Southern Shores at a Glance

Four square miles of beaches and small village appeal, yet still close to it all.

The town of Southern Shores has all the secluded charm of the neighboring Northern Outer Banks villages of Duck and Corolla, but with easy (and even walking-distance) access to the busy central Outer Banks' treasure trove of restaurants, shops and attractions. A combination of rich maritime forests, quiet residential beaches, and a handful of restaurants and shops, Southern Shores is an ideal vacation locale for families who want to be away from it all, but still remain close to the big Outer Banks attractions.

Where to Stay in Southern Shores

Vacation rental companies

The town borders of Southern Shores appear to run seamlessly into its southern neighbor Kitty Hawk, and for good reason. For decades the area was simply a part of Kitty Hawk, and it wasn't until the early 1940s when a parcel of the area that consisted of Duck Woods, Kitty Hawk forest, and oceanfront beaches, was designated as a future resort. The "Resort of Southern Shores" was officially founded in 1946, and become an actual town a little more than three decades later in 1979.

Back when Southern Shores was still a part of Kitty Hawk, it was home to one of the US Lifesaving Service's original Outer Banks stations, the Paul Gamiels Hill Lifesaving Station, which was built and manned in 1878. After a remodel in 1909, it served as an instrumental station for both World Wars, but it was soon after deserted and replaced with the modern OBX Coast Guard facilities, and eventually burned down in the 1960s. Visitors to Hillcrest Drive beach access, where the station was located, will find little evidence that it was ever even there.

Even though Southern Shores had clearly joined modern times, with a small shopping center that features a pizza shop, Chinese food restaurant, ice cream store and even a smoothie shop, vacationers will find it offers miles of peaceful privacy. Vacation rental homes in this area range from small wooded cottages and 1-story ranch houses, to sprawling 8-9 bedroom oceanfront beach mansions, complete with private pools, game rooms, hot tubs, and miles of views. There are no motels or hotels in Southern Shores, but vacationers will certainly find plenty of vacation rental homes, for all family sizes, to choose from.

As for the beaches, vacationers can expect endless quiet beaches with plenty of room to spread out. Like all villages of the central and northern Outer Banks, the town of Southern Shores has its own unique set of rules for shore side visitors. Most notably, dogs are not permitted on the beach during the summer season from 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. and beach equipment, such as tents, volleyball nets, or canopies, are not allowed to remain on the beach overnight. But vacationers can rest assured that the beach rules and restrictions are limited, and can happily expect hours of oceanfront fun. The Southern Shores beaches do have lifeguarded patrols, and also operates a red-flag system in inclement weather, so visitors can rest safe knowing that the beaches are well watched.

Off the beach, visitors will find an extensive walking path that runs parallel to the two-lane NC Highway 12, the only main road that spans across the village towards the northern Outer Banks towns of Duck and Corolla. This walking trail is shaded by acres of live oaks, cedar trees, yaupon and myrtle bushes, and allows vacationers to get a glimpse of the local maritime forest environment without straying too far from the oceanfront. As a result, many of the soundside homes in Southern Shores offer plenty of privacy, as well as shaded woodsy decks, which are ideal lounging locales on hot summer days.

To stay close to the Outer Banks action, yet still enjoy miles of seclusion, little development, and a wide selection of vacation rental homes and quiet, open beaches, Southern Shores may just be the perfect vacation destination to enjoy the serenity of the OBX, as well as all the attractions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Southern Shores, NC?

Southern Shores is located in the central Outer Banks, and is sandwiched in between the towns of Duck to the north, and Kitty Hawk to the south.

How do you get to Southern Shores, NC?

Visitors can reach Southern Shores from the northern mainland via the Wright Memorial Bridge. From southern areas, Southern Shores can be reached via the Beach Bypass / US 158.

What is there to do in Southern Shores, NC?

Southern Shores is best known for its beaches. Comprising of mostly vacation rental homes with very little commercial development, the town has one of the lowest-density summer populations along the shoreline in the central Outer Banks. In addition, the town is close to two golf courses, (Duck Woods County Club and Sea Scapes Golf Links), as well as a handful of shops and restaurants. There are also bike paths throughout Southern Shores that follow scenic neighborhoods and / or beachside streets.

What are the special events in Southern Shores?

Restaurants and shops in Southern Shores often host regular events in the summer months, such as weekly wine or beer tastings, or live music on the weekends. The town is also close to several big annual events in the area, such as the Duck Jazz Festival in October, and the Annual Celebration of the Wright Brothers First Flight at the Wright Brothers Memorial in December.

Where are the beach accesses in Southern Shores, NC?

Multiple vacation rental homes have instant access to the beaches in Southern Shores. In addition, there are two larger access areas for beach-goers at Hillcrest Drive and Chicahauk Trail. Property owners and their guests are eligible to receive permits from the town to park in sign-designated parking areas near beach accesses. Unless otherwise marked, parking is not allowed on any street or street right-of-way in the town of Southern Shores.

Are there lifeguards in Southern Shores?

Southern Shores has four beaches with seasonal lifeguard stands, which are found at Hillcrest Drive, Chicahauk Trail, East Dogwood Trail, and 142 Ocean Boulevard. In addition, lifeguards patrol the beaches on all-terrain vehicles from May through September.

What are the attractions in Southern Shores, NC?

Southern Shores is distinctive for its network of bike paths, as well as its golf course – the Duck Woods County Club – and pristine beaches. The town is also close to several local landmarks including the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, and the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve.

Are there shops and restaurants in Southern Shores, NC?

There are a number of shops and restaurants in Southern Shores, which are generally found in small and central shopping plazas. In addition, the town is close to several big chain stores, grocery stores, and additional shops that are found next to the entrance of the Wright Memorial Bridge in Kitty Hawk.

Where do you stay in Southern Shores, NC?

Visitors to Southern Shores can stay in vacation rental homes, which are located throughout the town, and which can range from 2-3 bedroom cottages to 8 or more bedroom homes. There are no campgrounds or hotels / motels directly in Southern Shores, however the expansive Hilton Garden Inn in Kitty Hawk straddles the town’s border.

What can you do on a rainy day in Southern Shores, NC?

Southern Shores is home to a collection of unique shops and boutiques, restaurants, and the Outer Banks’ own “Escape Room.” In addition, the town is close to Duck, (which is a famed shopping destination on the OBX), as well as indoor amusement centers and laser tag arenas in the central Outer Banks.

Are pets allowed on the beach in Southern Shores, NC?

Dogs are allowed on the Southern Shores beaches in the evenings from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. from May 15 until September 15. Dogs must be on a leash at all times, and owners must clean up after their pets.

Can I drive on the beach in Southern Shores, NC?

Driving is not allowed on the Southern Shores beaches all year long.

Are there shells in Southern Shores, NC?

The Southern Shores beaches can have decent shells for beachcombers, particularly after a storm or a passing offshore hurricane. Because the beaches are uncrowded throughout the year, beachcombers will have little competition when it comes to shelling.

Are beach bonfires allowed in Southern Shores?

Beach Bonfires are not permitted in the Town of Southern Shores.

When is the best time to visit Southern Shores?

The summertime is considered to be peak season in Southern Shores, especially the months of July and August when water and ocean temps are at their highest. The fall and spring seasons are also gaining in popularity, due to exceptional fishing and reduced rates on accommodations.

What are the average air temperatures each month in Southern Shores?

January - high: 52°, low: 36°F 

February - high: 54°, low: 38°F 

March - high: 60°, low: 43°F 

April - high: 69°, low: 52°F 

May - high: 77°, low: 59°F 

June - high: 84°, low: 69°F 

July - high: 88°, low: 73°F 

August - high: 86°, low: 72°F 

September - high: 81°, low: 68°F 

October - high: 72°, low: 58°F 

November - high: 64°, low: 49°F 

December - high: 56°, low: 40°F 


Corolla Classic Vacations
Big Buck's Homemade Ice Cream

Big Buck's Homemade Ice Cream

Serving our customers on the Outer Banks since 1994, Big Buck's ice Cream is dedicated serving you “The Best.” We offer a full line of super-premium ice cream products, smoothies, chocolates, and custom-made ice cream cakes! 2 locations are open all year: Kitty Hawk, at Buccaneer's Walk Shopping Center and Manteo, at The Waterfront Shops.


We offer a full line of Espresso Drinks from Hot Vanilla Cappuccinos and Hot Chocolate to Iced Caramel Lattes & Frozen Mochas, all made to order. Big Buck’s fresh fruit smoothies are lactose-free and made to order. Also offering lactose-free sorbets made from the best fruits available. Old time favorites are sure to please! Choose from a delicious collection of milkshakes, sundaes and banana splits.


Savor the moment with our Homemade Chocolate! Chocolates are made daily in each location. We offer a large selection from Dark to Milk to White. Milk Chocolate Oreos & Almond Toffee, Dark Chocolate Berries and Cherries Clusters & Hand-dipped Peppermint Patties with a Drizzle of White Chocolate, Extra-Dark Sea Salt Caramels & our famous homemade caramel chocolate pretzels oh & don’t forget the ever-popular caramel pecan turtle, just to name a few treats!


Belinda Pleva grew up serving ice cream out of her parent’s shop. She loved being part of what she calls “a happy business.” “I love it when people come into the shop and you hand them something, and it makes them smile,” Pleva says. “That moment when you hand an ice cream cone over to a little kid and their eyes just light up. That’s what I love about the ice cream business.”


In 1994, Pleva opened up her own ice cream and chocolate shop, Big Buck’s Ice Cream, in the brand-new Timbuk II Shopping Center in Corolla. Business was good, but something was missing.


“I was never satisfied with the ingredients in the ice creams and chocolates you could purchase back then. I wanted to serve my customers delicious flavors with ingredients they could actually pronounce,” Pleva says.


Pleva took a trip to Italy to study the gelaterias. She fell in love with the incredible flavors, and when she returned home to the Outer Banks, she began working tirelessly to perfect the flavors in her own ice cream.


Big Buck’s homemade ice cream combined the flavors of the Italian gelaterias and the richness of American ice cream. It quickly became a tourist favorite. After having the same unsatisfactory experience with the readymade chocolates she was selling, she also took a trip to Brussels to learn more about making handmade chocolates. Pleva brought the chocolate-making experience right back with her, and the result was the finest quality of chocolates on the Outer Banks.


After her huge success in the Corolla shop, Pleva was able to open up three more shops—one in Kitty Hawk, one in Manteo and one in Duck.

(More Locations)
Jimmy's Seafood Buffet

Jimmy's Seafood Buffet

Home of the Crab Leg & Lobster Buffet! Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet is a great stop for an all you can eat affordable dinner extravaganza. The buffet offers over 100 different items. It even serves Jumbo Alaskan crab legs and Jumbo steamed shrimp, something you will not find on any other buffet in the OBX. The buffet offers a variety of seafood and non seafood options. Try some of Jimmy’s seafood options and load your plate with blackened tuna, Louisiana crawfish, steamed scallops and mussels, fried oysters and deviled crabs. Not in the mood for seafood? Fill your plate with steak, pineapple glazed ham, fried chicken, BBQ ribs, and fettuccini Alfredo to name a few. The buffet also offers a kid section. Let your kids load their plates with chicken tenders, mac and cheese, and corn dog nuggets. Don’t forget dessert! The buffet also offers soft serve ice cream and a plethora of baked goods. 


It’s been 22 years since Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet opened its doors for the first time. Since that inaugural summer, the goal has remained the same: provide customers with a tasty, fresh array of seafood full of Caribbean flavor.


Elizabeth Dowless and her husband Jerry had always worked in restaurants in the Outer Banks, so when the opportunity to open Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet with a couple of friends arose, it was an easy yes. The Dowlesses bought out the business in 2003, excited to turn Jimmy’s into an Outer Banks staple. When Jerry passed away later that year, Dowless knew she wanted to continue pursuing their dream on her own.


Dowless went all in on the concept of a fresh, flavorful seafood buffet and her hard work paid off. Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet is a beloved fixture of Outer Banks dining, with customers returning year after year for the fresh fare.


“Customers keep in contact with me throughout the winter. I get people every day asking me when we’re opening for the season, and customers book their vacations around our opening,” Dowless says. “I absolutely love getting to see familiar faces come back to see us each year. I love seeing them lose their minds over the buffet! Their excitement is what I love most about my job.”