Best reviewed North Carolina beach hotels (Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Pine Knoll Shores, Nags Head, Ocean Isle, etc.

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North Carolina’s coast consists of 300 miles of barrier island beaches. Each beach has its own vibe and activities to enjoy. These beaches have been a top destination for vacationers since the 1930s.

If you’d like to go to a North Carolina beach and are wondering where a great place to stay would be, you should consider the following hotels. They were the North Carolina Beach Award Winner in the 2021 Best Loved Hotels by All of these beach hotels had a lot of superb reviews and received the highest guest ratings. And you can use to find the best price for your stay.

Atlantic Beach

Atlantic Beach is located on Bogue Banks, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Bogue Sound. It is a part of the southern Outer Banks barrier island chain. It was named a “Best Beach” by Coastal Living Magazine. Lined with beautiful sandy beaches, it’s ideal for swimming, strolling fishing and water sports. The historic Fort Macon State Park has the fully restored fort, surf fishing and nature trails.

Best Loved Beach Hotels

  • Atlantic Beach Resort, a Ramada by Wyndham


Buxton is a small town on a narrow strip of Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks. The frequently photographed Hatteras Lighthouse is located in Buxton. Built in 1872, it is the tallest lighthouse in the U.S. Climb the 268 steps to the top. Anglers are drawn to nearby Cape Point Beach for exceptional fishing. They can reel in tarpon, Spanish mackerel, mullet, bluefish, Atlantic croaker, spot, cobia and red drum.

Best Loved Beach Hotels

  • The Inn at Pamlico Sound
  • Lighthouse View Oceanfront Lodging

Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach is considered by many to be the best family beach in North Carolina. Its beaches are not usually crowded, making it a great place for swimming and shelling. You can hit the surf for stand up paddle boarding, kayaking or surfing. Cast your line from the wooden Carolina Beach Fishing Pier or go on an offshore fishing charter. Carolina Beach State Park has some great fishing spots. It also has the Flytrap Trail, named for the carnivorous plants along the path (think Venus).

Best Loved Beach Hotels

  • Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Carolina Beach Oceanfront
  • SeaWitch Motel
  • Courtyard by Marriott Carolina Beach


Corolla is on the northern tip of the Outer Banks. Explore miles of remote beaches and see the famous Corolla wild horses and the Currituck Lighthouse. Go crabbing for blue crabs on Currituck Sound. Or just go swimming or sunbathing on a pristine beach.

Best Loved Beach Hotel

  • Hampton Inn & Suites Outer Banks – Corolla

Emerald Isle

Located on the western end of Bogue Banks on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, Emerald Isle has 12 miles of pristine shoreline and beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean. Its beaches have soft, golden sand and green waters. Emerald Isle is considered by many to be the prettiest beach in North Carolina. Anglers come in pursuit of black drum, red drum, striped bass and speckled trout. Emerald Isle has a great family atmosphere.

Best Loved Beach Hotel

  • Islander Hotel & Resort

Kill Devil Hills

Located in the heart of the Outer Banks, Kill Devil Hills is home to the Wright Brothers Memorial. Swimming, hang gliding, stand up paddle boarding and kiteboarding are popular here. With its shops, restaurants and off the beach entertainment options, it is one of the busiest summertime towns on the Outer Banks. No one knows for certain how it got its name. Local legend has it that it was named after the popular rum that was strong enough to “kill the devil” or Kill Devil Rum.

Best Loved Beach Hotels

  • Shutters on the Banks
  • Cypress House Inn
  • Days inn by Wyndham Kill Devil Hills Oceanfront – Wilbur
  • Sea Ranch Resort

Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk became famous after the Wright brothers first flight 4 miles south of the town in 1903. The Native American Algonquin tribe gave the town the name Chickenhawk, which in time became Kitty Hawk. Kitty Hawk Woods is one of the most pristine stretches of maritime forests left in the world. Go kayaking and see grey foxes, turtles, hawks, salamanders, ospreys and more.

Best Loved Beach Hotel

  • Hilton Garden Inn Outer Banks Kitty Hawk

Nags Head

A beach town on the Outer Banks, Nags Head is a popular destination in the summer. Its most significant landmark is Jockey Ridge State Park with the tallest natural sand dune system in the eastern United States. The beaches are relatively uncrowded and have miles of shoreline to explore. It is said its name came from pirates hanging a lantern around the neck of an old nag, trying to lure ships to the shallow waters.

Best Loved Beach Hotels

  • Surf Side Hotel
  • The First Colony Inn
  • Holiday Inn Express Nags Head Oceanfront, an IHG Hotel

Ocean Isle Beach

Located 42 miles north of Myrtle Beach, Ocean Isle is in the middle of the South Brunswick Islands. The water temperature averages around ten degrees warmer than the beaches of the Outer Banks. Its white sand beaches are not crowded. The Ocean Isle Beach Pier was built in 1957. It’s a magnet for anglers and has an arcade, ice cream shop and a grill.

Best Loved Beach Hotels

  • The Islander Inn
  • Ocean Isle Inn

Pine Knoll Shores

Pine Knoll Shores was named a “Best Beach Town” by Coastal Living Magazine. It is located just east of Emerald Isle and west of Atlantic Beach with miles of pristine beaches. It’s the perfect place for a private beach getaway. The North Carolina Aquarium is at Pine Knoll Shores.

Best Loved Beach Hotel

  • The Inn at Pine Knoll Shores

Wrightsville Beach

Wrightsville Beach was named one of the top surfing towns in the world by National Geographic. The town is home to 5 miles of wide sandy beaches, crystal clear blue water and stunning water views. It is a paradise for watersports enthusiasts. Enjoy fantastic fresh local seafood in the restaurants here.

Best Loved Beach Hotels

  • Shell Island Resort – All Oceanfront Suites
  • Holiday Inn Resort Wrightsville Beach, an IHG Hotel
  • Blockade Runner Beach Resort