North Carolina : Safety by City
- Chapel Hill
- Elizabeth City
- High Point
- Hope Mills
- Kill Devil Hills
- Kitty Hawk
- Morehead City
- New Bern
- Rocky Mount
Rodanthe, North Carolina, is part of the Outer Banks (referred to as OBX) on a stunning stretch of beach near Cape Hatteras.
If the name Rodanthe sounds familiar, it’s likely because you’re remembering the Nicholas Sparks novel-turned-movie Nights in Rodanthe with Richard Gere and Diane Lane.
The perfect placement of this very small town with fewer than 150 full-time residents makes it appealing, as it’s about halfway between Hatteras and Kitty Hawk.
Yet, it still feels remote and relaxing without too much kitschy tourist stuff.
Rodanthe (“row-DAN-thee”) is a thin stretch of land hugged by the Pamlico Sound on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east, the latter of which is eroding land at a pace fast enough to force some people to move their entire homes.
Even the famous house from the Nicholas Sparks movie had to be moved before being swallowed by the sea.
Each year, about a foot of beach is lost, and there’s no clear solution in sight.
That means now is better than any other to visit Rodanthe.
Warnings & Dangers in Rodanthe
OVERALL RISK: LOW
Rodanthe has a low risk for crime, with one of the safest communities on OBX and in the state. It's an idyllic beach escape you long for on the Outer Banks.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You'll need a rental car to get around here as there isn't a formal transportation system. You can rent a shuttle or call a rideshare. Bicycles are also a popular way to get around. The risk is low with any option, but you'll have to pay either way.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
This is low risk, with the cooler on your porch more likely to be taken than your pocket-picked. However, it still is smart to avoid leaving your items on the beach when you get in the water.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
Hurricanes and coastal erosion are the biggest threats here, and you'll get plenty of notice about both. Summer thunderstorms can also make outdoor activities dangerous. It's not uncommon to see a waterspout on the ocean, but tornadoes are rare.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
This is another low risk with not a single one I can find in any news report from the past decade.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
The only terrorist here is the ocean, gnawing away at what little beach remains. However, the action is part of the natural course of events. There's a low risk of any kind of terrorist activity.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
Rental home scams should always be treated as a medium risk, but you can keep the risk low for yourself by using verified rental companies and knowing the main signs of a rental scam. Those include - pressure to wire money to secure a home, a homeowner who won't talk to you on the phone or do a video call, and failure to produce permits to rent a home in Rodanthe.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
This is a safe place for women, whether traveling solo, with kids, or even senior citizens. Just be ocean-smart and avoid doing activities on the water alone if you can.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The Dare County Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. The more pressing risk could come during flooding or tropical storms. That's a normal part of barrier island life, but you need to sign up for OBX Alerts to be in the know.
Safest Places to Visit in Rodanthe
Rodanthe is a census-designated area, which means there isn’t a town website to get information.
Outerbanks.org has a section designated for Rodanthe.
You can also use OBX Beach Access to get information about all the beaches of the Outer Banks, including Rodanthe.
You’ll also find that this region is called the Tri-Villages, which includes Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo.
It’s also important to note that there aren’t any hotels in Rodanthe.
It’s all rental homes.
Fishing is prominent in Rodanthe, and you can enjoy the sport on the Rodanthe Fishing Pier.
It’s one of the few wooden piers on the entire coastal stretch of North Carolina.
If birding is more your thing, head a few miles north to the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
More than 400 species are found there throughout the year.
Schedule a trip during the annual Wings Over Water festival for the most epic experience.
Rodanthe was once named Chicamacomico (“chi-ka-ma-COM-i-co”), and that’s why one of the top attractions in Rodanthe is the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station.
This series of buildings forms the museum grounds for one of the most in-tact life-saving locations in the country.
The U.S. Life-Saving Service was a precursor to the Coast Guard, famously known for having the motto, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.”
The beach of Rodanthe is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The good news is that the seashore is free, but things like camping or OHV riding will come with additional charges.
You can learn more about the seashore on the National Park Service website.
The Pamlico Sound is renowned for its kiteboarding, and you’ll find plenty of vendors to help you get your shot gliding on the water.
Kayaking, windsurfing, and SUPs are available too.
Just north of the town boundary, you’ll find an “S” Curve on the highway.
The beach near that stretch of road is famous for surfing and photography.
While I wouldn’t recommend beginners tackle these waves, grab a beach chair and watch the show.
Places to Avoid in Rodanthe
Rodanthe isn’t a town with bad neighborhoods or crime-ridden areas.
In fact, most of the Outer Banks are considered safe and welcoming.
I can’t stress enough the rewards of this town are also the risks, especially if you aren’t educated about the safety concerns we’ll go through in a minute.
For example, I’ve never gone kitesurfing, and I’m not sure if I’d want to do it on a windy day without training or practice runs on a calmer day.
On the other hand, I’ve lived on the Gulf of Mexico, so I consider myself pretty familiar with beach safety, how to swim out of a rip tide, and how to do the “stingray shuffle” to avoid getting poked by those bad beasts that hide just under the sand of ankle deep water.
I’ve also lived through several hurricanes, including 2017s Hurricane Irma, and I know when it’s time to go.
If you aren’t from an area with hurricanes, you should study enough to be a near-expert when you get here.
Even the smallest inconveniences, like not being able to find bottled water or gas several days before a storm, surprised me at first.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Rodanthe
- Rodanthe does not have a police department, so that means law enforcement comes from Dare County Sheriff’s Office. District C serves this region, and you can reach them by phone at (252)475-9350. You can follow them on Facebook @darecountysheriff.
- Sign up for OBX Alerts through the Dare County website or the tourism sites for the Outer Banks. This will send text messages of weather alerts and other public safety hazards, like road closures.
- Stick to the speed limit when driving the lone road that stretches through this part of the island. You’ll be mixed with pedestrians, bicyclists, golf carts, and off-road vehicles, and safety is paramount. In June 2023, three people died in a head-on collision on Route 12.
- Know the tide schedule while you’re visiting here, as it can impact everything from paddling to fishing. If a storm is approaching during high tide, it could lead to street flooding or washouts, too.
- While fishing is popular here, you can’t do so without a license from the state of North Carolina. Please head to the Go Outdoors North Carolina website to read all the rules and costs. Be sure you get a coastal license, not an inland license.
- The Dare County Sheriff’s Office posts a daily blotter on its Facebook page, which is a great way to learn about the safety risks in the region. These will include issues with weather, erosion, and road closures.
- You can drive by the home from Nights in Rodanthe. It’s located at 23289 Beacon Rd E. However, it’s privately owned and rented out year-round. You’d have to get on a long waiting list to rent it.
- You are three times more likely to drown than be attacked by a shark in these coastal waters, but you still need to know shark safety. Avoid the water at dawn, dusk, and anywhere near anglers. Sharks also like to hang out between sandbars, so don’t swim there.
- Picking up seashells at the National Seashore is not allowed. You are urged to “Leave No Trace” when visiting federal lands.
- There are parts of the beach here where you can drive an OHV, but you need to go through the National Park Service to get a permit and pay the fee to do so. Each Outer Banks town has different rules about whether driving is allowed on the beach.
So... How Safe Is Rodanthe Really?
Rodanthe’s law enforcement comes from Dare County, meaning there’s no way to siphon crime data to just this small town.
However, in a more telling tale, a search of Google News reports about crime, theft, robbery, or murder in Rodanthe elicited 12 results.
That’s the first time I’ve seen Google have so little to say.
While crime waves won’t happen here, ocean waves will.
If you aren’t familiar with beach safety, beach erosion, or tropical storm/hurricane risks, you need to be before you visit here.
If you’re researching Rodanthe, you’ll see the group of homes that fell into the ocean over the past few years.
I think it’s the first time I’ve seen a beach warning for floating house debris.
Even smaller storms that normally wouldn’t scare off tourists can cover the road in water and choke off access to either side of the Outer Banks.
While the biggest problems in Rodanthe won’t impact the average tourist, you need to be aware of the challenges and risks of your visit.
And maybe don’t get a rental home *right on the ocean… just in case.
How Does Rodanthe Compare?
|New York City||67|
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
International visitors should have a passport that doesn't expire for six months and a visa. You might also qualify for a visa waiver, but you'll need to check the requirements on the U.S. State Department website.
Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here. Don't wait until you get to Rodanthe to exchange currency. ATMs are available, but you'll pay high fees. Use a credit card as much as possible. If you're flying in from Norfolk, you can use Travelex at the airport there.
Summer is the top season for the Outer Banks, and you'll find pleasant and humid days here. It can get hot, and the sun is intense. Keep hydrated and apply sunscreen often. Make sure it's reef-safe sunscreen. Bug spray is important, too. You'll want water shoes for walking on the beach any time of the year. For all other seasons, bring layers of clothing for chilly mornings and nights.
Norfolk (Virginia) International Airport is a two-hour drive, and that's the closest option for a larger airport. Driving to Raleigh-Durham will take four hours.
Travel insurance is an important part of a beach destination, especially during hurricane season, which runs from June through November. You might want to consider Adventure Insurance if you plan to do adrenaline-inducing activities. Any vendor here will require you to sign a liability waiver.
Rodanthe Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
North Carolina - Safety by City
|Kill Devil Hills||77|