The Cheapest Beach In North Carolina For Budget Travelers

North Carolina boasts 300 miles of gorgeous coastline, but beach trips can put a dent in your wallet. If you’re looking to soak up the sun and sand on a budget, fret not – there are affordable beach options in the Tar Heel State.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Holden Beach offers barefoot-friendly shorelines and beachfront campgrounds at budget-friendly rates.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll highlight the cheapest beach options in North Carolina for budget travelers. You’ll discover beach towns with free public access points, campgrounds near the shoreline, and expert tips for enjoying an affordable beach trip from costs to lodging.

Why are some North Carolina beaches cheaper than others?

When it comes to planning a beach vacation in North Carolina, budget travelers often look for the cheapest options available. But why are some North Carolina beaches cheaper than others? There are several factors that contribute to the affordability of certain beaches in the state.

Location and amenities

The location of a beach plays a significant role in its affordability. Beaches that are further away from major cities or tourist hotspots tend to be cheaper because they are less crowded and have fewer amenities.

These remote beaches may not offer luxurious resorts or fancy restaurants, but they provide a peaceful and natural environment for visitors to enjoy.

On the other hand, beaches located near popular tourist destinations or commercial areas tend to be more expensive. These beaches often have a wide range of amenities such as beachfront hotels, restaurants, and shops, which contribute to the higher cost of visiting.

Public vs private beaches

Another factor that affects the cost of visiting a beach in North Carolina is whether it is a public or private beach. Public beaches are generally cheaper or even free to access, as they are maintained by the local government and funded through taxes.

These beaches may have basic facilities like restrooms and parking lots, but they may lack certain amenities like beach chairs or umbrellas.

Private beaches, on the other hand, are owned by individuals or organizations and require a fee for access. These beaches often provide more amenities and services such as chair rentals, lifeguards, and beachfront bars.

However, the added cost of these amenities can make private beaches more expensive for budget travelers.

Season and peak crowds

The time of year you choose to visit a North Carolina beach can greatly impact its affordability. During the peak summer season, beaches tend to be more crowded and prices for accommodations, restaurants, and activities may be higher.

If you are looking for a budget-friendly beach experience, consider visiting during the off-peak season when prices are generally lower and crowds are smaller.

It’s also worth noting that some beaches offer special discounts or promotions during certain times of the year, so it’s always a good idea to do some research and plan your trip accordingly. Booking in advance and being flexible with your travel dates can help you find the best deals and save money.

The cheapest beaches in North Carolina

North Carolina boasts some of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast, and luckily for budget travelers, there are several affordable options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or an adventure-filled vacation, these beaches offer a great value for your money.

Holden Beach

Holden Beach, located in Brunswick County, is a hidden gem that offers a quiet and serene atmosphere. With its pristine shoreline and charming beach town feel, it’s no wonder why Holden Beach is a favorite among budget travelers.

Accommodation options range from cozy beach cottages to affordable hotels, making it an ideal destination for those on a tight budget. Plus, the beach is free to access, so you can spend your days sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying the natural beauty of the area without spending a fortune.

Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach, situated near Wilmington, is another budget-friendly option that offers plenty of fun activities for travelers of all ages. The beach itself stretches for miles, providing ample space for sunbathing and beach games.

In addition, Carolina Beach State Park offers hiking trails, picnic areas, and even a marina for boating enthusiasts. The town of Carolina Beach also hosts free concerts and events throughout the summer, making it a lively and affordable destination for budget travelers.

Kure Beach

Kure Beach, located just south of Carolina Beach, is a small and laid-back beach town that offers a peaceful retreat for budget travelers. The beach is known for its clean and uncrowded shoreline, perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of busier beaches.

Visitors can also explore the nearby Fort Fisher State Historic Site, which offers a glimpse into the area’s rich history. With its affordable accommodations and relaxed atmosphere, Kure Beach is a fantastic option for budget-conscious travelers.

Budget-friendly beach towns

If you’re looking for even more budget-friendly options, there are several beach towns in North Carolina that offer affordable accommodations and a laid-back atmosphere. Topsail Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Emerald Isle are just a few examples of beach towns that cater to budget travelers.

These towns offer a range of affordable accommodations, including vacation rentals and budget-friendly hotels. Additionally, they provide access to beautiful beaches, charming shops, and delicious seafood restaurants, all without breaking the bank.

When planning your next beach vacation in North Carolina, consider these affordable options. Whether you choose Holden Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, or one of the many other budget-friendly beach towns, you’re sure to have a memorable and affordable getaway.

Tips for enjoying an affordable beach trip in North Carolina

Find free public beach access

When planning an affordable beach trip to North Carolina, one of the first things to consider is finding free public beach access. Fortunately, North Carolina offers numerous public beach access points along its coastline.

These access points provide visitors with the opportunity to enjoy the sun, sand, and surf without having to pay for expensive beachfront accommodations. Some popular free public beach access areas include Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach, and Kure Beach.

By taking advantage of these free access points, budget travelers can save money while still enjoying the beautiful beaches North Carolina has to offer.

Stay at beach campgrounds

Another way to enjoy an affordable beach trip in North Carolina is to stay at beach campgrounds. These campgrounds offer a budget-friendly alternative to traditional hotels and resorts. Not only do they provide affordable accommodations, but they also offer a unique camping experience right by the beach.

Some popular beach campgrounds in North Carolina include Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Hammocks Beach State Park. Camping at these locations allows travelers to immerse themselves in nature and enjoy the beach at a fraction of the cost of a hotel stay.

Pack food and beverages

One of the biggest expenses during a beach trip is dining out. To save money, budget travelers should consider packing their own food and beverages. This can be as simple as making sandwiches and bringing along snacks and drinks.

By doing so, travelers can avoid the high prices of restaurants and beachside cafes. Additionally, having a picnic on the beach can be a fun and memorable experience. Don’t forget to pack a cooler with ice to keep your drinks and perishable items fresh throughout the day.

Visit at off-peak times

Visiting the beach during off-peak times can significantly reduce costs. During the peak summer season, prices for accommodations and activities tend to be higher. However, by planning a trip during the shoulder season or even in the winter months, travelers can often find great deals on accommodations and enjoy a less crowded beach experience.

Be sure to check the local tourism board or hotel websites for any off-peak promotions or discounts that may be available.

Get around on foot or bike

Exploring the beach area on foot or by bike is not only a great way to save money but also a fantastic way to enjoy the natural beauty of North Carolina. Many beach towns in North Carolina are pedestrian and bike-friendly, with designated paths and trails.

By avoiding the use of a car, travelers can save on parking fees and gas expenses. Additionally, walking or biking allows visitors to discover hidden gems and experience the local culture up close.


You don’t need to break the bank to enjoy the picturesque shorelines of North Carolina. With insider tips on beach towns, free access points and budget digs, you can soak up stunning views without draining your wallet.

Pack wisely, travel in the off-season and explore lesser-known beaches to keep costs low for your next sunny escape.

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