By now you probably think I hate Myrtle Beach. I don’t. At least I can’t remember what I think of it since I haven’t been there since 2005 when my son played in a soccer tournament there. You see, when my son played soccer, it gave us an opportunity to see more wonders of beautiful, relaxing beaches. His tournaments were all over the east coast and many times in beach towns. Because of that, I discovered that Myrtle and Virginia Beaches weren’t the only ones within our reach.

Unknown to many people, North Carolina is home to over 20 beaches. Let’s start with the best beaches that North Carolina has to offer. North Carolina has 301 miles of coastline. Whether you’re searching for family activities or a peaceful place to relax, North Carolina has plenty to offer.

The top 10 beaches, listed by Conde Nast traveler are:

1. Bald Head Island. This was a favorite of mine when I lived in Raleigh, NC. We would vacation in Southport with my boss who owned a beach home and would invite us along since my son was the same age as hers. Bald Head is only reachable via a 20 minute ferry from the mainland. The people of Bald Head coined the phrase “I’m on turtle time” as an ode to the carefree and CARfree environmental.

2. Topsail Island. Located in Pender County, this beach welcomes visitors with a wide array of entertainment and dining options in nearby Surf City.

3. Carolina Beach. Close to be Cape Fear River, Carolina Beach has a boardwalk complete with ice cream shops, vendors and carnival beat views are from the top of the Ferris wheel but also has amazing scenery should you decide to take a scenic hike.

4. Wrightsville Beach. The most easily accessible Beach of all, located directly off I-40, close to Wilmington. If you’re searching for that Myrtle Beach crowd, Wrightsville Beach will be your pick. Nearby, there is a peaceful piece of land called Masonboro Island that is only reachable by boat if you want to escape the crowds.

5. Emerald Isle. Again, if you’re looking for similarities of Myrtle Beach, Emerald Isle could be your beach. Pockets of relaxation mixed with crowds of young adult and fishermen.

6. Kill Devil Hills. The history of this beach dates back to the Wright Brothers, which is the actual location of their first flight. The beach isn’t very well known which could make this a very peaceful vacation.

7. Ocracoke Island. Famous for it’s iconic lighthouses, Ocracoke Island provides  peaceful atmosphere that other beaches may not. Be sure to access the most famous lighthouse by taking the ferry

8. Salter Path. Located just minutes from the Outer Banks, on the Bogue Banks, next to Indian Beach. At its narrowest point, Salter Path offers easy access to both the beach and points of relaxation and recreation. Many residents fin Sakter Path still make their living from the sea.

9. Holden Beach. The fact that no building in this city can be taller than 35 feet guarantees you beautiful views which will make for great pictures. If you’re looking for a day of fishing, Holden Beach is you’re vacation spot.

10. Nag’s Head. One of the most developed areas of the Outer Banks, the most popular amenities besides the beach include restaurants, mini golf and shopping. Nearby is Jockey’s Ridge State Park which is popular for hiking, hang gliding, and sand castle contests.

Wait, you thought that was it? North Carolina has at least 15 more beaches I haven’t mentioned that are worthy of you skipping Myrtle Beach for just one season.

1. Atlantic Beach. Located in Carteret County, Atlantic Beach is known for its crystal clear waters. This beach is popular for a getaway with friends or a family vacation. If you’re into pirates, the infamous pirate Blackbeard ran his The Queen Anne’s Revenge a few miles from the beach.

2. Carova Beach. Part of the Outer Bamks which is the most isolated of them all due to the lack of paved roads. Animal lovers shall rejoice as wild mustangs roam the shores of these beautiful, white sands. Carova Beach is accessible by 4x4s only.

3. Coquina Beach. Coquina gets its name for the colorful coquina that line the beach. It is ideal for surfers, swimmers, fishermen, and those who love to birdwatch.

4. Shackleford Banks. Located in Carteret County, Shackleford is home to feral “Banker” horses that can be spotted roaming the coast.

5. Kure Beach. Another favorite of mine when I lived in Raleigh. Kure is a white, sandy beach located in New Hanover County. History buffs would enjoy the Civil War relic Fort Fisher while parents can keep the kids entertained while visiting the NC Aquarium.

6. Harker’s Island. Perfect for sunbathing. Nope, I promise I’ve never been there’s to do so but apparently it’s pretty popular. Harkers Island is also great for nature hiking and touring lighthouses.

All I’m saying is, why bypass an entire state of beautiful beaches to visit one that hasn’t changed since it’s inception?! Sometimes being comfortable keeps us stagnant, in our choices and in life. As you plan your Summer vacations, plan to do something different.

Here’s my code to use should you decide to be bold and rent an Airbnb as a change from a typical hotel:

Happy Travels! Peace!