Vacation Concierge — Carolina Beach Comparisons

Yesterday we had a snow day off from school, ironically with no snow.  Thanks to lovely friends we had a fantastic day.  Not that we wouldn’t have rather been at the beach then peering out the window searching for snow.  

 IMG_6530 We do love a beach vacation.  About four years ago I realized it was the perfect vacation for our stage in life.  No keeping people quiet, no tearing people off their schedules, no trying to synchronize being at somewhere decent to eat at the same time everyone is ready to eat, ETC.  You are surrounded by such beauty, and everyone can do pretty much anything they want. (read, yes! play football yes! lay under an umbrella and rainbow loom, yes! Pretty much fun and relaxation for all.

I thought it would be fun to do an overview of beaches in the Carolinas and look at the pros and cons of each (are there cons at the beach? barely)

From the North, moving our way down.

DSC_1370Duck, NC (northern Outer Banks) 


  • The town is darling
  • Lots of things to that our family enjoys, other than just the beach: bike rides along the sound, crabbing on the public pier (all time favorite activity), shopping, eating at restaurants, nice playground
  • Light House near by you can climb (Currituk)
  • Wright Brothers not too far away
  • Not Crowded at all, ever (there is no public beach parking in the town)
  • Convenient Crabbing (two mentions because it is worth it)


  • Expensive
  • Water is colder — for the east coast
  • The sand is not as fine — perfectly acceptable to play in but not powder soft
  • The waves can be rougher



Click below to see more — see if you can detect our favorite

Salvo/Rodanthe/Hatteras, NC area (southern Outer Banks)


  • CHEAP least expensive place to find a house — amazing deals over spring break
  • Hatteras Light House
  • Can drive to take the ferry to Oakrcoke Island — very fun day trip
  • Not crowded


  • No “town”
  • No where to ride bikes
  • Pretty much nothing near by — you’ll need to drive a bit if you need to buy a shovel or tylenol

DSC01673.JPGCarolina Beach, NC


  • lots of condos you can rent, making it much less expensive
  • Near Wilmington which has very nice things to do (Battleship in particular)
  • VERY easy to get to (get on 40 East.  Stay on it until you can see the ocean)
  • Little town area with shops and places to eat
  • Bike and pedal cart rentals


  • VERY, VERY, crowded with day trippers.  Think people undressing on the sidewalk
  • I’m not sure where to put this (pro or con?), but there is a boardwalk.  Nice if you want a quick bite to eat while you’re there, but along with that comes the loud crowds


Top Sail, NC


  • Island is very narrow, so all homes are either beach front, or one house back
  • sand is nice
  • water is warmer than the Outer Banks
  • Hushpuppies – the greatest ones ever made, are made right here, and do take out.  Every. night.
  • there are a few restaurants and shops near by
  • Beach is very narrow, it is a few steps from the sand to the water (could be a con if you have a running baby with you)
  • good for boogie boarding — the tide isn’t very wide


  • Nowhere to bike
  • No public place to crab — and the private piers have fish that will eat your hand held bait — these things matter
  • no charming town, or much to do, you’re pretty much in your beach house, or on the beach (now that we have better sun protection strategies, I don’t mind this one bit.)


Myrtle Beach, SC


  • Sand is like powdered Sugar
  • warm longer — you can go in the shoulder months and have nice weather
  • there are lots of hotels so you can do shorter stays
  • LOTS to do such as mini golf, broadway on the boardwalk, tons of shopping, think carnival atmosphere-great for people who like to be out and about and lots of variety


  • Über crowded.  The beach is lined with high-rises
  • not many beach houses around
  • harder to ge there — no major road (no major consensus on the best way!)

IMG_6227Hilton Head, SC


  • as the ocean recedes, it leaves tide pools for kids to play in
  • The close in ocean is filled with sea life — in the tide pools we have found sand dollars, hermit crabs, horseshoe crabs, and sea stars.
  • Lots of accommodation options (the beaches of hilton head are organized into resorts like villages that have condos, homes and hotels)
  • Very charming town filled with lots of conveniences (anything you need is less than 7 minutes from where you are staying) Many, many places to eat, upscale to take out
  • Very warm shallow water.  You have to go waaaaaay out to get up to your chest.
  • Blue water, soft sand


  • pricier
  • water can be too warm in later summer (I’ve heard)
  • good deal of people, you won’t have the beach to yourself
  • not good for boogies boarding, it is pretty shallow for a long timeDSC_3880Can you tell which is my favorite, I’m curious!

3 thoughts on “Vacation Concierge — Carolina Beach Comparisons

  1. Lauren January 29, 2014 at 7:49 PM Reply

    This is a great review/comparison. We all like our beach experiences a little different so this is so helpful. Plus you are spot on with the timing of writing this – aren’t we all dreaming of beaches right now?! Come on warmer weather!! If I had to guess your fav is either Duck or Topsail. Text me the answer! 🙂

  2. Nellie February 2, 2014 at 10:28 PM Reply

    I’m guessing Topsail.

  3. […] lets get planning. As I mentioned in my beach round up, beach vacations are one of my very […]

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