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USA Parks
North Carolina
Coastal - Eastern Region
Hammocks Beach State Park
1572 Hammocks Beach Road
Swansboro, North Carolina   28584

Phone: 910-326-4881
Reservations: 877-722-6762
Venture to Bear Island and reward yourself with vivid memories of one of the most unspoiled beaches on the Atlantic coast. Accessible only by passenger ferry or private boat, there's just one thing at Hammocks Beach that's crowded?the list of things to do.

Stroll the beach with laughing gulls and sandpipers. Cast a baited hook into endless rows of foaming breakers. Discover tiny specimens of marine life in tidal pools and mudflats. Use a camera or paintbrush to capture the green and gold grasses that color the salt marshes. Spend the night among the sand dunes, or simply bask in the sun and do nothing at all.

Secluded and tranquil, free from intruding commercialism, Hammocks Beach may not be for everyone, but the island is a retreat for people who welcome the challenges of relentless sun, sand, sea and sky.
History of the Area
Dugout canoes once traveled the vast coastal waterways as woodland Native Americans journeyed between the mainland and surrounding islands. These Native Americans participated in the Tuscarora wars against colonists in 1711 and 1713. Hostilities continued from hideouts around Bear Island until the middle of the 18th century when the Native Americans migrated northward.

Dugout canoes soon gave way to pirate ships. The inlets along the coast and the shallow waterways behind the barrier islands were havens for pirates. Here they could prey upon merchant vessels and hide while repairing their ships. Among the pirates who frequented the area was the notorious Blackbeard. Spanish privateers also terrorized the colonists. For protection, the colonists built several forts, including one near Bear Inlet, which was erected in 1749 and has since disappeared.

Due to its location, Bear Island has often played a role in the protection of the mainland. During the Civil War, Confederate troops on the island defended it against Union forces occupying Bogue Banks. The island again assumed military importance nearly a century later when, during World War II, the Coast Guard used it to secure the coast and monitor German U-boat activity.

Early in the 20th century, Dr. William Sharpe, a neurosurgeon of New York, came to Bear Island to hunt. His love of the island prompted him to acquire it for his retirement. Sharpe intended to will the property to John Hurst, his longtime hunting guide and friend, but Hurst persuaded him to donate it to the North Carolina Teachers Association, an organization of African American teachers. In 1950, the group assumed the deed to Bear Island and attempted to develop the property. Limited funds and the island's remoteness rendered their efforts unsuccessful. In 1961, the association donated the island to the state of North Carolina for a park. Initially planned as a park for minorities, Hammocks Beach State Park opened for all people following the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Huggins Island, located just east of Bear Island in the mouth of Bogue Inlet, is a 225-acre island visible from downtown Swansboro. The island consists of 115 acres of upland area surrounded by 96 acres of lowland marsh. The island's varied natural habitats and cultural resources contributed to the its inclusion in the state parks system.

Huggins Island is home to a maritime swamp forest, which is listed as a Globally Rare and Significant Area. Huggins Island has a rich history, from Native American fishing and hunting grounds, to being home to a Confederate six-cannon battery in 1861-62. Its commanding view of Bogue Inlet and the town of Swansboro was an obvious strategic value. For visitors familiar with Hammocks Beach State Park, Huggins Island's thick, dense maritime forest is a stark contrast to Bear Island's sandy beach and open dunes bursting with sea oats.
Primitive campsites are located near the beach and the inlet. Fourteen family campsites accommodate six people each. Three group campsites, available to affiliated groups only, accommodate up to 12 persons each. Light and simple is the way to travel as campers must carry all provisions to the campsites from the beach or ferry dock.

Due to sand migration in the channel the ferry uses to transport visitors to Bear Island, the ferry schedule has been changed.

Water and other facilities are available on the island, except from mid-November through mid-March when the facilities are winterized. Fires are not permitted, and campers must remove all trash. Camping is permitted on numbered sites only and permits must be obtained from the park office on the mainland. Reservations are required for group sites. Campsites are open year round.
Journey to the island by private boat or marine taxi. Boats may be beached or tied at the island bulkhead, but please do not dock along the ferry pier. When traveling to the island by boat, navigate along the ferry route; boating in the inlet can be dangerous.

Canoeists and kayakers may reach Bear Island and explore the marsh by way of a designated canoe trail. Markers placed along the route indicate points of interest along the way.

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Pack a picnic to enjoy under a covered shelter that offers respite from the sun. A concession stand provides cold drinks and snacks.
Nature Programs
Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about Hammocks Beach State Park.

o arrange a special exploration of Hammocks Beach State Park for your group or class, contact the park office.

Educational materials about Hammocks Beach State Park have been developed for grades 6-8 and are correlated to North Carolina's competency-based curriculum in science, social studies, mathematics and English/language arts. The Hammocks Beach program introduces students to the life history of sea turtles, focusing on the loggerhead sea turtle. The program's content includes information about animal adaptation, the sea turtle's lifecycle, endangered species, natural and human threats to wildlife, resource management and stewardship. Accompanying the program is a teacher's booklet and workshop, free of charge to educators.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
July 15 A true gem by quiet beach lover
The fact that you have to walk with all your stuff the half mile to the beach from the ferry dock, keeps the crowd down. But it is so worth it! We have been there twice in the last month even though it is a three hour drive to get there.
September 12 bear island warriors by warrior garry
mostly in our late fifties now the bear island warriors canoe anually loaded with gear and grub in search of sun, fun and the ever dillectable red fish. no electronics,no time pieces, and no women...sleep when you want, eat when you want, fish when you want...make music at night and watch the shakespere put it...balm for the hurt mind...nothing like the bear to put you back in perspective
March 4 What a wonderful place! by outdoor lover
I grow up just down the road from Hammocks Beach and I bring my family back every summer. It is so peaceful there,I recommend it to everyone who visits the area.
September 21 Great Camping by Jim Mohr
We loved the opportunity to camp so close to the beach. The adventure of taking a boat to the site made it even more interesting and assured us of avoiding intrusions by motorized vehicles.
July 23 LOVE IT! by blond6421
Great place for sunbathing, swimming, or just quiet walks on the beach. This is one of the very few unspoiled beaches in NC. Never crowded and always beautiful! Also, the staff are always courteous and friendly!
August 5 A great experience year after year by Michael Polidori
Canoeing on the inlet, netting shrimp big enough to eat or catching the fish smart enough to know the shrimp are there (and big enough to eat them), getting a healthy dose of sun and surf, walking the beach on a moonlit night, marvelling at the phytoplankton phosphorescing in the sand with every step, watching the distant lights on the sea, eating a meal supplied by the ocean... did I mention the sun and great beach? We have a great time there year after year.
April 14 Best Kept Secret for a Pristine Beach by Beach Goer
I grew up near Hammocks Beach and I return annually. The staff are friendly and the facilities are spotless. Camping is excellent, but bring insect repellent. Sand fleas and mosquitoes are ferocious if the wind is not blowing. If you want to see what a North Carolina beach looked like when the native americans inhabited the region, this is the place.
April 14 Good time
The family and I took a ride to the park and had a good time. We relaxed on the deck took and sat in the shade. Only negative was there were no playgrounds for the kids to play. The kids loved the ferry ride to Bear Island. Once on Bear Island we took a .5 mile walk to the deserted beach. Great Nature WALK!

Area Campgrounds

Camp Ocean Forest Campground
100 Fairview Drive
Emerald Isle, NC

Holiday Trav-L-Park
9102 Coast Guard Road
Emerald Isle, NC

White Oak Shores
400 Wetherington Landing Road
Stella, NC

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Weather Forecast, (28539)

The Hammocks Beach State Park office and ferry dock are located in Onslow County between Jacksonville and Morehead City.

From I-95, take I-40 east to NC 24. Follow NC 24 east through Jacksonville to Swansboro. Turn right onto Hammocks Beach Road. Near the end of the road, turn right into the park entrance.

From the south, take US 17 north to Jacksonville, and turn on NC 24 east to Swansboro. Turn right onto Hammocks Beach Road. Near the end of the road, turn right into the park entrance.

From the park office area, the passenger ferry provides transportation to Bear Island for a modest fee. The island is also accessible by private boat or marine taxi service.

USA Parks
North Carolina
Coastal - Eastern Region
Hammocks Beach State Park
© 2015