Lifeguard services expanding to a fourth spot in Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Lifeguards cover a small stretch of beach at each station marked with flags. [NPS photo]

For the first time in decades Cape Hatteras National Seashore will have another section of beach with lifeguards, as coverage will start Memorial Day weekend at the Frisco Day Use Area between Frisco and Hatteras village.

There will now be four beach locations between Bodie Island and Ocracoke village that are staffed with lifeguards from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.

  • Coquina Beach Day Use Area
    Located across from the Bodie Island Lighthouse site
  • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Beach
    Adjacent to the Old Cape Hatteras Lighthouse site
  • Frisco Beach Day Use Area
    Located just south of Frisco Village on N.C. 12
  • Ocracoke Beach Day Use Area
    1.5 miles south of the Seashore campground and 0.5 miles north of Ocracoke village

Budget cuts starting in the 1980s saw lifeguard services slashed from as many as a dozen spots along the seashore to eventually just three. Some summers there was only coverage a Coquina, provided by the Town of Nags Head, while the Park Service covered Ocracoke.

Five years ago, staff lifeguards were eliminated entirely by previous National Park Service management after a $200,000 budget line item had to be cut.

The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau and Hyde County stepped in to pay for contract lifeguards for the summer of 2014.

“We are pleased to provide a fourth lifeguarded beach for park visitors. The Frisco Day Use Area is the most appropriate spot for a fourth stand because the area is very popular and has a large parking area, boardwalk, and restroom facilities,” said David Hallac, Superintendent, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina.

Privately-owned Surf Rescue currently has a five-year deal with the National Park Service to provide contract lifeguard services.

Roving lifeguard services have also been provided by Chicamacomico Banks Fire and Rescue along Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo and the Hatteras Island Rescue Squad along the southern beaches.

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Sam Walker was news director for, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.