Dynamic Variation:


Naturally, the right thing to do

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a different kind of place in part because of its unique ties to nature. Two ocean currents converging, dynamic barrier islands dancing with the waves of the Atlantic. Did you know half of Dare County is water? Or that around 80% of the land within the County cannot be developed because it belongs to a National or State park, preserve or wildlife refuge? Even with these assurances, we're working hard to ensure the Outer Banks remains a place dedicated to sustainable tourism and natural oceanside beauty.


7 Leave No Trace Principles on the OBX

As visitation increases, so does the impact of foot, boat, and vehicle traffic on the OBX. Our coast's public lands are a great resource for hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, relaxing and so much more. Because of this, we want to ensure that our land and natural resources are protected and we encourage our visitors and locals to practice leaving no trace. These principles remind us to be conscious of the effects on our actions on the environment and can be applied anywhere, at anytime, not just the Outer Banks of North Carolina. You can find more details of the official National Park Service Leave No Trace Principles here. These principles were established by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, and built on work by the US Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management in the mid 1980s.

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
    • Preparation is key for having a seamless and fun vacation on the beach. Scheduling travel around times of high use, or knowing how to get here and around is important for traffic management. Checking the local webcams and beach weather report is key for knowing to pack your sunscreen or rain jacket. Brush up on beach safety tips, these can save lives.
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
    • We have many beach and sound accesses for your to choose from. Please do not tread on the sand dunes as they are valuable to protect our coast from rising sea water. You can find a full list of accesses here. When camping on the Outer Banks, be sure to follow all campground rules regarding designated campsites.
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
    • As we all know, pack it in, pack it out. Dispose of all food, trash, equipment, and so on. Do not leave any chairs, umbrellas or tents on the beach overnight. Please follow all on-site rules on NPS sites or at your vacation rentals regarding proper disposal or trash collection schedules. 
  4. Leave It Like You Found It
    • Who doesn't have a large collection of beautiful seashells that pile up over the years from every visit to the Outer Banks? While shells are the perfect keepsake from your recent vacation, it's important to preserve the past by examining, photographing and not touching or removing other structures, artifacts, or natural objects and plant species. Digging holes is a fun beach activity that makes for memorable photos. Please remember to cover any hole you dig to protect other visitors, animals, and vehicles from falling into the hole.
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts and Acquire the Proper Permits
    • There is nothing better than a beach campfire with s'mores, your closest friends and the background noise of crashing waves at sunset. Be sure to know all our campfire rules before building your own. Campfire Rules and Regulations 
  6. Respect the Wildlife and Sea Life
    • We receive many wildlife visitors during every season on the Outer Banks. Birds flock to our shores during migration and mating. Seals rest along the shoreline during their journey South. Sea turtles nest and their young hatch during the night hours. It is important to observe all of our wildlife from a distance without feeding, approaching, or exposing them to other dangers such as keeping dogs on leashes or knowing 4x4 beach driving regulations
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
    • We like to encourage courteous interactions between all our OBXers. This can mean yielding to others while driving in traffic, stepping to one side on tight beach accesses and stopping at crosswalks for pedestrians who hands are full with beach chairs. It can also mean letting the sound of the ocean waves prevail and being conscious of loud music to those around you. 


What else we're doing:

Making a Difference Today by....
  • 475 tons of glass from local restaurants and private residences are kept out of landfills through a state of the art glass crusher.
  • Tons and tons of oyster shells are making their way back to local waters from the dinner table thanks to an innovative recycling program.
  • Beach and sound accesses provide trashcans, cigarette butt disposal bins, and doggy bags for keeping the beaches clean. You will also find signage explaining ways to leave no trace along our stretch of islands encouraging everyone to "Leave only footprints."
The State’s Leader in Recycling
  • Top ranked county (out of 100) in per capita recycling rate nearly the last decade.
  • Local businesses, schools, residents and visitors participate in the voluntary recycling program.


Mixed Plastics 68 tons
Mixed Papers 483 tons
Aluminum Cans 21 tons
Glass 475 tons
Steel 18 tons
Cardboard 691 tons
Batteries 5,000 pounds
Computers 32,000 pounds
Paint 3,000 gallons
Oil 19,000 gallons
Oil Filters 6,000 filters