The ocean is a wonderful place to swim—if you are careful. Swimming in the ocean is not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Wind, waves, the change of the tide, the slope of the beach and other factors can cause strong currents to be present in the water even on the calmest days.
Ocean conditions can change from day to day and from hour to hour. Before going in the water, spend a few moments watching the waves. Wave patterns are a good indicator of the presence of currents and where deep water and other "surprises" are located. Know what to expect before you go in the water.
The best way to stay safe while swimming is to swim at a lifeguarded beach. Lifeguards are specially trained to provide emergency assistance and can answer your questions about beach safety.
There are four beach locations along Cape Hatteras National Seashore that are staffed with lifeguards during summer months from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, 9 am to 5 pm, seven days a week.
The locations are:
- Bodie Island: Coquina Beach
Located across from the Bodie Island Lighthouse site. For the 2020 season, lifeguards are available through September 30.
- Hatteras Island: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Beach
Adjacent to the Old Cape Hatteras Lighthouse site. Lifeguards are available through Labor Day.
- Hatteras Island: Frisco Beach
Located just south of Frisco Village. For the 2020 season, lifeguards are available through September 30.
- Ocracoke Island: Ocracoke Beach
1 1/2-miles south of the NPS campground OR 1/2-mile north of Ocracoke Village. For the 2020 season, lifeguards are available through September 30.
Lifeguards can answer questions on swimming safety and weather conditions.
Before heading to the beach, check the daily NOAA Rip Current Hazard Forecast.
See our Ocean Swimming Safety page for more swimming safety information.