Typical summer traffic on the Carova beach.

A vote has not yet been taken so nothing is official yet, but Currituck County is considering charging a fee to park on the Carova Beach. 

The fee, in its current form, applies only to parking on the beach in the 4×4 area of the northern Outer Banks. It does not apply to driving on the beach.

The idea is part of an ongoing struggle to create a safer experience for everyone in the Carova area. Because the beach is the only way to get from Corolla to Carova, the increasing use of it has created concerns about safety for drivers and beachgoers. The hope is that if there is a fee charged for day users who are driving north of Corolla to use the beach, the fee will reduce that number. 

Tentative fees are $50 for a 10-day parking pass and $150 that would be valid for a calendar year. Preliminary plans for 2018 call for rental companies to get two free passes for each 4wd house for the entire year. Additional passes can be purchased by renters by viewing an online video and pay online and print for themselves. If passes are lost replacement passes will need to be purchased

Similar to the National Park Service program for Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the Currituck County fee would require the purchaser to view a video on beach driving safety.

Businesses have responded cautiously. There is agreement that visitor safety is a valid concern north of the paved road and that it is possible this would be one way to address that. Over the past few years, County Commissioners have passed ordinance mandating a maximum tire pressure for beach driving and have prohibit digging large deep holes on the beach.

The fees would certainly be considered the most aggressive move to alleviate congestion in the area. There are, however, a number of questions that still must be resolved on implementation.

As now presented, fees would be collected at the County’s two visitor centers—Moyock, just over the Virginia state line, and Corolla.

Concerns about staffing and visitor response have been raised.