Have you been searching for the best pet-friendly beach destinations but haven’t discovered the perfect place for your next getaway? Welcome to Oak Island — a coastal town located on the shore of North Carolina filled with pet-friendly activities, restaurants, and a growing number of luxurious vacation rentals!

That’s right; there’s no need to leave your furry family behind at home! Bring them with you to enjoy the incredible sunrises and sunsets, memorable cuisines, and the calmness our special island offers! To help you plan your trip with your beach dog, we’ve put together this guide with pet-friendly things to do on Oak Island, along with what to expect when you get here:

Little dogs at the beach

Beach Days With Your Dog: Leash Laws and More

There’s nothing like a relaxing morning and afternoon on the beach, right? All you’ll have to do is grab a leash, the beach gear, and your favorite humans! As an added bonus, beach chairs and a wagon are provided at our pet-friendly vacation rentals on Oak Island.

But, before you head out the door, you might want to read over the leash laws on Oak Island. While dogs are welcome year-round on the beach, they are only allowed on the public island beaches without a leash from October 15 until March 15. You’ll find specifically marked locations where your four-legged friends can throw a beach party from the hours of 6am to 8pm every day.

Just keep in mind that there has to be proof of voice and visual control when they don’t have their leash on. We highly recommend viewing all of the ordinances and regulations on the town’s website for a full breakdown of everything you need to know before you go.

For a few tips and tricks from those who bring their pampered pooches with them to the Oak Island beaches:

  • Don’t forget the freshwater and a travel bowl to keep them hydrated
  • Try to go during the morning hours or later in the day when the sand is cooler (no burnt paws please!)
  • They make doggy sunscreen for those with light-colored or shorter fur (sunburn sounds awful)
  • It can get hot, especially during the summer, so make sure there are plenty of breaks between play sessions
  • No tick and fleas here please – don’t forget your prevention medicine is key
  • When in doubt, ask your family veterinarian for advice about beach days

Dog at a table

Dog-Friendly Restaurants on Oak Island

The fun doesn’t stop at beach days, lounging around the private pool, and sunrises from the porch — there are numerous pet-friendly restaurants on Oak Island! Here are some of the top spots to bring your dog for many types of tasty treats:​​

If you’re thinking about exploring Southport, Carolina Beach, or Wilmington, BringFido.com is an excellent resource for finding all the dog-friendly restaurants around the area! Before visiting, please check with the restaurant to clarify their pet policies and make a reservation for the patio (if allowed).

Dogs in a dog park

Parks to Take the Pooch on the Island

Playgrounds, pickleball courts, basketball courts, soccer fields, and more? That’s exactly what you’ll find at Middleton Park (a very dog-friendly park on Oak Island)! There’s even a picnic shelter to cool off under, restrooms, and beach access is right across the street.

If you’d like to let your little ones meet new friends and run around without a leash, there are two beautiful dog parks to check out while you’re here (both open from dawn to dusk)! The most popular is the Salty Dog Park of Oak Island, an off-leash dog park situated along the Cape Fear River. To get there, plug this address into your preferred GPS app: 4446 Fish Factory Road, Oak Island.

The second dog park on the island isn’t as well known and is smaller — it’s located at Hannon A. Templeton Park (NE 41st Street and Oak Island Drive).

Dog on a ferry

Can Dogs Go on the Fort Fisher Ferry or the Bald Head Island Ferry?

Speaking of Southport, you might be wondering if dogs can go on the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry or the Bald Head Island Ferry… the simple answer is yes, dogs are allowed on both ferries! It’s such a fun way to make unforgettable memories with your pup.

As a disclaimer, we recommend keeping an eye on the weather if you decide to go on a ferry ride with the furry one in tow. There are a few things to take into consideration and be prepared for. First, the deck can get very hot and might not be the most comfortable for those precious paws. Additionally, they won’t be able to join you in the lounge, and your car can’t stay on for air conditioning to keep them cool.

So, long story short, make sure it’s a cooler day where all of you can stay in your car with the windows open comfortably. Read more information about the ferries and visit their website for all of the rules by clicking here.

Now You Know Some of the Top Pet-Friendly Things to Do on Oak Island

Ready for boundless fun for everyone and plenty of pet-friendly activities at the beach? Our team would love to help you plan your next stay and answer any questions you may have about bringing your four-legged family member with you.

Start by browsing our ever-growing selection of pet-friendly rentals on Oak Island, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us with anything you can think of.