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Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a beautiful and amazing place to explore. Planning ahead and staying informed can often help ensure a fun and safe trip for all. Always be aware of your surroundings and be informed about changes in the weather.
lifeguard on the beach
Swimming at a lifeguarded beach is the safest way to swim

Lauren Cowart

Swimming Safety

Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean is not the same as swimming in a pool or lake. Ocean conditions can change from hour-to-hour, and strong rip currents can make swimming dangerous.

The most important thing you can do is to "Be Seen." Swim at a lifeguarded beach, and always swim with a buddy. Lifeguarded beaches are offered Memorial Day- Labor Day at Coquina Beach, Old Lighthouse Beach, Frisco Beach, and Ocracoke Beach.

To receive beach related weather alerts from the National Weather Service, text OBXBEACHCONDITIONS to 77295.

Even taking the simpliest precautions can greatly improve your safety. When swimming in the ocean always:

  • Know the various types of ocean currents and how to get out of them.
  • Use Coast Guard approved floatation vests if a weak or non-swimmer.
  • Avoid wearing shiny objects that may attract sharks or other fish.
  • Stay alert by checking the daily NOAA Rip Current Hazard Forecast and watching the weather, staying sober, and looking for rip currents.
  • Avoid swimming where danger is present, in rough seas, in inlets, around fishing piers and surfers, at night, or during thunderstorms

How to Get Help

Unfortunately, emergencies and crimes can happen in the park. If an emergency arises or you observe a crime in progress, call 911. For non-emergencies that require assistance from National Park Service law enforcement staff, call the Dare County non-emergency line at 252-473-3444

Learn How to Stay Safe

  • Spines on a Prickly Pear Cactus

    Environmental Hazards

    The animals and plants, like the prickly pear cactus, can have hazards. Know what to look for.

  • Deer Tick

    Insect and Animal Safety

    Insects, like the Deer Tick can be hazardous. Learn how to reduce your chances of exposure.

  • Hurricane Florence tracks for N Carolina in 2018

    Hurricane Awareness

    Strong storms, including hurricanes can impact the Outer Banks. Learn how to stay informed and stay safe.


For more information, please read our FAQs or contact one of our park visitor centers.

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    Last updated: June 6, 2022

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    Cape Hatteras National Seashore
    1401 National Park Drive

    Manteo, NC 27954


    252 473-2111

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