Carova Beach, North Carolina
Carova Beach or Carova is an unincorporated community in Currituck County in the extreme northeast corner of North Carolina, United States. The community, begun in the 1960s, is found on Currituck Banks, north of Bodie Island, and can only be accessed by boat or by four-wheel drive vehicle. There are no paved roads connecting Carova to the town of Corolla, North Carolina. The neighboring settlement of Sandbridge in Virginia Beach, Virginia is not accessible by vehicle from Carova. In the 1960s when development began in Carova there were plans to construct a paved road from the Sandbridge south to Carova through the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge but these never materialized. Today there is a permanent fence from ocean to sound to keep vehicles from crossing but, more importantly, to keep the wild horses from migrating to the Virginia side of the border. To reach Carova, four-wheel drive vehicles must drive north along the beach from Corolla into the community, as access from Virginia is limited to pedestrians and bicyclists.
The community's name derived from the combination of the first syllables of Carolina and Virginia since the coastal community lies just south of the North Carolina-Virginia state line. Thus, it is the northernmost of the Outer Banks communities of North Carolina. Historically the Currituck Inlet which served as the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina existed where the community of Carova now stands. The inlet closed in 1730s.
Banker horses and other wildlife roam freely on the beaches of Carova. There is an enforced law on the beach that states that no one is to get within 50 feet (15 m) of the horses. Carova only has approximately 50 year-round residents and commercialism is absent from this section of the Outer Banks; there are no restaurants, shops, or other attractions that often accompany beach communities. There are approximately 740 beach homes, many of which are weekly rentals and otherwise only a fire/ems station and a refuse station; developers continue to build in the area.
Flooding is a continual problem that worsens with each bad storm in Carova Beach, where summer tourist traffic is heavy on roads that are little more than uneven sand paths through the dunes. Sandfiddler Road and Sandpiper Road, the two primary routes through the community, become nearly impassable after heavy rains, when large potholes fill with water. During hurricanes and tropical storms the community can become inaccessible when the beach is awash due to storm surge.
Although some residents of Carova are opposed to a paved road being built to the community, the Currituck County Commission is in favor of constructing a paved road to Carova. They say a road is essential for the county to continue providing services like garbage collection, housing inspections, and emergency response. A road to connect Carova to the rest of Currituck County would have to cut through the 8,316 acre Currituck National Wildlife Refuge that stretches for 11 miles along the Currituck Banks between Carolla and Carova and any effort to build a road through the refuge would likely face stiff opposition from environmentalists.
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