Vacationers can stay in Corolla for a night or more at a hotel or generally for a week or more at a vacation rental home or condo.

To get to Corolla, visitors will want to head to the Outer Banks via the Wright Memorial Bridge in Currituck County, and head north on NC Highway 12, past the towns of Duck and Southern Shores.

Corolla is roughly 20 miles away from the Wright Memorial Bridge.

Carova 4x4 Beach and neighborhood

Carova / 4WD Beaches History and Landscape

The 4WD or Carova region of the Currituck Beaches begin where the paved road ends, at the northern borders of the incorporated town of Corolla.

The region was originally sought after by developers who wanted to continue the paved NC Highway 12, and make the landscape similar to that of neighboring Corolla. However, the establishment of the Currituck Banks Reserve on the northern Corolla borders, which covers the width of the island, put a halt to these plans. As a result, only vehicles with 4WD access can reach these beaches.

Even so, development did continue in the Carova area in the 1980s and 1990s, slowly at first, and then with a small but noticeable boom in the 2000s. Because there are limited zoning restrictions for residences in the 4WD area, Carova is actually home to some of the largest houses in the Outer Banks, which includes rental homes with 18, 20 or even 25 bedrooms.

Other than homes, however, there is no commercial development allowed, and ergo no businesses, restaurants, shops or services of any kind.

Carova is home to nearly 120 wild horses, which are believed to be the descendants of 16th Century Spanish Shipwrecks. The horses roam freely in the 4WD area along the beaches, in the two large parcels of protected land (the Currituck Banks Preserve and the National Currituck Wildlife Refuge) and even in the small residential communities.

Corolla Wild Horses

Activities to Enjoy in Carova / 4WD Beaches

Because of the lack of commercial development in the 4WD / Carova area, all popular activities in this region revolve around the great outdoors.

Visitors to Carova enjoy the following activities, in addition to plenty of time dedicated to just lounging on the beach.

  • Wild Horse Tours, including Corolla Wild Horse Tours, Wild Horse Adventure Tours, Back Country Safari Tours, and Bob's Corolla Wild Horse Tours
  • Hiking along the rugged paths and elevated boardwalk at the Currituck Banks Reserve
  • Hunting, fishing, and hiking in the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge
  • Bird watching in the reserve and refuge
  • Surfing
  • Surf fishing
  • Currituck Sound watersports and boating
  • Shelling
  • Clamming and crabbing along the soundside islands
  • At-home amenities, including private pools, game rooms, hot tubs, and theater rooms

Carova 4x4 Beach and neighborhood

Visiting Carova / 4WD Beaches

Visitors MUST have a 4WD vehicle to access the Carova / 4WD Beaches. Visitors will want to head north on NC Highway 12, through the town of Corolla, until the road ends at a 4WD sand ramp that leads to the beach.

There are roughly 11 miles of beaches to explore before the island is closed off at the Virginia State Line and the border of Virginia's False Cape State Park.

Visitors can stay at vacation rental homes in the region which are rented on a weekly basis. There are no condos, hotels, or motels in the 4WD area, and camping is not allowed.


The Cotton Gin

For those traveling to the Outer Banks, The Cotton Gin is a beloved landmark with its large windmill and picturesque gardens. The Cotton Gin has stood in the same location since 1929, starting as a working cotton gin and growing to a gift store with 4 locations. Visitors are treated to a unique shopping experience in our main store in Jarvisburg, as well as our beach stores in Corolla, Duck, and Nags Head. Explore room after room filled with décor for your home and coastal fashions for both men and women. Discover the brands you really want, like, Vera Bradley, Vineyard Vines, La Mer Luex, Simply Southern, Lindsay Phillips, Scout, Pandora, Kameleon, Brighton, Spartina, Tommy Bahama, Southern Tide and Salt Life and Old Guys Rule - all under one roof!


Don’t forget the gourmet market, or shop our beautiful linens for your bedroom and bath. We also feature coastal books and fine art, or just a whimsical fun gift to bring home to family and friends. Stop by soon and don’t forget to try our estate grown wines in our stores or visit our vineyard and winery, Sanctuary Vineyards, located adjacent to the original Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg.


Most know The Cotton Gin as a must-stop shop for fine gifts, beachwear, souvenirs and so much more, but this retailer has a long-standing history within the Outer Banks. A local landmark that holds almost a century of memories, The Cotton Gin started from humble beginnings and continues to adapt to the times and tourists. Tommy Wright’s family has been in the Outer Banks for nearly 200 years. His great-great grandfather, Jacob Francis Wright, shipwrecked in Duck back in the early 1800s. Calling these barrier islands his new home, Wright and his family acclimated to their new environment.


Adaptation is a common theme for the Wright family. Tommy and his wife Candace, who continue to steer The Cotton Gin, have seen not only their business change with the times, but the Outer Banks as a vacation destination as well. A farm market in Jarvisburg eventually transformed and flourished into several retail locations dotting the Outer Banks.


“As the area changed and tourism took off in the 1960s, the family saw people coming for vacations, so they began to grow vegetables and things developed from there,” says Tommy Wright. The Wright family expanded upon the farm market and began to remodel a working cotton gin, later transforming the gin into The Cotton Gin general store in the late 1960s. While the additions to the farm store drew visitors, it was their encounters with the Wright family that kept people coming back year after year, which is something that remains true today.

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