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The Best Time to Visit the Outer Banks in 2023

The Best Time to Visit the Outer Banks in 2023

Are you thinking about taking a trip to the Outer Banks soon? Doing the necessary research before you pack your bags will ensure you know the upcoming weather, the lowest prices, and the least crowded places to visit in the area.

There’s so many things to love about the Outer Banks, and when you know the best time to visit North Carolina, you’ll have the opportunity to check everything off your bucket list.

Everybody has goals when it comes to an upcoming vacation. So we’ll show you the best time to visit the Outer Banks to suit your needs, whether it’s the most affordable flights and rooms, the least crowded beaches, or warm temperatures.

We’re also here to give you traveler tips and things to consider about the Outer Banks to make your trip perfect. So let us be your guide to all things Outer Banks!

Why You Should Visit the Outer Banks

A gorgeous and serene sand dune viewed from a walkway with wooden dune barriers overlooking the ocean while the sun sets during the best time to go to the Outer Banks


You’ll find the Outer Banks in North Carolina, which is a significant tourist destination. The Outer Bank lines most of the North Carolina coastline.

It is a 200-mile string of barrier islands that separate the Currituck Sound, Albemarle Sound, and Pamlico Sound from the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re looking for the perfect warm weather, endless activities, and uninterrupted relaxation, the Outer Banks is your destination.

Many people want to sit on the beach for their entire vacation, while others want to venture around the area and enjoy the activities that the Outer Banks have to offer. There are also multiple world-class piers for individuals that enjoy fishing.

If you love surfing, the Outer Banks has the best waves on the East Coast. If you like thrills and adventures, you can go hang gliding, kiteboarding, and do other activities.

Another excellent reason to visit the Outer Banks is the abundance of lighthouses in the area. You can climb different lighthouses, while others are part of the Outer Banks rich history and are picturesque destinations.

Overall Best Time to Visit the Outer Banks

Serene coastline in the Outer Banks during the best time to visit with hardly anyone on the beach, as seen from an aerial POV

Kyle J Little/Shutterstock

If you’re trying to plan the ideal trip to the Outer Banks with the most options for outdoor activities and prime beach time, the best time to visit the is between September and October.

Going to the beach in the fall might sound crazy. However, North Carolina weather stays warmer longer than most states on the East Coast. The temperature remains warm enough to enjoy the ocean during the day while cooling down at night.

The most popular activities to do in the Outer Banks revolve around the outdoors, especially the beach. Whether sunbathing, visiting locally-owned restaurants, or journeying through Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the Outer Banks is sure not to disappoint in the fall.

If you’re interested in wildlife, here are a few animals you’ll most likely see during the fall:

  • Canada Goose
  • Sandpipers
  • Great Blue Heron

The Outer Banks has multiple historical sites that visitors can see on their trip. So, after relaxing on the beach, try out some of these historical museums and sites in the area, including:

As you can see, there are many activities to do in the Outer Banks during the fall.

Cheapest Time to Visit the Outer Banks

A couple beachfront homes with an amazing view of the ocean as seen in the background of a photo with wild grass growing out from the sides of a beach walkway

David Louis Econopouly/Shutterstock

If you’re interested in going on a budget-friendly vacation, you’ll want to go during the off-season. Typically the cheapest times to visit the Outer Banks are during September, then again in April and May.

In September, kids are going back to school, so the crowds will disappear by then. Visitors take advantage of the lessening crowds and the warm enough weather to spend time at the beach.

In addition, many people fish on the pier, visit the parks, take lessons, and golf in the area. If your trip goes into October, many Halloween activities will start at the beginning of the month.

Springtime is another cheap time to visit the Outer Banks. The weather is starting to become warm again, and the attractions are beginning to open after winter. Between April and May, the prices remain low from the winter.

So you’ll be able to find the best flights and hotel prices during this time. Also, the beach rentals are low enough because they’re starting to open again after the winter.

Least Busy Time to Visit the Outer Banks

Misty scene around the lighthouse in Shallowbag Bay in downtown Manteo during the least busy time to visit the Outer Banks


The Outer Banks quietest months are between November and March. Some people hate sitting on a crowded beach. It ruins the relaxing atmosphere, which could be your least favorite part of a vacation.

So, planning your trip during the least busy times of the year is best. The off-season is the least busy time to visit because it’s when no one can tan or swim in the ocean.

The off-season is when you see the fewest tours and visitors due to the cold weather. Also, between November and March, then there’s the possibility that it might snow.

It’s uncommon to snow in North Carolina, but flurries can happen from time to time. If the summer isn’t your favorite time of year and you want to relax on your trip, you might want to consider visiting the Outer Banks during these quiet months.

However, you’ll find more locals around during this time. While this time of year is the least busy, it’s also the time of year when you can’t appreciate the beaches as you would when the weather is warmer.

Worst Time to Visit the Outer Banks

Photo of a crowded beach in the Outer Banks, taken during the summer, the worst time to visit with lots of people and umbrellas and chairs scattered about

Rodanthe North Carolina – July 17 2022: View of people and vacation homes on the beach as seen from the Rodanthe Pier in the Outer Banks/Kyle J Little/Shutterstock

Generally, the worst time (though not necessarily a bad time) to go to the Outer Banks is during the summer. Typically, the worst time to visit is between May and August. 

While this may be considered the worst time to visit, it’s also the busiest and most popular time that tourists and North Carolina residents arrive. June marks the beginning of North Carolina’s hurricane season, usually lasting until the end of October.

This is the time when rainfall picks up, while coastal rainfall passes quickly in North Carolina. Summer in North Carolina has consistently hot temperatures in the 80s and 90s.

These high temperatures can be uncomfortable if you plan to spend time outdoors. Also, you may be susceptible to sunburn with more hours of sunlight and a high UV index during the summer.

Getting a sunburn might ruin your trip, so remember to put on sunscreen every hour. Summer is the peak season for visiting the Outer banks.

As a result, tourists can expect higher prices, higher temperatures, and larger crowds during their vacation. With the larger crowds, you should note that travel causes delays and traffic in the area. Also, you’ll find long wait times at restaurants and attractions.

Things to Consider

An amazingly gorgeous photo of a lighthouse on a pier during the best time to visit the Outer Banks


Now that you know the best time to visit the Outer Banks for your upcoming vacation, you may be wondering how to make your vacation to the Outer Banks special.

Here are a few things to consider to help you plan your trip like a seasoned traveler:

Harsh Summer Temperatures

Summers in the Outer Banks rank as some of the highest temperatures in North Carolina. On average, the summer months range from the high 80s to the low 90s. Since you’re close to the ocean, you can expect cool ocean breezes to keep you cool during the day.

Holiday and Annual Events

Traveling during a holiday leads to higher prices. So if you’re looking to enjoy a less crowded, more affordable trip you might want to plan your visit outside the busy holidays.

If you’re planning your trip between August and October, you might want to avoid Labor Day weekend and Columbus Day weekend. Also, if school isn’t in session for your kids, you will run into bigger crowds during your getaway.

Always Search for Discounts

Many hotels, airlines, and attractions offer various discounts to different membership groups, even if you’re traveling during the most expensive times of the year.

If you look hard enough, you can find discounts in many places. Ask hotels and attractions about student, senior, military, and corporate discounts that would apply to you.

Bring the Right Gear and Clothing

Whether you’re planning on going to the beach, museums and historic sites, or shopping, you must have the right gear to make your trip more enjoyable. The first thing to know about packing for the Outer Banks is that it’ll most likely be warm weather in the area.

The locals have a dress code in the Outer Banks. It’s an unspoken rule known as Outer Banks Casual. The Outer Banks dress code is comfortable and casual due to the warm weather and many people partake in outdoor activities.

Here are a few suggestions about what to wear in the Outer Banks during the summer:

  • Flip flops or sandals
  • Bathing suit
  • T-shirts or tank tops
  • Dress
  • Jeans
  • Light jacket
  • A hat

There’s many clothing options to keep you comfortable on a warm day in the Outer Banks. All you need to pack are the clothes that make you feel comfortable. If you’re planning on going to the beach, you’ll need to bring the proper items for a day on the beach.

These aren’t clothing options but essential items for a beach day. Here are a few essential items about what to bring to the Outer Banks:

  • Beach bag
  • Towel
  • Umbrella
  • Sunscreen
  • Beach Blanket
  • First Aid Kit

You may only have room in your suitcase for some of these items, but the Outer Banks is a shopping town with many convenient stores on every block. So you can easily pick up these items if you think they’re necessary to your trip.

Pay Attention to the Warning Flags on the Beach

The Outer Banks beaches may be where you spend most of your vacation. But no matter how much fun you have, staying safe is always important.

So, here are the general rules of the beach and what the warning flags mean.

  • Purple flag: warning of jellyfish and stingrays
  • Red flag: rip currents are present
  • Yellow flag: heavy shore breaks and dangerous currents
  • Green flag: calm water conditions

If you’re looking for the best time to visit the Outer Banks, it’s crucial to consider all the above factors.

There are pros and cons to visiting the Outer Banks during the best time of the year, and those who can handle the higher temperatures, shifting weather patterns, and large crowds will have a memorable trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

Waves lap up against the footings of a pier next to a brown sand beach in the Outer Banks

Jay Yuan/Shutterstock

Do you need more help deciding the best time to visit the Outer Banks? Here are some frequently asked questions about the best time to visit the Outer Banks.

How many Outer Banks lighthouses can you visit?

The Outer Banks has five unique and beautiful lighthouses that contribute to the area’s maritime history.

Here are the five lighthouses you can visit on your trip to the Outer Banks:

It’d be a shame for you to travel to the Outer Banks and miss out on seeing these wonderful monuments that are landmarks for the area.

Why is the Outer Banks a great place to visit in the winter?

Here are a few key reasons to visit the Outer Banks during the winter:

  • Winter birds
  • Connect with the locals
  • Quiet
  • Beautiful night sky
  • Better surf
  • Less traffic

Winter brings a different kind of beauty to the Outer Banks that you don’t want to miss.

How do you get around the Outer Banks?

A car is the best way to get around the Outer banks. You’ll find many attractions spread throughout the coastline. The North Carolina Department of Transportation includes a ferry service between the different beaches.

You can take the scenic route to different locations leisurely traveling on a bike. The land is flat and includes multiple bike paths.

Is the Outer Banks a show?

Yes, this coastal town in North Carolina inspired the Netflix series of the same name. The kids in the show live in the Outer Banks year-round.

Can you stay on the beach in the Outer banks?

Yes, the Outer Banks is full of oceanfront properties that are only a few steps from the beach. With these properties, you can get exclusive beach access and incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit the Outer Banks?

You may be overwhelmed with the amount of information we’ve given you in this guide, so let’s remind you of the best time to visit the Outer Banks before you go.

Overall, the best time to visit the Outer Banks is between September and October. It’s the most comfortable time of year, but outdoor activities and attractions remain open after the peak season during the summer.

This time of year is less crowded than during the summer. So you won’t need to worry about large crowds on the beach. You can also find great deals on flights and hotels during the off-season.

However, regardless of the time in which you choose to visit, you’ll be welcomed by serene views, amazing food, friendly locals, and a slow pace of life that you’ll rarely find anywhere else. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to the Outer Banks today!