If you’re looking for a place to relax, spend a nice long day surfside at Hammocks Beach State Park on Bear Island, a 4-mile-long undeveloped barrier island off the coast of Swansboro, North Carolina, south of Emerald Isle and north of North Topsail. Bear Island is one of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast with miles of unspoiled beaches and maritime forests.
Journey to the island by passenger ferry, private boat, or by paddling a canoe or kayak. Within Hammocks Beach State Park, you’ll find wild dunes, sand ridges, marshes and wetlands full of wildlife. The beaches are peaceful and uncrowded, and the waters are some of the bluest along the coast.
Hammocks Beach State Park offers a variety of activities that are fun for the whole family. Explore paddling trails that lead to marshes, Bear Island or the unspoiled maritime forest at Huggins Island. Kayaks, canoes and paddleboards are available to rent from concessionaires at the park.
Fishing at Hammocks Beach is a popular pastime of visitors to the park in all seasons. Just remember, a North Carolina fishing license is required. Catch a wave or just cool off in the swimming area. Bear Island is also great for shell collecting. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy under covered shelters available in the center of the island. Camping and campfires are permitted only in designated areas.
Educational events and programs are also offered at Hammocks Beach State Park. From marsh cruises to kids kayaking camps to learning to cast net, the park’s programs are a great way to discover some of the local wildlife, learn new skills and learn about the park’s unique history. Just check with the Visitors Center for a schedule.
Escape from the world and retreat to Hammocks Beach State Park on Bear Island, NC, where there’s nothing but sun, sand, sea and sky.
Getting to Hammocks Beach State Park
The Hammocks Beach State Park office is located on the mainland in Swansboro, North Carolina, between Jacksonville and Morehead City, and serves as the gateway to the park and launch site for ferry service, canoes and kayaks.
From the park office, passenger ferries will transport you to the island for a small fee. The 2.5-mile ride takes about 15 minutes as it travels through the Intracoastal Waterway and the shallow waters of Cow Channel to dock at the pier on Bear Island. The beach is then a 15-minute walk through the dunes and across the island. View the state park map.
From Emerald Isle, you’ll take Emerald Dr to Highway 24 west into Swansboro. Make a left onto Old Hammocks Road and then left onto Hammocks Beach Road. Turn right into the Hammocks Beach State Park entrance, which is about 500 feet before road ends.
Ferry Schedule and Fees
While there are no fees to enter the park, there is a small fee for taking one of the park’s passenger ferries. Daily passenger ferries are available from April through October, except in inclement weather. Reservations are not required. Please refer to the park’s ferry schedule and fees.
Visitor Center Address
1572 Hammocks Beach Rd.
Swansboro, NC 28584