Fall ushers a new group of seasonal visitors to Eastern North Carolina beaches.
Summer’s crowds of swimmers and sunbathers have dwindled and anglers have the beaches —and access to drive on some of them — to themselves.
Each beach has its own rules, but most require town-issued permits for driving in the sand.
From Topsail Island to Bogue Banks, the off-season tradition continues, with four-wheel drive trucks and SUVs toting fishing gear to their place on the beach.
The rules vary but many towns grant permitted access during fall and winter at designated areas.
All towns prohibit ATVs. They also allow beach-driving access to four-wheel drives only.
On Topsail Island, Surf City and Topsail Beach allow beach driving by permit for fishing only. They also allow beach driving at night for fishing — not camping.
Surf City allows beach driving from Sept. 10 through May 15 via the Kinston Avenue entrance south of the Surf City Pier. Night driving is permitted from Oct. 1 to May 1.Vehicles are only permitted on the strand between the 1300 block of South Shore and Dolphin Street. Permits are issued at the Surf City Police Department.
Annual beach driving passes for Topsail Beach access are $50 for non-residents or $25 for residents. They can be purchased at Bush Marina 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Oct. 27. After that date, they can be picked up at Town Hall Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Topsail beach also allows horseback riding on the beach from Oct. 1 through March 31. Pemits, which are issued by the Topsail Beach Police Department, are required.
North Topsail Beach allows four-wheel drive vehicles on the beach without a permit only at the North End and near New River Inlet at Onslow County Beach Access 3. Vehicles are not permitted on the town’s beach strand.
Joyriding is not allowed and signs mark designated areas.
The town allows handicapped access to the beach near town hall with a permit.