Summertime means spending time outside, under the sun, preferably on the water. It just doesn’t feel like we’ve officially kicked into summer gear until we’ve (sometimes less than enthusiastically) thrown on a bikini and made our way onto some body of water. And there’s nothing more frustrating than planning a day at the lake or on the beach only to arrive at a dirty, murky-watered locale. To save you from wasting any precious tanning rays, we’ve found the most beautiful, and beautifully populated watering holes for your summertime frolicking. Whether you’re planning on swimming laps to keep out of the heat and up with your bikini bod, or you’re just checking out the local talent, break out the sunscreen! You may have to put in a couple of hours driving from Charlotte, but the road trip will be well worth it…
Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington, NC
Right on Cape Fear near Wilmington, head over to Wrightsville Beach for a day of swimming and lounging. There are no hidden charges for parking or entrance, so you can tan to your heart’s desire! But if you plan on picnicking or spending the day, get there early—it’s sure to be crowded by midday. And allot enough time to get to the island beach from the mainland by drawbridge, after which you can scuba and explore the 200+ shipwrecks that populate the seafloor!
Kure Beach, NC
If you’re looking for the total package when it comes to beach experiences, head over to Kure Beach, especially if you’re passing through as a traveler. The beach town boasts cozy cafés and restaurants that make meals a pleasure along the coast. Both un-crowded and relaxing, Kure Beach is the perfect place to spend the day, whether you live nearby or you’re on a road trip. Best of all, it’s pup-friendly, so bring along your furry friends!
Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC
Just a whopping 72 miles of coastal waterfront along the Outer Banks, visit the strip of islands from Nags Head to Ocracoke Island. The area is perfect for swimming and bodysurfing without the fear of the strong and tumultuous currents that affect other areas of the Eastern seaboard. Plus, climb to the top of the nation’s tallest lighthouse for a killer view!
Emerald Isle, NC
Located in the southern Outer Banks, the Emeral Isle is among the impressive pedigree of North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. How can you not want to tan and swim on a Crystal Coast?! A popular destination for weddings, you don’t want to miss out on this geographical hotspot. Frolic, surf, swim, or dolphin-watch!
Bald Head Island, NC
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by work or school, take some time and head over to Bald Head Island. The ferry ride will be worth it upon arrival on the 12,000-acre island, scattered with beach houses and residences that set a peaceful scene. Separated from the many distractions of this day and age, hike through the forest, visit the Old Baldy Lighthouse, or explore the 14 miles of beach!