I recently purchased a pick-up truck, my first in 20 years. Moving from a car to a truck was a big change. I needed a vehicle that I could tow, and a truck seemed to be the best fit. I test drove my options before coming to a final decision.
I purchased a Ford F150, and to celebrate I contacted a friend of mine and suggested that we do a road trip. Personally I was looking to do something with the truck that I was not able to do with a car. We decided that some beach driving would do the trick. Individually we researched possible locations and decided on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
The Outer Banks
The Outer Banks is a string of islands that are about 200km long with fantastic beaches. You can legally drive on much of the beach, if you get an ORV permit. We called and ordered a permit that we printed before leaving.
The drive is about 1200km from Toronto. My friend was coming from further North so we did not make it all the way on Friday and ended up in Washington for the night. It was wet and dark which made for a long drive.
Refreshed the next morning we headed out, anxious to arrive and do some beach driving! It was a sunny day so it was an easy drive to our hotel in Corolla. We checked in to the hotel to drop off our stuff and by that time we were really excited to get on the sand!
Before we left home we did some research to see what was required to drive on the beach. Some items are mandatory, other are recommended. So we made sure that we had the proper equipment. We brought all the required and some of the recommended equipment.
- A small shovel
- Jack and jack support
- Low-pressure tire gauge
- Vehicle must be registered, licensed and insured for highway use
- Vehicle must have no more than two axles and tires that are listed and approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation
- Tow strap
- First aid kit
- Full size spare tire
- Fire extinguisher
If you watch any YouTube videos for “how to” information on beach driving they all tell you to decrease the air pressure in your tires. We used the tire pressure gauge we brought with us to make sure the deflated tire pressure was consistent on each tire.
Leaving the Paved Road
We decided that we would start our beach drive at the North end of the islands in Corolla. This area also has wild horses, which we were hoping to see. We were the “newbies”. When the paved road stopped and turned to beach, we pulled over the side of the beach. At this point, we aired down our tires, we bringing them to 18psi. We figured this would be a good starting point. We put our vehicles into 4wd and headed north on the beach.
Things to Remember When Driving on the Beach
- Lower your tire pressure
- Keep vehicle in 4wd high range
- Try not to accelerate to quickly (You don’t want to dig yourself a hole)
- When starting, drive straight for less resistance, so you aren’t plowing with the front wheels
- Stay on the established tracks
The beach wasn’t busy which allowed us to move at our own pace. If you continue all the way to the north end, you come to a fence, which is the farthest north you can drive. We decided that we would head inland at this point. In this area, you drive through the dunes to sand roads behind the dunes.
These roads are for the homes and cottages. This is where we began looking for the horses. We drove up and down the roads and spoke with a tour guide that suggested a road that the horses regularly used.
It was on this road that we found our first horse. Since they are wild horses, they eat no human food and cannot be approached. You are not allowed to approach the horses or feed them so we watched from a distance. We managed to snap some photos and carried on.
We continued to explore different areas of the Outer Banks. We mostly found anglers that were driving on or parked on the beach. The water was too cold for swimming so it was understandable that we did not come across anyone swimming.
We worked our way down to Cape Point, this area provided a different experience of driving on the beach. The sand was much softer, which meant the truck sunk much more into the sand. The truck also had to work harder and momentum was a friend. It is in this type of sand that a more cautious approach to starting is required.
If you accelerated quickly in the sand, the tendency was for the tires to dig down with very little forward movement. It required a gentle approach to driving and keeping the tires pointed ahead when starting. I enjoyed this spot seeing the 4wd vehicles lined up, with everyone fishing. I can appreciate this as a relaxing way to spend a day.
When we eventually hit the road to return home I was glad that we made the trip. It was an automotive bucket list item, that I was able to use my newly acquired F150. It is a destination that I will gladly return to but will wait for warmer weather to take advantage of the beach and water.
We filled the drive home with fast food, coffee, tea, rain, and snow all of which were acceptable for the experience.