The Top 5 Must-Do Activities at Hammocks Beach State Park

hammocks beach state park

Considering an island getaway filled with wildlife and privacy? Hammocks Beach State Park, or Bear Island, is a three-mile-long sanctuary for relaxation and serenity that can fulfill your summer desire right here in North Carolina. Hop on a ferry, equipped with your favorite picnic basket, and indulge in some needed leisure time with miles of unpopulated beach.


Five “Must-Do’s” of the state park you can’t miss out on:

  1. Camping
  2. Kayaking and Paddle Boarding
  3. Fishing
  4. Bird Watching
  5. Historic Swansboro Shops and Dining

Pitching a tent in one of Hammocks Beach’s backpack camping campsites allows for adventure and the ignition of primitive instinct. Once you’ve set up camp, kayaking and paddle boarding in the deserted waters are merely steps away with the beachfront view of your site.

Don’t forget your fishing pole. Hammocks Beach is ideal for fishing whether it’s off your kayak or paddleboard, surf fishing along the water’s edge, fishing is just steps from your tent. As the sun sets on your relaxing day, pull out those binoculars and watch the variety of birds, ranging from herons to egrets, as you wait for a dinner reservation in one of Swansboro’s best restaurants. The historic atmosphere, and waterfront dining experience will provide lasting memories but don’t stop there – be sure to bring home a momento from one of the area’s local boutiques. Hammocks Beach State Park offers countless outdoor activities so you can plan your trip from sun up to sun down.

For more information on Hammocks Beach State Park, click here or call (910) 326-4881 for NC Parks.



Hammocks Beach State Park

1572 Hammocks Beach Road Swansboro, NC 28584 • (910) 326-4881

Camping and Leisure at Hammocks Beach State Park and Bear Island

kayaksCamping and Leisure at Hammocks Beach State Park and Bear Island Among the most unspoiled beaches on the Atlantic Coast, Bear Island, located in Onslow County, is the place to enjoy multitudes of beautiful wildlife and serene beaches. Only accessible by ferry or private boat, this beach is quiet but still full of life. With 4 miles of beachfront, the only thing that’s crowded will be your list of things to do. Boating, camping, fishing, picnicking and swimming should all be on your agenda as you traverse white sands and miles of unpopulated beach.

If you love looking for nature and wildlife activities in Onslow County, Hammocks Beach State Park is theplace is for you. Much of the island’s 892 acres is covered by forest, creating a wilderness dune-covered environment that allows visitors to relax in a peaceful and otherwise secluded and tranquil environment.

 turtleWildlife lovers celebrate the many diverse animals that call Bear Island “home.” The island is a nesting beach for sea turtles with the most often sea turtle visitor to the beach being the Loggerhead sea turtle.Between mid-May and late August, female loggerheads come ashore at night to lay their eggs above the tide line. Females nest every three to four years and lay up to six nests per year. Loggerhead sea turtles can live up to 70-80 years and can weigh up to 400 pounds, meaning a camping trip on Bear Island could yield anopportunity to see these stunning sea creatures.

Hammocks Beach State Park is also a sanctuary for migratory shore birds who feed in the tidal marshes and many other parts of the beach in the spring and fall. If you enjoy bird watching in North Carolina, view herons and egrets searching for food or watch osprey plunging into tidal creeks to capture fish to eat. You can also watch bottlenose dolphins swim serenely offshore in the distance while white-tail deer, raccoons and gray fox inhabit inland areas.

Sea oats blow in the breeze of the tall dunes while American Beachgrass and Seaside Goldenrod grow in the open areas of the park. Towards the northeast end of the island, maritime forest, also known as maritime hammocks, populated by Live Oaks, Yaupon, and Red Cedar form a picturesque canopy of trees.

campingFor the adventurous, Hammocks Beach State Park offers primitive backpack camping campsites. On Bear Island, 11 of the 14 campsites are located along the beachfront approximately 1/8 of a mile apart with the other 3 sites are located on the sound side of the island toward Bogue Inlet. The sound side sites are accessible only by private boat, canoe or kayak with no walk/hike in access to the bathhouse from these sites.

From the beautiful beaches to the vast forest areas and lots of wildlife, there are plenty of things to do at Hammocks Beach State Park and Bear Island. Start planning your visit to these Onslow County treasures here. Hammocks Beach State Park’s ferry services run between the mainland and Bear Island, staff permitting, Onslow County’s only lifeguarded beach daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Wednesday through Sunday in May and September, and weekends only in April and October. For more information call (910) 326-4881 or visit

Onslow County Tourism, located in Jacksonville, North Carolina, is dedicated to promoting events and businesses to local community members and visitors to Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, Richlands, Swansboro, Sneads Ferry and Topsail Beach. If you’re looking to relocate or visit our area, please visit our website for more information about local happenings.

•Trunk or Treat Halloween Bash

The Trunk or Treat Halloween Bash gathers community organizations and businesses to decorate their vehicle and hand out candy to local children in the Hammocks Beach State Park parking lot.  Kids dress up in their favorite costumes and enjoy a haunted house, hay rides, games, candy, and prizes!


Chris Campbell Community Service Day

This annual special event is in memory of the late U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Campbell, a former lifeguard and enthusiast of Hammocks Beach State Park. Chris was one of thirty American service men killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan in August 2011. He was an advocate to ocean conservation as well as sand dune preservation to ensure that our beaches are maintained for future generations to enjoy.  This event invites the community to come out to the park and volunteer their time doing a service project on Bear Island, a place Chris loved.

Soak Up the Sun this Summer in North Carolina

hammocks beach state park

While a visit to the North Carolina coast typically consists of long, sunny days spent on the beach, there is so much more to see and do – especially in the spring months when temperatures are still mild and enjoyable. We have rounded up 3 non-beach activities up and down the coast for you to check out this season.
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