The 200-mile string of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks span most of the North Carolina coastline and feel like the south’s hidden gem. Outer Banks camping looks as dreamy as it sounds, with soft sand campsites tucked amongst dunes and coastal shrubs, just a short walk from an endless horizon where the Atlantic Ocean kisses the shore.

While mainland campgrounds can be crowded and chaotic, camping on the Outer Banks is one of the best ways to find peace and isolation on the North Carolina coast.

6 Camper Favorite Outer Banks Camping Spots

Snowbirds and summer vacationers alike can appreciate the Outer Banks for its mild winter temperatures and countless activities available on the Tar Heel State’s coast year-round. Campers on The Dyrt have shared their favorite Outer Banks camping sites, read on to find yours.

1. Ocracoke Island Campground

a tent in the sand at an Outer Banks camping site

Image from The Dyrt camper Alexis H.

Separated from the beach by barrier dunes, Ocracoke Island Campground gives campers access to one of the most stunning—and remote—stretches of beach in North Carolina, being accessible only by ferry or aircraft. The campground has 136 reservable sites and is open March 30 through the end of November, and offers flush toilets, drinking water and cold showers to campers. Ferry reservations may be required during the peak summer season. The quaint town of Ocracoke is just down the road, where before vacationers took up residence the infamous pirate Blackbeard used to live.

“My favorite memory of this place is falling asleep in my tent listening to the surf break. Nothing like it. Still miss it. It’s been 20+ years since then. Time to go back!” —The Dyrt camper Benjamin K.

2. Oregon Inlet Campground

Settled just behind a bank of dunes that separate the campground from the ocean, Oregon Inlet Campground is a great place to experience the expansive beauty of the Atlantic coast and Cape Hatteras National Seashore. For young children or those that want calmer waters, there’s a sound just to the west of the campground accessible from the public boat launch. The popular town of Nags Head is less than a 20 minute drive away.

This great Outer Banks camping spot features 120 reservable sites, 23 of which have hookups and is opened seasonally from the end of March until the end of November. The campground has modern restrooms, potable water and heated outdoor showers.

“I camped here on the first night of my Outer Banks trip and it was a great place to stay. Just over the dunes from the beach, hot water in the showers, and close enough to Nags Head to check out some great seafood restaurants.” —The Dyrt camper Alexis H.

3. Ocean Waves Campground

Great for RV campers and anyone who loves amenities, Ocean Waves Campground is a small and privately-owned campground on Hatteras Island featuring 68 full-hookup RV and tent sites near the beach. Amenities include ocean access, a swimming pool, free WiFi, a game room, and a camp store as well as hot showers and flush toilets.

If you’re looking for a camping spot central to Hatteras Island, this campground is situated well for those looking to explore all that the area has to offer. Spend a day climbing the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest in the United States, or observe the wildlife at nearby Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

“Ocean Waves is smaller than most of the other campgrounds on the Island, but they are not small on service! They offer everything the bigger campgrounds offer, but at about half the nightly fee.” —The Dyrt camper Cliff M.

4. Cape Lookout National Seashore

a lighthouse near grassy sand dunes in north carolina's cape lookout national seashore

Image from The Dyrt camper Trey H.

Considered the southernmost point of the Outer Banks, Cape Lookout National Seashore takes primitive Outer Banks camping to a whole new level. There are no regulated campsites at the park, just find a place to set up camp and pitch your tent—make sure to avoid the sand dunes, of course. Permits are not required unless you are camping with a group of 25 or more. Campsites must be at least 100 feet from wells, shade shelters, and other structures.

In the summer months water is usually available, but it is best not to rely on that as your primary source. Restrooms and public shower facilities are also open seasonally but, depending on where you set up camp, you may have to drive to access them. Camping at Cape Lookout National Seashore will take you back to the basics in the best possible way. Spend your time sunbathing, swimming in the ocean, crabbing, or building sandcastles on shore.

“It’s a short ferry ride from Harker’s Island. Prettiest water I’ve seen in NC, can be compared to the Caribbean!” —The Dyrt camper Trey H.

5. Cape Point Campground

The largest Outer Banks camping option on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Point Campground sits between rolling sand dunes and North Carolina’s largest remaining tract of maritime forest. It’s just a short walk through the dunes to reach the nearby beach, a popular surfing destination. The iconic Cape Hatteras lighthouse is located just a short walk or bike ride from the campground.

Cape Point Campground has 202 reservable campsites, with three rows of the campground reserved for tent campers only and the rest are mixed-use for RV and tent campers. A note for RVers, there are no RV hookups of any kind. Potable water, outdoor shower facilities, and restrooms are available at the campground which is open seasonly from the end of March through the end of November.

“If you like national seashores, camping, and surfing then this beautiful gem is for you! Mosquitos might be a problem! Deet is a solution. Climb the lighthouses!! Showers are not hot!” —The Dyrt camper Megan B.

6. Frisco Campground

Frisco Campground offers a different perspective on Outer Banks camping—literally. The elevated sand dunes that make up this campground give campers a stunning view of the ocean from their tent. Dense vegetation provides a sense of privacy and even some shade at campsites as well, a feature hard to find in many Outer Banks camping sites. Mosquitos can be a problem in the warmer months, so pack that bug spray along with your sunscreen.

Frisco Campground has 127 campsites, a number of which are reservable, with no hookups. The campground is open from the end of March through the end of November and has flush toilets, potable water, and unheated outdoor showers.

“Sites along the back side of the perimeter loop have a view of the ocean while sites on the front side of the perimeter loop are closer to the boardwalks leading to the beaches. Sites are on the larger side for the most part and many have some sense of privacy.” —The Dyrt camper Melissa W.

Kim Dinan

Kim Dinan

Kim Dinan is an author and adventurer. Endlessly curious about the world, she has backpacked to over twenty-five countries on five continents and has called India, Mexico and numerous campgrounds around the USA home. Her love of the outdoors landed her a coveted job on Backpacker Magazine’s Get Out More Tour and has compelled her to climb mountains in the Himalayas, raft frigid rivers in Patagonia, and walk five hundred and fifty miles across Spain on her own. She lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her family.