The park continues to recover from the effects of Hurricane Florence. The mainland area, including the visitor center, kayak launch, and the ½ mile loop TRACK trail. Bear Island is open for day use and some walk-in day of camping is available. However, there ARE NO RESTROOMS OR POTABLE WATER on Bear Island. The kayak launch is open, the trail markers for the Bear Island Trail have been replaced but some of the paddle trails are not marked well as 70% of the markers were lost in the hurricane. Please paddle at your own risk and be aware of your surroundings. The boat ramp will remain closed due to dock construction, Huggins Island and Jones Island are both closed to visitors. Ferry service will not resume until the dock replacement construction project is completed. Please see Hammocks Beach Current Information for additional information.Last updated on: Friday, June 14, 2019
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. About 500 feet before 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. About 500 feet before the end of the road, turn right into the park entrance.
From points east, follow Highway 24 west into Swansboro. Turn left onto Old Hammocks Road. Turn left onto Hammocks Beach Road. About 500 feet before the end of the road, turn right into the park entrance.
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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.
The island is also accessible by private boat, canoe / kayak or marine taxi service.
Note: the ferry schedule is available in Fees/FAQs/Rules. Due to sand migration in the channel the ferry uses to transport visitors to Bear Island, the ferry schedule can change on a daily basis. Please refer to the schedule, or contact the park office for more information.
The 2.5-mile passenger ferry ride takes about 15 minutes and offers a glimpse of interesting wetland inhabitants, including herons and egrets. After traveling through the Intracoastal Waterway, the ferry moves through the shallow waters of Cow Channel, a channel through which cows were once herded to the island for grazing. The ferry then docks at the pier on Bear Island where a half-mile trail travels through the dune system, across the island, to the beach. This 15-minute walk is like a trip through the desert. The sand is often hot; wear protective shoes.
The park ferry operates daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day except in inclement weather. During popular summer months, a line often forms for the ferry and the island quickly reaches capacity. Arrive early in the day to avoid long delays.