Outer Banks Beach Canopy Laws

 In Beach Smarts, OBX Community

OBX Beach Canopies

Quite a bit of gear is required for a day on the beach with family and friends. Often that includes tents and umbrellas to protect us from the hot sun while providing a home base for our group (and all their stuff). Sun and heat exposure can creep up dangerously quick, so adequate shade, no doubt, is essential to ensuring a good day on the beach.

But due to the mere number of these canopies being erected on the ocean beach – along with their size – many towns on the Outer Banks have taken steps to regulate tents and umbrellas so that someone’s shade doesn’t overshadow the experience of fellow beach goers, endanger wildlife, or most importantly, impede public safety.

The following is a rundown of laws in various municipalities that are aimed at helping everyone have not only a great day at the beach, but a safe one:

Nags Head Beach Canopy Laws

Nags Head beach laws limit the size and spacing of beach canopies in order to prevent the crowded “tent cities.” Canopies on the beach must be limited to an area of 12 by 12 feet and a height of nine feet. In addition, these beach tents must be spaced at a minimum of 10 feet apart.

Also about beach canopies, Nags Head ocean rescue employees have the authority to determine where tents or beach canopies are placed, or ask that they be moved, in order to ensure necessary lines of sight to the water as well as a sufficient pathway for first responder vehicles.

Finally, Nags Head beach equipment laws state that all equipment, including tents and canopies, from the beach between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. The town will remove all equipment left on the beach overnight. We at OBXBeachAccess recommend Leaving No Trace. EVERY beach visit.

Kill Devil Hills Beach Canopy Laws

Kill Devil Hills beach laws, prohibit beach equipment that is placed or erected in such a way that it prevents or disrupts the passage of emergency or rescue vehicles. Beachgoers are also prohibited from placing umbrellas, tents or canopies in a manner “as to obstruct the line of sight to the water from lifeguard stands or other KDH Ocean Rescue surveillance areas.”

The town of Kill Devil Hills will remove ANY and ALL beach equipment left unattended overnight. The ordinance also includes the any sunset to sunrise storage associated with any commercial business or rental company.

Kitty Hawk Beach Canopy Laws

The town of Kitty Hawk does not have any regulations regarding tents or umbrellas.

Southern Shores Beach Canopy Laws

The Southern Shores beach laws prohibit any unattended personal property on the beach between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. Such property will be immediately removed. In addition, it is illegal to place tents, canopies or umbrellas in a way that disrupts the passage of emergency vehicles or obstructs the line of sight of ocean rescue personnel.

Duck Beach Canopy Laws

The town of Duck was perhaps the first to implement regulations regarding tents and canopies in 2009. Unattended beach items in Duck must be removed at 7 p.m. Tent size is limited to 12 by 12 feet. Tents also aren’t allowed to be tied together.

Currituck Beach Canopy Laws

Currituck County also has Carova beach equipment laws, and Corolla beach equipment laws. Canopies, umbrellas, nets, poles, and grills cannot be left on the beach overnight. These items can obstruct traffic or pedestrian movement during the day. According to the county’s website, “Any tagged items left on the beach after sunset will then be removed in order to ensure the safety of our beach visitors.  Unattended items that have been removed will not be returned.”

Hatteras Island Beach Canopy Laws

Cape Hatteras National Seashore beach laws state it is prohibited to leave unattended property on the beach, such as chairs, toys, umbrellas, canopies, coolers, etc. between sunset and sunrise. According to a 2016 article that appeared in Hatteras Island’s Island Free Press, the National Park Service will tag beach gear left overnight and will remove the items when possible.

Unsure? Ask an Outer Banks lifeguard

Ask a lifeguard upon arriving on the beach if you are unsure of the beach tent and canopy regulations. You’ll save yourself some trouble from being told you have to move it.

For more detailed information regarding a town’s beach regulations related to beach canopies or other issues, please visit their websites or contact the municipalities directly.

Read details on how to stay safe at the beach.

Feature image above courtesy outsidepursuits.com

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Showing 2 comments
  • Barak

    I’m amazed that some aren’t worried that their unattended canopy won’t be stolen; but those canopies are pretty heavy so I can understand how the owners came to the conclusion of leaving it there overnight. That said, yes I have witnessed a canopy being swept into the ocean… fortunately, a mom and son were there to rescue it. And yes, an unattended canopy is a danger; I’ve also witnessed a canopy tumbling down the beach, just as easily as the wind carries away an umbrella. Be responsible and keep track of your beach gear, trash and any other junk you bring to the beach.

  • Diane Gage

    I am surprised there isn’t a pathway erected by 2 lines of small orange cones from the lifeguard chairs to the water to prohibit anyone from sitting there and blocking direct access to the water. I’ve seen these cones at other beaches and thought it was a great idea.

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