USA TODAY’s 10Best, Ocean Isle, Surf City


The 2024 10Best USA TODAY Reader’s Choice list of best beaches in North Carolina is here just in time for the summer months.

As always, beaches were chosen by an expert panel and voted on by readers. With two national seashores, seven coastal lighthouses and around 300 miles of barrier island beaches, this was no small feat.

Here’s a rundown on the 10Best Reader’s Choice winners, some fan-favorite attractions and more.

More: Asheville will close sections of Pack Square Park this summer. What about the splash pad?

Best beaches in NC

The full list of Reader’s Choice winners:

  1. Ocean Isle Beach
  2. Carolina Beach
  3. Kure Beach
  4. Wrightsville Beach
  5. Oak Island
  6. Holden Beach
  7. Atlantic Beach
  8. Kill Devil Hills
  9. Topsail Beach
  10. Surf City

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Ocean Isle Beach

10Best praised Ocean Isle Beach for soft, sandy shores and water ideal for swimming. The list suggested spotting marine life like dolphins and sea turtles and visiting the Museum of Coastal Carolina to learn about the area’s biological wonders.

Some of Tripadvisor’s top options for things to do in Ocean Isle Beach:

Carolina Beach

Praised as a perfect spot for a “laid-back and down-to-earth beach vacation,” Carolina Beach features a bustling boardwalk and plenty of different beach activities available including surfing, kayaking, fishing and more.

Some of Tripadvisor’s top options for things to do in Carolina Beach:

Kure Beach

10Best said that Kure Beach is small but beautiful, with impressive landscapes and excellent spaces for sunbathing and swimming. The town’s long-standing fishing pier was another of the list’s suggestions.

As for Tripadvisor’s suggestions, these are a few of the top options:

Wrightsville Beach

Just east of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach is an “idyllic escape” at the edge of New Hanover County. 10Best praised Wrightsville’s soft, sandy shoreline, plus a bonus for television fans: The destination was a prominent filming location for “Dawson’s Creek.”

Some of Tripadvisor’s options for things to do in Wrighstville Beach:

Oak Island

10Best appreciated Oak Island’s natural areas, full of native birds and mammals, and its lengthy 10-mile shoreline where visitors can relax on the sand and splash in the surf.

Some of Tripadvisor’s top options for things to do in Oak Island:

Holden Beach

With a lower population, Holden Beach is a good option for a more relaxed seaside getaway. The 10Best list said that golf, shell hunting and watching sea turtles hatch are some of the best options for summer month acticities.

Some of Tripadvisor’s choices for the area:

Atlantic Beach

10Best praised Atlantic Beach’s Atlantic Ocean views and Bogue Sound, plus the Atlantic Beach Town Park and its 18-hole mini-golf course.

Tripadvisor suggests:

Kill Devil Hills

Famous for its role as the location where the Wright Brothers first took flight, Kill Devil Hills is a place that can be enjoyed by history buffs and sunbathers alike.

Some of Tripadvisor’s top suggestions for Kill Devil Hills:

Topsail Beach

Blackbeard and other famous pirates are said to have frequented Topsail Beach and surrounding areas. These days, visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, sunbathing and more without an impending threat of pirates.

A few suggestions from Tripadvisor include:

Surf City

Last but not least, Surf City received praise on this 10Best list for its picturesque beauty and many restaurants lining the shore. USA TODAY also suggested a visit to the Topsail Touch Tank Aquarium.

Some of Tripadvisor’s suggestions for top attractions in Surf City included:

Closest best NC beach to Asheville

Of the 10 on 10Best’s list, the highest-rated beach, Ocean Isle, was the closest to Asheville. Still quite a drive from the mountains to the sea – roughly 331 miles – but certainly worth the trip for a weekend by the ocean.

Iris Seaton is the trending news reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach her at

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