By Karen Ruffini
July 31, 2017

John Greim/LightRocket/Getty Images

Home to 300 miles of coastline, it’s no wonder millions of people flock to North Carolina each year for a taste of beachfront paradise.

While the beach options further south may get more attention (we’re looking at you, Florida), the sandy beaches of the Tarheel State have everything to satisfy every beachgoer's needs, whether that’s picture-perfect sunsets, activities for family fun, or a stretch of sand complete with iconic landmarks.

North Carolina’s charming coastline has it all.

Indian Beach

With only 92 permanent residents, Indian Beach is known for its upscale aesthetic.

Entering this town, you’ll see lush maritime forest surrounding the road that you drive along centered around Salter Path that give way to soft sand and Emerald green waters.

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It’s not just known for it’s beauty, though. Indian Beach proudly works in conjunction with the North Carolina Aquarium by running the Bogue Banks Sea Turtle Project, which is staffed by volunteers who study and protect the nesting population of sea turtles. Depending on what time of year you visit, baby turtles are scheduled to hatch — you can even to call and inquire about potentially seeing that sight for yourself.

Carolina Beach

For those who are craving more of a family-friendly beachfront, Carolina Beach checks off most must-haves on your list: a boardwalk fully loaded with carnival rides, endless stores and food vendors, and kid-friendly waters where you’ll find boogie boarders and body surfers.

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For the best view of the beach, take the kids on the ferris wheel and show them the beauty of the ocean from a unique perspective.

Shackleford Banks

Accessible only by boat, Shackleford Banks is an isolated barrier island between Beaufort Inlet and Cape Lookout. And, while there’s nine miles of shore and sand dunes you can enjoy, there’s nothing you will marvel at more than the wild horses that call this beach home.

The arrival of the horses are still a mystery, though it’s said that they may be descendants of Spanish Mustangs that survived a shipwreck hundreds of years ago.

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After you’ve had your share of photographing these stunning creatures, walk along the beach to go seashell-hunting, as Shackleford Banks is known for having some of the best shelling along North Carolina’s shores.

Hammocks Beach State Park

Of course you can spend your entire day enjoying this park that contains over 1,000 acres of beautiful land, but the beauty of Hammocks Beach State Park presents itself at twilight, where you’ll find that at dusk, the sky turns a majestic purple. If you do find yourself here during the daytime, you’ll be able to enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding and fishing.