When Are Dogs Allowed on the Wilmington Area Beaches?

Dogs on Beach

We often get asked what the rules are for dogs on the Wilmington area beaches; so, we’ve compiled a breakdown of leash laws at our area beaches:

Updated: May 2022

New Hanover County

 

Wrightsville Beach

NO Dogs April 1st through September 30th. Dogs are allowed October 1st through the end of March, provided they are on a leash. Owners MUST pick up all dog waste and dispose of it in available trash cans. Pets should not be left in any vehicles.

Carolina Beach

From April 1st through September 30th, leashed dogs are allowed on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. From October 1st through the end of March, leashed dogs are allowed on the beach at all hours. Dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk or in the boardwalk business district. There is a $250 fine for breaking these rules.

Carolina Beach State Park

If you would rather take your dog to the state park, the beach and campsites allow leashed dogs year-round.

Freeman Park

Dogs are allowed all year.  April 1st through September 30th, all dogs must be on a leash. October 1st through the end of March, dogs can be off their leash as long as they respond to voice commands and the owner is within reasonable distance. Owners must carry 2 plastic or paper waste containers that can be shown upon request. All dog waste MUST be removed by the owner.

Kure Beach

NO Dogs are allowed from April 1st through September 30th. From October 1st through the end of March, dogs can be on the beach provided they are on a leash that’s no longer than 15 ft. All dog waste must be disposed of in an appropriate container.

Fort Fisher

Dogs are allowed all year, as long as they are leashed. Like other area beaches, all dog waste MUST be removed by the owner.

Golden Retriever Running on Beach - Image byAnjaGh from Pixabay

Golden Retriever Running on Beach – Image by AnjaGh from Pixabay

Pender County

 

Topsail Beach

Dogs are allowed all year, and all dog waste must be removed by the owner. From May 15th through September 30th, all dogs must be on a leash. From October 1st through the end of March, dogs can be off their leash as long as they respond to voice commands and the owner is within reasonable distance. There is one exception: dogs on Lea-Hutaff Island (Coastal Barrier Resources System Unit 107 per the United States Fish and Wildlife Service) must be on a leash April 1st through September 30th.

Surf City

Dogs are allowed on the beach year-round, but they must be leashed and owners are required to dispose of all waste in a timely manner.

Dog Lying in Sand Looking at Water

Dog Lying in Sand Looking at Water – Image by Catherine Thibeault from Pixabay

Onslow County

 

North Topsail Beach

Dogs are allowed all year, but they must be on a leash no longer than 25 feet. All dog waste MUST be disposed of in the proper receptacle. The fine for failure to do either is $100.

Onslow Beach Recreation Area

Onslow Beach is close to Camp Lejeune and only accessible by persons with a valid military or DoD ID card and visitors they sponsor. Dogs at Onslow Beach must be on a leash 10 feet long or shorter, and pet owners must use the access at Pet Beach south of Sand Dollar Shores Pavilion.

Leashed Dog on Beach

Leashed Dog on Beach – Image by E2OMedia from Pixabay

Brunswick County

 

Bald Head Island

Dogs are allowed on the island year-round. From October 15th through March 15th, dogs are allowed off their leash. Owners must dispose of all waste.

Holden Beach

Dogs are not allowed on Holden Beach from May 20th through September 10th, except between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. Dogs must be on a leash at all times and cleaned up after.

Oak Island (Caswell Beach, Yaupon Beach, and Long Beach)

Dogs are welcome year-round. From October 15th through March 15th, dogs are allowed off their leash, as long as they are not bothering other beach visitors. Owners are required to dispose of all waste.

Ocean Isle Beach

NO dogs are allowed on the beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day between the hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. All dogs must be leashed and the owner is responsible for cleaning up pet waste.

Sunset Beach

NO dogs are allowed on the beach starting the Friday before Memorial Day to Labor Day between the hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. All dogs on the beach must be leashed and under control of the handler (owner or not). Owners must carry in plain view bags for disposing of waste. Failure to clean up in a timely manner will result in a $100 fine.

Be forewarned that enforcement officers do not have to give you any warning before levying fines. If you’re caught breaking the rules on dogs, there are no excuses. Pet waste takes over 4 weeks to degrade, and can make people and other animals sick. Also, this is a pet friendly community. If you leave your animal in a hot car, chances are you won’t have a car window when you return.

We hope you and your furry friends have a blast!

Interested in off-leash areas for letting your dog run and play? Check out Wilmington Area Dog Parks.

Dog Leash Laws for Wilmington Area Beaches

Dog Leash Laws for Wilmington Area Beaches

About the Author
Meghan is the Marketing Specialist for The Cameron Team and a published author of two young adult books. She also creates digital and printable planners and trackers, as well as coloring pages for Larkspur & Tea.