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Best Season for Enjoying OBX Beaches and Water Activities Minus The Crowds


The Outer Banks — a chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina — is as vibrant as its guests. The region is a tourist’s dream, an ideal setting for enjoying sandy beaches and participating in a variety of water activities and sports, such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and surfing.

Sounds perfect, right? But what if you don’t love the crowds? For many people, the idea of a beach holiday means empty shores rather than crowded sands. However, achieving this may be difficult during the peak season in the OBX.

Not all is lost–there’s still a time of the year to enjoy the Outer Banks and all its water activities, minus the crowds: early fall.

To us, and most locals, in fact, early fall is an ideal time to visit the Outer Banks. Let’s delve into some of the reasons why.





Fall in OBX: What’s it like?


Wondering what fall is like in the Outer Banks? Here’s an overview:

In the Outer Banks, the fall months typically span from September to November, during which the weather remains pleasantly warm. Temperatures hover around 60°F to 75°F, making it comfortable to enjoy outdoor activities.

Still, the good thing about fall is: that that’s the time the crowds begin to fade. This happens for various reasons, including the school season starting, but also due to the slightly cooler weather that discourages visitors — even though it shouldn’t.

Fall marks the beginning of the off-season, or shoulder season, as some people call it, leading some establishments to close. However, this primarily affects those catering to tourists, while the cherished local favorites and year-round establishments remain open through early fall. This means, for instance, that you can enjoy local cuisine in a more peaceful environment.

Heads up! September is the beginning of hurricane season, though, so consider that and stay vigilant by monitoring weather reports. The result? Everywhere you go boasts a much more peaceful and relaxed atmosphere, free of summer crowds.

In sum, fall means beautiful weather with fewer crowds in the Outer Banks!


Water and Wind Conditions in OBX During the Fall


During fall, the waters of the Outer Banks gradually cool down from the warmer summer temperatures.

    • In September, the average water temperature is around 25.6°C or 78.1°F, providing a warm and comfortable environment for water activities.

    • Moving into October, the water temperature slightly decreases to an average of 22.8°C or 73°F, still offering pleasant conditions for beachgoers and water sports enthusiasts.

    • By November, the average water temperature further drops to around 18.4°C or 65.1°F, signaling the transition to cooler fall temperatures.

Throughout most of the season, water temperatures remain relatively mild and comfortable, providing a suitable environment for relaxing and water sports.

Speaking of sports, fall brings more waves to the Outer Banks. These bigger and better swells draw a specific crowd — those looking for more challenging surf conditions for surfing, windsurfing, and kiteboarding.

Regarding winds, the Outer Banks experiences a mix of wind directions throughout the season, making the region great for kiteboarding and windsurfing as well.

OBX Beaches in the Fall


Stepping onto the sandy shores in OBX during fall means sensing the tranquility washing over you. During fall, OBX beaches become more serene and picturesque, and days are still pleasant enough to enjoy the water and get a bit of sun, despite cooling temperatures.

If you ask locals, they’ll most likely recommend fall as the best time to visit OBX because you can enjoy the beaches with fewer crowds.

All this means you’ll have more space to wander along the water’s edge, feeling the soft sand beneath your feet.

Here’s an idea: with the temperatures cooling down, you have the perfect excuse to end your day at the beach with a memorable bonfire experience – maybe gathering around with friends and roasting some marshmallows. That’s a nice touch of warmth to start a fall evening!

There are services available for bonfires on some beaches – but if you choose to make one yourself, make sure to check the regulations for the beach you are at before doing so.


Surfing in OBX During the Fall

Looking for the perfect wave? The waters off the Outer Banks in North Carolina are known for having some of the largest waves on the East Coast — and we know what that means: a surfer’s paradise.

There are plenty of places where you can chase those waves if you’re into surfing, and especially Cape Hatteras is known for its big swells.

Fall, in particular, brings bigger and more powerful waves, giving surfers more of the challenges they love.

During the season, there are even some great events for surf enthusiasts, like the ESA Eastern Surfing Championships every September.


Kiteboarding & Windsurfing in OBX During the Fall


Kiteboarding and Windsurfing have a storied tradition on the North Carolina coast, spanning over fifty years. Renowned as the “Kite Boarding and Wind Surfing Capital of the East Coast,” The Outer Banks are blessed with steady and consistent winds.

The ideal wind conditions for windsurfing fall between 15 and 25 mph. And on the Outer Banks, these wind speeds are commonplace during a typical spring or fall day. That’s why fall is the optimal season for windsurfing, luring water sports enthusiasts in search of more challenging and dynamic conditions.

Sailing in OBX During the Fall


With several local marinas and docks, The Outer Banks is also a hotspot for sailing, and fall offers favorable conditions for enthusiasts, with the mix of wind directions providing clean and steady conditions for sailing.

But heads up: sailors are advised to be prepared for wet conditions, so always monitor the weather forecast and take the necessary apparel with you. It can also get a bit chilly out there in the water, especially with those winds, so make sure to have options of layered clothing and a light jacket.

Fishing in OBX During the Fall


Offering great inshore and offshore fishing — OBX is one of the best fishing spots, not just in North Carolina but the whole of the East Coast of the United States.

The best fishing in the region happens in spring and fall. In fall, conditions are great both for angles and the fish and the nice weather will make the experience a lot more pleasurable. 

Inshore, you’ll find red drum, speckled trout, and flounder attract anglers seeking inshore adventures. Offshore, catches including wahoo and king mackerel become more prevalent. That’s also the season when surf fishing reaches its peak with catches of red drum, bluefish, and pompano. Pier fishing enthusiasts can target a mix of species, including spots, croaker, and sea mullet.

Non-Water-Related Activities That Shine in OBX During Fall




Lighthouse Hopping in OBX During the Fall


A quintessential North Carolina sight? A lighthouse standing a timeless sentinel on a picturesque coastline.

All year round, lighthouse hopping in the Outer Banks is a popular activity that allows visitors to explore and appreciate the historic and picturesque coast.

Among the favorite structures to visit are Bodie Island Lighthouse and Cape Hatteras Light Station, both iconic with black and white stripes and offering opportunities for visitors to soak in OBX’s maritime history.

In the fall months, specifically, lighthouse hopping in OBX takes on a special charm as the weather cools down and the crowds thin out. This season offers a more tranquil and relaxed experience for visitors to explore these iconic landmarks without the summer rush.

With cooler temperatures and clearer skies, the fall season offers views from the top of these historic structures, and you will even get some changing colors: sunsets and sunrises for that matter are at their absolute best!

Wildlife Watching in OBX During the Fall


OBX is a burgeoning destination for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. And fall, like with many other aspects, might be the best time to visit if you want to observe these beautiful animals.

The season offers a tranquil and relaxed atmosphere for visitors to explore and observe the abundant wildlife in the area.

Birdwatchers can spot majestic species such as bald eagles, osprey, peregrine falcons, wood ducks, and various other bird species that frequent the region. The fall bird migration is a significant event, with around 400 species of birds passing through the Outer Banks, making it a prime destination for birders seeking to witness this impressive natural phenomenon.

Also, the Outer Banks is home to some unlikely animals, including horses descended from Spanish mustangs that have been living in the area for hundreds of years. These creatures have adapted so well to the area that they dig the ground for fresh water and even swim from island to island looking for grazing areas — a natural spectacle indeed.

Dining Out in OBX During the Fall


We’ve mentioned the good fishing fall brings to OBX above, and do you know what that means (besides water fun, of course)?

Amazing seafood dishes! Fall is an excellent time to try freshly caught seafood in the restaurants of OBX. The temperature is great all day long, which means you can do so while dining outside, most likely waterfront.

And it’s not all about seafood; the dining experience is enhanced in all ways. Many restaurants will remain open even if it’s off-season, and they will not be as crowded as summer. Whether you are craving seafood tacos, North Carolina BBQ, or steak, you’ll find a great restaurant for you — minus the crowds.



Best Season for Enjoying OBX Beaches and Water Activities Minus The Crowds


With all that we’ve mentioned above, it’s hard to argue for a better time to visit OBX. Still, the truth is that the region is a treasure all year round, and no matter which season you decide to visit, you will find something utterly amazing.

For more tips on OBX, head to our destination blog – we’re writing about a variety of topics, from the best golf courses in the region to a guide to fishing in OBX and everything in between. 

Wondering where to stay in the Outer Banks, NC during your fall trip?


Booking your stay with Village Realty means staying in one of our exceptional, handpicked homes. From the oceanfront to the sound front, we offer outstanding OBX vacation rentals from South Nags Head to Corolla.

Our number one priority? Your ultimate comfort and happiness. Our local staff will always go the extra mile to make sure you and your family have a special vacation in OBX.

Staying with us, all you have to care about is letting the coastal beauty whisk you away – and you can rest assured it will!

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