Nags Head board approves more limits to tents on the beach

By on June 6, 2018

(Town of Nags Head)

New rules approved by the Nags Head Board of Commissioners Wednesday are aimed at discouraging beach-goers from hogging territory by spelling out the allowable size and spacing of canopies and tents.

The ordinance amendment was approved by the Board of Commissioners Wednesday.

A 2014 ordinance already requires beach-goers to remove personal items, including tents and canopies, between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.


Towns have taken the step because so many tents were being left behind overnight to reserve space or abandoned after visitors leave.

Ocean Rescue and emergency workers in Nags Head can also direct where tents or canopies are placed to allow a path for emergency vehicles and lines of sight for lifeguards.

The latest amendments limit the size of tents and canopies to an area of 12 feet by 12 feet and a height of 9 feet. It also requires them to be spaced at least 10 feet apart.

“This ordinance is designed to further the public safety objectives of the original ordinance by controlling the overall size of equipment used on the beach,” a summary on the agenda for the Board’s meeting Wednesday said.

“Additionally, large parties frequently use multiple tents and canopies to control large sections of beach, which are often unoccupied for portions of the day. This ordinance would establish spacing requirements to limit this practice.”


Commissioners had asked the planning staff to write the amendment.


  • Julie

    So glad to hear this! They leave them on the beach all the time in Kill Devil Hills! Even overnight sometimes. Just awful!

    Tuesday, Jun 5 @ 3:44 pm
  • surf123

    Quit dancing around the problem and ban the tents. This solves the problem once and for all. Nothing more pretentious than setting up a tent (or just leaving it up) that blocks others views and consumes more land than one needs at the beach. These tents are basically fences saying “get off my front lawn.”

    Tuesday, Jun 5 @ 4:51 pm
  • Larisa Spencer

    Why don’t they put mandatory tent passes for 5 dollars that people have to get before they can put a tent on the beach that the pass shows rules of the beach and factors on why it’s important to take the tents down at they are not in use?? You can think this is stupid and a joke but what if this helps with the growing issue. And at the end of stay they get there 5 dollars back?

    Tuesday, Jun 5 @ 5:59 pm
  • Courtney

    I am so glad they are not banning tents. I enjoy being at the beach with my family but I’m extremely sensitive to the sun. This allows me to be ok the beach with them. We only use one tent for 6-8 of us. Need somewhere to keep the baby out of direct sunlight too. And always take it down at the end of the day.

    Tuesday, Jun 5 @ 9:26 pm
  • B Bbreisch

    I have a beach chair I sit in with a canopy. I take up a small space on the shore. But I also love having a canopy/tent. It’s not to camp and keep people away. Anyone can come in and visit me or camp nearby! I love the ocean but the sun doesn’t love me. I have to have shade even if it’s for one day on the beach. I always take it down when I leave. Please don’t ban shade. I won’t be able to visit OBX.

    Tuesday, Jun 5 @ 10:28 pm
  • Amy

    Beach shelters should be allowed in order to protect infants and children.

    Tuesday, Jun 5 @ 11:51 pm
  • dan

    Just ban the tents. And ban smoking on the beach. Wrightsville did and it is so nice to go to the beach there and not see cig butts everywhere.

    Wednesday, Jun 6 @ 7:24 am
  • Bud

    We all know not to go into Town or its beaches during the summer months..

    Wednesday, Jun 6 @ 7:30 am
  • Peggy Stagel

    I don’t see why it cant be the same rule.. Take them down in evening, and not up until a certain time in the morning. Most people have a need for shade while at the beach. I have many relatives who cant take even modest sun or they burn. I myself can not be in strong sun since I am older, and all babies should be out of the sun..
    Somehow, names can be collected, or a number put on your canopy that identifies the users.. then they can be charged if officials need to remove your tent, canopy?

    I think rules should be made for people who use the beach for weddings, then leave a huge mess they don’t clean up.. A lot of those things are no good for wildlife.. ballons, strings, ribbons, straws, paper and plastic cups… Weddings should get a permit, for a minimal fee, 50 to 100, which is only returned if the beach is clean from these items when they leave.

    Wednesday, Jun 6 @ 7:51 am
  • Eli

    My family would love to see reasonable rules enforced. It is disappointing to see huge spaces taken by so many side-by-side tents. I like the 10′ required between tents idea. At least you can walk to the beach. However, how will these rules be advertised and enforced? Since the “take-down” rule, I’ve still seen canopies or their supports left overnight for days on end. Without enforcement, rules do no good. Those who are rude and inconsiderate will continue to be that way without recourse.

    Wednesday, Jun 6 @ 12:09 pm
  • Perry

    A 10X10 tent covers 100 square feet of beach, a 12X12 covers 144 square feet, a difference of 50%. Change it to 10X10. Enough for
    several people. I use an umbrella which covers two people.

    Wednesday, Jun 6 @ 12:29 pm
  • Bruce

    This is not an issue that runs the entire length of the beach. Down at the southern end in the Hollywood beach area there is more than enough space for these and they have not been a problem. Don’t add rules that aren’t necessary and restrict our ability to enjoy the beach!

    Wednesday, Jun 6 @ 1:30 pm
  • Luminous

    Courtney, I don’t object to what you’re doing, as long as the tent is as small as would be allowed in this rule, and as long you are *using* it (or in the water) while it’s up, not off the beach.

    The problem we’re having in Nags Head is that Kees (Saga) is putting up tents daily for renters in back of their houses on public beach. These tents have Kees advertising (and no, it’s not legal to advertise this way on the beach). They are marked with signs saying, “Reserved for [family or group name]” (not legal if they are not being used, because you can’t “save” space on the beach when you’re elsewhere, and it’s certainly not in the spirit and tradition of OBX).

    Other rental companies are putting up tents and leaving them up overnight except for the one night each week when a patrol comes by and removes them; because they know the schedule, their tents don’t get picked up. Sometimes in the Whalebone/Jennette’s area, it looks like a bazaar with a long line of huge tents. It’s gotten out of hand.

    Wednesday, Jun 6 @ 1:35 pm
  • Nice Bud

    While we’re talking about the beach, it would be so cool if we could get maybe 500 or 1000 more banner advertising planes up there. I cannot stand to see the sky or hear nature.

    Wednesday, Jun 6 @ 2:10 pm
  • Charles gregory

    It would also be nice if there were some regulations on those who set up beach umbrellas. They should not be able to set up 10 in a row, and then never have the people show up to use them.

    Wednesday, Jun 6 @ 2:28 pm
  • Bbreisch

    Nice bud! So tired of banners!

    Wednesday, Jun 6 @ 10:58 pm
  • Obxloco

    Whoever says “ban them altogether”, obviously doesn’t (or has never had infants or small children that become easily burnt, cranky, unmanageable and altogether “unfun” when in direct sun more than just a few minutes… Let alone, special needs folks. I mean I hate the things as much as the next man, but be considerate of the many, many reasons why they are logically necessary and/or needed. Just like we’re asking (expecting) them… Be considerate, right?!

    Thursday, Jun 7 @ 12:13 am
  • Bud

    Thank goodness we do not have these issues or banner planes on Hatteras.
    The Nags Head towns and northern beaches are in a sorry state due to the overpopulation, tourons and yankees.

    Thursday, Jun 7 @ 7:52 am
  • Bev

    Why not just punish the dummies? Certainly some civic group could be enlisted and authorized to come remove anything left out after the time limit. They could sell the stuff and keep the profit.

    Thursday, Jun 7 @ 8:30 am
  • surf123

    To those complaining about there kids there are two solutions: don’t have them or go to a place for vacation that is not an imposition on the rest of us. When I grew up we had a small umbrella and we made do and as for babies they did not go to the beach as they did not any sun exposure. Additionally when you have young children your wants and desires should not be a consideration. Your only responsibility is to raise the children and not have them work around what you want to do. Every time some complains about anything it is the same old argument of “what about the kids” (and a few other groups). Kids are a self-inflicted crutch that everyone needs to stop leaning on.

    Thursday, Jun 7 @ 8:56 am
  • Mike Gaskill

    I wish my life was so meaningless all I had to worry about was someone placing a tent on a beach that everyone owns. This isn’t a public safety issue , this is ‘I live here so it’s my beach issue “. Grow up . I’ve never seen such a group of self entitlement ego maniacs as the ‘locals” here in Dare county. I say locals because 95% of you aren’t from here or born here. Neither is your transplanted offspring

    Thursday, Jun 7 @ 9:28 am
  • OhioBricker

    You have to have rules (even if they aren’t strictly enforced.) Unfortunately, people aren’t going to be considerate just because they should be. These rules seem reasonable to me. I hadn’t used a tent until last year. Now I can’t imagine going to the beach without one. But I do understand the complaints about them.

    Thursday, Jun 7 @ 10:47 am
  • Sue

    You “just ban them altogether” people don’t understand the need for shade at the beach with kids and family. It’s hot and dangerous to stay in the sun full tilt all day long, regardless of your sunblock protection. And if you live here and go the beach frequently, you would also know that umbrellas are useless with any kind of strong wind.

    Thursday, Jun 7 @ 10:58 am
  • JD

    We have a family group of 60-70 and use 3 tents. To stay close to one another. They really want us to spread out 10’ apart? Seems like we’ll be bothering more people by doing that.

    Thursday, Jun 7 @ 1:25 pm
  • Pj

    Good one Mike Gaskill, You can thank the North Carolina tourist bureau folks for telling all the out of state folks to come to the OBX, out of state and mainland folks for the most part just seem to ruin the beaches with trash, cig butts, and so on, the same way that they have ruined the beaches up north. The canopies/tents/umbrellas are least of the problems,People need shade.

    Thursday, Jun 7 @ 3:02 pm
  • nigel

    What a first world problem!

    Who is going to enforce this rule? Lifeguards? Deputies? I would rather the lifeguards continue to watch swimmers, and deputies have far more pressing issues.

    What a waste of time.

    Friday, Jun 8 @ 6:18 am
  • Bud

    Should not be coming here with 60-70 people..
    If you require shade than don’t go to the beach, or go when it is nice out like 6am-11, and then 5pm-dark.

    Friday, Jun 8 @ 6:51 am
  • Really?

    So Nags Head builds all of those McMansions, crams them full of people and now complains about too many people crowding the beach?? Really? What a clown town!

    Friday, Jun 8 @ 7:58 am
  • Scott

    @surf123 I have to completely agree. We all grew up with just an umbrella, or nothing at all, or we didn’t go. Your kids will be fine, just like the kids were fine 40 years ago without all of this nonsense. If it’s that big of a deal, don’t go.

    In fact, I think they should bring back beach driving year ’round. It wasn’t until this place became so inundated with people that they stopped beach driving in the summer months. Just because they are too dumb to not walk out in front of a car, doesn’t mean the rest of us should have to suffer.

    Friday, Jun 8 @ 12:02 pm
  • Mare

    Vacation groups of 60-70 people? Incredible! Rent your own island???

    Friday, Jun 8 @ 8:48 pm
  • Forbes Kennedy

    I had been going to OBX from 1987 to 2016. I admit I am from Philly (then Charlottesville, VA). I have really watched the “Jersey-ization” of the OBX devolve over the past 10 years or so. The customers in the supermarkets less friendly; the tourists more nasty; more cars-spilling-out-of-driveways because of over occupancy in rentals. We actually wanted to buy a retirement home in Corolla, but not anymore.

    This tent issue on the beaches seems like a natural regression in the OBX as a vacation spot. I am not superstitious by nature, but think that sometimes things are a “sign.” Our final “sign”? When Kelly’s–which was our favorite place for a capstone dinner on our two week vacations–closed and a supermarket was planned to replace it.

    Does one need any more of an omen?

    Saturday, Jun 9 @ 7:36 am
  • Beachgirl

    I’ve seen those tents as well as umbrellas go flying in the wind. Saw one tent smack into a family without a tent. We never used one. If you shouldn’t be in the sun wear a hat and sun protected clothing or don’t go. The tents are people’s way of saving space. And shame on Saga for putting the tents up to reserve for families. It’s a public beach, and if I want to sit I will. Regardless of the tent saying reserved. If no one is under it then to bad. I think tents should not be allowed. They,re dangerous and look terrible

    Saturday, Jun 9 @ 12:27 pm
  • voidLess1

    Carpetbagger mentality……….shame we are forced to police.

    Saturday, Jun 9 @ 5:44 pm
  • Bud

    Saga Destruction..

    Monday, Jun 11 @ 5:44 am
  • donny

    the main problem is the tent rental companies, they set them up at 6-7am everyday then take them down between 5-7pm every evening (sometimes don’t take them down). Half the time or more the tents are unoccupied.

    Monday, Jun 11 @ 7:28 am
  • rsgundersen

    Was on the Kill Devil Hills beach for 3 days this past weekend and many were left up overnight. There a number of canopies that exceeded the law. Glass bottles should also be banned and ANYONE littering should be fined.

    Monday, Jun 11 @ 9:04 am
  • JB

    We stayed in Nags Head just a few weeks ago. Watched a large group put up a tent just over from us. In the evening, they only took the tent cover off and left the frame out there all night. No reflectors or anything warning it was still there. This is what is dangerous. While most people think it should be OK, it’s really not. What’s the point in having rules for safety if they are not going to be followed. I have been beside public beach entrances and watched as families come out and set up as many as 3 tents to have their little party area. For a renter right on the beach front it was hideous to watch.
    Storms come up all the time and high tide can get quite rough at times too…and yes can get high enough to carry things back out in the ocean. This causes more pollution and yet it can be controlled.
    For all of you who talk about your little ones needing to be out of the sun or even people who are sensitive to the sun, let me ask you…what did people do before these tents were ever invented?

    Monday, Jun 11 @ 11:54 am
  • Mike Gaskill

    This beach was destroyed years ago by the carpet baggers. Now they buy a house , start a restaurant or some other meaningless business , and raise their flag. Pretty soon they run for local office. Clawing and fighting for some ‘authority” to pass an ordinance to limit something. House size , business location , plastic bags , chain restaurant etc. they have ruined the entire beach. So no one wants to be around old snobby Yankees waiting to kick the bucket. That’s what Florida is for. They think they own the place now. Look at Virginia Beach , ocean city and the jersey shore. What a joke . This crowd has been foaming at the mouth for a chance to impersonate a true southerner for years.

    Tuesday, Jun 12 @ 12:24 pm
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