How To Have The Best Pet Friendly Beach Vacation

Taking a family vacation to the Outer Banks means different things to different people. Some family vacations are huge events, with dozens of people spanning multiple generations and branches of the family tree. Some are smaller, more intimate affairs, with only a core group in attendance.

One thing that is remarkably consistent though is how many of us consider our pets – especially our dogs – to be bona fide, vacation-deserving members of the family. If you and your family fall into this category, keep reading here for some tips on how to make your beach vacation with pup the best one yet!

Before/During Your Trip

Even if your dog is a trip-taking pro, it’s always a good idea to run through a pre-vacation checklist to ensure that you don’t forget anything vital, especially if you’re travelling a long distance and/or heading into an environment that your fur baby may not be overly familiar with. Our tips for what to do before you even start heading our way will help make the trip with pup go much smoother.

Secure a pet-friendly vacation rental

Perhaps the MOST important thing that you can do to ensure you have an enjoyable beach trip with Doggo is to secure a pet-friendly beach vacation rental. Great Escapes offers several options for you to choose from. Be sure you understand the terms of your rental agreement, including your responsibilities for managing any pet damage.

NOTE: Pet damage is excluded from accidental damage coverage.

If you have any questions about our pet policies or pet-friendly properties, please do not hesitate to call us at (844) 458-0201 or shoot us an email at

Ensure pup has what she needs to travel

Much like humans, dogs will likely require some additional gear and documentation prep to ensure that their beach vacation goes smoothly. A basic checklist looks something like this:

  • Leash (max length – 10 ft.)
  • Collar with owner contact information and/or up-to-date microchip
  • Up-to-date vaccinations
  • Medications and/or special food
  • Flotation vest and/or paw pad covers

While your dog may have additional needs not addressed by this brief list, you should at a minimum make sure that you’ve thought through the considerations outlined above.

Transportation prep

If your canine companion is a travel expert, then this list item may be nothing more than a quick mental refresher. If, however, your animal pal is not accustomed to long trips using motorized vehicles, you may want to pay close attention to this one.

In the weeks leading up to your trip, start getting Fluffypaws used to longer and longer trips in the car. The closer you can replicate the general amount of anticipated travel time, the better. This type of training is especially important if the only places that your dog usually goes are the vet or the groomer. Conditioning her to riding for riding’s sake will pay off huge when the day to head toward OBX finally arrives. You’ll have a considerable calmer pet on your hands, which is a win for everyone.

You’ll also want to make sure that she’s used to whatever vehicle restraint system you’ve chosen for her to use. Teaching her to ride in the car is one thing, but strapping her in and/or kenneling her unexpectedly may have anxiety-producing consequences – for her and for you!

Finally, getting her used to riding will alert you to any potential car sickness issues that pup may have and will allow you to discuss management options with your family and your veterinarian.

Pro Tip: Visit a website such as to find dog-friendly parks and trails along your travel route. Making sure your pup has an opportunity to run off some excess energy will make the trip a lot easier!

While You’re In The Outer Banks

The beach is a place where Fido may encounter things he’s never seen before: sand, shells, crabs… the list may be extensive. He’ll be naturally curious about his new surroundings, which means that you’ll need to be prepared to help him safely manage his new surroundings.

Know the town ordinances

Most of the towns and villages that comprise the Outer Banks have their own sets of rules and regulations to control where, when, and how pets can join in beach living. Generally speaking, dogs are welcome in town so long as they are well-behaved, leashed (usually with a 10 ft. or less lead), and owners clean up after them.

As far as beach play goes, you’ll want to contact the town in which you are staying to ensure that you know exactly what the rules are for your area. Just to give you a basic idea of how different the rules can be, Corolla allows dogs on the beach all year long and there are even certain areas where animals can run off leash, while Southern Shores does not allow dogs on the beach at all between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. from May 15 through September 15.

Quick contact info

Corolla: (252) 232-3007

Duck: (252) 255-1234

Southern Shores: (252) 261-2394

Remember: failure to know the rules will not absolve you of the consequences if you accidentally break them, so please be proactive and make sure you and your pup don’t get fined!

Find and utilize pet-friendly parks and places

Once you’ve figured out how and where Waggles can go for his saltwater fix, you’re liable to be looking for other pet-friendly locations. One fabulous option is Historic Corolla Park. This 39-acre park features several of Corolla’s best attractions, and it is open to pets, so long as they remain leashed and under the owner’s control. You and your furry, leashed companion can also head over to the Town of Duck Park and Boardwalk and enjoy a comfortable stroll there as well. The Boardwalk even features a doggy water fountain!

When you’re ready for a snack, check out for nearby pet-friendly eateries.

Protect your pal from the heat

If your pet is the endlessly curious kind, then you’re probably very used to dealing with the challenges of introducing her to new people, places, and things. But while you’re on vacation, you may find yourself confronted with situations that you don’t generally deal with at home.

For example, let’s say you’re out for a drive, exploring all that the Outer Banks has to offer. You see a store that you really want to go check out, but you’ve got puppy along for the ride. What do you do?

Unless the store has a canine waiting area, complete with shade and fresh water, OR unless a member of your group is willing to wait in the car with pup and the AC running, your best bet is to take a rain check on the immediate retail therapy opportunity.

Dogs, especially those who are not as accustomed to coastal North Carolina’s intense heat and humidity, can quickly become overheated. While you’re vacationing in the OBX, you’ll want to make sure that your pup has plenty of fresh, clean water and ample opportunity to rest in a shaded area. Tender paws unused to hot sand and asphalt would benefit from paw protectors. A good rule of thumb is this: if it’s too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for theirs!

Just in case: In the unlikely event that you need emergency vet assistance, contact Outer Banks Veterinary Hospital in Kitty Hawk at (252) 715-1407.

After You Get Back Home

Getting back into the swing of things after an awesome OBX vacation can be tough for everyone, pets included! It’s vital to reestablish Rover’s routine as quickly and seamlessly as possible, especially for pups that may be prone to anxiety or those who tend to misbehave during chaotic moments.

That said…

Keep puppy’s sense of adventure active

Once you’ve had one successful beach vacation with your pet, planning and executing another one will be a breeze! If you intend to vacation again with your pet, it will be important to keep pup in an adventurous mood after you’ve returned home. Find dog parks and/or pet-friendly dining in your area, and make an effort to go to those places. The more exposure that your pet has to new environments, the easier it will be to take her along on your next beach adventure!

We hope this post helps you have the best pet-friendly beach vacation ever! We here at Great Escapes are happy to help you find the best OBX vacation rental that meets your entire family’s needs.