Swim near a lifeguard

By on May 23, 2023

Lifeguard stand at Coquina Beach Access on Bodie Island. (CHNS file photo)

And beach safety tips from LOVE THE BEACH, RESPECT THE OCEAN

Dare County

Ocean Rescue staffing is at off season levels. Many beaches that had lifeguard stands are now unguarded or covered by a roving patrol. If help is needed, know your location and call 911!

As residents and visitors head to the 110 miles of shoreline along Dare County’s Outer Banks, Emergency Management officials urge beachgoers to beware of potential hazards and safety concerns they may encounter when they arrive on the county’s beaches.    To give beachgoers information on how to enjoy our beautiful ocean beaches safely, Dare County Emergency Management maintains a LOVE THE BEACH, RESPECT THE OCEAN website.  Please visit the site for rip current forecasts and more local tips on how to make your beach visit safe and memorable.


Lifeguard locations in Dare County


10 a.m. to 6 p.m., May 27, 2023 through September 4, 2023

Caffey’s Inlet
Sprigtail Drive
Barrier Island Station
Schooner Ridge Drive
Christopher Drive
Four Seasons Lane

10 a.m. to 6 p.m., June 17, 2023 through August 12, 2023

Ocean Pines,
Widgeon Drive,
Snow Geese,
Speckle Trout Drive,
Scarborough Lane,
and Plover Drive.



9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day

There are now five beach locations staffed with lifeguards this summer. The locations of the five lifeguard beaches are:

  • Coquina Beach Access (Bodie Island)
    • Located across from the Bodie Island Lighthouse
  • Rodanthe Beach Access (Hatteras Island)
    • 23731 N.C. Highway 12, Rodanthe (July 1 through Aug. 11)
  • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Beach Access (Hatteras Island)
    • Adjacent to the old Cape Hatteras Lighthouse site
  • Frisco Beach Access (Hatteras Island)
    • Located just south of Frisco Village
  • Ocracoke Beach Access (Ocracoke Island)
    • 5 miles south of the Ocracoke Campground



10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day (with a roving patrol through October 15)
Note posted Aug. 17: As the season is winding down and crew members return to school, our staff of lifeguards begins to decrease. For this reason, four 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞𝐠𝐮𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡, 3rd St., 𝐄𝐝𝐞𝐧 𝐒𝐭., 𝐂𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐃𝐫., 𝐁𝐚𝐮𝐦 𝐒𝐭., 𝐋𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐃𝐫., 𝐎𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐨𝐧 𝐀𝐯𝐞., 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐀𝐭𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐜 𝐒𝐭.
In addition, there are stands that will have a ‘No Lifeguard on Duty’ sign posted on them. These marked stands will vary due to staffing levels and populations at the given beach accesses. Roving patrols will continue along our beach. If you do not see a lifeguard present and have an emergency dial 911.

Helga Street
Hayman Boulevard
Avalon Drive
Fifth Street
Second Street
First Street
Asheville Drive
Woodmere Avenue
Carlow Avenue
Ocean Bay Boulevard
Clark Street
Martin Street
Neptune Drive
Eighth Street



10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day (plus a roving patrol)
Byrd Street
Eckner Street
Lillian Street
Kitty Hawk Bath House



10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day (with a roving patrol through October 15)

Albatross Street*
Abalone Street
Bonnett Street
Hollowell Street
Town Hall*
Enterprise Street
Epstein Street Bathhouse
Forrest Street
Gray Eagle Street*
Gulfstream Street
Hargrove Street
Ida Street*
Indigo Street
Juncos Street
Limulus Street*

Stands with a * will not be staffed from May 30 – June 18.



10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day

Hillcrest Drive
Chicahauk Trail

(plus a roving patrol through October 31)

10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mid-June through Mid-August

East Dogwood Trail
142 Ocean Boulevard


Please note, as staffing levels and conditions on the beach change, Outer Banks lifeguard stand locations may be shifted to roving patrol or closed.  Please heed words of caution, advisories and/or the flying of red (no swimming) flags. These are issued for your safety.



Beach Safety tips from Love the Beach Respect the Ocean

To give beachgoers information on how to enjoy our beautiful ocean beaches safely, Dare County Emergency Management maintains a LOVE THE BEACH, RESPECT THE OCEAN website, here are a few of the tips to “know before you go. ” Please visit the site for more local tips on how to make your beach visit safe and memorable.


Fill Beach Holes 

The Seashore recently launched a “Fill Beach Holes” campaign to educate visitors about the dangers associated with abandoning deep beach holes. Digging deep holes and abandoning them can cause serious harm to beachgoers, emergency response staff, and sea turtles.

Ocean rescue personnel and lifeguards must be able to drive on the sand day and night to quickly provide emergency services to those in need. Large holes in the sand can be difficult to see and are dangerous obstacles. Sand collapses can occur in holes just a few feet deep. Children and adults should not dig holes deeper than their knees when standing in them. If you do dig, fill it in.

Sea turtle laying and hatching season is May thru September. Holes in the sand are obstructions for female sea turtles laying nests on the beach at night and hatchlings heading out to sea roughly 60 days later.

Visitors should remember the following beach hole safety tips:

  • Avoid digging deep holes in the beach.
  • If you dig a hole in the beach, fill it in before leaving the beach.
  • Do not dig holes deeper than your knees when standing in them.
  • If you see an abandoned beach hole, consider filling it in.


Monitor the Weather

Weather forecasts can change rapidly. Check the forecast before you head to the beach. If thunder roars, head indoors. Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.


Stay Alert

Rip currents, encounters with marine life, submerged objects, sand bar drop-offs, and jellyfish are just a few of the hazards found in near shore waters. Stay alert to your surroundings and keep an eye on family and friends. Don’t let alcohol impair your common sense. When visiting the beach with children, adults should take turns as the designated “water watcher” and keep an eye on children in the water at all times, avoiding all distractions including smartphones.


Rip Currents

Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves. Watch this Video and to learn more about rip current safety visit www.lovethebeachrespecttheocean.com/beach-safety.


Outer Banks Accessible Beaches

Outer Banks Visitor Bureau



Beach Wheelchairs

Do you or someone you’re traveling with have mobility issues? Cape Hatteras National Seashore and ocean rescue divisions along the Outer Banks offer beach wheelchairs to assist with doing what we all love – getting outside and enjoying the beach!

Beach Wheelchair Locations

Duck: Call Duck Surf Rescue (252) 982-6747.

Kitty Hawk: Call Fire Department (252) 261-2666 for availability.

Kill Devil Hills: Call Ocean Rescue Headquarters at (252) 480-0080 for availability. Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue and the Town of KDH:   We have beach wheelchairs for loan (free of charge!) at the Ocean Bay bathhouse, as well as a completely handicap accessible beach access from the parking lot to the beach. Wheelchairs are available for daily or multiple day use as supplies last. Contact our Ocean Rescue Division at 252-480-0080 or stop by and chat at the Ocean Bay Boulevard beach access building, which is located at 103 S. Virginia Dare Trail at approximately the 8.5 milepost.

Jockey’s Ridge: State Park (252) 441-7132 or visit the park office for availability.

Nags Head: Call Fire Department (252) 441-5909 or Ocean Rescue (252) 480-2555 for availability. Beach Wheelchairs are available all year long by reservation at the Nags Head’s Fire Station 16. Wheelchairs can also be rented from local equipment rental companies. Call Nags Head Fire and Rescue at 252-441-5909 more information. Please remember we do not deliver these chairs, so you need to be able to transport it, a truck is recommended, they will not fit in a car or small SUV.



Coquina Beach: Call Cape Hatteras National Seashore at (252) 473-2111 for availability. From Memorial Day – Labor Day, available at the beach.

Hatteras: Call Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Information at (252) 995-4474 for availability.

Ocracoke: National Seashore/Ocracoke Visitor Center (252) 928-4531.

Southern Shores: The Town of Southern Shores Volunteer Fire Department has two specialty wheelchairs that work on the beach. They are free to rent for visitors and residents and the department will deliver to any location in Southern Shores. To rent a wheelchair, call 252.261.2272.

You may also inquire about beach wheelchairs at any visitor center if you’re traveling outside of the Memorial Day – Labor Day window. Please visit our website for other Accessibility options at https://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm


Know Your Location

In an emergency, every second counts. The Dare County Sheriff’s 911 Communications staff may not be able to immediately identify your location from a cell phone. Pay attention to what street you access the beach or sound from and what milepost you are located near. If you are unable to provide an address or location of the emergency, response times can be hindered in life or death situations.


Why Are Red Flags Flying?

If red flags are flying, swimming is prohibited. For your safety and the safety of ocean rescue staff. Although flags may be posted on sunny warm days with blue skies, it means the water conditions are not safe to swim in.

Check the NWS beach forecast before you head out at  BEACH FORECAST and click the umbrella for your beach.

For more information, visit Dare County Beach Hazards.


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