Sunday, April 14, 2024

Paid parking at area beach towns to begin: Here are 2024 rates

Parking rates are changing in some towns this year, including Wrightsville and Carolina beaches, which will charge more in premium lots. (Port City Daily/File)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Coastal communities from Pender to Brunswick counties will begin paid-parking programs starting March 1, with a few slated to kick off in April.

READ MORE: NHC sends letter to contractor citing deficiencies, lack of progress on Mason Inlet project

Hourly costs, passes and timelines are listed below for beachgoers. To learn more — rules, fines for violations, residential free pass information, and how to access the applications to pay for parking — click the beach name in blue to go to the municipalities’ parking pages directly.

Money from parking is intended to help fund the paid program as dictated by North Carolina Statute § 160A-301 which states revenue from public on-street metered parking must go toward parking maintenance; this doesn’t include town-owned lots. However, municipalities can petition legislators for an exemption to utilize proceeds otherwise.

The GA has granted exceptions for Atlantic Beach, Beaufort, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Sunset Beach, Oak Island, Wrightsville Beach, Holden Beach and the City of Wilmington. Those monies fund needs benefitting public use, such as combatting beach erosion or paying for lifeguards.

Here is what visitors will pay when headed to area beaches in the tri-county region this season:


Holden Beach

Located between Ocean Isle and Sunset Beach, Holden Beach contracts with Otto and its program runs April 1 through Oct. 31, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Rates for the 2024 season are:

  • Hourly: $4 up to four hours
  • Daily: $20 for duration longer than four hours
  • Weekly: $80 per seven consecutive days
  • Annually: $150 for one vehicle or $300 for 2

Oak Island

Oak Island first charged for parking in the 2023 season and continues to contract with Otto Connect this year. Marked spaces are paid April 1 through Sept. 30, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Rates have not changed:

  • Hourly: $5 up to three hours
  • Daily: $20 per day or any duration greater than four hours
  • Weekly: $80 per week for seven consecutive days
  • Annually: $175, with a limit of 500 passes sold

ALSO: OKI’s first year of paid parking nets $1.1M

Ocean Isle Beach

Currently, parking is free at beach accesses at Ocean Isle, including more than 200 spaces. Though overnight parking is not allowed in the town-owned spaces.

Parking is paid at the Ocean Isle Pier for $10 daily, $45 weekly and $175 seasonally. It’s free after 6 p.m.

There is also a private-owned lot that charges fees, but is not operated by the town. 

Though town leaders have discussed adding more paid parking to the beach town, nothing has passed yet.

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach is one of the remaining beaches to offer parking for free in Brunswick County. However, parking at the pier is $10 per day with seasonal passes available through a lottery.

The coastal town has been gathering information about launching a paid parking program. It started a committee last year to help gauge next steps, which included conducting research and gathering input via surveys from area residents. 


Wrightsville Beach

Wrightsville Beach contracts with Pivot Parking for enforcement March 1 through Oct. 31, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Some exceptions exist, with enforcement ending at 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. in certain lots (see them all here).

Rates have increased in 2024 for premium spaces — roughly 514 spots of the 1,800 or so available. The aldermen said at its January meeting these spots include access to amenities, such as showers or bathrooms. Premium spots are also paid until 8 p.m.

Rates for the upcoming season are:

  • Hourly: $5 (though some meters are $3 an hour with one-hour limits) or $6 for premium spots
  • Daily: $25 or $30 for premium spots
  • Weekly: $150

READ MORE: Wrightsville Beach to raise rates for 514 premium spaces to $6 per hour, $30 per day

Wrightsville Beach does not list annual passes for visitors.

Carolina Beach

Also homing in on the premium rate game with Pivot Parking is New Hanover’s southern beach town, Carolina. Rates in-season have risen on roughly HOW MANY spaces. Town-owned lots are now $6 a day or $7 for premium lots. On-street parking remains the same at $5 a day.

However, CB council did vote to drop off-season parking rates, due to businesses pushing back.

Parking is in effect March 1 – Oct. 31, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Parking lots: $6 per hour or $25 per day
  • Premium parking lots: $7 per hour or $35  a day
  • Bus, limo, and oversized vehicles: $10 per hour or $40 per day
  • On-street parking without time restrictions: $5 per hour or $25 per day
  • Weekly permits: $100

CATCH UP: CB upping parking rates to $6 an hour in lots, $7 in ‘premium lots’ to cover off-season break

Carolina Beach does not offer annually visitor passes, only residential ones for both CB and neighboring Kure Beach citizens.

Kure Beach

Premium Parking oversees this Pleasure Island town’s parking program, which council voted against changing for the 2024 season. There are a little more than 600 spaces available for access. 

The paid parking season begins March 15 and ends Sept. 30. Enforcement is from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Rates are:

  • Hourly: $5
  • Daily: $20
  • Weekly: $100

MORE NEWS: Kure Beach opts against increasing parking rates, passes on sale mid-February

A non-resident annual pass is $225 and business owner and residential passes are also offered.


North Topsail Beach

North Topsail, located in Onslow County, has year-round parking, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Rates are:

  • Hourly: $ 5 
  • Daily: $25 
  • Weekly: $100 
  • Annual: $150 – per vehicle if purchased one at a time 
  • Annual: $250 for 2 vehicles purchased at the same time.

Surf City

In partnership with Pivot Parking, Surf City will begin enforcement of its paid spaces March 1 through Oct. 31, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Rates are:

  • Hourly: $5 
  • Daily passes: $25
  • Weekly passes: $80 
  • Season pass is $300

Topsail Beach

In partnership with Otto Connect, Topsail’s parking program is enforced daily March 1 through Oct. 31, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It includes the southend parking lot on the sound side (next to Serenity Point Townhomes – at the end of Shore Line Dr. and Inlet Dr.).

Rates are:

  • Hourly: $5 an hour up to four hours
  • Daily: $25

Topsail does not list weekly or annual passes. 

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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