Is Duck Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On September 19, 2023
Duck, United States
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Duck, North Carolina, perched gracefully along the Outer Banks, boasts not only pristine beaches and unique experiences but also a rich history that sets it apart from its coastal counterparts.

The name “Duck” has an intriguing origin.

Legend has it that the moniker hails from the early 20th century when the mail would arrive by boat.

Locals would say they were “ducking” out to get their mail, and the name stuck.

This whimsical anecdote adds a touch of character to the town’s identity.

Duck stands out among Outer Banks towns with its more laid-back and family-friendly atmosphere.

Unlike some of its bustling neighbors, Duck has preserved its small-town charm and has even implemented strict regulations to maintain its natural beauty, including no high-rise buildings or chain stores.

This commitment to maintaining a pristine environment sets it apart.

Delve into Duck’s history by visiting the Historic Duck Boardwalk, which serves as a nod to the town’s humble beginnings.

Explore unique boutiques and discover local treasures while soaking in panoramic views of the ocean.

For those seeking water adventures, Duck’s maritime heritage is celebrated through activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding in the Currituck Sound.

It’s a town that values a connection to its natural surroundings, offering a more tranquil experience compared to some of the busier neighboring destinations.

In Duck, North Carolina, history and coastal beauty blend seamlessly, making it a distinctive gem on the Outer Banks.

Its name, rooted in tradition, and commitment to preserving its unique character make it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a charming, relaxed, and historically rich experience.


The closest towns to Duck are Corolla, Southern Shores, and Kitty Hawk.

Warnings & Dangers in Duck

Overall Risk


There's a low overall risk in Duck, with crime rates far below average and an abundance of water and beach activities, plus shopping and dining - all without having to leave Duck.

Transport & Taxis Risk


You'll need a vehicle or a shuttle to get here, which will require reservations. There isn't public transportation on the island. Bicycles and golf carts can also be rented to get around.

Pickpockets Risk


The risk is low, with 20 thefts total in 2021, that includes any car break-ins, property theft, or shoplifting.

Natural Disasters Risk


Hurricanes and tropical storms are the biggest risk here, and that season runs from June through November. Thunderstorms or offshore storms that create ocean hazards can happen at any time of the year. Treat it with a medium risk to stay informed and sign up for local weather alerts.

Mugging Risk


This is another low risk. Robberies, much less muggings, are few and far between in this coastal retreat.

Terrorism Risk


This is another low risk as this remote stretch of thin beach wouldn't be a target for any obvious reason.

Scams Risk


The scam concerns happen long before you get to Duck. Rental fraud is a problem in tourist communities where home rentals are more common than hotels. Don't look for the lowest deal or fall for any pressure tactics to reserve a home, or else you'll lose it. Start with a list of rental agencies recommended by the Chamber of Commerce or tourism bureau, so at least you know they are legitimate.

Women Travelers Risk


This is another low-risk, with plenty of safe activities for women of all ages, solo travelers, and parents. You will need to know basic ocean safety and simple health issues, like how to remove a tick or how to treat a jellyfish sting.

Tap Water Risk


The Water Quality Report for Dare County shows full compliance. The biggest challenge you would face here is a lack of water or a boil order if you're there during flooding or a tropical storm.

Safest Places to Visit in Duck

The town of Duck’s website is a great resource for local activities, attractions, and beach information.

Duck is a narrow strip of the barrier island, and most activities that aren’t directly beach-related face the Currituck Sound.

Start your day with a leisurely stroll along the Duck Town Boardwalk, a picturesque wooden walkway that meanders along the Currituck Sound.

It’s a perfect spot for a morning walk or a romantic evening stroll.

Don’t miss the sunsets here.

For a taste of local art and culture, visit the Scarborough Faire Shopping Village.

This charming complex features a variety of boutique shops, art galleries, and eateries.

You can browse unique handmade crafts, pick up some local artwork, or enjoy a delicious meal at one of the restaurants.

Duck is known for its water activities, so don’t miss the chance to go kayaking in the calm waters of the Currituck Sound.

You can rent kayaks locally and explore the sound’s tranquil coves and marshes, making for a peaceful and scenic adventure.

You’ll find several bicycle rental stores in Duck, which is a great way to get around without having to sit in traffic.

Be sure to wear a helmet and keep focused on the road or trail.

Bicycles aren’t allowed on the boardwalk, but you can walk with the bike or use one of the bike racks.

Don’t forget to lock your bike when you aren’t using it.

Take some time to pamper yourself at the Sanderling Resort Spa.

You’ll get access to steam rooms, a heated lap pool, and an array of spa services to relax and rejuvenate during your trip.

Places to Avoid in Duck

There’s no concern about dangerous neighborhoods or sketchy parts of town in Duck.

In fact, it’s more mellow than some of the other OBX locations.

It’s also pretty narrow as far as barrier islands go, so there’s not a lot of space either.

The real things to avoid are doing activities against the risk of weather events.

You don’t want to be a half mile out on the water in a thunderstorm.

You should never drive through a flooded roadway.

You might have heard that driving on the beach is allowed in OBX.

That’s a city-by-city decision, and Duck doesn’t allow public access to vehicles on the beach.

You can head north to Corolla if that interests you, but please review the rules and supply list of items you’ll need for a beach drive.

The Duck Pier is part of a government research facility and is off-limits to the public.

You can walk underneath the pier and along the beach.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Duck

  1. Duck does have its own police department. You can reach them by calling (252)473-3444. For social media updates, follow the town of Duck @townofduck on Facebook.
  2. Sign up for OBX Alerts on the Dare County website. This will send emergency information, like severe weather, right to your mobile device. The program is free for residents and visitors.
  3. If the ocean is too dangerous to swim in, red flags marked “NO SWIMMING” will be posted. Even on bright, sunny days, hurricanes off the coast can make the water treacherous.
  4. You can get beach updates by texting OBXBEACHCONDITIONS to 77295. Please use these resources to stay informed. You don’t want to spend time finding a parking spot only to find out the water is off-limits.
  5. If you’re worried about sharks, download the Sharktivity app to see the most recent sightings along the coastline. Some of the sharks are tagged and traced by marine officials.
  6. Anglers need a fishing license for coastal waters. You can review the rules and purchase a license by visiting the Go Outdoors North Carolina website. This license is required even if you’re going on a fishing charter. It also covers crabbing.
  7. There is limited access to the Currituck Sound in Duck. Use the boardwalk areas, and don’t go through private property to access the water. You can head north to Corolla for better sound access.
  8. Duck is a dog-friendly beach, and the animals can be off-leash as long as they respond to voice commands. Please remember that all the risks you face, like rip tides, also impact your pets. Dogs can also get very sick if they drink saltwater. I have two goldens who were very prone to beach diarrhea after swimming. Imagine if you drank a bunch of Epsom salt water and how it would impact you.
  9. Duck is known for having a robust golf cart community. These low-speed vehicles can be on most roads in town. Treat them as if they were another vehicle on the road. If you want to drive your own golf cart there, please review the rules and regulations on the city’s website.
  10. If a hurricane or tropical storm is headed toward the Outer Banks, don’t wait to evacuate. Traffic can be intense, and supplies will start running out – that includes gasoline. You only have one road out of town. If you must stay during a storm, be sure to book at a resort that has hurricane-proof windows and a generator for when the power goes out.

So... How Safe Is Duck Really?

Crime in Duck is so infrequent that the crime data charts at first appeared to be broken.

To punctuate the point, the most recent crime blotter report included two incidents where a door was reported to be open.

In many communities, that could be a robbery in progress.

In one case, it was someone who intentionally left the door open.

What’s more?

The town had about two thefts a month.

That really leaves you with the safety determination being how well you are prepared.

Do you know how to swim out of a rip current?

Would you scoff at a “No Swimming” red flag and try to surf the waves?

Can you answer how long you should stay inside after a thunderstorm?

Information for those kinds of risks is readily available and should be studied.

I saw one report about a lone kayaker who couldn’t navigate the ocean waters as the tide was coming in and had to be rescued after she fell in the water without a lifejacket on.

For all my boating friends who laugh at me when I wear my lifejacket on my kayak, it’s moments like those I know I’m making my experience safer.

Enjoy Duck, but be smart and use common sense.

How Does Duck Compare?

CitySafety Index
St. Louis58
Los Angeles56
New Orleans57
Sao Paulo (Brazil)45
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87

Useful Information



On top of a valid passport, international guests need a visa or visa waiver. You can start the process at the U.S. State Department website using the Visa Wizard. Be sure you plan at least three months ahead of time to allow processing and interviews.



Only the U.S. Dollar (USD) is accepted here. Please exchange currency before you get to Duck. The Norfolk airport does have Travelex currency exchange locations.



You'll get a mix of seasons here, but always err on the side of needing long sleeves and pants at night. I love to pack a bunch of zip-up hoodies when I head to OBX. Water shoes help protect your feet from shells. Bug spray and sunscreen will be needed often. Winter isn't terribly cold, but the wind off the water can make it feel much colder.



You'll be about 90 minutes from Norfolk International Airport in Virginia, and that's the closest commercial airport. It will take about four hours to get to Raleigh-Durham's airport.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is essential when visiting such a highly desired destination. Make sure you get protection against hurricane or tropical storm cancelations.

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Duck Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 7° C
Feb 8° C
Mar 11° C
Apr 16° C
May 20° C
Jun 26° C
Jul 27° C
Aug 27° C
Sep 25° C
Oct 20° C
Nov 14° C
Dec 10° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

North Carolina - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Chapel Hill81
Elizabeth City79
High Point62
Hope Mills53
Kill Devil Hills77
Kitty Hawk79
Morehead City78
New Bern77
Rocky Mount52

Where to Next?

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