Don’t Be That Person

Are you wondering if you can leave a few items on the beach and return to the same spot the next day? – Don’t do it!

Outer Banks communities have now started cracking down on beachgoers who set up tents, umbrellas, chairs and other beach equipment and leaving items on the beach overnight or for their entire vacation. Some visitors leave them in an attempt to stake a claim on a piece of the beach; others simply purchase inexpensive canopies and chairs while they’re here and leave them, essentially as trash, once their vacation is over.

Thankfully many towns are now prohibiting leaving personal property on the beach overnight. Depending on the town, your property may be tagged with a warning or simply removed as trash. And there are no provisions for recovery of your property.

leaving items on the beach

Don’t leave items like this on the beaches overnight. It’s unsightly and unsafe. Take everything you bring to the beach with you each night. Photo courtesy Cindy Calvin


leaving items on the beach

Some towns are tagging equipment this year as a warning. Other towns are simply collecting abandoned items as trash.

Near Frisco Pier, this same pile was left for days. Photo courtesy Linda Scott
This is not only unsightly, it is a hazard for wildlife, emergency personnel and nighttime beachgoers. Photo courtesy Ellen Dutkowsky

A beach that is littered with equipment may hinder first responders during emergency rescue operations, and is extremely dangerous during windy conditions when items can blow into other beachgoers, homes, or into the water.

PLUS, it’s just bad beach etiquette. When beach-lovers arrive for a moonlit walk or to photograph a scenic sunrise, the last thing they want to do is navigate around rows of tents and chairs.

Also, wildlife depends on access to the dunes or the water’s edge, and your belongings limit their nocturnal patterns.

Hopefully educating vacationers will help curb this ongoing problem. No one wants to see a ban on beach equipment, as has happened in other beach communities.

leaving items on beach

Signs like these are now showing up at many beach accesses. Some towns will tag items as a warning, others will remove them as trash.

Please, keep our beaches beautiful.
Don’t litter on the Outer Banks.

Remove everything you bring – each day – that includes:
Game equipment
Tent frames

All towns on the Outer Banks  – including Corolla, Southern Shores, Duck, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head – are enforcing this policy. Below is the notice from the Town of Nags Head:


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Showing 14 comments
  • Linda Scott

    I don’t think a lot of people realize , or care, that their cottage rentals do not include the property in front of the cottage-they also have no knowledge of tides, wind changes, etc- once their belongings are in the ocean it will be trash for someone else to pick up and deal with and can be a danger to the coastal life – setting a really bad example for the upcoming generation of how to care for the coast and be respectful of other vacationers and residents

  • andy

    Incredible. How about a nice $250 fine as a teaching moment.

  • Andie

    And let’s not forget the lovely people we were blessed with being beach rental neighbors that let their dog poop and pee in front of our beach house, not theirs and didn’t pick it up ……we had 8 children with us that we’re walking there all week ,totally rude and uncalled for !!!!!!,

  • Jan

    A canopy that was left on the beach while the owner went back to their house for lunch got lifted by the wind and nearly took down my two-year old granddaughter who was walking towards the water. Scared her terribly, as it did all the adults with her. It’s a real danger when canopies and tents are left on the beach.

  • Susan Hannon

    How about banning those businesses like Beachmasters that come set up a tent, bar, chairs, cornhole taking up a city block of beach? They set up early in the morning, and they do take down at the end of day. But if the family leaves the beach at lunch and doesn’t return- there it sits all day. Saw this happen over 2 weeks, 2 different renters in Duck this summer. Beachmasters also dinged and scratched up our neighborhood walkway /beach access.

  • Martha

    If it’s there after say 8pm it is free for the taking. I wonder the shock they receive if they then call the police to report the theft and are told it’s illegal to leave things overnight.

  • Randy

    Why does this not apply to Beach Masters? I see them all the time early in the morning.

    • 3dog

      We are not affiliated with Beachmasters in any way, however according to their website they set up before 9am and tear down every evening after 5pm. As long as they are not leaving items on the beach overnight, they are complying with town policies.

  • lou choates

    What happens after things are tagged?

    • 3dog

      Some towns are using the tags as a warning and giving beachgoers a chance to remove it. If they still see tagged items there for a prolonged time, the town will remove them. Other towns are simply removing items as trash. However, the hope is that beachgoers will be responsible and remove all of their items when they leave and not just leave their items as trash for others to clean up.

  • amy

    I have seen a lot more of this in Nags Head this summer but not the tags. I have also been on the beach before 8 am and after 6 and have seen items from Beach Masters up and wondered why that company got special privileges.

  • Luanne Wiechert

    My husband actually showed this site to our beach neighbors who said they were not aware of the ordinance. However, they still left up their canopy, along with 9 chairs, boogie boards, and inner tubes. Point is, if you have an ordinance, it needs to be enforced, or at the very least, tag the offenders.

  • David

    Oh Lighten up Frances

  • jeesejames

    do ya live here David? if you don’t , then don’t tell us to lighten up…

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