Ultimate Guide to RV Camping On The North Carolina Coast

RV camping at Oyster Point Campground near Newport, NC

Ready to discover all that RVing and camping on the North Carolina coast has to offer? We have lived in North Carolina and spent months RV camping along the NC coast after transitioning to life as full-time RVers. We share the best spots to visit, our top tips, and our exact itinerary to help you plan your best North Carolina coastal getaway!

About The North Carolina Coast

Aerial view of the bright blue waters under the robust Jenette's Pier on the Outer Banks
Jenette’s Pier & the Outer Banks

Just north of South Carolina, North Carolina is a sister state with its own set of great RV and camping destinations along its sparkling coast.

From an island without cars where you can explore by golf cart or bike, to the string of barrier islands lined with lighthouses that make up the Outer Banks, North Carolina is bursting with pristine beaches, majestic wildlife, and plenty of opportunities for great outdoor adventures.

What we love about North Carolina is that you have the opportunity to easily trade the beach for the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains when you are looking for a change of scenery…it feels like this state truly has it all!

Not only did we live in North Carolina for multiple years, but after transitioning to full-time RV life, we spent a few months RVing along the North Carolina coast as well. It is one of those places you can continue to find new gems to explore – as well as places you can’t help but find yourself longing to return to.

Looking to head further south? READ: RV Camping On The South Carolina Coast

What To Expect When Camping in NC

A few tips and conditions you can expect as you prepare for your North Carolina coastal camping trip!

  • Humidity: Unlike the dry desert climate of the southwest, in the southeast, it is not uncommon to regularly experience humidity over 70%
  • Bugs: The North Carolina coast can be very buggy, especially in the summer months. Prepare by packing insect repellent, screen tents, citronella candles, and quality bug spray – and maybe some anti-itch cream too!
  • Heat + Sun: Along with higher humidity, temperatures can also reach highs in the upper 90’s or low 100’s on warm summer days. Pack plenty of sun protection (sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, sun shirts)
  • Low-hanging trees and branches: Some of the most beautiful parts of North Carolina’s natural landscape can also be the parts that give you anxiety as an RVer – especially if you have a larger RV. With tree-lined streets, weeping Spanish moss, and low branches you will need to be careful as you navigate tight roads with your RV to limit damage to your roof or sides.
  • Tight spots: RV parks and campgrounds along the East Coast can tend to feel a bit more cramped than parks out west. There is simply less real estate and a high demand for visiting. You can expect parks with RV spots that are closer together – but hopefully, you will spend most of your time out and about enjoying the sights!
  • Expensive Campgrounds: Just like those million-dollar homes stacked along the beach, RV parks and campgrounds along the NC coast come at a higher cost. For prime locations expect to pay more per night, sometimes up to $100 or $150 dollars a night.
  • Competitive Booking: Along with higher prices, booking campsites along the coast of North Carolina comes with increased competition. For longer stays or weekend availability, your best bet will be to book AT LEAST 6 months in advance – or keep your eyes peeled for last-minute cancellations.
  • Impact of Hurricanes and Storms: The North Carolina coast (and especially the Outer Banks barrier islands) is no stranger to being impacted by hurricanes and tropical storms. Storm damage can lead to unexpected closures due to damage. It is important to stay aware of changing weather conditions and closures and keep your camping plans carved in jello!
  • Busy Peak Season and Quieter Shoulder Season: You can expect competitions for campsites and costs to be increased in peak season from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Opt for shoulder season (spring and fall) for smaller crowds, more flexibility in booking, and discounted rates

READ MORE: Top National Parks In The Southeast

RV Camping Destinations On The NC Coast

From beachfront spots to a ferry that you can take even your extra large RV on…for FREE, the North Carolina Coast is full of great spots for your next RV camping adventure. Here’s what we learned during our multiple-month-long road trip camping our way up the North Carolina coast!:

The Outer Banks

Black and white Cape Hatteras light house behind the light blue Cape Hatteras light station sign

The Outer Banks is one of those places that instantly puts you at ease. As you ride over the bridge out to the tiny strip of barrier islands, you are quickly removed from the stressors of the busy modern world and transported to a place where you can live on island time for a while.

We found our perfect pace staying on the quiet and more remote Cape Hatteras National Seashore and enjoyed trips to ALL of the Outer Banks lighthouses, days strolling the beaches to find shells and watch dolphins, and nights around the fire under a mesmerizing array of stars.

The Outer Banks is a place that just feels special. It’s hard to describe and better for you to just experience for yourself!

Best RV Parks & Campgrounds To Stay At:

Ocracoke Island

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

A fifth wheel and a large white truck parked in a camping spot up against grass covered beach dunes
We were only steps from the beach during our stay at Oregon Inlet Campground on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore


  • St Clairs Landing Family Campground
  • Camp Hatteras RV Resort
  • Cape Hatteras-KOA Outer Banks Resort

Kill Devils Hills/ Kitty Hawk

  • OBX Campground
  • Kitty Hawk RV Park

Browse Campsite Availability & Book Instantly for 100,000+ RV Parks and Campgrounds on Campspot

Getting Here:

From the North:

  1. Take I-95 South to Exit 138 for US-64 East toward Rocky Mount.
  2. Continue on US-64 East and follow signs for Nags Head or Kitty Hawk, depending on your desired location in the Outer Banks.

From the South:

  1. Take I-95 North to Exit 81 for US-70 East toward Kinston.
  2. Continue on US-70 East until you reach New Bern.
  3. From New Bern, take US-17 North to reach the Outer Banks.

Our favorite RV Safe GPS app: RV Life

Top Things To Do On The Outer Banks:

A woman hiking in a large areas of sand with a backpack
Walking in the dunes at Jockey Ridge State Park
  • Take the free ferry to Ocracoke Island (it is free to bring your vehicle – even our wide dually or your RV if you plan to camp on one of the island’s two RV parks!). It is a great place to spend a day… or a week!
  • Walk the boardwalk at the Bodie Island Lighthouse
  • Visit Jennette’s Pier (and don’t forget to stop in and see the large fish at the free mini aquarium)
  • See where innovation in aviation happened at the Wright Brothers National Memorial
  • Climb the dunes (and maybe hang glide from them) at Jockey Ridge State Park
  • Get more remote on the pristine Pea Island Wildlife Refuge
  • Make it your mission to see all of the Outer Banks lighthouses
  • Check out the wild horses of Corolla and Currituck on a Jeep tour

READ MORE: Best Things To Do in Cape Hatteras & The Outer Banks

Crystal Coast & Cape Lookout National Seashore

A wild horse poses for the camera on Shackleford Banks in front of the Cape Lookout lighthouse.
Wild horse on Shackleford Banks with Cape Lookout Lighthouse in the distance

North Carolina’s Crystal Coast may have been one of the biggest surprises of our North Carolina coastal camping quest!

With so much emphasis on the Outer Banks, the Cape Lookout National Seashore and the Crystal Coast tend to be overlooked.

But they definitely shouldn’t be!

With a quick ferry ride, you can get out to some untouched islands with turquoise blue waters that feel like pure paradise, see a quintessential black and white lighthouse, and stumble upon wild horses. (Yes, these sights are not just reserved for the northern section of the Outer Banks!)

Boasting 85 miles of sandy beaches, charming coastal towns, and some of the cheapest RV spots you can come by along the Atlantic Coast, you won’t want to overlook this section of coast below the “proper” OBX spots.

Best RV Parks & Campgrounds To Stay At:

Aerial view of a fifth wheel camper parked in the trees in a spot backing on to a river
We paid only $10/night for this spot at Oyster Point Campground
  • Oyster Point Campground (National Forest Service – Newport, NC)
  • Cedar Point Campground (National Forest Service – Swansboro, NC)
  • Beaufort Waterway RV Park
  • Waters Edge RV Park (Newport NC)
  • Goose Creek RV & Camping (Newport NC)
  • Holiday Trav-L-Park Resort (Emerald Isle, NC)
  • Camping on the beach at Cape Lookout National Seashore (requires 4X4 vehicle and something like a truck camper or tent)
  • Camping on Shackleford Banks (tent camping only)

Browse Campsite Availability & Book Instantly for 100,000+ RV Parks and Campgrounds on Campspot

Getting Here:

From the North:

  1. Take I-95 South to Exit 138 for US-64 East toward Rocky Mount.
  2. Continue on US-64 East and follow signs for Beaufort.

From the South:

  1. Take I-95 North to Exit 81 for US-70 East toward Kinston.
  2. Continue on US-70 East and follow signs for Beaufort.

Our favorite RV Safe GPS app: RV Life

Top Things To Do On The Crystal Coast:

Wide angle view of Fort Macon at Fort Macon State Park. An American flag is flying high and the sea can be seen in the background
Fort Macon State Park

READ MORE: Best Things To Do on NC’s Crystal Coast For The Nature Lover

Wilmington / Carolina Beach

A long delicate pier built over the ocean at Carolina Beach
Carolina Beach Pier

If you are considering a visit to the coastal city of Wilmington, we highly recommend a stay in Carolina Beach!

Camping at Carolina Beach State Park will offer you private, shaded seclusion in a bustling beach town only minutes from the area’s picture-perfect sandy stops.

With piers, boardwalks, historic areas, dog-friendly hangouts, and beach camping all within a few miles, this coastal gem is the perfect camping destination for all things outdoors on the North Carolina Coast – not far from some of the state’s bigger cities.

Bring your bike, feel the salt air on your face, brave the waves, and don’t forget to indulge in some fresh local seafood.

Best RV Parks & Campgrounds To Stay At:

  • Carolina Beach State Park Campground (Carolina Beach, NC)
  • Winner’s RV Park (Carolina Beach, NC)
  • Snow’s Cut RV Park (Wilmington/Carolina Beach)
  • Wilmington KOA (Wilmington, NC)
  • Camp on the beach at Freeman Park (permit required to drive on beach and stay the night)
    • Camping Permits:
      • Available Memorial Day through Labor Day; $50/night
      • Reserve Here
    • Cost of Passes to drive on the beach:
    • April 1 – September 30, Mon-Sun, $50 per day
    • October 1 – March 31, Mon-Sun, $30 per day
Large fifth wheel camper parked among the pine trees at a campground
We loved being nestled among the pines with a large outdoor space at Carolina Beach State Park

Browse Campsite Availability & Book Instantly for 100,000+ RV Parks and Campgrounds on Campspot

Getting Here:

From the North:

  1. Take I-95 South to Exit 81 for US-70 East toward Kinston.
  2. Continue on US-70 East until you reach Jacksonville.
  3. From Jacksonville, take NC-24 East to reach Carolina Beach.

From the South:

  1. Take I-95 North to Exit 81 for US-70 East toward Kinston.
  2. Continue on US-70 East and follow signs for Carolina Beach.

Our favorite RV Safe GPS app: RV Life

Top Things To Do near Carolina Beach:

Carolina Beach ferris wheel on a cloudy day with the Corolina Beach boardwalk in the foreground.
Carolina Beach boardwalk
  • Hop on the ferry and take a weekend or day trip to Bald Head Island and enjoy the bliss of a place with no cars! Or stop off to explore Southport on the mainland
  • Check out the Fort Fisher State Historic Site & Fort Fisher State Recreation Area
  • North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher
  • Hike or bike the trails at Carolina Beach State Park (and don’t forget to check out the venus fly traps!)
  • Visit Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach, and let your dog explore (and maybe even camp) at Freeman Park (and don’t miss the Carolina Beach pier – complete with Ferris Wheel)

READ MORE: Best Things To Do in Carolina Beach NC

Suggested South Carolina Coast RV Road Trip Routes

Just North Carolina: Outer Banks (including a visit to Ocracoke Island) – Crystal Coast (including visits to Beaufort, Emerald Isle, and the Cape Lookout National Seashore) -Carolina Beach (including a visit to Bald Head Island)

Head Further South to South Carolina: Beyond Carolina Beach, head south to explore great coastal destinations including Surfside Beach, Charleston, Edisto Beach, Beaufort, and Hilton Head Island

READ MORE: Ultimate Guide To RV Camping On The South Carolina Coast

Head Further North into Virginia and Maryland: Once you have explored up and down the Outer Banks, we highly recommend continuing on north to check out Virginia Beach and a stay with the wild horses at the Assateague Island National Seashore. From there it’s not too far to shoot over to the mountains for great hiking and waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park as well!

READ MORE: Ultimate Guide To The Best RV Trips on The East Coast

Trusted Resources For Your Next RV Camping Trip

These are some of our RV trip essentials that help us have smooth and safe travels on every trip we take!

For Your Tow Vehicle

  • Bottle Jack (in case you need to change a tire, your RV leveling system has an error, etc.)

For Your RV

For Your Safety & Peace of Mind

  • Walkie-Talkies (for when you have to get into a tight spot and you don’t have cell service)
  • Garmin inReach or SOS capabilities on your cell phone (to get help if you don’t have service)

Interested in what else we use as full-time RVers or interested in what you actually need? Check out these resources:

Campground & Campsite Resources:

  • Harvest Host: For finding unique experiences and convenient overnight stays at breweries, vineyards, farms, and more! Perfect for a fun weekend getaway or stopover during a long travel stretch.
  • Campspot: For finding and booking great campgrounds and RV parks conveniently and easily all in one place!
  • RV Life: RV safe GPS, RV Trip Wizard route planning, maintenance tracker, campground reviews, and more. Everything any RVer needs, all in one place!
  • CampendiumiOverlander: For finding campgrounds and/or free camping spots

Guided Tours & Excusrions:

  • GetYourGuide: Easily browse and book local tours and activities in any destination you visit!


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