Looking for the Closest Beach to Asheville NC?
Today, we are discussing where is the closest beach to Asheville NC. North Carolina has some of the best beaches on the Atlantic Ocean but you might be surprised where the closest ocean beach is located for Asheville.
You might automatically think of the Outer Banks when it comes to the North Carolina coast. To access these barrier islands, it’s quite a journey to travel from Asheville. While it’s well worth the 7-plus hour drive, let’s talk about other options you can explore today for beaches closest to Asheville NC.
What is the closest beach to Asheville NC, for ocean access?
Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, and Folly Beach in South Carolina are the closest beaches to Asheville NC, in regards to distance traveled. Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Sunset Beach, Wrightsville Beach, and Oak Island are the closest NC ocean beach options.
If you are wondering how far Asheville is from the beach, it will take you a minimum of 4 hr 20 mins to drive to Folly Beach, SC. First, let’s break down the options for the closest beach to Asheville NC, starting with the lakes.
Lake Beaches near Asheville, NC
Lake Powhatan Swimming Beach
Distance: 13 miles | Time: 25 mins
Located in the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area and Campground you will find a sandy beach and picnic area. They have lifeguards on duty between Memorial Day and Labor Day between the hours of 8 a.m. to sunset unless otherwise noted. There is a fee per person of $4, or you can pay for an annual pass for $30. There are no boats of any kind allowed on Lake Powhatan.
Address: Wesley Branch Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
Lake James State Park
Distance: 53 miles | Time: 1 hr
If you are looking to spend time at one of the prettiest lakes in North Carolina, Lake James is your place! Located on 6,000 acres and 150 miles of shoreline, it’s a great lake for swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, and more! Lake James State Park is North Carolina’s largest waterfront State Park.
The swim area is open from May 1st until September 30th between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm daily. They do charge a small fee for swim passes. Seasonally, they have a concession stand available and a bathhouse available. The swim passes start at $4/day for children and $6/day for adults. You can also purchase an annual pass for $90/year.
Address: 7321 NC-126, Nebo, NC 28761
Lake Norman State Park Beach
Distance: 105 miles | Time: 1 hr 45 mins
At Lake Norman State Park, you will find a swimming beach available on Lake Norman. The beach area has lockers, showers, and concessions available during the open season.
The beach has lifeguards available between Memorial Day and Labor Day and when they are on-site, they do charge a small fee to swim. They only accept cash at the beach or you will have to go over to the Visitors Center and use a card. Pets are not allowed at the beach.
Address: 759 State Park Rd, Troutman, NC 28166
The closest beach to Asheville NC | ocean
The closest ocean beaches to Asheville NC are actually in SC. Just outside of Charleston, you will find Folly Beach, Isle of Palms Beach, and Sullivan’s Island Beach; they are the fastest options for traveling to a beach.
Sullivan’s Island Beach, SC
Distance: 274 miles | Time: 4 hr 15 mins
Tucked away just 20 minutes from downtown Charleston, you’ll find the serene and unspoiled Sullivan’s Island, offering a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
To the west, the Island is graced by the entrance to Charleston Harbor, while the north is caressed by the Intracoastal Waterway.
One of the island’s unique charms is its lack of beachfront commercial development, hotels, or B&Bs. It’s a place to unplug and connect with nature. You won’t find public restrooms, showers, or sprawling parking lots here. Instead, you’ll discover a more pristine, unspoiled side of coastal life. Sullivan’s Island boasts over three miles of smooth sand beaches.
Also nearby, you will find Fort Moultrie, Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse, and The Battery.
The island’s public beach access points still bear the charming name of “stations,” harkening back to a time when beachgoers arrived via electric trolley. Station 18, located near the lighthouse, offers access at one end of the island, while Station 32 provides access at the opposite end. These stations are your gateways to Sullivan’s Island’s unspoiled shores.
In the summertime, Sullivan’s Island’s beaches come alive with activity. With limited parking available, early birds are the ones who catch the beach vibes.
Isle of Palms, SC
Distance: 276 miles | Time: 4 hr 20 mins
Isle of Palms is a beach lover’s dream. With its wide, sparkling beaches, it’s an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, fishing, biking, and even kayaking. You’ll be in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds you. The heart of Isle of Palms is its charming Front Beach commercial district. Stretching from 10th Avenue to 14th Avenue along Ocean Boulevard.
Isle of Palms is a hit with families, thanks to its “no alcohol” policy, calm waters, and clean beaches. You can relax knowing your little ones are safe and sound. Plus, you’ll find restaurants, shops, and bars within an easy stroll from the beach.
There are two public lots near the beach, and if you don’t mind paying a small fee, you’re all set. Metered parking spaces along Ocean Boulevard and other roads make parking a breeze.
They were even voted #6 for the Top 10 North America Islands by Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards. They have more than 50 access points for the beach and the county park even offers beach chairs and umbrella rentals. This is also a very dog-friendly beach; leashed dogs are allowed all year round.
Folly Beach, SC
Distance: 277 miles | Time: 4 hr 20 mins
Folly Beach is located on Folly Island, which is only 12 square miles. Located just 15 minutes from downtown Charleston, you can come to enjoy 6 miles of beaches. Locals refer to their little corner of the world as the “Edge of America.” As you drive onto the island, you’ll come across cute shops and great restaurants.
Looking for a good place to eat? We recommend you check out the Lowlife Bar; they have great food and drinks!
If you love history, take a drive out to the Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve at the end of the island and then walk out and see Morris Island Lighthouse.
North Carolina Ocean Beaches
Sunset Beach NC
Distance: 330 miles | Time: 5 hr 15 mins
Would you like to experience one of the top 21 Best Beaches in the World, according to National Geographic? Sunset Beach is for you, with incredible sandy beaches and natural wonder.
Since this beach faces East, why is it called Sunset Beach? Fun little fact: From late fall to early spring, you can actually watch the sun rise and set over the water due to the island’s positioning.
Make sure to check out the Sunset Beach Pier and enjoy some fishing or head out to Bird Island and explore the 1,200 acres. Are you a fan of astronomy? Make sure to make a visit to the Ingram Planetarium, and enjoy a show at the SciDome Sky Theater.
Here is a great condo just 10 minutes away from the Sunset Beach Pier, located near golf courses and pool access.
Ocean Isle Beach NC
Distance: 327 miles | Time: 5 hr 20 mins
Ocean Isle Beach is a small town with amazing white sand beaches and lots of local attractions, events, and activities happening. In addition to the beach, you can stop by the Museum of Coastal Carolina, have some family fun at River Country Mini Golf, and adventure at The Swamp Park Zip Line and ATV Center.
Take a walk out on the Ocean Isle Beach Pier and you can also stop by the Carolina School of Surf and take some surfing lessons.
Here is a great place to stay right on the oceanfront.
Holden Beach NC
Distance: 336 miles | Time: 5 hr 25 mins
Holden Beach is another small beach town, great for a quiet vacation. Located in the southern part of the NC shore and is recognized by National Geographic Traveler as one of the best family beaches in the country.
Come here to enjoy the relaxing beach, build some sand castles, fly kites, or simply just relax in your beach chair. You’ll find fewer crowds as well.
You can also enjoy the Intracoastal Waterway and bring your kayak or paddleboard while searching for dolphins or watching the shrimp boats cruise by.
Holden Beach is pet-friendly anytime between September 11th and May 19th, before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. from May 20th and Sept 10th.
Book your stay here with amazing views of the Intercoastal Waterway.
Oak Island NC
Distance: 341 miles | Time: 5 hr 25 mins
Want a popular family beach location spot? Oak Island is a popular spot! Enjoy access to mini-golf, ice cream, and more. They have more than 60 public access points for the beach, two fishing piers, and several locations to launch your kayak or boat.
They have local shops and restaurants to enjoy. Oak Island is a popular spot for finding diverse amounts of sea shells, too!
The island is also very pet friendly, as leashed pets are allowed year-round. In addition, for you history lovers, make sure to check out the Oak Island Lighthouse, which was completed in 1958 and was the last lighthouse to be constructed in NC. Guided tours are available year-round for visitors aged nine and up.
Wrightsville Beach NC
Distance: 341 miles | Time: 5 hr 30 mins
Wrightsville Beach is located about 9 miles from Wilmington, NC, and is known for its beautiful blue water. Southern Living named it in their Top 10 “South’s Best Beach Towns.” It’s one of the most accessible beaches in NC and a very popular location for beachgoers. Here, they are known for world-class waves and surfing.
You will find access to shopping, restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and spas if you are looking for more than just beach days. Lots of water sports can be enjoyed here as well.
Stop by Johnnie Mercers Pier for some fishing or just to take in the amazing views. The pier extends out 1,200 feet from the shore and you’ll even find a restaurant and restrooms there.
Leashed dogs are only allowed on the beach from October 1st through March 31st. From April 1st through September 30th, dogs are allowed on the beach prior to 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
Carolina Beach NC
Distance: 346 miles | Time: 5 hr 32 mins
Come enjoy a laid-back beach vibe along the coast, located about 15 miles from Wilmington, NC. The beach hosts many amazing events throughout the year, including the Carolina Beach Music Festival, which is the only music festival held on the beach in NC.
You will also find their nationally recognized vintage boardwalk. The boardwalk was ranked in the top 10 boardwalks in the country by Food & Wine magazine. They also have amazing restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. Next to the boardwalk, you can also ride the nearly 100-ft-tall Carolina Beach Giant Ferris Wheel.
If you want to get out and enjoy more nature, make sure to take a hike in the Carolina Beach State Park. The park is 761 acres and has miles of hiking trails. Make sure to hike out to the 50-ft Sugarloaf dune if you go. A fun fact: the park is home to the Venus flytrap, which is a carnivorous plant.
Book your stay on the beachfront here in Carolina Beach.
Kure Beach NC
Distance: 349 miles | Time: 5 hr 40 mins
Kure Beach is the home to the oldest fishing pier on the Atlantic Coast. The pier is 700 ft long and was built in 1923. If you are a history lover, this is your beach.
Here, you will find Fort Fisher State Historic Site, which is the largest earthen fort found in the South. Today, only about 10% of the fort remains. Fort Fisher is also home to the North Carolina Aquarium.
Off the coast of Kure Beach is a popular place for SCUBA divers with over 200 shipwrecks found here, including The Condor, a Civil War-era Blockade Runner whose site is even marked with buoys.
At Fort Fisher, you will find 6 miles of beach that are undeveloped and are popular spots for sea turtles to nest. Near Fort Fisher, you will find a ferry to return to the mainland as well.
Surf City NC
Distance: 362 miles | Time: 5 hr 45 mins
Surf City is located on Topsail Island and is one of 3 communities located there. While you are here, make sure to visit the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Center and enjoy the beautiful beaches. You will find good conditions for surfing here as well. Be sure to check out the surf school where you can get lessons.
After WWII, the U.S. Navy used the island as a missile testing site and many people come to tour the Missiles and More Museum here as well and learn about Operation Bumblebee. Another loved landmark is the Surf City Pier, which is a great place for fishing or just enjoying the view. The pier is lit at night, so you can do some night fishing.
Topsail Beach NC
Distance: 368 miles | Time: 6 hr
Topsail Beach is the smallest of three communities that are located on Topsail Island (pronounced “Tops’l”). Some say the name comes from when pirates roamed this area and hit their boats in the channel between the mainland and the island. You would only be able to see their top sail on the boat. Some say Blackbeard’s treasure is still buried here somewhere.
Currently, there are two ways to get to the island: one is a high-rise bridge on the north side, and the second is a swing bridge to Surf City. Topsail is a place where sea turtles come to nest and lay their eggs, usually between April and September. Topsail is known for its turtle conservation efforts. Come enjoy their beautiful beaches and explore the history. Highly recommend you add this to your list of closest beaches to Asheville NC, to visit.
Hammocks Beach State Park NC
Distance: 387 miles | Time: 6 hr
Hammocks Beach State Park is only accessible by boat or ferry and the ferry is closed between November and the end of March. You can also rent a kayak and explore it yourself. This is the place to go if you love nature. You can explore the salt marshes, swamp forests, and do some birdwatching while you are at it.
The sea turtles also visit here to lay their eggs, so you might see one swimming if you are out kayaking. If you want to stay overnight, they do allow primitive camping as well. There are no fees to access the park itself but there are fees to use the ferry or boat launch. Pets are allowed at the park and campsites.
Bald Head Island NC
Distance: 355 miles | Time: 6 hr 20 mins
Here at Bald Head Island, you will find a retreat away from all. You can only reach the island via private boat or ferry. No cars are allowed and you can only use bikes or golf carts. Bald Head Island is home to one of the largest sea turtle nesting sites in NC.
You will also find the oldest standing lighthouse here for NC, Old Baldy which was constructed in 1817. It’s a stout brick lighthouse with a 108-step climb to the top, and it is totally worth it for the views!
The ferry is about a 20-minute ride from the mainland, which departs in Southport, NC. Come enjoy a beautiful day at South Beach on the island. It’s a beautiful sand beach that’s great for all ages.
Emerald Isle NC
Distance: 392 miles | Time: 6 hr 15 min
Emerald Isle is located on the Bogue Banks. Come enjoy their white sand beaches and incredible crystal clear waters on the Atlantic Ocean. This is a tiny beach town that transforms in the summer, welcoming over 50,000 tourists per week during the peak season.
Here, you can also take surf lessons, enjoy the beach, and collect some amazing sea shells, as well as explore the history of Fort Macon State Park and its role in American history. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails to explore here, too.
Like many of the other destinations, visit the Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier, which offers amazing views of the ocean. Built in the 1950s, it has been rebuilt several times due to storms. It’s one of the longest piers on the NC coast, stretching 1,000 feet over the ocean!
More South Carolina
Ocean Beaches Near Asheville NC
Myrtle Beach SC
Distance: 307 miles | Time: 5 hr
Myrtle Beach attracts high tourism and is a big beach vacation destination. In addition to their 50 miles of beautiful beaches, you will find a beachfront boardwalk, lots of restaurants, and the country’s tallest Ferris wheel, the SkyWheel.
If you are looking for a quiet beach, this is not your place unless you come during the off-season! If you are looking for a mix of fun and beach, this is your place! They have lots of activities to choose from. Party seekers love the evenings here, with lots of hot spots for live music and dancing.
Stay near all the attractions at this beautiful Hilton Vacation Club in Myrtle Beach.
Have you ever wanted to try to learn how to surf?
Now is your chance, book your lesson today, it’s tailored for all ages and skill levels.
Hilton Head Island SC
Distance: 306 miles | Time: 4 hr 45 mins
Hilton Head Island is a very popular location for travelers. They have even been ranked the #1 island in the Continental US by readers of Travel+Leisure Magazine, plus many other recognitions. Every year, between May and October, sea turtles visit the beaches on Hilton Head Island.
Make sure you learn how you can help preserve these endangered loggerhead turtles. In 2022, the turtles made 423 nests here. Sea turtle hatchlings use the light of the moon to get to the ocean, so if you are staying on the island during those months, make sure you turn off all lights at night so nothing is visible from the beaches. The light can be confusing and make it impossible to get to their sea home.
On the island, there is so much to do; choose from watersports, golfing, shopping, tennis, spa resorts, nightlife, and more!
Georgia Ocean Beaches near Asheville NC
Tybee Island GA
Distance: 329 miles | Time: 5 hr 10 mins
Another barrier island, but this time in the state of Georgia. It’s a small island near the city of Savannah, GA. It is known for its 3-miles of sandy beaches, including South Beach, Mid Beach, North Beach, Back River Beach, and Little Tybee Beach.
South Beach is considered the downtown area of the island; here, you will find lots of shops, restaurants, and the Tybee Island Pier and Pavilion.
If you like to explore some history on the island, then head to North Beach, where you will find a rich history dating back to the 1800s. They have Georgia’s tallest and oldest lighthouse, a museum, and several Forts that served as coastal defense systems.
Outer Banks, NC Beaches
In the Outer Banks, NC, you will find some of the most amazing beaches as well in North Carolina. The popular barrier islands called the Outer Banks are a chain of narrow islands that cover the area just south of Virginia and run parallel to the coast of North Carolina.
They are called barrier islands because they create a barrier between the mainland and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an amazing way to protect the mainland from storms.
What ocean is NC closest to?
The Atlantic Ocean is the only ocean that NC borders.
How far away is Asheville NC from the ocean?
The closest beaches are Sullivan’s Island Beach, Isle of Palms Beach, and Folly Beach, SC. It’s just over 4 hr 15 mins to drive from Asheville, NC.
You have so many amazing and beautiful beaches in North Carolina. We know you’ll find the best option for your next trip when you are looking for the closest beaches to Asheville NC.
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