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.