beach bonfires

Get Fired Up

Outer Banks beach bonfires are allowed, with regulations, on beaches in Nags Head and along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. They are NEVER allowed in Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk or Kill Devil Hills.

Hatteras Island

Beach fire permits are required on Hatteras Island starting May 1, 2012.

Beach Fire Permits are FREE.

To get your Beach Fire Permit:

Things You Need to Know:

  • From May 1 to November 15, to protect nesting sea turtles, beach fires are allowed only on the ocean beaches at: Coquina Beach, the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras and the Ocracoke Day Use Area.
  • From November 16 – April 30, beach fires are allowed on throughout the park.
  • Fires are allowed from 6 am to 10 pm.
  • The Beach Fire Permit is valid only when a responsible adult (18 years of age or older) is present
  • Fires, no greater than 3 feet in diameter, may be ignited and maintained seaward of the ocean dune, below the high tide mark and at least 50 feet from any vegetation
  • Fires cannot be left unattended and must be completely extinguished (cold to touch) upon termination of use
  • Clean area of all trash before leaving the beach and remember the “pack in/pack out” practice of leaving national seashore beaches in a clean and safe condition for the next visitor.

If you have trouble downloading or printing the Beach Fire Permit you can get a permit in person by visiting any seashore ORV permit office, campground, or visitor center.

ORV Permit Offices are located at:

  • Bodie Island at the north end of the Coquina Beachparking lot (8101 NC 12 Highway, Nags Head, NC)
  • Hatteras Island by the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Center (46368 Lighthouse Road, Buxton, NC)
  • Ocracoke Island by the NPS visitor Center (40 Irvin Garrish Highway, Ocracoke, NC)

Seashore Campgrounds include the Oregon Inlet Campground, Cape Point Campground, Frisco Campground, and Ocracoke Campground.

Seashore Visitor Centers include: the Bodie Island Visitor Center, Hatteras Island Visitor Center, and Ocracoke Island Visitor Center.

Nags Head

Updated as of April 2016

Beach pit fires are allowed in Nags Head with a permit from the Town’s Fire and Rescue Department. They are issued between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. daily based on current wind speed and fire danger conditions and are valid until midnight on the day they are issued.

Winds must not exceed 11.5 mph for permits to be issued and other conditions may be considered. The wind speed is obtained from weather conditions available on the Jennette’s Pier website.

To access to the Online Beach Pit Fire Permitting System, go to Nags Head Fire and Rescue or the Town’s website.

The system monitors weather and the time of day. If winds are favorable after 5 p.m. daily, the system will allow access to the permitting forms.

Upon completion of the form, which includes the Nags Head location of beach pit fire, and successful payment of $10 permit fee plus a $1 credit card convenience fee, an electronic permit will be issued.

You can also purchase permits from either Nags Head FD stations:

Station 16
5314 S Croatan Highway, Mile Post 14.5
252.441.5909

Station 21
8806 S Old Oregon Inlet Road, Mile Post 18
252.441.2910

Tips for Beach Bonfires
  • Flashlights – Make sure you bring the flashlights along. Not only do they come in handy for those first few minutes of starting the fire, but family members can also explore the beach at night, and always be within sight of the fire.
  • Firewood – Always bring more than you think you’ll need. Bring ample kindling and starter scraps in case a fire’s having a hard time igniting. It’s always easier to bring extra than to have to run out for more.
  • Pick the Right Night – Aim for certain days and locales. A full moon on the Outer Banks is absolutely stunning, with an extra glow over the ocean. A completely clear night is also a fantastic time to go and is a perfect time for stargazing. Lighthouse lovers may want to find a spot in Avon or Buxton, where the distant light of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse can be seen in the distance.
  • Weather – While a fire is perfect to take the chill off of cool night, be careful during exceptionally dry and windy conditions.
  • Bioluminescence – If walk away from the fire, down along the beach, dip your toes in the wet sand and look for the shimmering, almost green glowing tracks. These actually a small sea organisms called the dinoflagellate, which are only visible on warm nights and during dark beach conditions.
  • Check with Park Service – When obtaining your permit, be sure and check with the National Park Service (NPS) or local fire station to confirm that a bonfire is permitted on the evening in question. On occasion, the NPS or town puts a temporary ban on beach bonfires during periods of extensive drought or wind.
  • Before You Leave – Never leave the fire unattended, and it must be completely extinguished before you leave.