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Are Dogs Allowed on Wrightsville Beach? 2024 Guide

Written by: Greg Iacono

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog laying on wrightsville beach in Wilmington NC

Are Dogs Allowed on Wrightsville Beach? 2024 Guide

Going with your dog to the beach can be one of the most fun and rewarding activities for both of you. Watching your canine go a little crazy as they dig, run, and dodge waves will always bring you a lot of pleasure, which goes double for your dog!

If you live in the lovely town of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, or plan to visit the area sometime soon, you might wonder if dogs are allowed on Wrightsville Beach. There’s good news and bad to report on this front. Dogs are allowed on Wrightsville Beach, but there are several restrictions you must follow lest you get a hefty fine from the local police department.

For example, dogs aren’t allowed on Wrightsville Beach from April 1st through the end of September. Unfortunately, dogs must also be leashed while on the beach in Wrightsville Beach, even when it’s off-season. Read on for other beach-related activities you can enjoy with your dog in North Carolina!


Can Dogs Go on Wrightsville Beach at Night?

From October 1st through March 31st, you can bring your dog to Wrightsville Beach at any time of the day or night. During the rest of the year, you can’t bring dogs to Wrightsville Beach at all. From what online reviews say, law enforcement will give you a ticket if you don’t follow the rules1.

dog in the beach
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

Is Wrightsville Beach Considered a “Dog-Friendly” Beach?

Unfortunately, Wrightsville Beach has a reputation for not being a dog-friendly beach. For example, you can’t go on the beach with dogs during summer, even after 5:00 pm, which you can do at several other N.C. beaches. Furthermore, dogs can never be off-leash at Wrightsville Beach, which significantly reduces the amount of fun you can have.

It’s difficult to play frisbee with your dog on a leash, and swimming with them on a leash is not recommended due to safety risks. Lastly, the fine for a first offense, even if you’re the world’s most upstanding dog parent, is $250.00! That’s a lot of money for what typically amounts to a small, innocent mistake.

divider-dogWhich Beaches in and Around Wrightsville Beach Allow Dogs?

Wrightsville Beach can be a little confusing because it’s the name of the town and the name of one of the beaches in the town. Wrightsville Beach is near Wilmington, North Carolina, and several beaches are nearby.

1. Carolina Beach

1598 S Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach, NC, 28428

Rated five Bones by BringFido, Carolina Beach allows dogs during the same times of the year as Wrightsville Beach. However, they also allow dogs on the beach from April 1st through September 30th, as long as you go before 9:00 am and after 5:00 pm.

2. Kure Beach

601 Fort Fisher Blvd S, Kure Beach, NC, 28449

Like Wrightsville Beach, dogs are only allowed on Kure Beach from October 1st through March 31st. You can’t bring your dog any other time of year, even during off hours. You must always keep dogs on a leash, and their leashes can’t be more than 15 feet long. For these reasons, Kure Beach only gets three Bones on BringFido.

However, in Kure Beach, NC, you’ll also find Fort Fisher State Park, which has a beach and lets leashed dogs on the beach throughout the year! The Park gets a 4.5 Bones rating.

kure beach nc
Image Credit: refrina, Shutterstock

3. Topsail Island

402 N Shore Dr, Topsail Beach, NC, 28445

The highest-rated beach for dogs by far in the Wilmington, NC, area is Topsail Island. It’s one of only two beaches in the area that lets dogs run around without a leash, at least during the off-season.

Yes, from May 15th through September 30th, your pup will need to be leashed, but at any other time of year, they can run free as long as they’re well-trained and listen to voice commands well. The reviews on BringFido for Topsail Island reflect this no-leash option and celebrate it.

4. Topsail Beach Dog Beach

801 N Anderson Blvd, Topsail Beach, NC, 28445

Like Topsail Island, Topsail Beach Dog Beach will let your dogs run around without a leash during the off-season. Likewise, from May 15th through September 30th, you will need to leash your pup. One very important fact you should note is that from April 1st through September 30th, you can’t bring your dog into the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) Unit L07, whether leased or unleashed, but there are signs telling you where it is.

dog and a boy on the beach
Image Credit: James Humberstone, Pixabay


Which North Carolina Beach Is the Friendliest Toward Dogs?

North Carolina has at least 25 beaches along its 322+ miles of coastline, many of which are dog friendly. Which one is the friendliest toward canines? Most online reviews and dog-based websites give that honor to Caswell Beach, which is located at the southernmost tip of the state.

Dogs can go on Caswell Beach at any time all year on a leash, not just during the off-peak times. Even during peak season, you can unleash your dogs on Caswell Beach from dawn until 9:00 am. From the 1st of October until the 30th of April, your dog can be unleashed on Caswell Beach from 3:00 pm until it gets dark.

One last reason Caswell Beach gets such high marks is that it has few crowds, even during the summer. That means you and your canine companion can enjoy yourselves without too many interruptions, which is great if your pup is the shy type. Caswell Beach is located at 1100 Caswell Beach Rd, Oak Island, NC, 28465.

happy dog running at the beach
Image Credit: LyAn Voyages, Unsplash

Is the Carolina Beach Boardwalk Dog-Friendly?

Unfortunately, Carolina Beach Boardwalk is not friendly to canines, and you can’t walk the boardwalk with them, leashed or not. Even worse, from April 1st through October 30th, you’re not even allowed to walk your dog on a leash through the boardwalk’s business district.

Are Dogs Allowed to Go to the Outer Banks in North Carolina?

Off the coast of North Carolina sits the Outer Banks, also known more simply as OBX. The Outer Banks is a series of barrier islands stretching over 200 miles. Some of the towns you’ll find there are quite famous, including Nags Head, Hatteras, and Corolla.

Are they dog-friendly?  You’ll be glad to know that the answer is yes; many of the towns and beaches in the OBX are very friendly toward dogs, and most follow the same rules and guidelines as the other NC beaches we’ve seen today. There are a whopping 17 beaches to be enjoyed here. There are also hundreds of miles of trails to walk with your four-legged friend, giving you many hours of enjoyment, adventure, and fun.

woman running with dog
Image Credit: Khakimullin Aleksandr, Shutterstock

divider-pawTop 9 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Healthy and Safe at the Beach

No matter which North Carolina beach you decide to visit, there are several things you should do to prepare before you go so that you and your dog both have a great time.

  • Bring plenty of water. There are some dog watering stations, but only in some places.
  • Brink snacks for your pet. After running around and playing for hours, they will get hungry.
  • Be aware of any dangers lurking in the water, including boats, sharks, rays, and jellyfish.
  • Do your best to prevent your dog from drinking salt water out of the ocean. Saltwater can cause some serious health issues for your pup.
  • Find, or bring, some shade. If you have one, bring a tent or lean-to so your dog’s out of the sun when you take a break. Remember, your dog’s wearing a fur coat!
  • Be sure of your dog’s swimming abilities, and never take your eyes off of them as they swim.
  • Consider a life jacket for your dog, especially if they’re small and haven’t been to the beach often.
  • Be on the lookout for discarded fishing gear and hooks, dead fish, broken glass, and other hazards that might injure your dog.
  • After a day at the beach, rinse your dog with clean, fresh water.

divider-dog paw


During the summer season, dogs aren’t allowed on Wrightsville beach at all, starting on April 1st and ending on September 30th annually. The good news is that there are several beautiful beaches to choose from in North Carolina, and many allow your dogs to be unleashed, albeit controlled, during certain times of the year.

If you’re heading to the coast of North Carolina with your dog, or dogs, in tow, you’ll find plenty of options to hit the beach and have some sunny, sandy, and surfy fun. Have a wonderful time, and, as always, be sure to pick up after your pup!

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: ART SUBLIMINA PHOTOGRAPHY, Shutterstock

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