

- Ban the bag (anti plastic bag campaign)

You can contact the Bogue Banks via email at


<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>Cape Fear Chapter<html></legend></html> Cape Fear Chapter Website

The Cape Fear Chapter is very active in protecting and enjoying North Carolina's ocean, waves and beaches through their programs, campaigns and educational activities. Learn more.


<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>Charlotte Chapter<html></legend></html> Charlotte Chapter Website

The Charlotte Chapter promotes the mission and values of the Surfrider Foundation to the Greater Charlotte area, by building a strong membership and chapter network. Additionally, providing educational awareness around the issues that are detrimental to our coasts and waterways and partnering with coastal chapters during campaigns.

Have a question, comment or feedback for our chapter? Send us an email and we will get back to you as soon as possible.


<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>Outer Banks Chapter<html></legend></html> Outer Banks Chapter Website

Current issues of concern for the Outer Banks Chapter include offshore oil drilling and beach fill projects.

No Offshore Drilling Off NC Coasts
The Outer Banks Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation is unequivocally opposed to any offshore oil or gas drilling along the North Carolina Coast, and any Coastal Environment within the United States of America. In our opinion, the search for non-renewable fossil fuels is a waste of capital, short sighted in scope and an open invitation for environmental catastrophe.

Dare County Beach-Fill Resolution
The Surfrider Foundation is working proactively to promote conservation and responsible coastal management that avoids the creation of coastal hazards or erosion problems. We believe that the construction of new structures (especially those located in relatively high erosion areas or "hot spots") close to a dynamic coastal environment should be avoided. Complex issues arise when naturally dynamic coastal processes encounter static human development and when humans interfere with marine and littoral systems. In areas where structures already exist, all alternatives to beach-fill projects should be carefully considered in a scientific manner. Landward retreat may be a cost effective, long term solution that should be fully considered. We believe that our elected officials should be stewards of our unique environment, as well as our economy, and that these policies may actually compliment each other. We believe that policy makers should adopt a sustainable long term solution that recognizes the effects of these decisions on the environment and future generations.

Check out the chapter's Facebook Page at

You can contact the Outer Banks Chapter via email at


Information Sources

The summary of surfing areas comes from Surfer Magazine's The Surf Report issues for the state. Surfrider Foundation chapters were surveyed to establish surfing conditions in the state.

Other sources of information on surfing in North Carolina include:

A substantial amount of data and information on coastal erosion, tides, currents, winds and waves in Duck, North Carolina and elsewhere along the North Carolina coast can be obtained from the Website of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility (FRF), an internationally recognized coastal observatory. Instruments at the facility constantly record the changing waves, winds, tides, and currents. Central to the facility is a 560m (1840 ft) long pier and specialized equipment like the CRAB, LARC, and SIS.

Beachgoers in Brunswick County now have up-to-the-hour data on surf conditions and rip tides, thanks to researchers who have installed offshore instruments that provide information on everything from how fast the water is flowing to which direction it's traveling and how warm it is. Information about conditions are available online at Cape Fear Community College students used the research vessel Martech to submerge the instruments off the Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island. They were the first in the county to monitor surf conditions. The $95,000 subsurface equipment sits about 800 feet off the pier and is connected to the pier by an underwater cable. A meteorological station also will be installed on the pier to measure wind speed and direction, air temperature and humidity.

A similar instrument installed by CORMP off Wrightsville Beach and a new weather station at Johnnie Mercers Pier are also up and running. Monitoring the water in Brunswick County will provide more accurate readings because those beaches face south rather than east as Wrightsville Beach does. Currently, the weather service relies on reports from emergency management and people on and around the beach.

State of the Beach Report: North Carolina
North Carolina Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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