North Carolina : Safety by City
- Chapel Hill
- Elizabeth City
- High Point
- Hope Mills
- Kill Devil Hills
- Kitty Hawk
- Morehead City
- New Bern
- Rocky Mount
On the northern end of the barrier island off North Carolina’s coast is Corolla.
It’s in a region known as the Currituck Outer Banks.
The biggest claim to fame here is the wild horses that roam the land, descendants of a Spanish shipwreck or left behind when Spanish settlers fled the natives.
This is a quieter side of the Outer Banks, with expansive beaches and preserved lands.
You’re more likely to spot wildlife than nightlife here.
Corolla boasts some of the East Coast’s most stunning beaches, characterized by soft, white sands and crystal-clear waters.
Whether you’re looking to relax, swim, surf, or embark on a beachcombing adventure, the shorelines here are simply breathtaking.
From kayaking through serene waterways to embarking on off-road adventures in the 4×4 beaches, Corolla provides endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.
Explore Currituck Sound, go fishing, or enjoy a round of golf with picturesque backdrops.
You can mark a lighthouse off your checklist because the Currituck Beach Lighthouse is open seasonally for tours with amazing views at the top.
Corolla is remote and refined but worth every extra mile you have to drive to get there.
The town is pronounced “Cor-RAH-lah,” not like Corolla the car.
Warnings & Dangers in Corolla
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in Corolla and still a surprising number of things to do for a more remote part of OBX.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You can pay for local transportation services, but there isn't a public bus or shuttle system. Even if you see "Corolla Trolley" during your search, you'll be looking at private companies that offer services for weddings and special events. Taxis and rideshares are somewhat reliable, but having your own car is ideal.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Over the past five years, no pickpockets or purse snatchings have been reported in Currituck County. That's a low risk (and quite surprising, in my opinion). Lock your vehicles because nearly 25% of all thefts during that time were related to car break-ins.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
The medium risk comes from the six months of the year that cover hurricane season and the storms that can cause dangerous waters even on sunny days. There's no easy escape from Corolla, either, so don't wait until the last minute to leave because of a hurricane or tropical storm.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Corolla hasn't had more than three robberies in a year going back a full decade, so there's another low risk for you.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
You can rest easy on this one, too. Terrorism isn't a concern here. The most problematic groups that come here are teenagers on spring break.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
The risk is low, but you really have to watch out for rental scams. Start by only using reputable rental companies through the tourism site. That's not a sales pitch. That's helping you find a place that is licensed, verified, and accountable for their actions. With a nearly 100% occupancy rate in Corolla during summer, you aren't going to find a great deal. On the flip side, you also won't ever be asked to wire money to secure a home by a reputable owner.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Corolla and Currituck Outer Banks are the quieter side of OBX, so you'll be safe here if not itching for some excitement. You should know some basic skills, like how to dig a stuck car out of the sand and how to avoid the dangers of a rip tide, but overall, the risk is low.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The water here is safe to drink and tested regularly. A copy of the annual water quality report is available on the county's website. When flooding or tropical storms hit, the water can be compromised, and boil orders will likely be issued. This is totally normal on a barrier island.
Safest Places to Visit in Corolla
Corolla, Currituck, and Duck are all part of the Currituck Outer Banks, with the website VisitCurrituck.com being the official tourism site.
While Corolla and Currituck (the town) are just 11 miles apart as the crow flies, they are separated by the Currituck Sound.
To get to Knotts Island or Currituck, you’ll need to take a tour boat, ferry, or drive 55 miles across the Kitty Hawk bridge.
Begin your journey at the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, a majestic red-brick tower offering panoramic views of the Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean from its summit.
Access to the ground is free, and tours are available to those four and older with paid admission.
As you descend, venture to the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, an educational hub that sheds light on the local wildlife, particularly the wild horses that roam these shores.
Discover the history of Corolla at the Historic Corolla Park, where you can meander through beautifully landscaped gardens and historic structures.
Whalehead, a mansion-turned-museum, is a 1920s-era beachfront home open for tours in the park.
Dive into the rich maritime history of the region at the Currituck Maritime Museum, where fascinating exhibits and artifacts trace the seafaring heritage of the area.
For a unique experience, make your way to the Wild Horse Museum, where you can delve deeper into the captivating story of the wild horses that call Currituck home.
These iconic creatures can be encountered on a Wild Horse Tour.
Currituck National Wildlife Refuge includes a remote location known as “Monkey Island.”
You can visit Monkey Island, but you should know:
1. There are no monkeys there. It is named after the native Pamunkey people.
2. Talk with the Forest Service about how to access the island safely.
Places to Avoid in Corolla
You don’t have to worry about dangerous or bad neighborhoods in Corolla.
You *might have a problem finding a place to stay.
The popularity of OBX has grown so much that the entire summer can easily get booked more than a year in advance.
Plan your trip 18–24 months out, and realize that most rentals will require at least a week’s stay during the summer.
Avoid trying to “wing it” and show up hoping to find a campsite or hotel room.
While you can easily get to the places where you might see one or more of the wild horses, you cannot come within 50 feet of them.
That’s a law.
Logic would also dictate that means you cannot feed or pet them, but I feel responsible for punctuating that point.
Taking a guided tour of the wild horse area helps you get more out of the experience by learning the history and daily routines of the horses while getting as close as legally possible.
I’d also recommend you check with the resort of your choice to ask about spring break in OBX.
There have been some issues in recent years with teenagers causing problems during spring break.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Corolla
- Corolla doesn’t have its own police department and gets law enforcement from the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office. You can follow them on Facebook @currituckcountysheriff and call (252) 453-8204 if you have specific safety concerns.
- You can sign up for beach safety notifications by texting the phrase SAFECOROLLA to 888777. If you want to get alerts from all OBX Beaches, text JOIN OBXBEACHCONDITIONS to 77295.
- The only restrooms on Corolla Beach are at Corolla Village Road and Yaupon Road. If you need to be close to these facilities, use those public beach entrances.
- Nine of the beaches have lifeguard stations seasonally. You should always swim near a lifeguard stand.
- You can drive on the beaches in Corolla, but that’s not a blanket statement. Review the rules on the county website. You will need a permit from late April through early October. There are tools and training you’ll need to drive a vehicle on the sand. For those staying at a rental home, your management company should have access and permit information.
- Did I mention it’s illegal to feed, pet, or get within 50 feet of wild horses? Yeah, I know I did, but it bears repeating. You can look for events at the Corolla Wild Horse Fund to see if there’s a way to get a closer look. Technically, you’ll be feeding a horse if you make a donation.
- Anglers need a coastal fishing license, which is different from an inland fishing license. Check the differences and prices at the Go Outdoors North Carolina website. You’ll also find boating and life vest information.
- If you are visiting one of the beaches where it’s legal for vehicles to drive, do not put any of your items in the “lane” of traffic. Treat it much like you wouldn’t set up a picnic in the middle of a highway.
- For those planning to visit Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, you can only get into the area by beach vehicle or walking. If you’re looking at the map saying, “Wait! There’s a Beach Access Road labeled right there!” I urge you to take a look at the street view. It’s the beach.
- Dogs are allowed on the beaches of Corolla, provided they are on a leash. There is no limit as to how long that leash has to be. If you are in Duck, dogs can be off-leash. This is as important to know for those traveling with pets as it is for those who might not like a strange dog running up to them at the beach.
So... How Safe Is Corolla Really?
Since we don’t have crime data from Corolla, we have to default to Currituck County.
The violent crime rate there is half the national average, and that accounts for almost 30,000 people.
Only about 1,000 of those people live full-time in Corolla.
More than one-third of all thefts are related to car break-ins, proving that even “safe” communities have their fault lines.
However, the number of those that could’ve been prevented by people locking car doors or not leaving personal items in plain sight is staggering.
You know better, right?
Beyond that, it’s really a matter of how safe you make the experience.
Don’t drive on the beach if you don’t have the tools to get yourself out.
Don’t go in the water if there are red warning flags.
Avoid the region during a tropical storm or hurricane.
Don’t feed or mess with the horses.
It’s that simple to have the most relaxing experience on the Outer Banks in a quiet enclave.
How Does Corolla Compare?
|Belize City (Belize)
|La Paz (Bolivia)
A visa or visa waiver is required for all international travelers, along with a valid passport that isn't within six months of expiring. You can start the visa process on the U.S. State Department website.
Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here, and you'll want to exchange currency long before you get to the island. The Norfolk, Virginia airport has Travelex currency exchange options. Your home bank will offer the lowest fees.
Dress for wind, rain, and chilly nights or mornings, especially since getting up for the sunrise is a main attraction in Corolla. You'll need bug spray and sunscreen with you at all times. Bring comfortable walking shoes, and water shoes are great even if you're just walking along the tide line on the beach. Layers of clothing will help keep up with the fluctuating temperatures from day to night.
It looks a lot closer on the map, but the Norfolk (Virginia) International Airport is the closest option, and it's about two hours away. If you are flying out of Raleigh-Durham, that's going to be a 4+ hour drive.
Travel insurance is important for a place so prone to tropical weather and activities that could cause injuries. Even going up the lighthouse stairs will require you to sign a liability waiver. Make sure you have health coverage in America before you leave.
Corolla Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month
North Carolina - Safety by City
|Kill Devil Hills